Friday, December 31, 2010

Backstory for 2010

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 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.


  1. I pray that 2011 brings much joy and happiness to your family and to your heart. Happy New Year! :)

  2. Your story is so filled with Him. Thank you so much for being transparent. It brings Him such Glory. And it allows us to see the beauty of your heart. I am so thankful for the healing for your heart. May your 2011 be filled with more and more Joy.

  3. This was beautiful, dear friend. Thank you for being so willing to share from the deepest and most tender parts of your heart. I am a doer, a fixer, a talker, a take-action kind of girl. Be assured that the next time I am brought to the end of myself, I will remember your example and "spread my heart out all over the carpet" and in utter humility go to the Lord and wait for Him to do His work. The Lord is already using your vulnerability, your willingness to be transparent to share His truth for His glory.

    He is able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine, no? My heart rejoices with you as you experience healing and blessing and refreshment and freedom and joy.

    I hope you slept in peace and awoke to grace.

    Many, many thanks and best wishes,

  4. Thank you, thank you. Thank you for your sincerity and openness. I SO needed that, you are such an example and God's grace is SO sufficient. God will honor you through this - I know it. All the best for 2011. The best has yet to come!

  5. NO deleting! : )
    Wow, Leslie. I am amazed and inspired that you shared this with all of us. hope this gives you peace and encouragement and that you continue to move in the right direction. Sometimes just getting some of this out really does wonders for our souls I think. You are so full of love and faith and I am truly inspired by you! not delete. You never know who you might be helping out there with this post. XO amy

  6. What a beautiful post. Praise the Lord!

  7. you have me in tears. i'm so thankful you chose to give it all to Him. once you have Christ there is no where else to turn. where else would we go when we know our only hope is in Him? we just need to give back to Him what is already His. you are a beautiful child of the King, my sweet friend.

  8. Hi Leslie, I was one of N's teachers at AWANA last year (the pregnant one); what a sweet boy he is! Found your blog through Katie's and wanted to leave a comment to say how much I value your transparency and vulnerability. What a testimony's of God's faithfulness in your marriage; in your heart. Praying that this coming year will be one filled with GRACE and HOPE. I love those words.

    Warmly, Suzanne

  9. Thank you for sharing this… Thank you! You have made so many valid points to a season I am currently in, so thankful for your transparency. XoXo

  10. so grateful you listened to the spirit, and posted this. so clearly i see him here.

    thank you xo

  11. Thanks for sharing your story.
    I'm in a very tough spot in my marriage, have been for about 7 of the 8 years of marriage...
    I've done every "love your husband for 30 days" dare there is. I've prayed. I've served. I'm out of strength...

    your story has given me some hope, where hope is beginning to fade.
    God bless