The Old Testament book of Isaiah is one of my favorite books in the bible. I love that God speaks to Judah and Jerusalem through Isaiah so they know exactly how he plans to save them from themselves. It’s also a beautiful preview of the Good News of the Gospels. The main reason I love Isaiah is because it’s one of the places in the bible that God speaks to me the most.
As I sat reading my bible earlier this week, I read a passage of Isaiah, chapter 50, vv.4-9 that I have read, and even underlined multiple times before, but it hit me in a fresh way this time. I have gone back and read it everyday, sometimes over and over, asking God to show me what he wants me to see differently in it this time.
It’s kind of a feel-good passage to begin with. The gist is God is speaking to me and helping me, and brings justice to those who have accused me. Nice. But there was more to it this time. As I read and re-read, it hit me: every single line of this passage is true for me now. There were times in the past where parts of it applied, and reading the last lines was like salve on a wound. Other times it was a reminder of my rebellion, and the inevitable consequences of that. But I don’t recall ever reading that whole passage and feeling the fullness of it all, all at the same time, until this week. As I read it this morning, I felt prompted to pull out some old journals to have a look at the last couple of years and how far God has brought me.
Journal entry, 10/28/16:
“You’re broken.” That’s what therapy brought today. An angry, snarling, whisper of a voice telling me that I’m broken.
There are so many parts. I’m like a mosaic on the inside. The scared little girl. The anxious do-gooder. The tense, practical one. The angry one. The spiteful one. The one who wants to live. The one who wants to die trying. The one who will never be good enough. The one who will always remind us we’re not good enough.
I’m sick with it. I just want to be healthy and whole. So much muck and mire. It would be so easy to just go back. Go back to what I know. The office, the routine, the evaluation every July telling me whether or not I’m good enough.
BUT I CAN’T.
There’s a tiny voice SCREAMING at me to NOT GO BACK. Fear of staying the same has become greater than the fear of change. But I feel lost. The pragmatic part needs direction and a plan. Needs to know what to expect 6 months from now; a year from now. I don’t have those answers, and part of me feels ashamed. But another part of me says, “it’s ok.”
At the end of therapy as I’m sobbing about being broken, my therapist asks, “What could we bring to the room right now that would be helpful to you? What image, or memory, or feeling would be helpful?” I close my eyes, and the therapist emerged. The part of me who always knows just what to say and what to do. She sat next to me on the couch and put her arm around me and said, “it’s going to be ok.” Which, oddly, made me cry more, but tears of comfort. Even now, as I write about it, I feel comforted.
Moving forward requires risk. It requires doing things I’ve never done before, and doing things in ways I’ve never done them before.
God is asking me, “Will you trust me?” I want to trust you, Lord. I want to trust you, but I’m scared. The pressure in my chest feels real. All the parts of me feel scattered, and only you can make me whole. Fill all my empty spaces with the Holy Spirit and make me one with you.
Journal entry, 5/16/18:
(excerpt from Greater devotional, by Steven Furtick)
“Pray for God to plant seeds of future spiritual greatness in you. And pray for a farmer’s patience to let them sprout, grow, and mature to ripeness.”
When I left my job in 2016, I expected my next “thing” to be immediately clear and for me to move right into it, fairly seamlessly. But now I see that you were merely planting seeds. And that the growth of those seeds has been totally dependent on my willingness to let my soil be fertile, and to let the roots take hold, rather than rushing it along so I can say I have a pretty plant (that won’t last without roots). Thank you for giving me patience to sit through this growth season, so my roots will be deep and my plants will last. Continue to plant seeds of future greatness and grow them into everything you would have me be.
I am FAR from a complete work, but the difference in just the last two years is undeniable. My journal entries are a reminder that sometimes the whole has to be broken apart and put back together in a different way to be fully functional. I had come to lean on my own understanding, and that’s not a modus operandi God can work with. Now, LETTING HIM change the way I think, THAT he can get down with. Transformation in full effect.
This passage of scripture is my story. God has given me the gift of words to comfort–both others and myself. Every morning, I eagerly meet with him to better understand what he wants for my life. God speaks to me, sometimes when I’m not even paying attention. I have learned that rebellion only prolongs the process. I now listen with more than willing ears. I have been beaten, bruised, and yes, even spit on. But because God helps me, I will not hang my head in shame. In my face you will find determination; a determination to do God’s will or die trying. God is with me, and his justice clears the path before me. Not one will stand in my way as I go about the journey he has set for me.
4 The Sovereign LORD has given me his words of wisdom,
so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
and opens my understanding to his will.
5 The Sovereign LORD has spoken to me,
and I have listened.
I have not rebelled or turned away.
6 I offered my back to those who beat me
and my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard.
I did not hide my face from mockery and spitting.
7 Because the Sovereign LORD helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore, I have set my face like a stone,
determined to do his will.
And I know that I will not be put to shame.
8 He who gives me justice is near.
Who will dare to bring charges against me now?
Where are my accusers? Let them appear!
9 See, the Sovereign LORD is on my side!
Who will declare me guilty?
All my enemies will be destroyed
like old clothes that have been eaten by moths!
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