A few months ago I was a mess. My world was being turned upside down, I felt like I was losing my friends, family, home, job and purpose in life. I was allowing myself to live in darkness instead of light. I saw truth but chose not to believe it. I wasn’t getting out of bed in the morning.
I – Was – A – Mess!!
I say this all in past tense because in the last few weeks God has shattered the darkness, as only he can do, and has delivered me into freedom from the chains that kept me in this horrible depression.
This is my journey into joy…
I guess it starts with hitting absolute bottom in the worse spiral of depression I have ever experienced and making some very difficult choices to begin the process of healing. In doing so, without realizing, I also made a choice to allow God to begin his work of healing. For many weeks, I was running to him and clinging to him and yelling at him and begging him to bring healing, but despite this all, I hadn’t actually let go and surrender my heart to him. I was still holding on and I was still trying to make sense of the mess and I was still trying to put the pieces back together. It was not until I surrendered and gave up trying to heal myself that God was finally able to heal me.
In these early stages of restoration, I read Ann Voskamp’s newest book, The Broken Way, and a transformation slowly began in my heart. The book dives into the beauty of good brokenness and the danger of bad brokenness. Voskamp proposes the idea that “all the bad brokenness in the world begins with forgetting…forgetting God is enough,” while good brokenness is demonstrated by Jesus, our ultimate example, who broke himself to bring us into community with the Father. She makes the point that true community, what we are designed and created for, is only possible when we not only break ourselves for others but when we expose our wounds and share our brokenness, allowing others right into the middle of our broken.
Apparently, when it comes right down to it, we are all a mess but more often than not, are trying so desperately to look put together that we lose out on the joy of shared life.
This was God’s ground work, preparing my heart to share my brokenness so he could put me back together in community.
A few days after finishing the book and realizing the importance of being broken (isn’t God’s timing amazing), I was heading to Colorado for an “Internissionary” retreat – a time to pause; an intermission in life to refocus on Christ and who I am in him and what I am doing with it. A time to process with other overseas workers what “transition” really looks like.
I mean, if this location didn’t springboard me into joy, I’m not sure if anything would have. But more so than the beautiful location were the beautiful people and their stories and a week that was about sharing our broken lives and common pain and supporting one another in true, intimate, broken community.
Being in this environment, surrounded and supported by other broken, healing people, I began to realize that the root of the pain was in believing lies from the enemy about who I am; or rather, who I’m not. While at Worship on the Rocks, Todd White said, “Don’t let Satan tell you who you’re not.” There is so much wisdom in these words.
For too long I was trying to fight only by listening to who Jesus said I was but the father of lies is loud and if he is drowning out my Savior, then he is still winning. It is a conscious choice to not believe what the enemy is saying about me. It is a fight to not only believe truth but also to stop believing lies. And yes, these are two separate things.
Before I left Colorado, I made the decision to let go of the darkness and to stop letting Satan’s accusations overpower my status as a daughter of the Most High King.
I literary burnt them up, in a crockpot.
For the first time in months when I asked God to take the pain, I believed he would. I wasn’t sure how long it would take but I knew restoration was on the way because I was fighting to take away Satan’s power. I also knew that the freedom from pain was going to be found in joy.
Fast forward past a few days of crazy adventuring
and roadtripping through the entire corn crop of the United States (yes, there is more to Indiana than corn. Soybeans), and I found myself on a farm, in Tennessee, alone with God and surrounded by wonderful people to complete the restoration God was orchestrating in my life.
And just like that, JOY.
I’d like to say a miracle took place on this farm. I did not think joy was possible, at least not this quick, but in those days on the farm God spoke to me in very special words and very specific verses:
- Joy (Hebrews 2:10-11; James 1:2)
- Peace (Psalm 29:11)
- Glory (Psalm 73:21-28)
- Love (Psalm 23)
- Rest (Psalm 72:18-19; 1 Kings 8:56)
- Fullness (Revelation 4:8,11)
Suffering does not negate joy, in fact, we are to consider trials as joy ∗ Peace is a blessing that God has chosen to give to his children. I need to choose to live in the peace God blesses me with ∗ God has taken me into his glory. Amen and Amen ∗ Everything in life displays God’s love for me – everyday, all day ∗ Rest is from God and in God, only ∗ Restoration comes when my fullness is made complete in Christ.
Over the past year, I have been in a fight to make God’s affirmation of my identity enough and to stop seeking it from people while still desiring intimate community and trying to figure out how this all balances out. And all of a sudden on this farm, I not only heard God confirming my identity as loved and worthy, I felt it by everyone around me. How was this possible? Why did this happen?
It was more than seeking my identity and value and worth in Christ alone (which is important above all else); it was choosing to no longer allow Satan’s voice to drudge up insecurities. In listening only to Jesus, I silenced the voice that was telling me those around me didn’t love me long enough to realize and believe and see they did. On that farm I felt seen. I felt known. I felt loved. Not only by God, which ironically was finally enough, but also by people. For the first time, in a long time, I felt unhindered joy and it was beautiful.
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.