How to handle refining in your life and grow from it
I was and still am a fighter.
In my childhood and early adulthood, anytime I felt threatened or misunderstood I would come out swinging. I had things to say and everyone was going to hear me and know in their bones how I felt. I was the squeakiest wheel in the bunch. I was tagged as out of control.
We cope in the ways we are bent, taught, and, ultimately, knew best. I continued in my “out of control” cycle for years.
In my early thirties, married and with toddlers, I found myself in an “out of control” moment. I was screaming into the air in desperation at the top of my lungs “Please help me!”. I was at the end of the rope and I was done. The culprits, my precious 2 and 4 years olds. It was nap time and they decided they were not going to sleep much less, stay in their rooms. This extremely tired mama needed her break and it was clear the break was not going to happen.
Like most moms, we look forward to the moment when the house is quiet and you can think for just a moment. A moment that reminds us that we are human and not just milking machines that clean up and change diapers all day. I longed for that moment I could plop down on the sofa and catch a 20 minute nap.
Instead, the memory is seared into my brain 10 years later, I was standing in the entry way with two toddlers clinging to me, wanting mama. As much as I hate to admit it, I was out of control crying out to the air, so desolate. So tired. I glanced down to wipe my tears and see, to my horror, my children were scared….of me. A feeling I knew too well growing up and there I was repeating that same cycle I swore I would never repeat.
I immediately hugged them, placed them in their rooms, called Shad to come home, and crawled into my bed. I knew I needed help.
This marked the very beginning of the courtship of my God, my Rescuer, and Christ-centered therapy. I knew of Jesus, claimed Him as my Savior, but I never “let Him in”. I walked in this “I got this” mentality. I had resolve that I would be that mom I wanted to be for my children. I already had years of therapy and work under my belt, and was convinced that I had sealed the deal on healing. I was past my past and could move on. Be a better me. Unfortunately, when circumstances got hard, I cracked.
Therapy is wonderful and I highly recommend it for anyone who is struggling with life, stuff, just anything. I also recommend that therapy is best under the care of someone who walks with the Lord and can guide you as she is guided by the Spirit. I had not had therapy under this care, yet, and did not know the power of transformation that was untapped.
I reached out and found a Christian counselor which helped me face my truth and find a voice in my brokenness. My God and I faced some hard truths I was afraid to speak out, but He brought me through. I began to get to know my Savior as the Daddy, Protector, and Comforter that He is. I began to know His character and therefore be able to recognize His voice in my life. For so many years, the evil one’s voice was loud and defeating. Day by day, I repented of my sin, and day by day, my Savior raised me up from ashes and brought me into the light of love and acceptance.
“Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.”Job 42:6
During this season, my circumstances didn’t change, but my heart did. The kids still missed naps when I needed peace and quiet. Financial difficulties came, marriage stress made its way into our US, and friendship hardships still crossed my path, but the Lord remained. I would crawl onto the floor in each circumstance, face down, asking for the moon for I knew He was “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20).
I prayed with expectancy, yet with a heart wide open to a possibility to an unanswered prayer. You see, he works “according to his power that is at work within us” (Eph 3:20). He works on the heart. He is more concerned about our heart change than our circumstance change. Would I be OK if he never answered my prayers? Would I walk in obedience in how He was refining me during that hardship, even if circumstances never changed?
God works from an inside-out perspective. Not an outside-in perspective. This concept is the New Testament Covenant versus the Old Testament Covenant. Once Jesus died for our sins, He left the Spirit to live within us so that we could have a personal relationship with Him. So we could walk and talk, cry and laugh with Him. We get to walk in salvation and obedience with Him. Obedient to His instruction in how to serve Him and gather the people so we could scatter the people.
And every prayer I pray, I ask with guts and I ask boldly. I ask for the moon as he will answer according to His will MORE than I could ever ask or imagine. I pray that every prayer be forgotten if it does not bring glory to Him as “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” (Eph 3:21)
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21
With each circumstance that crosses my path, I try to look at it as opportunity for growth in my life. Sometimes, however, He is so silent. So very silent. During this time, I pray for deliverance daily, only to hear nothing. During this time, my heart pulses and throbs and grows once again. During this time, sisters, I realize I am never too old. Never ever. As long as I have breath, I have opportunity to bring Him glory in my growth through obedience in our circumstance.
I don’t know about you, but I have found that anytime I am called into obedience, it requires sacrifice.
Good ‘ol Merriam-Webster describes sacrifice as:
an act of offering to a deity something precious; the killing of a victim on an altar; destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else; something given up or lost.
I particularly identify most with that last definition: destruction of something for the sake of something else.
The Lord will not leave anything undone. He will continue to tear down what is not bringing Him glory until He finds obedience. He requires of us to let go, to sacrifice what we are holding onto, replacing Him with, in order to open up the chance of transformation for His glory.
And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” Matt 24:2
He is in the business of building up, but sometimes, our sin, our cycles, and ourselves must be torn down in order forHim to be glorified and lifted up. I want my Savior to dwell in my heart. I desire the power of the Spirit to use me is miraculous ways. I crave to be filled with the measure of His fullness. But none of this will happen unless I allow my life to be radically changed starting from the inside out. Only if it will be for His glory alone.
I am in no way a Paul, but his words resonate with me as a prayer for myself, family, friends, and the generations that are watching…
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21
I stand firm in the statement I started this post with: I was and am a fighter. I will fight not against the Lord, but for the Lord. When He chooses to refine, I will not box the Holy One, but will take off the gloves, fall to my knees, and fight through my sacrifice, my obedience, and my faith. In this way, He will be glorified to bring His people home and if He chooses me to be a part of that, then thank you Jesus! I receive that!
The photos in this post are snapshots of a walk I took with one of those toddlers in which I opened this story. She is now 13 years old and one of my closest people. God is a forgiver, forgetter, and redeemer of our sin. She and I are closer because she knows my sin, she hears my repentance, and sees my God at work in my life.
Thank you Jesus for the grace and the spacious place. You gave me the courage you knew was there to forge a new path for my life and for the generations to follow.
He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. Psalm 18:19
My friend, He delights in you, too.