Monday, July 22, 2013

Bigger Picture Moments: Consider this Strength Shared

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." Luke 22:31-32 
Grief has this way of making everything that was once black and white seem like a million shades of grey.

And grief upon grief upon grief has a way of making you question if colors even exist at all.

After we lost our baby in March, I fell into a deep funk I haven't been able to explain. The kind where I've questioned knowing even the most basic tenants of my own heart -- up versus down, the goodness of God, who I really am

and the most basic principles of the world I've known for the past almost eight years since marrying John -- am I really safe, what is solid ground anyway, on what am I standing?

People have asked me how I'm doing, and I just haven't had an answer other than "better every week."

Which has mostly been true.

Have you ever stood in front of the mirror and found yourself wondering who is staring back? Or into the eyes of those who know you best as they search your face for a even a glimmer of who you once were?

I know these long looks too well, and my family knows them, too.

And none of us, myself included, could put it into words what was happening. I haven't known how to describe it until just a few days ago when I read the verse above in a book a good friend reminded me to read. As I delved into the pages of Sifted by Rick Lawrence and he dove into those two small but mighty verses in Luke, I began to understand that this funk I've been perpetually stuck in since late March hasn't been just a funk.

It's been a sifting.

I've pretty much found myself shaken apart in more ways than I thought I could be shaken.

Lawrence describes sifting like this:

"It's the violent process of separating the useful from the unnecessary -- the crushing and sorting of something whole for the purpose of isolating its nourishing core from the trappings that guard it."

Well, um. yes. It's been scary. I've questioned God's goodness. I've wondered who I am. I've struggled to trust and even speak faithful words let alone live faith out.

During the past few months, I've been having to relearn what it means to hear the voice of Life whispering in my ear versus hearing the voice of lies echo throughout my mind. I've had my thoughts, my beliefs sifted.

I've cried out to God so often for Him to deliver me, to bring me back to my old self. 

And I've wondered why. Why, God, could I feel you here with me, whispering Life and Grace and Love into my ears but still not feel restored back to my normal self? Why did I still feel like a playing piece in a chess game who had been strategically moved into intense battle?

A few nights ago the answer I'd been searching for all but dropped into my lap when I read these words, a love letter to my heart.

"The point of our lives is not the pain -- we are not the pawns of a capricious deity or the collateral damage of an ancient metaphysical feud. We are prisoners -- freedom is our only hope and sifting is its currency."

I have been living life in various captivities -- entangled in fear and worry, enslaved to health and body and bound to what ifs and should haves.

The reason why I could feel God walking beside me through violence of this sifting and hear Him whispering truths to my heart all while feeling like I was being sifted to my very core has more to do with His heart for me to live in freedom than it has to do with the restoration of life as I once knew it.

God doesn't want to restore me to the person I was before the sifting began because then I would still be living entangled and enslaved.

And if the currency for freedom is sifting, then my heart has had to be sifted because God's heart for us is always freedom. And it's always truth. And it's always love. 

And
"God wants nothing to do with cheap imitations of love, and He recognizes {as we most often do not} that there are far worse things that can happen to us than the pain we fear so deeply."
Through this sifting, I've discovered more of God's heart for me. I've asked Him to call me by name, and explain to me who I really have been created to be.

Repeatedly, He's called me by name. First Hyacynth. Then Daughter. Then Lovely Bride, each displaying a deeper and deeper intimacy that I wouldn't have otherwise sought and known.

The seasons of hard suck. The pain hurts like hell. The colors have been dulled and faded. The grief has been heavy and pressing and almost crushing feeling.

And there's no 'but' that will follow that.

There's only an 'and'

an 'and' that says Jesus is there in it with us, calling us by name, showing us that we are more than who we once were, praying for us to persevere in our faith and making us into something new after some of the old scrap has been sifted away.

He's there painting over the gray, reviving the colors and reviving our hearts.


8 comments:

  1. I've been there, Hy. Under different circumstances, but I've gone through grief and trauma so stark that part of the healing process required me to mourn the loss of my former self too (as if the experience itself weren't enough, right?!). It took a long time (A LONG TIME), but the me I am now wouldn't trade a day of what I went through to go back to the me I was. I know you already know the best things in life aren't always the easy ones. I'm sure you'll find your footing again, and that you'll find a purpose for the pain, and that one day things will be better than you thought they could be...even if they don't always turn out the way you might expect.

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    1. Yes, Jade. As if the grief and trauma weren't hard enough ... that's exactly part of it. I like the me that's emerging now -- stronger and less tethered to fears and anxiety. But, man! I wish the pain wasn't the producer of it.

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  2. THIS: "God doesn't want to restore me to the person I was before the sifting began because then I would still be living entangled and enslaved. And if the currency for freedom is sifting, then my heart has had to be sifted because God's heart for us is always freedom..." Oh my, YES. You speak my own heart's language so well and it never ceases to amaze me how similar yet different our paths are. I'm so glad we got a chance to chat today. And I'm so, so grateful for this truth that you explained so well.

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  3. Oh my heart needed this Hy. thank you for sharing yours so beautifully and so real and so raw.

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  4. I read this space here that exposes so much of your heart and I know that we were meant to find each other as friends, Hy. Like Jade, I understand and have become a different person due to molestations and rape and grief and vivid anger. The anger was so dark that I never ever thought it possible to see light again. The hard does (for lack of a better word) suck. Suck suck suck! You are so right. There is no "but"...

    I've questioned God, and I always get the same answer. It is a good answer.
    Love you! Praying for peace.

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  5. I just stumbled across your post—I'm Rick Lawrence, author of Sifted. Just wanted you to know how beautiful, even poetic, this micro-memoir is... It is possible to amaze and astonish Jesus—the Centurion proved that. And I believe “amaze and astonish” is His most-likely response to your courage and perseverance in the face of your sifting...

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  6. I just stumbled across your post—I'm Rick Lawrence, author of Sifted. Just wanted you to know how beautiful, even poetic, this micro-memoir is... It is possible to amaze and astonish Jesus—the Centurion proved that. And I believe “amaze and astonish” is His most-likely response to your courage and perseverance in the face of your sifting...

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    1. Rick, thank you for your encouragement ... and thank you for your book. I cannot quite put into words how that verse in Luke has helped me heal. Thank you for bringing it under a magnifying glass. I appreciate your time and effort in penning that book and this note.

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There's nothing better than good conversation ... but not while talking to myself. Will you play a part in this discussion?

AND will you pretty please have your email linked to your account or leave it for me so I can respond?

Thanks for taking the time to make these thoughts into conversation.

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