Saturday, August 17, 2013

How Shower Crayons Changed My Life

In March of 2012, I felt as if I had suddenly lifted my head out of the fog.  I looked around:
-no one slandering us before and after church, in the sanctuary, hallways and fellowship hall.
-no one scheming behind our backs to get us fired.
-people thought we were funny and likable and pursued our friendship across the state of Texas and new hometown alike.
-students (plural!) thought we might know something about Jesus.
-parents (plural!) thought we might know something about students.

I wasn't struggling to just breathe anymore!
You have no idea how gloriously free it felt- the lack of fighting (spiritually and emotionally) was such a new sensation; I had forgotten what it felt like.  I took a deep breath and walked to the park with Hannah a lot.

At first.

Because then I decided to look around and assess the damage.  And it was bad.  It was ugly.  I felt ugly and alien to who I was years ago and to who I knew God created me to be.  I was so bitter, so critical, so hurt, empty, broken- and I had no idea how to change anything.  I wanted to just sink back into the fog again.
Praise God for the friend who months before (in love) pointed out to me how many lies I had begun to believe about God.  I will never forget how she looked me in the eyes and said, "It sounds like your saying that God isn't good."  (Probably more eloquently, because she's awesome like that, but that's the gist.)

That can't be true, can it?  I mean, I know God is good.  The Bible says so.  And if the Bible says so, then I believe it.  Right???

So at least, months earlier, I'd had my eyes opened to the possibility that I had lies planted deeply.  But  I had no idea how deep the rabbit hole went until I assessed after March.  We were in a new town, with a fresh start...lots of support and encouragement.  But I still had that same old heart that I brought with me.  It had seen much better days.  But for the last few years my heart had given much.  Here's the way I saw it:

  • In 2007, my ideal (unrealistic) marriage was dead and I was suddenly married to a man who struggled with pornography and lust.  And I had a two year old.  This is not what I wanted.
  • In 2008 I was told that due to health complications I should not have any more children.  I had an almost 3 year old and a few minutes old baby.  This is not what I wanted.
  • In 2009 we moved across the state of Texas to once again do Youth Ministry.  I left behind my sources of support and friendship hours and hours away.  This is not what I wanted.
  • In 2010 after a year of trials of treatments, the doctor told me I needed to have a hysterectomy.  (Like I didn't already feel like enough of a failure as a woman.)  Again, this is not what I wanted.
Had other people been through worse?  Absolutely!  Had I been through worse growing up?  I think so.  But what kind of God did I serve where He took away things I thought were good?  (more children, friends, etc)  And didn't me serving Him and sacrificing for Him (leaving family, friends, staying with my husband) count for anything?  But I would continue to "follow" Him...because, I mean, He's God.  He's the boss of my life.  What did it matter that I didn't have my questions answered...I still had to follow Him.

Little did I know, that I had come up with my own answers...with a closed fist and hardened heart.   I served a God who took good things from me, expected me to sacrifice tremendously for Him...all because He was God.  He was not good, but He was God.  He gave me salvation, what more should I expect from Him?!?
Do you have any idea what these thoughts can do to a heart?  Can you for one moment imagine where this train of thought leads???  

Thankfully (HA!) the same friend who looked me in the eyes also bought me a book called 1000 Gifts.  The author spoke of forgiveness.  Forgiveness for the apology that was never offered.  The call to be awestruck and the ability, like Paul of the New Testament, to LEARN how to be thankful in every situation.  I had no idea how much ingratitude was the root of all sin.  The root of my bitterness and all the other uglies.  This was much more than just putting on rose colored glasses.  That red hue would not help me heal from the deep hurts that I'd had inflicted upon me (without my choice or consent) throughout my life.  Only the ability to live slow and be God-struck could do that.  To truly and honestly learn to be thankful.  (As Voskamp points out eucharisteo always proceeds the miracle!)  Scripture after scripture seemed to shout it out:  Be thankful!  Give thanks!  Before Jesus broke the bread, He gave thanks.  Before He healed, He gave thanks.  And before He offered the Passover meal, knowing He was about to sacrifice His life...He gave thanks?!?
Could I look back and see my inability to have children as a blessing, as a reason to give thanks??  Maybe....but I knew I'd have to start smaller at first.  So I had a brilliant idea to buy shower crayons.  You know, the colorful things that children can supposedly write on themselves and shower walls with?  Yes, those.  So, I bought them and my goal was to write 3 things before I showered each time that I was thankful for.  Some things were easier to mark than others.  It was a game of sorts...a game that healed my heart and threw my life off course in the most amazing way.  As I learned to be thankful, to look for gifts and burning bushes everywhere; I saw them.  Every where.  But I had to be living slowly to see them.  I could rush by and through my day and not see the gift in each moment.  But what a waste!  These gift moments add up to a day, and days add up to weeks, and weeks add up to months and months add up to years and years add up to a lifetime...and isn't that what I'd given God anyway?  My life?  Those years and months and moments?  Now that I was healed (healing still in some places, let's be honest.) and in love with the God who loved me and gives His children good gifts...what did He want with those moments?  (More on this next post)

A very sweet boy decided to add his own "thankful gifts" to the list along the way too...  :)


Sarah said...

My favorites are "melted cheese refried beans" and "DVD storage cases." And of course 105 and 106 is pretty stinking awesome. We have dark slate tile in our shower or I would totally copy this. Maybe I'll do it with a magna doodle or something instead. Love your heart and love that our hearts can change. Its such a good thing.

Tara said...

I love you. I miss you. I'm proud of you. Proud to call you friend. Proud to know you. Humbled that I have a friend who listens and takes things to heart. That I may have more, meet more and be less. Amen.