There's a better story of true love and of true grace. There's the hope of glory and our first chance to be truly brave. It's the place we're going when we can't stay where we are. I'm here to re-write this tragedy one line at a time... - Sara Groves
Friday, December 31, 2010
The end of a year...
A good cup of coffee in hand and an early start to the morning has me bursting with the need to share a bit about 2010.
What a year...
This time last year, I was in Delaware, spending time with the man I was dating and his wonderful family. On our way home, January 1st, I told Rick about what this past decade has been like for me and how I was curious and a bit nervous about what lied ahead. A year later, and I am glad I didn't know what was waiting for me shortly after. This past year has been one of extreme heartache and I would be lying if I wasn't grateful 2010 was on its way out in a few hours. Yet, in the midst of the severity of the pain, I have never felt God's presence more profoundly and I can be thankful for the lessons I have learned. I have been on my knees more times than I can count. There are moments that breathing seems nearly impossible. Yet, there is so much hope. Hope that goes deeper and grows stronger in my heart as each moment passes. God asked me to let go of my control. After many moments of refusing, I finally let go.
It was painful. Excruciating, actually. But I had to. There was nothing else to do.
I will admit that when one lets go that way, it opens the door to some pretty scary places. However, intimacy and beauty fill your steps as you walk, for the One who created you walks with you. The Lord has created me to fight for Him, to grow and flourish in His love, His hope, and His power.
God knew this year was coming. And He faithfully prepared me. At the end of January, I returned from Ethiopia to experience a heartbreaking breakup. I made a lot of mistakes in trying to fix it myself. To deal with the hurt I was feeling, I started a journal to get at the core of what was going on in my heartache... and it drew me to the only answer there was. In the pain, a hand reached for mine. His Holy hand clutched mine. God's strength became my own. He taught me how to turn to Him FIRST, especially when everything seemed hopeless. He put hope back into my life. For several months the Lord mended pieces of my heart back together, preparing me for what came next.
The day I found out Nikki was in a coma, June 19th, I had been worshipping the Lord and spending time in prayer with some of the most wonderful people in my life. My heart was at peace that morning. I believe God prepared that time with friends in order that I wouldn't be alone when I found out Nikki was in trouble. I don't think I will ever forget the events of that day, the way my friends loved me so well, the people that were part of getting me on the airplane, and those that stayed on the phone with me for the next few days. God reached for my hand again. This time would be even more difficult than the last.
He held me closer than I have ever experienced before. Anyone who has lost someone like this knows the feeling. It really is unexplainable. How else can you continue to get through the details of a funeral, hearing that those whom you wanted to be there couldn't make it? We can only handle so much at a time. He lifts us up and holds us together when we are shattered.
As I've written before, saying goodbye to Nikki was the hardest thing I have ever done. We had such a beautiful moment the night before she passed. I sang to her and read to her one of our favorite scriptures. I leaned in and cried. Here was my precious little sister, hurting in ways I couldn't even imagine. As I prayed, she tilted her head towards mine, squinted her eyes, and squeezed my hand. That was the last time we communicated. It was beautiful and I'll never forget it. I had to let her go. I trusted her into the hands of our Father, knowing only He could make the suffering stop.
That next day, I curled up beside her on her hospital bed after they announced the time of death. So much fear ran through my heart. I trembled and have never felt more out of control than at that moment. How in the world was I to get through this? I will share with you what He's been teaching me about His faithfulness- in that moment and what followed. Just like many who have lost loved ones, I began to see the fragility of life...
Friends, our time with each other is so delicate. Why do we spend so much time hurting each other, taking revenge and getting into yelling matches in order to mend our own hearts? Why do we hold on to hurt feelings and choose bitterness? Believe me, I know what it is to be bitter and angry. I wanted it all to end and be with our Heavenly Father. Yet, He said "not yet". He had more to teach me and share with others. There are things that I am constantly having to submit before God to help me heal. I know I can't do it alone. Only He can teach me forgiveness and repentance.
We are called to love one another. He is teaching me to shed off this bitterness in my heart. Learning how to love is one of the most difficult things I have ever learned. He is teaching me to love those that have hurt me the most... the way He loves them. It isn't easy and I have a feeling it will take some time to heal all of the wounds that I've got- but He's promised to breathe life back into the decay.
So, at the close of this year, I can be thankful for His faithfulness. Every part of my life belongs to Him and He has given me the most incredible friends to pray for and support me... and He has helped me support them in their darkest hours. In the darkest of times, we hear His Word. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." We are called to walk by faith, especially when there are unanswered questions in our hearts. We are to trust God, even when we do not have the explanations we think and feel we need. God is helping me to choose life instead of despair. He is helping me seek to grow towards healing by helping others. 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 13-24 is healing my heart. "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."
He is always faithful. I will be starting this new year back in Ethiopia for a few weeks. It is such a privilege to walk with others in their own stories. What a beautiful gift the Lord has given! He shows me how to reach out my own scar-filled hand and help another's. Just as my friends have held my hand through these last 12 months, He helps me to share that love with others that need it.
I leave you with a song that has been close to my heart:
Pain is a forest we all get lost in Between the branches hope can be so hard to see And in the darkness we've all got questions We're all just trying to make sense out of suffering but
You say I am blessed because of this So, I choose to believe As I carry this cross, You'll carry me Help me believe it
Fear is a current we all get caught in And in its motion faith can be so hard to find And we all falter 'cause we're all broken We're all just trying to turn the shadows into light but
You get glory in the midst of this And You're walking with me And you say I am blessed because of this So, I choose to believe As I carry this cross, You'll carry me
And I know Your promises are faithful And God, I've seen Your goodness in my life And oh, I've found Your mercy is a river Your love is an ocean wide
You say I am blessed because of this You get glory in the midst of this And You're walking with me
And You say I am blessed because of this So, I choose to believe As I carry this cross, as I carry this cross 'Cause as I carry this cross, You'll carry me
You'll carry me, God You'll carry me And Your love is an ocean wide. - Audrey Assad
Thank you everyone who has walked this road with me thus far. I pray that some of what I've learned this year is helping to give hope in the despair. I am still learning, as I know I will until Christ's return, and I can look towards 2011 as a time to embrace the promises of healing. May the Lord bless you as you all enter a new year.