Through the month of September I was so happy. Moving into my dream home felt like the start of a wonderful new life. And it was wonderful. I was busy and beyond exhausted with all the moving and then the unpacking, but still I was so happy I had to pinch myself most days.
During this time, I was finished my step study for Celebrate Recovery, a 12-step program I had joined for grief support. I was feeling so good that I thought I probably didn't need CR any more, or my sponsor. I figured I'd go to my graduation and then just move on to other things. I guess I marveled a little at my own strength and how well I had weathered the storm over the last year and a half. But underneath it all was the suspicion that coming out of the storm would bring the end of the special closeness I'd shared with God through it all. "Please, God," I prayed, "I don't want to drift away. I'm so ready to be done with my trial, but I don't want to lose the intimacy I've had with you."
But then I got totally caught up in my busyness and the joy of decorating and shopping and making new friends in the neighborhood. And of course, I started to drift. I first knew there was a problem on the day I thought I lost our cat. As I shared in my last entry, losing Arwen stirred up some deep feelings of rejection and loss, and I found myself angry with God. I knew it wasn't only about a cat.
Just as it always does, the fresh pain caught me completely by surprise and totally knocked the wind out of me. Over the next three weeks, I continued to struggle with sorrow and doubts, and it felt like the gulf between me and God was widening by the day even though I continued to cry out to him, especially in the late night hours as I battled insomnia again for the first time in months.
All along, I knew the reason. It was disobedience and pride. There were things I decided to do, little things on the surface that were big things in my heart. Even though I found myself on my knees in my new prayer closet many, many nights, pouring out my heart in wrenching sobs, I couldn't give over my will to Him even though my heart wanted to. Actually, it wasn't my heart that wanted to obey; it was God's Spirit in me. My heart wanted to go my own way because I was hurting and I felt hopeless.
The enemy whispered to me that I haven't changed at all over the past years of trying to serve God, and I agreed with him. I began to struggle with my self worth just like I did before I knew I was God's Beloved. The worst thing of all was being so disappointed in myself, feeling like I was back at square one and had learned absolutely nothing in the last decade or so. I felt so stupid because of past choices that had led me to not one but two divorces, and stupid over current choices now that I ought to know better.
Okay, so by now you must be wondering where the beauty is. I'm coming to that. For one thing, as stupid as I felt, I've learned some very important things through my struggle:
- A house can't make me happy. I'd realized it back in July, that my home is not a house. But for just a little while, I forgot that. And then a little cat stole my joy, and I realized that I was still so broken, even in my beautiful new house.
- Even when I am faithless and so disappointed in myself, God keeps right on loving me. I had some of the best prayer times over the last few weeks. I'd been missing my old prayer closet, but I found that God was here in the new closet too! And that made The New House feel like just home.
- When I am weak, the God who created the heavens and the earth is strong enough to protect me. "...I will keep you safe in the palm of my hand. I spread out the heavens and laid foundations for the earth." (Isaiah 50:16b, Contemporary English Version)
- As long as I keep turning to God, I don't have to fall back into my old negative behaviors and thought patterns. "The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand." (Psalm 37:23-24)
- Above all, I must guard my heart, "for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23) Everything that I am flows from my heart, and if I allow that stream to become polluted the effects will go downstream and affect every area of my life.
- I have not arrived! I still need a lot of healing. But I can feel that God is making something beautiful from my brokenness. It's time to work through my pain and let it go.
Hey now, this is my desire:
Consume me like a fire
Cause I just want something beautiful to touch me -
I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees
Waiting for something beautiful. (Need to Breathe, "Something Beautiful")