I recently came across an inspiring article in a magazine called Studio G. It's about the difference between leaving and going, illustrated by the story of Abram and Sarai. This is the part that I've been chewing on for weeks:
To leave... means "to depart from permanently; to quit".... We are not walking out our faith correctly if we are not leaving something behind. In fact, it’s impossible to start a faith walk without leaving some things permanently behind us. It’s important to leave.Remember my word for the year? Forget. Sometimes I think I'm making progress toward that goal of forgetting my past hurts, my past dreams. And then I am reminded of what I had before, and the pain of loss is sharp.
To go... means "to continue in a certain state or condition; to be habitually".... Going in this sense has nothing to do with where you are going and everything to do with how you are going....
See! Leaving is NOT going. As long as you are looking back at your past you are not going, you are still leaving. Going only happens after you leave (permanently quit) whatever you have walked away from. We leave by obedience, we go by faith!
A few Saturdays ago, I met with my new friend Lizzette to do something I haven't done since I was pregnant with Allyson: scrapbooking! With real paper and sticky tape and stickers. (But my fancy pens had all dried up.)
Sorting through stacks of old pictures, I remembered who I was before.... before. Of all the happy photos, this is the one that brought tears.
It was my first (and only) eyebrow waxing, back in January 2010. And it was unaccountably fun because I got to giggle with both of my sisters-in-law. Sheryl, who worked in a classy spa that I couldn't afford, did the waxing while Lisa laughed and took pictures. The whole trip was absolutely delightful.
Looking at this picture in Lizzette's kitchen, it seemed I was looking at an entirely different Sarah, and I missed her terribly. I missed being carefree and seeing my whole life stretched out before me, just as I'd dreamed it. I missed being able to relax and have fun instead of being frantically busy and overtired all the time. I missed all of my beloved in-laws.
And I felt very, very sorry for myself.
On my Sunday walk with Jesus the next morning, I told Him all about my hurts. "I want to let go. I want to forget," I prayed. "But sometimes I just want to go back to where it was comfy. It hurts."
We walked in silence for a few minutes as I took in the beauty of the trees, which never fail to quiet me. And then I remembered the article. "Oh, God," I breathed, tears trickling down my cheeks. "I want to leave. Please, help me leave. I don't want to go back to my past. I know I have to leave before I can go. I want to go. I don't know where we're going, but I trust you."
In that moment, I realized the truth. I don't want to go back. That was a beautiful life, but so is this. In the last two years, I have grown more in my faith than I ever thought possible. I have learned that God never leaves me, that His love alone can satisfy my longings. Oh, how I love Him.
I paused on the path, inhaling the scent of damp earth and honeysuckle. A grin stretched my cheeks then, still wet with tears. I thought back to the most thrilling part of the article: First there's leaving, and then there's going. And in the going is becoming. When Abram and Sarai reached the place God wanted them to be--geographically and spiritually--they became the father and mother of many nations.
"Oh, God," I whispered. "I want to-"
At the very instant when I uttered the word become, a butterfly unfurled its wings literally right in front of my eyes. It was exquisite, with markings similar to the Monarch except that a delicate blue line traced each wing.
|I think it was this one, the Pearl Crescent|
For a few seconds, it gently fluttered its wings, giving me a chance to admire it before it closed them again and looked like a curled leaf. In those seconds, I thought of its journey from caterpillar to cocoon to this gorgeous flying creature. I'm sure it wasn't comfortable being confined to a cocoon. I bet it missed its life as a caterpillar, inching along the tasty green leaves. Could it have even fathomed floating on the breeze, flitting from flower to flower? Could it ever recognize its own beauty, shining with all the glory of God's creation?
"God, I want to become," I prayed as I walked on. "I want to go wherever you lead and I want to surrender my life and will to you so that I can become who you made me to be. I want your glory to shine in me, the beauty of your character that draws others to you."
At church a couple of hours later, I cried for joy as we sang a song I'd never heard before, something about our home being with God, and wanting to be wherever He is.
Oh, what a glorious day that was. If only every day could be like that.
You probably know me well enough by now to guess what happened next. Just a few days later, something happened that stirred up all of my hurts, fears, and insecurities. It wasn't even a bad thing, just something that upset me and left me balled up on the floor of my prayer closet, shedding most un-joyous tears.
For the next few weeks, I did a lot of crying. I wondered, as I so often do, whether I'd made any progress at all. I felt silly to have believed, even for a moment, that I had really left my past behind. Instead, I felt utterly shackled by it. I felt as if the scab had been ripped off of my incurable wound.
But... my Father loves me so much that He used all of that suffering for my good. In my weakness, I turned to God, over and over. I poured out my pain and frustration, and then I laid it down (several, several times). I thanked God for allowing that scab to be torn off so that He could heal my brokenness. I thanked Him for reminding me that I am His Beloved, and nothing can ever separate me from His love.
One More Story
Tonight, I felt down after a disagreement with Ethan over a driving lesson. [Yes, he is learning to drive, and I am his driving instructor!] I had nothing planned for the evening, and I hoped to walk in the park with a friend. Turns out, one friend wasn't home, another had company, and the third just didn't feel like walking. So I went by myself.
Now the funny thing is, I usually love walking alone in the park. But only in the morning. In my mind, evening walks are for jabbering with friends. I don't know why I feel that way. I just do.
So despite all those green trees that never fail to quiet me, I was... pouting. I felt really, really alone. Ethan wanted nothing to do with me, Allyson was at church camp, and all my friends were busy having fun without me.
"God, I know I'm not alone. I know you're walking with me here, like you always do, but I.... Please, help me to know that you're here."
Just then, two young women and a toddler rounded the bend just ahead. The little blonde-haired girl beamed when she saw me. First she waved, and I waved back. And then she reached out her little arms and hurried toward me.
"Sophie!" her mom called.
Sophie was positively radiant. When she reached me, she held out her hand and turned around.
I laughed. "Oh, are you going to walk with me?"
I didn't want to scare her mom, so I started to walk on. I couldn't resist looking over my shoulder, and sure enough, this sweet little stranger was following me! Her mom caught her hand and dragged her away. "Wave goodbye," she said.
And we waved at each other until I had rounded the bend and vanished from her sight.
I laughed when I heard this: "You need to teach this girl about stranger danger."
It was one of the oddest things that has happened to me, yet it really lifted my spirits. What did that little girl see in me? Why was she so determined to reach out to me?
"God, was that you?" I whispered. I smiled as happy tears filled my eyes. "Yes, that was you. I am not alone."
Oh, how He loves me!