Then we gave it all up and moved down here, following what we believed was the prompting of God.
We moved down here and got lost.
The past four years have been filled with doubt and shame, sacrifice and pain, heartbreak and frustration. We have experienced culture shock, depression, rejection, confusion over where we should plant ourselves, marriage problems, loss and financial hardship, among many other struggles. I don’t preach, I barely write, I’ve noticed that I don’t even sing in the shower anymore. If I’m honest, I regret giving up everything to move here. It has been hugely difficult. I don’t even recognise myself anymore, and when I look in the mirror I no longer see a Woman of God, a Leader, a Mentor or someone capable of doing the things I was doing before we moved here. The fire that was in me back then, that burned so brightly and powerfully, it died down until there was nothing left but ashes.
There’s something strangely powerful about sitting here, where I am now, painfully aware of all that I have lost, my wounds still open and raw and in need of healing, yet wanting more than anything to lift up my near-empty hands to God and say “This is all I have. What can you do with this?”
I have been stripped of everything that defined me to others. I feel regret right now, because I’m still in the middle of it, but knowing God as I do and knowing that he does things so amazingly I believe with all my heart there will come a time when I will look at these days and think “Oh, I see what You were doing now, Lord. Nice work.”
For now, I have to heal from the things that have been done to me. I have to let go, have to forgive. Have to know that God loves me, and His hand is on my life, even when it feels like I’m in a barren wasteland. I’ve often thought in the past four years, that the shock of it all, the thing that really knocked the wind out of me, was that through past experience I knew how to reach out to God through the storm...but how does someone find Him in such a vast desert? I mean, we’ve all had those times when things are scary or painful, we’ve all experienced the “storms” of life. My husband and I, we knew we could handle those. We have before, and we came through them, strengthened as a team.
What we weren’t prepared for was the terrible emptiness, the months that would turn into years of waiting and waiting, the feeling of having everything important to you stripped away until you are standing alone, looking at your life and knowing that all you are now is a blank canvas.
And that’s not a bad thing when God is the painter.
But it is undeniably hard when you are the one who’s waiting.
I can only write all this now because in the last week I have sensed God calling me back from the desert. Even this morning, as I drove towards home, something happened, a sudden rush of God’s spirit, and the ashes within me sparked into flame again. I have this small, somewhat timid sense of hope, that somehow all of this has been part of our calling, as if we needed to go through these past four years and come through them together so that we could step into the plan He has for us. And I feel as though God is saying ‘I knew you’d be ok. Even when you thought you wouldn’t make it, I knew that you would.’
It’s true. There have been times when I thought we wouldn’t make it, at least not together, and maybe not at all. Hope hasn’t been a friend of mine some days.
But if these years of pain have been a part of something greater, then I will be glad to have been through them. Because all we ever wanted anyway was to see His plan fulfilled.