Wednesday, April 15, 2015
If I could tell my younger self . . .
If you aren't familiar with Celebrate Recovery, here is a quick overview of how a meeting goes. We open with worship, followed by either a lesson or a testimony. Then we break up into small groups followed by a meal together. In small groups we discuss what we heard in the large group and have a series of questions related to the evening's theme as discussion starters. We can answer one of those questions or discuss whatever we are struggling with. Or we can say pass if we don't want to talk.
One of the questions on our list during group this past Friday was, "If you could go back and change anything what would you change?" Most of the ladies chose this question to answer. Some of their answers were simply heartbreaking.
It is amazing to watch God working in these ladies lives. But I so wish that I could just miraculously convey the message to them that there is hope. That God loves them. That the pain and suffering they are experiencing now will one day by used for God's glory to help someone else who has been in their shoes. But first they have to allow Him to bring healing into their broken hearts. That is a hard sell when you are in the midst of said suffering, and you've never known unconditional love.
For someone who is in survival mode, it's really hard to comprehend letting go of the little ounce of control that you feel you have, even if it is to give that control to the creator of the universe. For those of us who have walked with the Lord for years, sometimes we take for granted the trust and faith that we have, knowing that God really is working all things for our good. When you are a person who hasn't had much good in your life, or who hasn't had anything good for a really long time, GOOD seems like something that only happens to other people. Taking a chance on trusting an unseen God can seem pretty risky for a heart that has been broken, stomped on, and left on the streets to die. Some of these ladies have survived only by sheer willpower and street smarts. Trust, freedom, unconditional love, and GRACE, are completely foreign terms to many of them.
I chose not to answer the question of what I would go back and change. The list is too long, too painful, and way more information than I had time or the nerves to share. And since that isn't an option anyway, I chose to focus on where I am now. What my life is like after 26 years of sobriety and trusting God every day.
For grace over my past,
peace to find joy in the present, and
strength to face whatever the future holds.
This isn't quite what I said to them, but here's a small portion of what I've learned over the years.
I've learned that I'm never going to have all the answers.
I've learned that forgiveness is cleansing, both being forgiven and gifting that to others, even when they don't deserve it.
I've learned that my heart can find joy, even when I'm not happy.
I've learned that being transformed by a holy God doesn't take away my control, it gives me self-control.
I've learned that my God is truly everything He says He is.
So, if I could go back and tell my younger self anything . . .
I'd tell her to let go of her fear, quit worrying about what others think, and enjoy life.
I'd tell her that she is loved already and that no one on earth can fill that emptiness in her soul.
I'd tell her that beauty on the inside is so much more pleasing and lasts longer than what is on the outside.
I'd tell her that acne does eventually go away.
I'd tell her to listen more and talk less
I'd tell her not to judge others harshly, because she has no idea what they are going through.
I'd tell her to read her bible every single day, even if she doesn't understand what she is reading.
I'd tell her that prayer is a conversation which requires listening as well as talking.
I'd tell her that there are going to be some really hard days, but Jesus is going to hold her through it all.
And that after those hard days, she will see God's hand was at work through the pain.
I'd tell her that giving everything to God means getting everything of Him,
and that is worth more than she could ever imagine.
And more than anything else,
if I could go back and tell my younger self only one thing . . .
I would tell her that God loves her.
Not just the whole world. But her.
Beyond anything she can imagine.
As an individual.
As a child of the king of all kings.
As a chosen daughter.
As a precious child.
Because that is what has made all the difference in the world to me for the last 26 years.
He loves ME.