It is past midnight and I really should be asleep. I seem to always get a nudge to write in the middle of the night. Ironic because I am way more a morning person. I love mornings (now don’t stop reading, I like sunshine and coffee.) So here I am. Ready to pour myself out and hope that someone will be encouraged and will in turn encourage someone else. A real chain reaction as we all grab each others hands and say “It’s okay, you are not alone.” It is lonely to be out in this world because we are content in our little corners. No one wants to step out and call out the ugly for what it is: UGLY.
Back in March I shared the passing of my pastor’s wife Lisa, if you have not read my post you can here Dear Lisa
I share this other post because this post here is going to be in a sense a conclusion of the thoughts that have ran through my head in the past months. I didn’t actually think I had more to say. I have grown spiritually in the past few months and I want to share my heart with you.
For as long as I can remember I have always loved stories. I love writing them, telling them, reading them… and I enjoy living them. My life is a story unfolding chapter by chapter. I came to a point where I looked at the person in the mirror and I didn’t want to blog, I didn’t want to write anything. I think that loss has a way of doing many different things to many different people based on your relationship with that person. I kinda felt lost. What I mean by lost is simply put, I needed to grow up spiritually. In life as the chapters end, sometimes the pervious chapter was so good, and beautiful, and you never want it to end. I was enjoying the last chapter and to be honest I didn’t really want to turn the page, because turning the page was scary. I will not be heading up the fan club for change anytime soon. The new chapter to be blunt was the Lord really taking my heart and showing me the imperfections that needed to be addressed. I couldn’t stay the same. The storm raging in my heart needed to be calmed, and while I am being honest here, I was clinging to the side of the ship. During this time I was going through 100 Days To Brave by Annie Downs. As I worked through it, I saw piece by piece as the puzzle of the problem and my disconnect was becoming clearer. I needed to take courage and walk through the open door of change. I needed to be more caring and compassionate. I needed to love more, be meek and humble. Not because I am complacent or weak, because I drew from the well of everlasting water that only Jesus can provide and come out with strength through Him.
So I challenged myself to read from older and wiser women and men. Cue in Elisabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael.. to name a couple. If I couldn’t find books for free, I watched YouTube videos, and read quotes. I realized very quickly the main problem: TRUST. I am going to be blunt; I simply did not trust God to come in and carry me through my stuff, to lead me where He wanted me to go, to prepare me, equip me….because I put my identity in the shame I felt, the pain, the words of lies spoken over me…because that was “easier”. Ha! Joke is on me because like Christian walking through with his burden strapped to his back, I was walking around with all this junk and it was so heavy.
Then I found a kindred spirit in the woman at the well in John chapter 4. Here was a woman who carried her stuff around. What we see is a woman, who lived a lifestyle she wasn’t proud of. She went to the well when no one was around, probably to avoid the judgmental stares, the whispering and the added shame. She meets Jesus, and He offers her water through Him, water that will quench her thirst eternally. He brings to light her past and offered redemption from the past identity and offers her a brand new one. In verse 28, do you realize that when she went to tell people about Jesus, she left the water jug she had been carrying. She left it behind. She no longer felt the need to keep it. I came to the realization that I, Brandy, liked to go back and pick up the water jug where I left. This girl was micromanaging. I needed to put that jug down. Once I set it down and said no to picking it back up, I tasted the freedom that comes with letting go.
One author I have grown to admire and adore is Elisabeth Elliot. I have always enjoyed her writing but I started to see her in a different light because if you know anything about her story, through what had to be terrifying and hard, she still trusted God and believed that His will was perfect and it wasn’t her place to question His will. The more I read in the Word of God, the more I started to see the jug for what it was. No longer relevant to my story. No matter what was going to be thrown my way, the way I reacted is totally up to me. I needed to learn to say ‘God, I don’t feel okay, but I believe Your will is still perfect despite it.’ We don’t get to pick the circumstances in life but we go get to pick our reactions. I want to be a complete nobody trying to exalt Somebody. I needed to see that the world will see me as a nobody, because my identity does not come from the world. It comes from the One who calls me ‘beloved’ (Romans 9:25). I needed to remember the world will never appreciate me, but that in everything I do I need to do it from the heart for the Lord not people (Colossians 3:23).
So here I am. I dropped the water jug, and I turned the page. The story that God is writing for me is simply perfect, with all the scars, tears and mess. My life is far from perfect, total perfection will come when I enter Glory. Trusting God’s will is not always easy. However it is always worth it. Because as Elisabeth Elliot beautifully put into words, God’s story never ends with ashes.
*photo: brandy strong word editing done on Word Swag.