“Experience: the most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” -C.S.Lewis
There seems to be this distinct, unique pain that is chained to grief. It comes without warning, sly and creeping, gripping you where it knows you hurt and ceases to relent. One moment you’re fine and the next you’re breaking down, peering through tears, trying to make it through all the day has ahead. On those days, I have to be reminded that often times the sadness is an invitation. A time where we are gently welcomed to come, with our emotions, pain, and hurts, and surrender them to the One who leads and heals with a love we will never fully comprehend.
For months my mind has been flooding with images of a house. As if in a dream, I see myself flat on my back, the wind knocked out of me. I lay looking upward into the night sky as shards of glass and splinters of wood lay fallen beside me. Struggling to breath, I sit up to look around and find only ruins where my house, full of memories, once was. Tears streaming down my face and my hands shaking, I am overcome with emotion of all that I knew, all that I held dear, laying stripped to pieces before me. In many senses, this imagery of a house destroyed is exactly how I feel after this past year. Time after time I braced myself as another wave of storms struck leaving even more destruction in its place. Now left with nothing appearing as it were, an intensely fragile state, and not knowing how to even begin to put it all back together. Time for the rebuilding.
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”― C.S. Lewis,
It has taken family, friends, therapy, time (although I don’t always love that expression), and true healing, but I can honestly say that I am thankful for all God has brought me through this past year; probably one of the hardest I’ve experienced yet. What has been amazing to me though, amidst this challenging season, is the beautiful ways God has used this trauma to draw me closer to Him……His ultimate desire and purpose through our trials.
Not at first, but over time I was getting glimpses of why there had to be this destruction. Why God allowed for so much brokenness to enter into my life and to my family’s. While things were falling apart, all I wanted was to cling desperately, to hold on tighter; as if somehow my feeble efforts would keep the doors from closing and the windows from staying shut. Gently, God continued to reveal to me that it was ok to let go, to surrender, and that this was not the end.
God allowing this destruction in my life has in a strange way allowed for me to have a fresh start of sorts. I had not realized it, but in many areas of my life I had been holding onto bad habits, false ideas and mindsets about people, myself, my life, and ultimately God. As it says in 1 Peter 1:6-7, our trials in life often act as a refinement for our faith. Similar to gold, the fire it is put through sifts out impurities and imperfections, baggage and scars, then leaves it in a stronger and more valuable state. God has used this year to reveal to me that there was dire need of refinement in my life. Lies that I was still holding onto about myself and others that I needed to surrender to Him. Revealing that trust was something I had a huge issue with: myself, people, and God. Tearing down my walls of self-reliance, pride, hurt, pain, and the like, God was able to sift through my broken self to make way for a new, solid foundation.
So this is the rebuilding, the next steps after the destruction. The redesign of all that I have known and relied on for years. What will I do without windows to keep out the reminder of the winds of change? Where are my rooms to hide away my fears and my emotions so that I, nor anyone else, can get close to them? All these elements, now being destroyed, allows for the good to be built back in as it had always been designed to be. Doors designed to welcome people in, not shut people out. A home, not designed to be a place to hide away, but a space for trust, warmth, and love. Now trusting His timing, His design, and that He is faithful to complete the work that He has begun through true heart change and healing. This past year has taught me so much about God’s perfect love for me, something I am continuing to lean into and learn more about. How His love is pure and unwavering, always pursuing our hearts and desiring to bring us closer to Him. How He loves us enough to constantly be at work to free us from the things that chain us, both known and unknown to us, demonstrating his liberating love and salvation for us. That He will never stop loving us or bringing us through these seasons towards the promises He has made for us. So now what? We can wait with hopeful anticipation for all that He has in store. Being reminded daily that:
- God has put you where you are. You can’t see God’s salvation unless you see that God has put you in a place where you have a front row seat to see it. You may not know exactly what He’s doing, but he’s always at work doing something for your good and his glory.
- Waiting for God to work is very often the place from which you can see God’s salvation breaking into your life. The place of waiting is the front row seat from which you learn to trust God for things you don’t yet see. You can’t see God’s salvation if you don’t wait in faith, trusting God to do what he’s promised.
- God did not save you to abandon you. He is faithful even when our faith is shaky.
–Experiencing Exodus, Charlie Boyd, Fellowship Greenville
Today I am thankful for the grief, for it shows the numbness is fading and that I’m allowing my emotions to be present, to show up. Thankful for the fragility, reminding me I am being rebuilt and not standing on my assuredness. Thankful for relationships that have been restarted, reset, and true healing found. For false foundations being stripped away and replaced with a deeper reliance and renewed pursuit of the One, the only one, that I can truly depend on; for healing, for growth, for change, for hope.
This is the beautifully broken, the ugly beautiful, the salt in the caramel (as my mom would say) at work. The refinement that afterwards brings us closer to Him, in utter dependence, relying on Him solely as our living source of joy. This, this is the rebuilding.