I found myself in a pretty hopeless situation this past year. I felt like I was on the edge and didn’t know, if I jumped, where my feet would land. It caused me to depend on the Lord like never before.
Back in February, when I felt God prompt me to stop leading worship, blogging, and podcasting, I was insulted by the request. Why should I give up what I am passionate about?! These things weren’t wrong. I mean, I was doing them all for God, right?
But the truth was that He was calling me into a season of obedience and surrender, and one of freeing, healing, and humility.
Earlier that day, I found myself crying out to Him on the floor of my bedroom feeling more alone and pathetic than ever before.
“Trust me,” He said. “Trust that when the time is right, I will give it all back to you.”
I knew what I needed to do, but that didn't stop me from crying for about twenty-four hours straight after my tearful conversation with God.
Have you ever smiled in public, but shed private tears?
The next day, I showed up to Bible Study all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed like nothing had happened. Tears were dried up, make-up was on, and I was masked for the day. However, on the inside, I was a wreck.
The season I was entering into would become one of very little margin as we welcomed our second child into the world. It was a season of focusing on marriage and navigating how to be a family of four.
In the months to come, I would have yet another dramatic birth, a host of complications afterwards, an immense lack of sleep, and a financial crunch that would make my stomach ball up into a knot of anxiety everyday.
Functionality, in every way, would be minimal at best, and I would begin to doubt myself as my brain became more forgetful and tired.
All the while, I always knew that God was at work and would somehow use this to mold me. What I didn’t know then was that this journey was going to become a glorious dichotomy of coming into a season full of joy, fruitfulness, and freedom mixed with brokenness and humility that would ultimately lead me down a path to greater confidence in God and the purpose He has for my life.
For example, writing this blog. I sat down so many times to download my thoughts and came up with nothing. I've been so brain dead lately, which has caused me to doubt in my abilities because I don’t quite feel that I am functioning at 100% yet.
And that’s the crux of the lesson God has been teaching me all year.
When we are at our very end, with nothing else to give or anything else we can do, the Lord gives us the melody, the inspiration, the words. And they are so sacred, so perfect, and so beautiful because they are His and not ours. His spirit operates through us in our very weakest. What we produce is evidence of His glory and work in our lives. We are off the hook. It’s better than our human minds can imagine and blessed beyond measure. And for those of us needing healing or dealing with loss, that’s when the restoration starts. When we surrender it all-every feeling, hurt, wound, and tear.
As I was praying through this stuff a few months ago, the words of Hosea 2:15 came to mind.
“There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.”
If you have ever read through the book of Hosea, you know that it's the story of Israel’s redemption. The Lord is trying to show the Israelites their sin and the error of their ways, and make it clear that the Lord plans to bring hope, redemption, and restoration to a very broken group of people. Sound familiar? The word “Achor” mean’s trouble. She, Israel, was in a “valley of trouble.” What is your valley of trouble? What is happening in the depths of your soul? What makes you cry alone in the ladies room? (All I can say is thank the Lord for Dior mascara that doesn’t budge no matter how hard I weep!)
The second half of this verse comes in like a flood of hope. She will sing! This spoke right to my soul. I love to sing! My heart will sing again and it will be a glorious song! What was once taken away, barren, or destroyed will be restored.
During this season, I was confronted with so many lies from the enemy, and the very things that I am most passionate about seemed to be under fire.
“You are not good enough.” “The answer is no.” “You are second string at best.” “Maybe you should quit.”
These were the messages swirling around in my head.
I believed these lies because they confirmed every defeated thought I had, but mostly because there was still a small part of me that didn't believe I was worthy of my calling.
Perhaps for some of you it’s motherhood or marriage. It may even be a career path or a talent. The thought of losing it, or being rejected because of it, is more than you can even begin to bear.
But how do you fight against the lies when you have no fight left in you? Where do you find confidence when you are feeling defeated?
For me, it's been a journey. It's been a season of God fine tuning a lot of things in my heart, but also finding new inspiration because I was actually taking the time to listen. It was tough to let go of all my extra activities, but in the end, it turned out to be a season of rest and renewal of my mind, soul, creativity, and self confidence.
I learned so many things in this season and I look forward to unwrapping them with all of you, but one of the greatest lessons I learned was that we are not meant to journey alone. We need each other and we need connection.
As I started to look around me, I realized that I knew so many amazing women with great things to say. I was timid to ask them to share their stories here, but the response has been overwhelming. What I am looking forward to most, as I hit the reset button on this blog, is being on this journey together, sharing in the joys and sorrows, and cheering each other on from the sidelines.
I spent a lot of time working really hard to perfect all of this, but another thing that I learned was that God uses our imperfections, weaknesses, and troubles more than anything else to teach us, grow us, and make into strong women who represent the gospel well.
Welcome to my mess.