Our church has been going through an awesome series called ‘The Spirit Speaks Through Community’ where different people from our community can talk about what’s going on in their own life or what God has put on their heart to share. James and I did this past Sunday’s service. I was horribly nervous and calm at the same time, weird combination. We took turns sharing about the past few years of our marriage; the low points, the learning, the stretching, the (hopefully) growing. It actually felt really good (when it was all said and done) to get up there in front of our faith community and be completely real with everyone. I didn’t try to be someone who I’m not and I shared straight from my heart. Considering where James and I have come in the past 3 years this was a HUGE step for us. In the past little while I’ve felt as though my heart is coming out of a deep slumber. It’s waking-up and stretching out, getting excited to be alive to the world again. I can feel it start to thrive and even blossom. It makes me smile. It’s a great feeling and I think that this was just one step that has helped it get there. Anyways, I thought that I would share the last part of what I spoke about on Sunday. I know there were a couple of people who wanted to hear James and I speak but couldn’t make it so this will have to do.I suppose you have to know the rest of our story for it to really make sense, but even if you don’t I hope you can connect with at least a small part of it. Enjoy.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.”
James 1: 2-4
Do you ever have one of those moments where you just stop in your tracks and that light-bulb goes off and you think, “MAN, I have had a MAJOR gap in my thinking!” I’ve recently had one of these shifts happen. For some time I’ve had a prayer for my life. My desire is that I become a woman who when you spend time with, you feel at rest. Now, that can come across as sounding odd at first, but let me explain. Have you ever known a woman who when you sit with her you’re at peace, you feel comfortable, you feel at home? I’ve known a few women like this. They are the fruit of the spirit, they are the Ruth’s and Ester’s. I encountered this a number of years ago and quickly began to desire the same thing in my life. I prayed that God would mold me to be more Christ-like so that I will, over the years, become a strong and peaceful woman.
But I found that even though this was my prayer I wasn’t willing to go through the molding process. I didn’t want to be pruned so that I would, in turn, become more fruitful. And not that it was this actual thought that I was having where I was saying, No! No pruning! It was more of a desire to have everything perfect and smooth and then somehow – one day – I’d wake-up and be Christ-like. So when James and I would go through things I would just get confused and angry and defeated and depressed. ..and then I’d get bitter and just want to turn down the dial on the whole God thing. There was NO joy in my suffering.
Then this past year I had one of those light bulb moments.
How can I expect to become a woman who genuinely and fully trusts in the Lord if I don’t live through situations that require me to trust?
How can I expect to become a woman who is peaceful if I don’t live through situations where I see God’s faithfulness?
How can I expect to become a strong, Christ-like woman if I don’t live through situations where God is challenging me and pushing me and stretching me…molding me into the woman I am praying and desiring to be?
How selfish of me to want to be a follower of Christ who’s life is full of fragrant blossoms who is in no way, shape or form willing to go through any sort of pruning process. How selfish.
When I fall into the thinking that I will mold myself, I will prune myself, I will be my own gardener – I will not cut as deep, I will not stretch as far…I will go easy on myself and the outcome will be significantly less stunning. This is the truth. This was my light bulb moment. I have a feeling that God is wanting to use these situations in my life to make me stronger and healthy, to help me to thrive. And the thing is, with my plant, the pruning is a constant undertaking. Every few weeks I look over my plant and see what needs to be done.
I am finally able to look back on the years of our marriage, and be joyful and thankful that God didn’t go easy on me, or on James, because I can see the direction He has pointed us in, and I feel Him so deeply at work in our lives.