Reconcile – One Step Closer
I hear all the time from my elders that I’ve yet to truly experience life or “Just wait ’til you’re older. You’ll understand then.” Although my struggles may not replicate theirs exactly, I definitely have experienced some things in my life that haven’t only shaped who I am, but have also made me realize the importance and necessity of putting my faith in Christ and not in things of this world.
3 Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. 4 When their spirit departs they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Psalms 146: 3-4 (NIV)
There was a time when I believed only a man could inspirit me. At first I just yearned for the attention, the sense of being wanted, or better yet, desired. The tomboy in high school suddenly gained curves (thanks to southern cooking), and I enjoyed the attention from the opposite sex. My clothes became tighter, skirts and shorts went shorter, and tops became low-cut or backless. I started dating older men when I was 19. The more I thought my father, the pastor, would disapprove of them, the more I gravitated towards them. Yet, in January 2005, life took an unexpected turn.
28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.
Ephesians 5: 28-30 (NKJV)
I think the fight lasted all of ten minutes, the bruises a week, but the emotional pain, years. A man had never put his hands on me. I fought my brothers but that was just your typical sibling rivalry. I remember being choked, slapped, punched, and any other type of hit known to man. I was confused, lost. This man that I wanted to marry, who I had been with for a year, suddenly saw me as a punching bag. I lost my joy. I left him that day, but two months later I was back. Our relationship was off and on for another two years. During one particular six-month off period, I dated a defensive end. I thought maybe I need to date someone new, and a football player brought popularity. Yet three months in, he did the same thing, except the pain was even worse. I figured two guys, three years, it’s not them, it’s me. I’m the problem. It’s my fault.
In my longest relationship, which lasted nearly four years, besides being beaten, I had passed out from being strangled, been pushed out of a moving car, visited an emergency room, had my body thrown into objects such as bed, tables, lamps, windows, etc., and even being locked out of my own apartment being forced to sleep outside in the cold. While the person I dated may have changed, there were too many constants:
- Every relationship involved violence, and it was getting worse with each one;
- I never had the true courage to leave unless another man came along; and
- I never asked God for forgiveness or put my faith in Him.
For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10: 13 (ESV)
When you feel you’re at your lowest, you can’t do anything but look up. This time, I didn’t look for a man. I looked for Christ. All this time, I blamed Him. I look back now and realize, how can I blame someone I never put my faith in? God was always there for me. I just chose not to follow Him. It’s amazing that when I redirected my faith in Him, and not in earthly wonders, God rearranged my circumstances, my acquaintances, and my emotions. I can’t honestly say I had anything to do with it. Even typing this blog, I cry tears. Not of pain or anger, but rather tears of joy. I really have looked at where I’ve been and where I am now, and I can’t help but smile and just exclaim, “Thank you, LORD!”
14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
1 John 5:14 (NKJV)
I put my faith in Christ, and instead of asking for a significant other, I asked for guidance and to allow me to befriend others with a like-mind to not only grow, but also to avoid the temptations and deceptions of satan (I choose not to capitalize his name because in my eyes, he’s not worthy). Not only did God hear me, but He blessed me to the point that my cup ran over! I found, or rather, He led me to The City, and truthfully, I fell in love with them immediately. I found my brothers and sisters in Christ! Also, He gave me an amazing man, a man who actually loves God first. The first time I put ALL my faith God, He showered me with His many blessings. So while I may only be in my twenties, I don’t want/have to wait a lifetime to experience God’s grace! Besides, that’s the only experience that truly matters.
Ever feel restless? Like you’re waiting for your life to finally take off or waiting for some big change?
I feel like all of my friends are graduating from college, getting well paid jobs, buying new cars, and taking vacations. So many couples I know are so madly in love, making marriage plans, a few of my friends are even getting pregnant and starting families. It feels like everyone I know is on their adult tip doing the grown up thing. Everyone else is out there living life and I’m in here suffering trying to write papers and study for midterms. Just thinking on it makes me feel restless.
One night while I was having one of these ‘restless episodes,’ by the guidance of the Holy Spirit I just happened to find some old Bible study notes from last year lying under my bed, the title of the study was ‘Finding Myself.’ Comfort was on the way.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
Instantly I gained a clear realization that I had been trying to navigate through life’s obstacles while trying to balance my cross on one shoulder and all my hopes, dreams, ambitions, identities, and wants on the other shoulder. No wonder it felt like I was suffering.
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25
As our loving father, God doesn’t settle for part-time custody of His children’s lives. He wants to be in control of the whole thing. Denying ourselves and giving God total control of our lives isn’t always easy, it requires humility, it requires letting go of your personal wants and desires. But denying yourself also means finding yourself in Christ and when you do find yourself in Christ, your joy in life is not dictated by your circumstances, but by your security in Christ.
In Christ I may not have a well paid job, but I have ministry and I find my richness in the fulfillment I gain by serving in ministry and that brings me joy. I may not be married or be on my way to starting my own family, but I have a family of brothers and sisters in Christ who add so much joy to my life. I have a loving Father who is always looking out for me. He’s my protector, my refuge, available to me whenever I call on His name and that kind of comfort brings me joy.
Most of the time when we feel restless it’s because we feel like we don’t have a life compared to others. Sometimes as believers we try to be in Christ while holding on to our attachments to the world. We hold on to the world’s definition of success, the world’s definition of what joy looks like in life. Deny thyself, lose your life, only then will you truly discover the meaning of life and joy!
With all the purpose and joy He adds to my life, I have no time to be restless!
Get your life today!