Growing up, life was just hard. Well, I guess I had 6 good years to enjoy life and childlike innocence to some degree, but at age 6, life took a drastic turn. My grandmother, who I adored (and I might add, adored me…especially since I was her only grandchild), passed away. It was a devastating blow to my happy-go-lucky world. Being around her meant unconditional love, her full attention, and always something new and exciting. Then she was gone.
Then, 2 weeks before my 8th birthday, my parents divorced.
That summer, as I was sent away to have some reprieve, I “learned” that adults couldn’t be trusted. It was a lesson that would seem to repeat over and over until I was out on my own. Sadly, God was being lumped into the same category.
My world turned gray.
And, it stayed that way for many years.
I wanted so desperately to really know God. I was always trying!! ALWAYS!!
By around age 16, I decided to walk away from God. If He was waiting to “get rid of me” because I wasn’t good enough, then I would make it easy and walk. I was done. I couldn’t handle any more rejection. I “knew” I’d never be good enough to please Him. I saw Him as a tyrant, but secretly felt guilty for feeling that way…one more example of being hopelessly doomed no matter what I did. My own mind betrayed me.
I really didn’t know if I’d ever get married…wasn’t even sure I wanted to. I just wasn’t sure marriage could really “work”. But, I liked the “idea” of happily ever after.
I hadn’t really ever dated before. But, one evening, at my first job, at a grocery store, Clint came walking in to make a purchase. I went weak in the knees. It was infatuation at first sight ;-)! He didn’t even notice me, but I noticed him. And, I thought about him for 3 months! Talked about him for 3 months! My mom was pretty sure I’d lost my mind! I’d never seen him before and probably would never again. Let. It. Go, I told myself!
Three months later, a friend suggested I get a job at a local restaurant as a hostess. I went for an interview and was hired. First night on the job, Clint came walking in for his paycheck. I about hit the floor!
We hit it off, of course and were married;-) Through a lot of ups and downs and major struggles we had to work through, Clint was beginning to help me to put a “face” on Jesus!
13 years later, God allowed both of us to be radically changed in our walk with God by understanding grace!! Panic attacks and fear had been a constant companion and I “needed” Clint to help pray me through them, talk me through them, or just be present through them. Now, in it’s place was peace! Grace changed our marriage, our parenting, the way we did ALL of life…it even changed our “career” path! We finally had life abundantly! No more striving and struggling! We didn’t get grace over night and I will probably always fight, to some degree to live in that grace, but…
I COULD FINALLY SEE IN FULL COLOR!!!
I FELT TRULY ALIVE!!
Then, November 13, 2017 hit and my world turned pitch black. I remember being at a church lock-in when I was young and all the girls were going to sleep in an inside room with the doors shut and no windows. The room was so black, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I waited to see if my eyes would adjust, but they didn’t. I waited to see if anyone would speak up about the darkness we were in, but no one did. I was the only one with an issue. They finally cracked open the door ever so slightly and the faintest bit of light came in the room. I could still barely see my hand, but I forced myself to be okay with the little light I was given and finally drift off to sleep.
That’s how it is now…learning to be okay with the little bit of light I’m given. I have to decide to open my heart up enough to let the light of Jesus shine in. Even if it’s just the faintest bit. It’s just enough light to help me go to sleep at night or face the day’s challenges.
I feel like I was in blackness and now it’s still dark, but with focused pops of color…like in the movie The Giver.
In this “blackness”, the light Jesus is shining into that place is providing keen focus! I may not be able to see everything around me, but I can see what I need to see, in that moment, very clearly! My senses are more in tune with the world around me. My spirit has been even more quickened to what’s to come — Eternity. Life has come into more vivid focus — what’s really important; not missing what I have now for what I had before that can never be again; spending my life on what matters, etc. I don’t want “sameness” (like in the movie The Giver).
It’s as if I can even see new colors I never could see before. That’s how a spotlight works…doesn’t it? You go to a museum and a painting or sculpture is featured in the spotlight. Everything else around the painting fades and you can really SEE the work of art…like you’re seeing it for the first time. And, it could have been there the whole time, but until the lights are dimmed and the spotlight is turned on, it just blended in.
Oh, Jesus, let me gaze on You! You will shine the light on what You want me to focus on! You will give me the light for my next step.
** I’m adding this before I post this blog. I saw Michelle Knight on the Today Show today. She was held captive for many years and wrote a book called “Life After Darkness”. This isn’t an exact quote because I couldn’t catch what she said fast enough, but here’s the gist of it…”If you’ve been broken once and survived, you can’t be broken again! You’re a fighter/survivor!” Yes! If you’ve been broken once and survived/thrived…you can do it again!