When I tell stories, in life or in print, I try hard to get through them without offering too much of my own commentary. But after the last two posts I really feel I have to pause, if only for a moment.
My life’s story from the beginning to the events described in the last two posts had been simple, straightforward, and predictable. It was easy for me to connect with God, serve Him, and love Him when the majority of my life was filled with good things. I could accept the concept of grace because I think that somewhere in my heart I felt like there was something, albeit small, I could offer Him in return for the gift He’d given me. That His mercy and goodness would not be wasted on me because somehow, someway I would live my days in a way that would repay Him.
During the darkest moments of my life, I came face to face with my own humanity and the brokenness and ugliness that lives in me. It had always been there, of course, I just thought all of the really “good things” I could do with my life would distract from it’s reality. In my moments of despair, I wondered how I could ever find my way back to God’s love, because I felt like I didn’t deserve it the way I once did. I was no longer able to maintain this wonderful façade that I had everything together. Despite years of training and preparation, when my faith was tested, really tested, I trusted in other things. I felt like I failed, and that I had nothing valuable left to offer God. It made me ashamed.
Despite all the heartache I endured, an incredible thing of beauty emerged from that season of my life. As I look back and reflect over the three months we remained in Carlinville and I saw a Christian counselor, I can see how God very practically taught me about the true nature of His love. Even though I was hurting. Even though I was broken. Even though I felt like I was a terrible mother and wife and minister. Even though I knew I truly had nothing to offer Him. In my darkest moments, when I questioned Him and questioned me, God loved me, for who I was – ugly and all – and offered me grace and a road towards healing. He showed me how foolish it was to think I could ever do anything to earn His love or keep His love. That it was, and always had been a free gift.
If that revelation were not blessing enough, God showed me what an precious gift my husband is to me. Mike walked with me through the darkness. He’s the only person who knows all the details, and still he chose to stand with me and love me through that season of incredible difficulty. It’s humbling really, to understand that kind of love, but it is also one of the things that has fused us together in a way nothing else could.
Sometimes it’s impossible to know what you really have in life, the things that matter most and that money can’t buy, the lessons only life can teach you, until you lose something very important to you. For all the loss we experienced in that season, I gained some really valuable, eternal things that made even the pain worthwhile.
Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”