Recording artist Brandon Heath wrote a song that became a number one hit on Christian radio the year I became single after almost thirteen years of marriage. I turned my ignition the other day and out of my car speakers blasted the chorus, “I wish you could see me now, I wish I could show you how…I’m not who I was.”
Isn’t it funny how a song can time travel us to mental places we haven’t been in years? That happens to me all the time at the YMCA when they blare songs from my high school days over the loud speakers. I try not to sing along with John Cougar while the wall of mirrors not-so-gently reminds me that I’m no longer in high school and “Jack and Diane” are probably grandparents by now. Whether it’s a song or the mirror, the world often reminds us that we aren’t who we once were. But, this morning, my Bible also reminded me that I am somebody new. I love the thought, found in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if Juliet is in Christ, she is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
Yay for me! I’m not who I was. Yay for God! Because of Him, I’m NOT who I was. I like the me I am now better than the me I was back in 2007, when my little world came apart at the seams. From this vantage point, almost seven years later, I can see that God is doing what He promised to do. He’s finishing the good work He began in me. No, He’s not done yet. But, just like when I faithfully visit the gym, there is progress. And that makes the journey worth taking. I’m not in charge, He is. One. Day. At. A. Time.
So, if you’re one who has committed to praying me through this project, here’s how you can pray for me this week as I write the chapters that deal with the end of my first marriage: I need to “go there” in my mind so that I can relive the experiences in order to write well. I want my writing to be authentic and real. But I don’t want to dwell in the dark. So, please just pray that as I go back to who I was and where I was in the couple of years leading up to 2007, that I can write from a place of forgiveness and healing, with the knowledge that I am in Christ. Iam a new creation. And may my words inspire others to persevere, because one day they, too will look back and be able to sing along with Brandon Heath at the top of their lungs, “I wish you could see me now, I wish I could show you how…I’m not who I was.”
“In everything give thanks.” It’s right there in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. I memorized it years ago. Isn’t it easy to give thanks when it’s officially Thanksgiving week and the fixin’s for Thursday’s feast are filling the pantry? Just like it’s effortless to be generous when the carol singing and the ding-dinging of a little bell reminds me to drop something in the Salvation Army bucket on my hasty way out of Walmart. And worship comes easy when the music and the lights are right, when God breaks your stubborn heart right there in the padded pew.
But what about the in-between days? Am I thankful when it’s not the fourth week of November? Am I generous without the bell ringer’s gentle reminder? Does my heart soften in worship on lonely grey days? Or when everything seems to be falling apart? Or when busyness rules my schedule? Sometimes. But not often enough.
I found my journal the other day. The one I began in 2013. The one I determined to write my own “One Thousand Gifts” in. (If you don’t know about Ann Voskamp, allow me to introduce you: http://www.aholyexperience.com/) It was filled with blank pages. Only the first page held the humble beginnings of my list. Now it’s November. Have I been ungrateful to the One who gives me the desires of my heart? Searching that heart of mine to see if it’s pages were blank, as those of my journal, I joyfully discovered they weren’t! What is written there, My Savior sees. What is written here, for the world to see, will be snippets of what’s in my grateful heart.
But, one might ask, “Why start a blog if you can’t even keep a journal?” Because this year, I have been writing. I’ve been birthing my story of how God redeems the things we thought were lost. It’s not an easy story to tell. It’s been a slow and sometimes painful journey through years and doors I thought were closed. But, God has spoken to my heart, reminding me of the power in every person’s story to positively impact the story of another. And so I write. And I humbly invite you to join me on this journey. Will you pray for me as I seek to share my own version of God’s redeeming love?
I feel the need for an interactive community to bounce ideas off of, to provide feedback and support as I work my way through the dark parts of the past while striving to live in a present filled with thankfulness, generosity and true worship. My target audience is anyone who has tasted the pain of being wounded by addiction, either your own or someone else’s. But if that “shoe” doesn’t fit you, I encourage you to stay anyway. Maybe something shared here will inspire or encourage your heart along the way. Maybe the promise of a happy ending will keep you coming back. In the meantime, my prayer for us all is hearts filled with a true spirit of thankfulness, generosity, and worship as we celebrate this season of thanksgiving, for our God truly redeems the things we thought were lost.