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finding rest

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  The last few months have seen a lot of emotions shoved into a closet and an over abundance of things to do.  I started a fast last Sunday…and it was kicked off with an encounter with God that I’ve never experienced before.  I’ve had quite a few strong, intense encounters with God and His love-but last Sunday?  Last Sunday I experienced Him in a way that brought me to my knees.

For years I’ve dealt with things that have happened to me by stuffing them into a large box labeled ‘Do not, under pain of DEATH, open me!’ until one box grew to two, which grew to ten and then there were so many boxes and walls erected around myself that I had no idea how to begin to dismantle it all.  I was trapped.  Trapped in a life that was devoid of emotion because I had shoved those into a box somewhere in the mellee.  I continued down the path called life but I was missing core pieces of who I was.  When I refused to deal with the pain and hurt dealt to me I locked away parts of myself that were vital to who I am.  I gave up me and all God had planned for me because of fear.  Instead of facing these hurts and wounds head on I chose the cowards way out and I ran.  I ran to the center of my being and wrapped myself in a ball while walls closed me in.  Whether I was alone, or with others, I could feel a wall closing me off.  Separating me from them.

I wanted to be free.  I wanted to feel again-even if at first it was just pain.  I wanted to walk through life my head held high and my heart on my sleeve.  But I didn’t know how.  I read self help book after self book.  I read book after book on God’s love and identity-but nothing changed.  I continued to walk with my head low and walls closing me off from those around me.  I could try all I wanted, but those walls were firmly planted in my very soul.  Until they were dismantled I was going to be unable to move forward.  I would be stuck where I was.

Oh, there were seasons where they dropped marginally.  Seasons where I gave God some semblance of control in my life and he was able to pry some of them apart.  But then the weight of the pain and heartache would leak out and I would slam them back up.  I’d feel a longing that my soul couldn’t process and I would shut it back inside of its box.  I had no room for longing-and a good Christian isn’t supposed to be sad!  They aren’t allowed to mourn.  Oh, how wrong I was.

I walked around with burdens heaped on my shoulders, bags of garbage dragging behind of me.  I ran from intimacy and would clutch my burdens tighter in defense.  I was untouchable.  I couldn’t feel pain anymore.  All I was was anger.  But I was safe.  For once I was safe.  But what good is safety at the expense of your soul?  What good is living a pain free life if you couldn’t rejoice in the sunlight touching your skin?  If you couldn’t feel joy or peace?  If you couldn’t think of yourself as loved, or loveable?  What good is safety when there was a dying world around you and you held a truth that could save them?  I came to this conclusion and for a year and a half I tried.  God, how I tried.  I tried to dismantle the walls caging me in.  I tried to connect with those around.  I tried.  But I was doing it out of my own strength.  I’d ask God for his help, but I never just let Him be God in the situation.  Instead I poked and prodded and pushed until I would sit back, exhausted and wonder at what was hiding behind that wall. I’d test the edges of it and wonder what’s hiding in there?  Because I had no idea.  I had hidden some of it away for so long I wasn’t sure what would tumble out when I opened the floodgates.  But I continued poking and prodding until I fell back, exhausted.

Last Sunday I sat in my mom’s church while one of the pastors from my church preached about finding healing.  I sat back and I listened as God wormed His way in like he’s wont to do. I sat there and I prayed, “God, I want the change I need.  I want the dirty.  I want the bad.  I want the ugly.  I want it all flushed out.  I want to these walls to be destroyed.  Whatever’s on the other side, God, I give you permission to open the floodgates because I need healing more than I need safety.  I want wholeness more than I want comfort.” And then nothing happened.  I continued throughout the service to wrestle with God and I praised Him through the pain.  I praised Him for coming into my life and making me whole again.  I praised Him for His goodness.  I praised Him for the fact that He will complete this work in me.

Then I saw something.  All I saw was a simple interaction between two people and whoosh-the wall was gone.  I started openly weeping and let the emotions, the hurts, the heartache wash over me and I let myself feel it.  I let myself mourn the losses.  The stolen promises.  I let myself acknowledge the wrongs that had been done and I wept.  I praised God through the tears-but I didn’t make them stop like I once would have.  Instead I cried to God to never let the walls come back up.  I begged Him to make me whole and to stand by me as I mourned these losses.  And He did.  He didn’t promise me that there would be no pain-but He did promise me that he would be there with me through it.  So I sat there and wept.  And I’m still sitting here and weeping.  But it isn’t the bone crushing emptiness I used to live in.  It’s not the depression spiral I came to know so well during my high school years.  This time I’m not shoving it into a closet.  This time I’m properly mourning it.  I’m choosing to let myself feel pain and I’m praising God through it.  Every time another wave of pain and heartache hits me I pull out my Bible and journal and I begin to write.  I tell Him of my pain and then I praise Him for being there through it with me.  I thank Him for His goodness.  I plead with Him to continue this journey with me.  I choose wholeness.  I refuse to let my past define me any longer.

I refuse to live a life devoid of rest.  Through this journey I’m finding rest.  The kind of rest that gives God my everything and says here, here’s my heart.  My everything.  My every longing, my every desire.  Here are all of your promises to me.  They’re not mine.  They’re yours.  I give it into your care. And moves. On. I turn away from those yet-unrealized hopes and dreams and trust in His sovereignty and His timing.  I rest in WHO He is and in His character.  I don’t simply resign myself to an unfulfilled life.  No.  Instead I trust that He loves me.  That He is good and withholds nothing from His children.  That if it hasn’t happened yet there’s a reason for it.  Like Abraham when he brought Isaac as a sacrifice, I’m learning how to give my everything to Him and trust that He is good.  I’m learning to rest.