Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Redeemer Lives

It has taken me forever to get to a place where I can write about the next chapter, the one after "A Special Hatred" - the one that talks about Jesus and gives Him glory.

It wasn't easy reading because I was very emotional. I was also very sick! My life has been a roller coaster this past week but through it God has confirmed in me every word I've been reading.

It began with reading Isaiah 61, a scripture that Jesus quoted about Himself as He announced the beginning of His ministry:
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, [a]

2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

The first thing we must realize about Jesus is that He is more than just a ticket to Heaven. He's not our Redeemer simply because He took our sins to the cross. He is the healer of our broken hearts, our Deliverer from all the darkness that has overtaken our hearts, and the One who can take our hearts - junk and all - and make something beautiful and captivating out of it.

I had a lot of junk in my heart!

I just couldn't process it all as I read... I had to let it sit there a while. There were places in my heart that were so under lock and key I couldn't FEEL them anymore. The only thing I was keenly in agreement with is that the book says this: God, in His effort to ransom you, will start blocking your paths - hemming you in - until all the things you turn to for the filling of your wounded heart fall apart and you have nothing left but to go to Him... He's the only one that can heal you.

I felt this vividly. My journal is loaded with pages of frustration, of "WHY?!" Of expressing to God how sick and tired I was of constantly struggling, constantly failing at every little effort I tried. How much I EXPECTED for Him not to come through for me, how much I expected to be left up to me.

And that's when it clicked. God wasn't opposing me. He was opposing my "I'll do it myself" way of life. He was working His way around my heart so that I would stop being so in control and I could come to a place where I was vulnerable. And I was terrified of this place because I truly believed that being vulnerable was to my harm. But I came to see that He wanted me to be vulnerable again so I can start living by FAITH again; not walking by what I believed I could do but learning again to trust in Him. To be in a place where I have no earthly idea what to do so that He could provide a heavenly solution for me... Where I could once again start bringing Him glory.

I learned it the hard way when I tried to find a car for myself, while my husband is 1200 miles away, coming up to nothing but dead ends... Only to find that God was already at work at providing us a GREAT car within our means, and that a brother in Christ was already test-driving and bargaining for me. God was already doing for me what I couldn't do myself and had I just waited on Him - believed He would pull through for me at just the right time - I wouldn't have been so frustrated! In fact, to drive the point home, He had me sit out one day in the hospital with a kidney stone - I see now that it was for me to stay out of His way. I don't think I could've ever been excited about a kidney stone, other than the fact that I was relieved it had nothing to do with my current pregnancy... and God in His goodness healed me by the next day and allowed me to pass it without pain.

And then I was aware... God is really good! So what was causing me to mistrust Him so much?

In God's original plan, little boys and little girls know what God is like by how their earthly father is like. In this world, we still pick up all our concepts about who God is as our Father by how our earthly fathers were... and if they weren't godly men, we end up having MISconceptions as to what our Heavenly Father is like.

Tears. My dad barely provides for himself, let alone really provided for us. The biggest lesson on fatherhood I learned in my home was that my mom raised us and fed us by herself for the majority of our lives. My dad was too passive to really be concerned with our needs - he lives very simply and assumed that we could too. He avoided doctors at all costs, so he never visited us at the hospital (except when I was delivering a baby) or even offered to pay medical bills. He could live in a van the rest of his life and shower twice a week, and wonder why we were spending so much money on things like soap and deodorant... He would step in with food, and with rent if my mom was at her last rope.

So I have been acting on the belief that God would step in with major things - life and death things - but that all my needs and all my other concerns He could deem too petty for His assistance. Would He really care that I'm due for a dentist visit? Would He provide for a car when we could always inconvenience ourselves and walk? I trusted Him to heal my son from Cystic Fibrosis but I didn't think He would provide the next rent check... After all, we could always live in a one bedroom apartment (all five of us) and make it - moving to a nicer neighborhood and living in a duplex with a yard is just petty of me.

I always acted like if God stepped in and helped, it would be a pleasant surprise, but I didn't count on Him doing so any more than I counted on my dad. I learned that if I wanted or needed something I had to figure out how to get it all on my own.

And yet He has spent all this week showing me how wrong I was - and how much He cherishes me, even down to the very last detail. He sends someone with dinner on days when I'm praying for the strength to get out of bed and cook for my children. He even sends an anonymous $100 bill when I've been out of cat food for the whole day and Leo is starving. God cares about my pets! I can't help but laugh. And cry. I'm so repentant of my hardened attitude towards Him, of all the times I was angry because I couldn't be in control and have my way.

So then I was ready. I was ready to walk through with Jesus and allow Him to really heal my heart - ready to give all of myself to Him. I was surrendered. I had willingly given up my fight. What now?

I had to renounce all the agreements I've made with the messages of my wounds... I'm still working on all of them. I still wince at the thought of purchasing a hair brush because it doesn't seem to be a necessity. And yet my feminine heart won't let me go around with my hair uncombed - it is a need for me! And it's ok! All the things I've believed in as a result of my childhood... "No one has any resources to pull through for YOU. You are not worth it! Quit your whining, roll up your sleeves, and figure it out yourself. You are not pretty or talented enough. And even though you may be smart, you have no common sense. Quit playing around and be productive. Clean, help... work and pay bills - it’s your lot in life. You haven't earned the right to have hobbies, or experience any of life's pleasures. Don't waste your time with things like clothes, hair, and make up - it won't make a difference for you and it's all energy and money that can be put into something more useful than YOU. You are not worth it!"

Oh how I felt my heart open up, and I bawled. And I wondered, as I said in my first post, why I felt like I was just a biological organism? That's how I was living! I wasn't living like the woman that I had dreamed of turning into as a little girl. I wasn't giving my life and my heart any room for joy, or romance, or the pursuit of my passions (after all, if they don't make money to pay the bills, they are worthless). All I did was what I saw my mother do - work, feed, and clean. And she always complained that she never had time off - and she never took time off - and never failed to criticize me after I was married for the things Paul and I enjoyed... You spend too much time at the movies and going out to eat. Paul spends too much time playing around and too little time earning money. No wonder you guys are always broke! You deserve it! What a lie! I don't DESERVE being broke for finding enjoyment and company with my husband and my kids. This is where I renounced all these messages, and more as I find them... God, please give me a clean slate! Help me to feel and believe what YOUR Word says about me and nothing else. Please erase all these thoughts that have dominated my actions and my attitudes as a woman.

And I’m still asking God for healing, to help me to be FREE. He came to set the captives free. I want to be free, to love and express myself fully, to let it all out… as I find it I guess! It’s hard for me; I’ve learned to repress emotions. I got in trouble for expressing emotions at home – the only one allowed to set the tone was my mother. If she was upset, my being cheerful was considered rude and uncaring. If she was happy, I didn’t have the right to be angry under her roof. I remember one time, at about 6, I got really upset over something and I went under my bed to cry. I cried myself to sleep, and got woken up by my mom dragging me out of the bed and whipping me with a belt for being a drama queen. I was told never to do that again – even though I have no idea what was wrong about it to begin with! After my mom unleashed the fullness of her fury, we were all expected to sit at the dinner table with her and smile – because she was ready to move on. For us to still be hurt or upset meant we were unforgiving. We didn’t have the right to FEEL in our house. We didn’t have the luxury of being depressed – it was considered an absurdity. All these memories make me cry now, and I thank God that I am free to cry; because He has shown me that my wounds MATTER, my emotions matter, and that none of it was deserved. I have the right to be upset, and God can handle my tears. My emotions don’t upset Jesus, He came to “bind the broken hearted”.

I don’t have to always be strong now. I don’t need to know all the answers. I’m finding that I can be free to be a woman – in all the ways He created me to be. It feels like that first, full breath after being underwater. I’m worth it! My Heavenly Father is captivated by what He sees in me. I am giving Him the ashes in my heart and He’s giving me beauty in return. I am mourning the loss of the little girl I was meant to be (and I was so repressive, that you can ask my relatives: I have tried to destroy any evidence of me as a child) and the Lord gives me gladness and joy in my heart because I’m not lost. I can walk with a crown of beauty and a garment of praise – my own princess dress to twirl and dance in front of my Jesus because He doesn’t think it’s a waste of time… He is delighted me. And I can leave the spirit of despair – the frustration that I’m “too much” and yet “not enough” completely behind.

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