It’s hard to hold on to hope, when you’re waiting in the dark, doing daily combat with oppressing fears.
Sometimes, you listen to sermons, you read the Bible, you fight “the dark” for all you’re worth—clutching for truth as if your life depends upon it—because it does.
I have those days when I have a strong grip on hope. My feet are firmly planted. I’m on course.
I also have days, when it seems like the slightest breeze will send my ship off the edge of the world the way the ancient mariners once believed; days when I am weary in soul and tired of waiting for things to change.
Unrelenting trouble can be so exhausting.
What do you do when you’re just, too tired, to hold on anymore?
(Uh-huh, you heard right.)
You do nothing at all—because those are the days when the only thing you can do—is let His love wrap around you and hold on to you.
Listen, no matter how deep the hole you or I might find ourselves in, no matter how black our night looks—His mercy will be there.
His mercy is sometimes tough, sometimes tender, but always, always there.
New, in the middle of the night.
New, in the morning.
New, when I feel close to Him.
New, when I don’t.
No matter how dim hope’s candle burns…
He’s quietly there fanning it back into a flame.
I’ve learned a lot about hope walking through my dark valleys, and Jesus has taught me a lot, about the kind of encouragement that brings life. But mostly, He’s taught me that His love never, ever, lets go… no matter how long the darkness in my circumstances lasts.
Because of that?
I have learned to let go of my “why’s” letting Him plant the seeds for new hope in all of my soul’s dry and barren places.
Then, I can hold on to His hope when life gets HARD…
While He takes me in His arms… and we dance.
It wasn’t easy learning to accept His invitation to surrender, “Why?”
(That cry of pain put up a fierce fight in me!)
But, may I share with you?
There’s so much relief in the surrendering.
It’s peaceful in my soul now that all those “Why’s?” have had their say… and gone their way…
(And this dancing in the Arms of Grace has made me strangely… hopeful.)
Perhaps I am finally at long last—learning to trust Him with everything. Not just the easy stuff, but all the gut-wrenching questions, He only answers with His own eloquent silence.
It is curious how His silence stills all my questions… while speaking VOLUMES to my soul.
It is odd and peculiar, how I am learning about this powerful love of His, by walking through dark valleys of pain and loss…
Stranger still, the way He keeps whispering, “For such a time as this…”
VALLEY OF TROUBLES
When My hand lifts you up many will criticize and condemn.
Many will say, “Who is this?”
As I lift you up and put you firmly in your place, I want you to remember, that a prophet is never accepted in his own land.
Many will say you don’t deserve My favor. Many will accuse you of things you have not done.
It is part of the cost.
To be chosen for such honor will cost you dearly.
This is why you have gone through this Valley of Troubles.
All the lies, and false accusations; all the scorn and slander; it is only a fortaste of what is yet to be endured.
You have wanted many times to ask Me, “Why?”
(You have let the question die in your throat.)
Well, My child, this is why… training, toughening, and tenderizing.
(To be given so much blessing requires very refined graces to carry.)
Your schooling will soon be complete; lessons soon over.
Preparation for all that is ahead is essential for your balance.
You will be grateful in days to come.
You will thank Me over and over for bringing you through this valley.
As I take your life, and transform it from an agony to an ecstasy, and others gather to exclaim, “Who is this?”
You and I will look each other full in the face, smile, and say, “…a door of hope!”
“…He personally will come and pick you up, and set you firmly in place, and make you stronger than ever.”
Whenever I hear the words “becoming real” I think of the fairy tale: The Velveteen Rabbit.
It has taken me a lifetime—this unlearning, this surrendering to the undoing of God. Getting back to what God originally made, when beginning to create me, in my mother’s womb. Back to me—all by myself. No props. No safety nets, or safe bets. Just God. Letting go of all the false expectations (mine and others) and sorting out this journey of mine. Asking those deep soul-searching questions we so often try to avoid:
Where have I been? What have I learned along the way? How does God want me to use all of this stuff; the good, and the not-so-good?
Life can take the living right out of you… (I think of the words to Pam Thum’s song…) yeah. Life can beat the livin’ blankity-blank out of you, and it often did. So, I agree with her.
Perhaps Margery’s right. Perhaps becoming real doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have to be carefully kept. But isn’t that all of us, really? We all end up with lots of those brittle rough edges. And only Jesus knows how, and where, all those broken edges came to be. And only He knows how to remove them, with a gentle tenderness that will break down all those stone walls you hide behind, hoping against hope, that the cruelty and hurt won’t find you again. Except, here’s the thing. Safe from hurt is a phantom-myth, a lie the enemy’s been peddling since that day he slithered up to Eve in the Garden.
There’s no such place—but we’ve been hiding our hurt, and searching for safety, ever since!
I don’t know about others—I can only speak to my own journey. Personally, I have come to believe that it is in the breakings of life, where we are offered our greatest chances to “become real.” (I think it’s always optional.) We choose real, or we choose layers and layers of superficial band-aids, covering up our hurt-cuts-and-bruises; taking on an image of what those others in our lives want or expect—so that our wounds don’t show.
The world avoids the messy. We know that. We learn it early in life. So we choose to wear our masks. Often ones provided for us, rather than endure the additional hurts, that pulling off our temporary fixes will inflict. We choose our version of safe so that the world can’t see our real. We carefully tuck our pain way down deep, out of sight, instead of wearing our wounds (and scars) where they “speak” for all who want to see and hear. We fear what folks will say; how they will judge us. (Yeah, that too.)
I always thought, “This should be easy.” (Figuring out the one I call me, I mean.)
As far back as I can remember people have been tellingme who I really was. That the who, I wanted to be, just wasn’t good enough. Their message seemed to be, “Here’s who we need you to be—so just do it!”
What do you do when the labels never feel quite right? If they never ring true in the deepest part of your heart?
Truth be told, I often resented those labels while meekly (and silently) wearing them.
In my house? You had to go along to get along. Or, so it seemed at the time. So, I’ve lived most of my life silent. Scared. Browbeaten. Threatened. Intimidated, or just plain bullied.
Oh, and afraid. (Can’t forget that one!)
If I disagreed or spoke up for myself? I was told I was thankless, or worthless, or (add any four letter explicative you can think of here) and therefore, I was deserving of any abuse, all threats and humiliation, or any well deserved indignity that might be meted out to me for my impertinence.
I have spent a good deal of my journey doing exactly what was “expected of me” by others. I was told (and believed) it was “the loving thing” to do. The Christian thing. Seems I was forever trying to work off a “debt” I had been told, and believed, I owed. There were lots of voices (and agendas) pulling this way, then that. I was always trying to please someone. (Make all those others in my life peaceful and happy.) And, always, always coming up short.
I had to face it. I was a classic People-pleaser, working myself ragged trying to fulfill another’s agenda or plan, while living frustrated and disappointed on the inside, with all those unfulfilled longings of my own. I take fullresponsibility for that. My misery was of my own choosing. I accepted the anger of others, as my “normal,” when it was anything but.
That’s the big problem with trying “to please” everyone—bring an unattainable peace into the lives of the others around you—when in fact history teaches they will actually choose anything but—peaceful.
It cannot be done. And in the end? You get what you most fear—being surrounded by angry and disappointed people. You hate where you are, or who you are, or what you’re doing, so in the end… you please no one, and there is no peace—for anyone, ever!
You cannot find it in yourself, or with the Lord, (who calls us out into the deep and risky purposes that He has for us) and certainly not, for the ones you are seeking to please or appease.
I kept hitting a stone wall. It was this insidious and powerful LIE I was raised believing:
Love and acceptance must be deserved—EARNED by pleasing.
Peace in this house will only be attained by pleasing us —and it was my responsibility alone, to pursue, find, and preserve that fragile peace! When I failed? The shame of failure was mine. After all, what possible good is a peace-maker who can’t bring about any peace?
This of course, reinforced continuing messages of unworthiness, and worthlessness, that led to deeper feelings of failure and shame, and the cycle just went round and round. The insidious lies of the enemy; lies that got planted in the fertile ground of the abandonment and rejection from my earliest years; grew and were regularly watered by years of further abuses, where they grew, ever, AND EVER stronger, and more deeply entrenched. Their well-worn rut had become my—NORMAL. So, I kept trying to please…
And trying to bring some kind of peace…
And, I kept failing at it ALL—miserably.
Actually, arriving at Rock Bottom is a good place to be if you choose to begin walking out this transformation-thing that the bible speaks of.
Becoming “undone” hurts like a mother, but once I faced it out, I found out—it’s every caterpillar’s destiny!
Undone in Habakkuk’s Vineyard!
It’s “THE PLACE” where you, and a God who loves and accepts you, without limitation or condition can meet up, fess-up, and begin to take stock of the REAL you, your purpose in this life, and begin to make decisions that move you in some better, more positive, and hope-filled directions.
That is, if you can scrape together all the brave you’ll need to walk away from that “comfortable” rut. And don’t let anyone fool you—you’ll need a lot!
It takes guts to ask yourself the hard questions. It’s far easier to stay as you are, blame outside circumstances (or other people for your misery) choosing the “comfy-rut” of least resistance.
Or, you can choose a road called change.
Change involves risk.
Maybe risking everything!
Change involves discomfort; maybe pain.
Maybe lots of it!
Change may involve making everyone else unhappy or uncomfortable…
Bringing with it, the anger, rejection, and abandonment, you have most feared.
And finally, change involves gettingreal—about your own faults and bad choices.
For me, it involved saying that word I hated to say, always dreaded to say… No.
No, not for a Pleaser!
Saying, “No.” (And meaning it.) brings all manner of havoc and ugly unpleasantness! But, when the only view from your life is up?
Rock-bottom can become a real blessing.
It’s basic with life stripped down to very limited choices for sure but also with new and exciting possibilities!
Don’t get me wrong, walking away from the path of least resistance is painful and lonely. I found myself looking up from that deep, deep, very empty, dark hole. Starting over anytime takes courage, but from rock-bottom? You have to reach deep inside yourself, and listen hard. You have to find two things:
First, you need to hear the clear and unmistakable Voice of the Holy Spirit. (He’ll be the only One cheering for you, after everyone else has walked away!) He’ll be the One tenderly touching all those aching, newly uncovered, scar-places. He’ll be the One who calls you, “SweetHeart…” whispering hope for tomorrow, when everyone else is calling you ten kinds of traitor-and-bum!
And, He’ll be The One pointing you to that second thing…
He’ll be the One telling you, you need to find that “something” He created you for—your REAL purpose; that THING that gives your life zing, and your heart wings!
BIG HINT: It will be “the thing” that brings the sweet taste of crazy joy bubbling up from deep inside your soul.
SERIOUS WARNING: This. Ain’t. Easy!
Finding Christ is easy. (Chances are good He’s been looking for this opening called Rock Bottom long before you were.)
Finding yourself? …becoming yourself? (Not so much.) That’s a journey. Rock-bottom is only the beginning… but it’s a start!
And, after all, isn’t that THE PLACE you’ve been looking for all along?
When the world tells you that it’s impossible to be who you really are.. the who you were created to be? I hope you will listen to Your Father in Heaven and His Voice calling you out, into the risky-and-real-deep, of His purpose.
On Pinterest my handle is Molly~O. Molly is a nickname for Martha and O = Overcomer.
My mother used to tell me that her favorite picture of me was taken one day on the front lawn, me in diapers holding on to a little sapling tree announcing to the world, “I’s Marsa-Tanny!”
I was bold. I was fearless. I knew who I was! But, things changed. I changed. I became fearful. Unsure of myself. Slowly, bit by bit, year by year, that sure confidence began erroding away. The overcomer became lost, buried under years of debris.
I used to look at that picture and wonder, “Where did she go?”
It has taken me six decades, count them “Six!” but now (finally) I am becoming who I was always meant to be, created to be, knew originally who I was supposed to be, way back yonder in the beginning.
How is it possible that it takes a lifetime to finally believe what I was certain of at eighteen months?
I still shake my head at times wondering at the grace that has brought me so far.
I think it happens to a lot of us. (If we’re honest.) The real “us” that we were created by God to be, gets buried under so much guff-N-stuff we lose ourselves.
Our real selves.
Life happens, and in our growing up, we find out the world is a hostile place—and certainly no friend to children.
For some of us we’re fortunate, and it’s just the normal amount of heartaches and rejection with minimal amounts of bumps and bruises.
But, for others it’s worse. Much worse. And our overcoming becomes a life and death struggle. Overcome, or be overcome.
Whichever journey was yours, I am convinced no one becomes an Overcomer by chance. You choose it. You fight back every single time life comes to stomp you into the ground.
You become certain of one primary thing:
YOU WERE BORN FOR SOMETHING GREAT!
And, because God’s Word fiercely proclaims, you are worthy of love!You are deserving of respect!,You are of infinite value to the God who created you!
And, by the grace of God that’s what I’ve finally learned—and I’m sticking to it.
You see, He’s finally convinced me of how much I am loved by Him!
And believing that?
I can overcome anything!
ABOVE ALL ELSE
Did I not tell you? I AM not a man that I should lie! When I say it, it comes to pass.
(And, still, you are amazed?)
But, I thought you would know by now that nothing is too hard for your God?
(I confess, I do so enjoy making it look so easy.)
It always makes Me chuckle to see how easily man’s pride, and Satan’s schemes, come tumbling down!
My sweetest-heart, all this has been set in motion since your first faint cry. I know it has been a long and dusty road, full of sneering demons and the laughter of ungodliness.
Still, I was always there.
You know that now.
(You really know it.)
I will never leave you or forsake you. Nothing can separate you from Me and My love for you. Above all else… remember this!
My love is eternal.
My fidelity unwavering.
You have had to endure so many betrayals; so much abandonment. (It’s true.) But you have come closer and closer to Me in the process. Is this not bringing good out of evil?
And, you have come to see My love for you from new eyes of fresh perspective. Is this not also very, very good?
To hope one is loved is so inferior to knowing, really knowing, that one is!
To know that one will stay by your side come hell or high water, this can only be discovered through great adversities.