Have you ever heard the phrase “hell on earth”? I have too and I was sure that was the place I have been living. Life has not looked anywhere close to what I had envisioned. In all honesty, every single step has been painful. I have cried, turned into a swearing sailor, attempted to shove down my feelings and emotions, and attempted to function the best I could. I was born stubborn as a human being. My mother called it tenacity. She is the reason my mouth and face resist saying over half the things I don’t say in verbal or nonverbal communication. I hear her whisper “A soft answer turns away wrath”. My mom has been the biggest advocate in my life. She taught me how to walk a hard road, love those around me, and abide with Christ through every painful step I take. I learned it not so much from what she told me, but from how I watched her live her life.
I could tell there were times she wanted to be swallowed up by the darkness that would plague her. Yet, God placed a Godly tribe of women around her. They would not let her walk through the dark alone. I watched her fight to say, “My God will rescue me, but even if he does not, we will say blessed be the name of the Lord”.
I use to say this is as close to hell as I will ever get. As a child of God in some ways it’s true, yet, it doesn’t accurately describe or explain the real process of what has been happening to me. Hell is away from the presence of God. It is eternal separation from my heavenly father. I have not been in hell. I have been in the refining fire.
I did not like the heat. I did not like the endurance or the perseverance God was teaching me. I downright hated it. Where was God when I worked ten hours and then had to snow blow our driveway? Where was God when we didn’t know how we would pay bills when Mark was diagnosed with Lyme disease? When would the rescue come? How would the pain? I didn’t see any rescue coming, so I took my life into my own hands. Actually, what that means is I took my life emotionally into my own hands. I put my head down, I got arrogant, I gave myself credit for what happened in our lives. After all, it wasn’t God cleaning my bathroom. It was me. It wasn’t God waking up early to go to work. It was me. I was the one putting effort into my marriage. Me, me, me. It was all me. Or….so I thought.
I hit a figurative wall. I didn’t bounce back or get a second wind. There was no way I could continue on my own strength. My body was giving out. I felt so weighed down by life. Mentally and emotionally I was a mess. The darkness started to come over me again. So, I cried out to God. I asked him for answers. I asked him for wisdom. I admitted I knew it was not ‘me, me, me’ that allowed me to clean the bathroom, go to work, or anything else I did. I asked God for forgiveness. I asked him to show me how to keep going. The answers were not at all what I thought they would be. I actually asked Him several times if he was sure. He was sure (I may eventually share what the big decision was and if you want to go out for coffee I’d be glad to share it with you. But, I’ll keep it close to me for a while.) Ok, well, I’ll walk the path then. As soon as I began to make the decisions He set out before me the dark weight began to get lifted.
Once the weight was lifted off of me. I started looking over the last few years. I originally thought I was doing things like retaining social media clients, creating the social media breakfast, and building community relationships to help meet clients for Mark. In part, all those things still happened. Yet, it wasn’t for Mark, it was for me. It was to build skills in me. It was God showing me “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I can do hard things. Yet, while I can do all things through Christ – it doesn’t mean I was meant to do all things and be all things. It is VERY important to not get them confused. It is important to ask the Lord what is ours to do. I can only do me. I can’t make anyone else show up. I can give all the tools in the world, yet others have to be the boss of themselves. I can only do me.
I have also learned to let relationships go. Abandonment has been such a continual occurrence in my life I held on to humans for dear life. Or I pushed them away and burned friendships and professional relationships. God is showing me how to do me and be ok with letting all the rest of it go.
In some ways, the place I am at now is a bit scary. Not because I am afraid, but because I’m tired. Do I have the energy to tackle something outside of my comfort zone? Do I have mental and emotional energy? I wonder what is the next big thing God will ask of me? Will I have the skills? Am I adequate? Do I have the “right” people in my tribe for such a time as now? Probably not. The way God usually works in my life is I may have some skills that make the adventure possible, but eventually, there will be a learning curve speed bump. It could be a humility lesson. It could be a trust lesson or any number of human life lessons. Why? Why does He chose us when we feel and seem like the least likely candidate? Because God loves showing us what he can do through us.
God has shown me over and over and over he will place the right tribe at the right time. Those that will teach me what I need to know, instill confidence, or walk beside me to comfort me. He knows the ones I need to speak life and healing into my life. After all his desire is to lavish and love on me. He has a plan and a purpose for me. Not to harm me and destroy me. He wants the complete opposite. He wants victory in my life.
So, if it hasn’t been hell on earth. What has it been? It has been a refining fire. A fire he has had Jesus standing in my fire the whole time. He has not taken His eye off of me for one second. I was never alone. Even today I do not walk my road alone. My God is sending me through a purifying process. The new prayer has become, Lord Jesus, give me the ability to withstand the flames. Give me wisdom when to leave a relationship. Give me the courage to speak truth and love. Let me look, act, and speak like Jesus. Let me live out fully what is mine to do.