Okay, remember my post Really? written before taking our mission trip to Ukraine? I read back through it today, and feel compelled to tell you the sequel to the saga. If you haven’t read that post, I encourage you to or today’s post may not make much sense.
It’s been a month, and here we are teetering on the cliffhanger…what happened when I spoke to the ladies? This is absolutely not about me, rather it’s about what God did. This was a ladies-only event, but He bucked the system and showed up! I am so glad He did.
It was time to face my Goliath in the privacy of just God, me and the issue at hand only hours before the event. In an arm-wrestling battle with this giant that I’ve never won against, this time God grabbed my hand and slammed that monster’s knuckles to the table. I was the winner, hands-down (pardon the pun).
What was different about this time, versus the thousands of other times I walked away from the table in defeat? It’s so simple it’s complicated. It’s so complicated it’s simple. Ready? I listened.
That’s it! That’s all I did.
Listened to who? God.
Who was I listening to before? The world, the enemy and myself.
We are creatures of habit. Habits produce patterns. Patterns affect our way of thinking. The way we think affects our beliefs – positively or negatively. For 25 years, everything about me was negative in this area. Reading back over the post Really?, I see a person so sick and tired of being defeated in an area of her life, that she would rather admit final defeat and taboo it from her life than allow herself to be vulnerable to what God had to say about it.
I had beat myself up so badly with negative thoughts and behavior, and allowed the enemy to do the same, that I became hypersensitive to the touch of my heart and couldn’t even fathom letting the hand of God heal me. Self-hate set in. A longtime battle that left me utterly exhausted. This is not the same as self pity. With self-hate comes a level of despising that is hard to describe into words. However, the enemy found lots of words to speak in my ear to keep the hate spinning like a top in my head.
Because of God’s perfect will and timing, He chose this year to be the final, epic battle over me. Why? I don’t know.
He knows us best and knew it was time. I have been so humiliated for so long about this pattern of self-hate in my life, that my own embarrassment was easy harassment for the enemy.
It’s as though God stepped down from heaven, met me right where I was – in a dorm room in Ukraine – alone with only my Bible, and said to me, Just give me a chance. You’ve been dooped for so long by so many people, including yourself, you’ve forgotten who you really are; who I made you to be; and most importantly, you’ve forgotten how I see you. You see yourself as hopeless. I see you as helpless. You see yourself as defeated. I see you as wounded. You see yourself as beyond the point of help. I see you on the brink of a new beginning. One thing we can both agree on is that you cannot do this alone. But, can you trust Me that we can do this together?
That was the moment. If a soundtrack had been running in tandem to the movie of my life, a simple heartbeat on the drum would have pounded. It was a physical moment of spiritual decision. I sat on the edge of the bed next to my closed Bible, and felt God literally wait on me for a response.
I looked around the quiet room, fidgeted with my hands and shuffled my feet. On the outside I was silent. On the inside, I watched a flashback of all my years from the time my issue began. I heard all of the hurtful words people have said to me about this over the years. I saw their faces and felt the sting of pain as if it were the first time all over again. I heard everything the enemy every told me about myself and I felt myself beginning to fold.
My chest was heavy and it was heard to breathe. Palms sweating, the back of my neck prickly, and my heart beating fast, I was in a war over who to side with. This was God’s work, but He required one thing from me. An answer.
How did I get to that answer? The ONLY thing that persuaded me to side with Him that day was this question God prompted within my heart…Who has God been to you, Kristi? Over all of these years, who has He proven Himself to be to you?
When I began to recall His sovereignty, His power, His grace, His mercy, His love, His faithfulness, His tenderness, His discipline, His consistency, and His miraculous presence in every moment of my life, the tall, thick walls around my heart (which stay heavily guarded by the way), began to fracture. A 25-year old wound is very sensitive. It’s never stopped bleeding the pain of my issue. I had built such heavy defenses around it that I didn’t even realize I had shut God out until that day I told my friend I didn’t want His redemption in this area of my life. My plan was just to privately, secretly nurse this wound until I died.
I sat on the edge of the bed in a quandary. Do I trust God, who has been completely faithful and loving my entire life, even through the darkest of times, or do I continue in a self-destructive pattern that I know is harming me inside and out?
Could I take that first step and say to God, Alright. You can have a go at my heart. I trust You. Or, do I tell my mission teammates I cannot speak to the ladies and retreat further into myself than I ever had before – this time with the strong possibility of never following my bread crumb trail back to the surface.
Sometimes, when we are at our weakest, our darkest, and in our deepest pain, all God is asking of us is to trust Him. We get tangled up thinking we have to do something courageous or smart or skillful. We live in a world that tells us we are only what we can produce. Well, when we cannot produce anything beneficial, then who are we? Nothing. And I had felt like that for 25 years.
God knows this. In Psalm 103:13-14, David understood. He said, As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Even if our pit is one we dug ourselves, God will still search for us and reach down His hand to pull us out. Will we take it?
Part of the difficulty I faced in that moment was realizing that a new pattern would be established. Great, but I didn’t know how to do that. I didn’t have the strength to push back this giant. Again, trust. Perhaps God will help me? I thought to myself. After all, He promised to help Moses lead the exodus out of Egypt. He promised to fight for the Israelites time and again from Joshua at Jericho to Nehemiah rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem to Mary & Joseph, Paul & Silas, Peter and so on.
Why would God help? Isn’t He as frustrated about this as I am? Hasn’t His patience run out?
2 Chronicles 16:9 – For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…
So God is actually searching for His children who lost their way be it in one area or many. He searched for me and found me in a room alone in Ukraine. He traversed the world and caught up to me. I can almost see it. Just as I am deciding whether or not to cancel the ladies event, a knock on the door. I’m not expecting anyone. Who could it be? I wonder to myself. I stand up and slowly walk to the door.
Who is it? I ask.
It’s Me, comes a reply from the other side. I gasp! There is only One who sounds like that. He is my Groom. My Savior. I turn the key and pull down on the handle.
What are you doing here? I ask in wonder. Jesus’ face lights up when He sees me. I just stand there, jaw agape in awe that He is actually here, on my doorstep in Ukraine.
May I come in? He asks with a broad smile, slightly out of breath from running up the 3 flights of stairs.
Oh, I’m sorry. Yes! Come in!
Thanks, He replies. I’m glad I caught up to you.
Because you are about to make a really big decision, and I want to be part of it if you’ll let Me.
But, why is this so important to You?
You are important to Me.
Because I love you.
But, I keep failing in this area. How is that lovable?
You are lovable. God the Father made you, and He made you lovely.
But, I’ve failed so many times before. I have no confidence in myself with this anymore.
That’s okay. Put your confidence in Me.
But, I am tired, Jesus. I don’t want to, can’t, fight this anymore.
He takes my hands in His and sits down with me. He looks at me with eyes that make time stop, heartbeats still, and breath shallow. His love permeates the room. I cannot hear anything else, see anything else, feel anything else, but his warm, tender, and gentle hands holding mine.
I love you with an everlasting love. Don’t you see, it’s not about what you can or cannot do. It’s not about who anyone, including yourself, has told you who you are. Isn’t not about your track record. It’s about who you are in Me. I complete you. When you asked me into your heart, I made you whole. I make you strong. I heal your hurts. I am your breath. I am life living in you. You have, for so long, lived in defeat. But, like every other time in your life when you leaned on Me, will you do it this time? I’ve got your best interest at heart. Our Father is always working for the good of those who love Him. You are tired of listening to everyone else, including yourself, tell you who you are not. Will you listen to Me tell you who you are?
A lump swells in my throat. Tears stream down my face and my nose begins to run. Eyes sting from salty tears, my bottom lip quivers at the thought of perhaps listening to my Savior, my best friend, my groom.
I furrow my brow in deep decision. This is not easy. Every ounce of self-hate has risen to the surface. Every hurtful word is screaming at me. The enemy is beside himself that Jesus has locked him out of the room. I hear him furiously pounding on the door.
Christ leans and whispers so close I feel His breath. His hands holding mine. Will you listen to Me tell you who you are?
My head drops, and through stinging tears and a runny nose, I ever-so-slightly nod and utter beneath my sobbing, Yes.
He leans toward me even more, resting His forehead on mine, noses almost touching, and through tears of His own, He smiles and says, You are…My beloved.
I fall into His arms. It is enough. It is more than enough. I breathed in those two words and they entered my body. They shot straight to my heart, my spirit, and began their healing work. Like a physician’s hands performing delicate surgery, those two words healed my heart from the inside out.
Did that encounter physically happen? Yes and no. No, Jesus did not come in tangible human form, but He did come by way of the Bible. As I sat on the edge of the bed, I came to an answer.
Yes. I would listen. Yes. I would open myself up, become vulnerable, and listen to what He had to say. He led me to Scripture after Scripture telling me who I am to Him and in Him. It was one of the most precious hours of my entire life. With every verse, scars disappeared from my heart. The voice of Truth eradicated the lies that have plagued me for over two decades.
No other god would, or could, do this.
I stood that night, before beautiful women and shared. I shared from the depth of my soul words He had for them…and for me. Their tears were my tears. Their Truth was my Truth.
I returned from Ukraine a different person. God asked me to leave all the hurt and pain with Him, and I did. I left the self-hate, too. I physically felt the weight of this lift from me. Physically. Crazy, huh? I feel a peace from the inside out. Peace that is not of this world. My good moments before were only that – moments. This is 24/7. He healed me. I am at peace with Him and with myself. His words of who I am are the only sound I hear in this issue that no longer has a hold on me. I am free.
I am whole. I am at rest. I am victorious. Because of Christ’s victory over death, we who follow Him are invited to have victory in our lives. Our entire lives – every area.
I am eternally grateful He didn’t leave me in the pit in which I was trapped. I am so humbled He sought me and deemed my problem worthy of His time and effort. He did a mighty work in me and all He asked of me was to let Him do it. I didn’t have to prove anything, be of eloquent speech or show my own strength. I simply chose to trust Him.
God is on our side. He is a good God. He is faithful. God is love. Jesus, indeed You are the Prince of Peace. Thank You. I love You.