It's the last day of the year.
And in light of my last post and my thoughts on being transparent, I thought I would take a step in that direction with you. I want to be transparent with you about where I'm coming from, recently.
Because it's tempting, probably, to wonder if I have it all together. It's tricky to look at my last post on Cake & Cotton, my other, less serious blog, and think I have always been pouring out crafty goodness. I haven't been, for the past few years. Yes, I've wanted to...and I've had some outlets. But I haven't had the room in my heart to be all I was created to be. I was in too much pain.
To be frank, my husband and I are coming out of our hardest season yet. We've been married thirteen years, and suffice it to say that the first half of 2010 was not good. Neither was 2009. Or 2008. It's been a while since I've consistently felt something other than striving to keep my head above water, emotionally.
And I'm taking a risk here, since even those closest to us haven't really been inside our doors. Right? No one really knows what's going on in your home, in your marriage. Do they? And now, as a family, we are experiencing a new, heavenly normal, by the sheer grace and power and work of God. I cannot emphasize enough that it is all Him. It was Him in the beginning, and in the middle, and in the end of our trials. (But of course, we never really reach the end, until heaven.) Always Him, at work.
I feel like I'm rambling. There are so many directions I could go with this post. So many thoughts, lessons learned, and ways I could sum up my year with words. And I am starting to cry because there are so many ways I could have gone in my pain too. Through those many trying months, I was alone in my own home, in my own marriage. My husband and I seemed to be in very different and conflicting universes. There was so much strife and we rarely found connection.
Here's the thing. I tried fixing it in lots and lots of ways. Good and right ways. For a long time, I tried...so hard. My love and commitment for my husband wasn't enough. All the while, God kept whispering this phrase to me: Let me do my work. Oh, but didn't He need a little help? Surely He didn't want me to stop "trying". And surely I could make it all "work" more quickly. All my efforts were such a failure, which led me to a phase of frustration and feeling so ineffective. I had all this pent up anger at not being able to change anything. I wasn't angry at my husband, but I still wanted to punch something. I wanted to hit a windshield with a bat. I desperately wanted to make something move.
Still: Let me do my work. At this point of pain and frustration and anger, I know most people medicate. Whether it's TV or pills or overcommitting so nothing stops spinning long enough to really feel.....But I've never been big on the effects of chemicals in my body, and everything else just leaves you so empty. Everything but Jesus makes it worse. And I knew that.
I finally stopped trying. I was too empty, too hurt, too alone. I was past prayer. Way past prayer. I had nothing else to ask for. In fact, I had no more words at all. I was, as I so often use the phrase, at the end of myself. All I could think to do was posture myself on the carpet, like I had read Elijah did in I Kings 18. The Bible says that when he wanted God to send rain during a famine, he "bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees" (v.42). It doesn't say whether or not he prayed. It simply describes a posture of utter humility. Elijah knew he couldn't make it rain. He did it seven times before his friend saw a tiny cloud in the distance.
I brought my pain to the carpet, weeping silently as I'd learned to do after all were in bed,. Night after night, tear after tear, my nose smelling the cheap carpet fibers, my body sort of in Child's Pose. It was a horrible season, and at the same time, it was where I found my life. I can't describe what happened, actually. I can't put into words what healing feels like when it's whispered in the wee hours of the morning in the core of your soul. I can't list out the ways God became so real to me, met me over the course of many months, told me that I was His beautiful bride. I can't describe how it was more than everything I needed, and somehow more than I'd ever had. You have to experience it. And I have a feeling that you have to get to a really awful place first. Empty out before you can fill up.
One thing I can say is that worked. Whether our marriage had come around or not, bringing all my emotion and need before God was finally the right choice. After all the trying and working and talking - gosh, the hours of wasted talking - my heart spread out all over the carpet worked. Isn't it exactly what He wanted all along? It wasn't literally being on the carpet, of course. For me, it just happened that my body reflected where I was on the inside. The posture, utter humility. And unfortunately, I was there because I had no other recourse. In the future, I pray I'll go there with my pain a lot sooner. Like first.
So the second half of 2010, God brought heaps of healing between my husband and I. Once God got me under control, He DID do His work. Heaps and heaps of healing and blessing and refreshment have been ours. And a magical thing has happened; I've been perhaps more free than I ever have been to be me. In all my gifts and inspirations and passions, I want to show God off because He has made my cup overflow with....I can't even pinpoint it. Joy? Life? Love? All of the above, and more.
To wrap up, I thought it was fitting with my story to share a portion of Oswald Chambers' words, from his daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest, on the last page of the year:
Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.
Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands, and step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.
In 2011, help me remember to let all my worry, hurt, anxiety, and loss - past and present - sleep on the bosom of Christ.
Because that works.