Conversations

What do I do with this hurt?

For Christmas one year, when we were dating, my then-future husband gave me a beautiful, blue topaz cross necklace. It was the envy of just about everyone who saw it. I wore it every day. It was priceless. It was beautiful to look at and was a frequent reminder of the love of God and the affection of the man who is now my husband.

A few years ago, I lost the ability to wear that one-of-a-kind necklace. Our dog at the time was a puppy and liked shiny gold things for some reason. I walk into our bedroom one day to find her chewing on something – it was my necklace! She had taken it off of my dresser and now it was a mangled up mess in her mouth. The topaz gems were scattered around, some I never found because she’d swallowed them. I was heartbroken! This was not just any necklace. It was specially made and specially gifted by my husband before we were even engaged. I had planned on passing it down to my grandchildren. I wore it every day and now this “crazy” puppy had ruined it completely! It may seem silly to cry over a material possession, but I did. It was broken beyond repair. The gems were gone. It would never be whole again.

To this day, I still don’t have a suitable replacement for that necklace. I’ve tried several other cross necklaces I already owned, but none of them were from my sweet husband and none were made so well and beautifully like the original.

There have been times that my life has felt a little like that chewed up necklace. Beautiful friendships and blessed relationships that have created hurt or become mangled, leaving my heart broken. The hurt hasn’t always been something I’ve had control over, like death of a loved one. Some hurts I have contributed to, and knowing that I’ve hurt someone else because of my pain has made it hurt worse. Some things I’ve shared with others, in the hope that they could help me heal, but just like those replacement necklaces, nothing was suitable. Many times, no one has been aware of my hurt…except The Father. He is the only one with full knowledge about all of my pain.

 

On one recent occasion when my heart felt shattered, I looked up from where I sat, tear-soaked face, feeling on the edge of hope, searching for answers from The Father.

“What do I do with this hurt, Papa God? The pieces of my heart are scattered all over the place. How can I get past this. I can’t fix it, Papa God.”

Every part of my body felt heavy. I picked up two of the broken-heart pieces. They felt like lead weights. My tears flowed like an endless fountain emptying into a bottomless bucket. Through blurred eyesight, I looked for The Father’s face again.

 

The Father sat down next to me on the floor. Putting His arm around me, He comforted me. He didn’t tell me everything was going to be alright. He just sat there with me. He let me mourn the hurt. His presence and the embrace of His strong arms quieted my weeping and slowed my tears.

He whispered,

I know it hurts. I’m right here. You’re not alone, little one. I’m holding you and won’t let go. Sit here in my lap, my precious one. I’ve got you.

As my tears finally ended and my breathing slowed to a normal rhythm, I looked around at the mess. I looked at the broken-heart pieces I was still holding. Then I looked at The Father’s face. It was wet with tears of His own.

Opening His hands and motioning for the pieces I still held of my shredded heart, He said

Give it to me, little one. Give me your hurt. Give me the pieces. I will make it better than before. It won’t be the same, but I will make it more beautiful. I will mend it. I will heal it. I will restore it to the greatness you cannot yet see.

 

…He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
~Isaiah 61:1-3

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
~Psalm 34:18

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
~Psalm 147:3

Conversations

Museum

I am a pretty analytical person. I think a lot about things. I probably think too much about some things. Last week I had one of those thinking days. I was analyzing my thoughts in fact! I was struggling with my love language, words of affirmation. I was trying to understand why I had a stronger draw to help someone who affirmed me than I even wanted to be in the same room with someone who hadn’t. I was a little disgusted with myself because I knew the feelings creeping in to my heart had been poisoned with pride.

I grappled with the questions “Why am I like this? Why is this my love language?”

Father, can’t you just take away this driving desire for affirmation from people? Why can’t my primary love language be something else that isn’t driven by such pride?

That last one was kind of a silly question because anything that deals with feeling like I’m loved has the potential to be twisted by pride, even acts of service.

The Father had an answer already prepared for me.

I put that desire for affirmation in you, it is a piece of myself that I put in you too. Come to me when you feel that desire for affirmation go unfulfilled. I love you and am always cheering you on, loving you perfectly and completely. Listen for my affirmation, especially when you need it the most.”

I want all of my affirmation to come from The Father…so why do I struggle with this? Why do I still feel this longing for people to acknowledge or appreciate what I’ve done? I feel wrong or broken, like I’m not doing something right…

The Father tenderly takes my hand and leads me. We are walking through large hallways with marble floors and high ceilings that looked like they went on forever. This was a museum of the great things The Father had done! There were mini replicas of the story of Abraham and Sarah, Jacob fighting with the Lord, Moses, Noah, David… so much to see! But we kept right on walking. When The Father’s pace slowed I was able to see some of the names of people He created and clearly delighted in along with little notes of their accomplishments and proud moments, like a mini scrapbook. I glanced up at The Father. He was smiling, as if He were recalling the notes He’d written about each person. When we finally came to a stop, The Father told me to come look at what He was standing in front of. I noticed there was a frame around it just like the others and some of those notes too. I looked up and I saw … me. The Father wanted to show me something He created, that He was proud of, and it was me.

Kneeling down to make His eyes level with mine, He placed His hands on my shoulders.

You are my very own amazing creation.

That desire to be affirmed – I put that in you. I made that a deep part of who you are. I know you are wondering why I made you this way because you don’t see it as good – but I do.

I gave you this specific desire to be affirmed so that you could enjoy my affirmation and so you could use it to affirm others. People need encouragement and to feel loved, especially when they don’t feel lovable or acceptable. As someone uniquely created to be filled up by affirmation and encouragement, you are specially qualified to give it and receive it when it is given.

I don’t do anything by mistake, precious one. Creating you this way is just one of the great things I’ve given you out of myself. There are even more great things still to come, little one. You are my prized and treasured creation and I’m still writing these notes of wonderful things you are doing and have yet to do.”

By now I was wiping tears from my face and threw my arms around The Father’s neck. He did it again – He showed me His love for me.

 

Precious reader, I’ve shared a little glimpse of my heart and conversation with The Father but I know this message is not just for me. There is a place in His museum where your picture hangs. You are His prized and treasured creation. That thing in you that gets ugly when pride leaks in has a more beautiful purpose. What is The Father whispering to you? Let Him show you your place in His museum. Let Him tell you the story of how He wants to use that piece of who you are for His more beautiful purpose.

Conversations

Lost…

If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
– Psalm 139:9-12

I’m sitting on the ground. Alone. Weeping. Exhausted. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know how to get there from here. I’m overwhelmed. I’m tormented by worry overtaking my thoughts.

I feel lost and worse, discouraged.

The map lies smudged and tattered on the ground. I thought I’d taken the right trail to get to where The Father was taking me. So why do I feel so lost and uncertain? Have I been walking in circles? Did I miss interpret the directions? I need help. I need a guide.

The Father kneels down to the ground, laying His hand on my shoulder His gentle voice speaking into my darkness “What’s wrong, dear one? Did you forget I Am here?”

He picks up the map from the ground and begins to gently fold it. He doesn’t need the map. The map is for me. I wanted to know where I was going. I wanted to figure it out on my own…or at least I thought I could follow it. After all, He’d told me where He wanted me to go. Isn’t some part of this journey my responsibility? Aren’t I supposed to know how to follow His directions and not get lost?

I don’t know how to move forward. The path isn’t clear and I can’t figure this map out. I’m so confused and lost …

“I saw you focusing on the map and what I called you to. You were so busy looking at the map and figuring out the way to go, you didn’t look to see I Am right here with you. I’ve never left your side. I know the way to go, precious one. You’ve never been alone on this journey and you’re not lost because with me you are found. I know you’re scared and worried about how to get there. Let me be your Peace. Let me be your Guide. Trust me to get you there.”

Will I ever figure this out? There are so many things I don’t know! What do I need to be doing? How will I know if I’m walking the right direction and taking the right path?

Because I Am with you. Stay with me and you will always know the path. You will see great and wonderful things on our journey together if you stay with me and keep your eyes on me. I will take care of the journey and the destination. I love you and love that you want to get there. We will get there, dear one. Have peace. Be patient. I have so much more for you on this journey than just the destination.”

The Father hands the folded map to me to hold and gently gathers me in His arms, lifts me to His back, and starts walking.

Rest on me, little one. I’ll carry you a little while and when you’ve rested and you’re ready again to walk, I’ll lead you. But for now, just rest. We’ll get there right on time.”

I know I can trust The Father. He is the one who knows the way. He’s never lost. It seems like He’s come this way lots of times before…or maybe that He’s made this way. He made the destination, He knows how to get there and He’s taking me there with Him.

Father, thank you for lifting me out of discouragement and setting me back on the path with you. Thank you for calling me and taking me with you. May I know how to trust you with the next step. May I seek your lead with every step along this journey so that I don’t miss your wonder. May I learn to look for you, see what you see, and take from your strength what I need for this journey.

Conversations

Thorny Trials

The landscaping in our front yard has a very beautiful bush that blooms the prettiest pink flowers and grows more like a vine than a bush. It is not a very friendly bush, however. It has what I consider “killer” thorns all over the branches. A few months ago, my husband was doing yard work and noticed this bush was starting to get a bit more unruly and decided to trim back the branches to keep them from overgrowing onto the sidewalk. Cleaning up was difficult and a bit painful when a misplaced finger got pricked by one of the thorns. We carefully got all the branches cleaned up and out of the yard – or so we thought. A few weeks later, my youngest was outside in her bare feet and all the sudden I heard a gut-wrenching cry. It was the kind of cry that makes you feel your heart drop into your feet and your stomach jump into your throat. I raced out to find her gasping for breath between cries and standing frozen still. I quickly discovered she had a half-inch thorn directly through the bottom of her heel. I went into full mom-mode. I pulled the thorn out of her foot and scooped her up tend to her wound, comfort, and pray over her. The happy end to this story is that she was completely fine. There were no problems after the thorn was removed and the wound washed. It was almost like it never happened. But the memory is still there.

I  recalled this story when I read 1 Peter 1:6-7 recently:
“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

How does that work?

How can this work?

“…for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials…”

How is a trial necessary?

Reflecting on these verses, this story with my own daughter came flooding to mind. I asked The Father my questions.

He whispered back, in His still, small, wise, loving, tender yet authoritative voice:

The thorny trial is not what is necessary. The trial is what happens in the midst of life. Just like your heart broke to see your daughter in pain, so does my heart break when I see you in pain. In the same way that she knew you would come to help her and comfort you, you know that I do that for you too, little one. You know that I care for you. You know that I weep when you weep and I rejoice when you rejoice. My precious one there is still good for you, yes even in the thorny trials because when you have one, your faith is strengthened. You see something more about Me that deepens our relationship and the joy you find in me. Those amazing worship experiences you have are often birthed out of a thorny situation.

You didn’t “allow” your precious daughter to step on that thorn. It happened as a result of nothing more than living her life unaware. But when it did happen, you came to her rescue and comfort. She learned an unfortunate but valuable lesson in wisdom but more important than that is that she knew once again her mom loves her tremendously.

The same is true for me, your Heavenly Father. Thorny trials in your life have and will come. But remember precious one, I was there with you for all of them and I will be right beside you with the next one. Remember, I helped you through it – I will help you through again. I cared for you, mended your heart, comforted you and restored joy to you each time and I will do it all again because I love you so much more than you know. Through every thorny trial, I have been The Rock you can cling to and The One you know you can cry out for. No matter how many thorns you encounter, I will always be your Rock, your Refuge, your Strength, your Joy, your Comfort, your Father who loves you unconditionally and forever. I will always be I AM.