When my counselor asked me to give her two years, I really had no idea what that meant. I only knew that she was asking me to set aside 24 months for healing and I agreed because I was in a desperate place.
That week I went home and thought about the weight of my commitment. I wondered if the road to healing could possibly be harder than the reality of what I was facing in that moment…if the work would be more difficult than the circumstances that had brought me to this place. I got excited when I pictured myself graduating someday (hopefully with honors, lol), walking into my counselor’s office in my old college cap and gown and maybe printing myself a diploma from the school of hard knocks. I tried to process what it would feel like to be in a place of healthy perspective. I almost couldn’t visualize it, but it was fun to dream.
I felt like I had been hit by a semi truck and my body was laying in a ditch on the side of the road. I knew that I could continue to stay there and wallow in my “much deserved” misery, or I could stand up, brush myself off, hold my head high and start walking in the direction of wholeness. I figured it would be a long and painful road but I was hopeful that I would eventually find peace.
As I made the commitment to get up and make movement toward help, I felt God saying, “I’m giving you the gift of time.” Time to process. Time to work on issues. Time to mourn the loss of my marriage. Time to work on my stuff. And ultimately, time to heal.
I realized what a treasured gift this was. In fact, I didn’t know it at the time but this gift was priceless; it would require much of me but would give back more than I could ever contain. I would rediscover the joy I had once known. I would smile and laugh. I would regain my confidence and find my giftings. I would live again.
I was all in.
Week after week, month after month, year after year I showed up. I sobbed. I took notes. I shared stories. I got stuck. I was discouraged. I made a little progress. I cried some more.
And I held tightly to the offer God had extended to me, the gift of time. I decided I would take things slow and stay in the places of darkness until I had dealt with them fully. (I will go into detail on this soon; it’s so important that we understand how to process our deepest pain before moving on.) My advancement toward healing was very deliberate, although I could handle very little at the time so my progress was slow. Most days I would take one step forward and two steps back. Thankfully God gave me a patient counselor.
As I was writing this post earlier in the week, I was blown away by something God showed me.
God gently spoke to my heart that five years ago, when He offered me the gift of time, He was actually asking me to exercise patience. He was pursuing my heart, giving me an opportunity to work through and wait for my healing. He knew my wounds ran deep and that time would be an anchor for my soul. So He presented it as a gift, knowing that if He asked me to GIVE something rather than RECEIVE, I would have responded with:
God, I don’t need ONE MORE THING on my to do list, I can barely function as it is.
You are asking ME to make a sacrifice right now? Haven’t I already sacrificed enough?
I’ve been exercising patience for YEARS now with ZERO results. Please don’t ask me to walk any further down that road.
I sense that if God had asked me for patience, I would have been angry and frustrated and felt like He was requesting sacrifice when I had nothing to give. But He wasn’t taking anything, in fact, He was giving me one of the most beautiful, precious gifts I could have asked for. The gift of time was actually the exercise of patience. They were identical; both required endurance, steadiness and perseverance. One makes me think of a warm bubble bath on a snowy day and the other a bone-chilling swim across the ocean.
Life is so much about perspective, how we view things. How we process information. How we respond to situations.
I’ve seen people walk away from God because they felt He took something from them or didn’t give them something they desperately wanted or felt they needed. This is how and why people justify their anger toward God. They pose the following questions:
“How could God let this happen?”
“Where was God in this?”
“Why didn’t God intervene?”
Romans 8:28 says that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” This scripture acknowledges the “things” we will experience in our time here on earth: joy and devastation, pleasure and pain, equality and injustice. But His promise for those who love Him is that He will take the negatives and weave in His beauty and grace…He will mend our broken hearts as we lean into Him, as we trust Him earnestly.
May I pose a challenge? Next time we feel God asking us to do something hard, let’s make an effort to look at it from a different angle. If He’s asking you to give something (time, expertise, love, money, etc.), choose to see it not from your vantage point, but rather from the position of the recipient. If we can picture ourselves getting up out of a chair and walking over to sit with the other person, we will see our efforts as a gift. We will feel the response of the receiver, not the sacrifice of the giver. This is where intention meets wholeheartedness. This is where we find true empathy.
Did you like this post? Please follow my blog and share on social media and with friends who could use some encouragement. God carved out a path of intense healing for me and I would like to share it with as many people who need to hear. It’s my way of paying it forward.