This past summer a friend and I went to “movie night at the park” where they showed a fun flick on a big blow-up screen. It’s so much fun to see everyone with their lawn chairs with blankets, coolers and snacks. There’s a wave of something nostalgic that fills the air.
It was pretty dark at the end and as we were walking back to the car, I decided it would be fun to jump over a small culvert rather than take the boring walk across the bridge. Evidently I’m not that great of a jumper because my left foot landed right in the middle of the ditch and I was shocked and startled as my leg rapidly sunk down in what turned out to be about 12” of mud.
At that point I full-on freaked out as I started recalling vivid images of Indiana Jones in the Well of Souls scene where 7,000 snakes/legless lizards got their 15 minutes of fame. Instead of stepping backwards OUT of the mud, my right leg went forward and also sunk down and at that point I just kept going forward until I eventually made my way out, shoeless, on the other side. All I could think about was getting wrapped up with a 16’ python (lol, we don’t even have those), fighting for my life as I tried to make a daring escape.
I was a hot mess after the ordeal, looked like I had wrestled a gator in a mud pit. My friend suggested that next time I consider backing up instead of propelling forward which I found to be a good idea, but one that made its way to me a little late.
December 4th marked the 6th anniversary of my divorce and I nearly forgot about it except I was on the phone with a financial aid rep who is assisting us with college funding. We were going over my FAFSA application and he asked the date of my divorce. “December 4th,” I answered. “Well then this is a memorable day for you,” he replied. After our call I took a moment to reflect on how painful this day had been in past years and the fact that I had all but forgotten it in 2019.
I have noticed the last six weeks that I am in a very different place than I have been in a really long time. I kept trying to attach a word to the shift, and finally it came to me: RESTORED.
When something is restored it is returned to a former condition. At first I didn’t really see the connection because I thought, “I’m a much different person now.” But I felt God saying to me, “Your former condition was that of a daughter who believed she was greatly loved by Me.” It’s not that I’ve returned to my former self or personality, it’s that I’ve returned to what I was originally created as: a child of God who is fully and wholly loved and accepted by Him.
We change and morph and grow and wrestle our way through this life. And when we go through something that breaks us down, the rebuilding process isn’t just a personality reboot or a modification of our former selves, it’s a complete inner healing and restoration of our souls. It’s God holding us close and whispering, “I will not let you go. You are so important to me. I will never leave you. Cling to me and I will recondition your heart.”
Recently God brought to mind the picture of myself running through the ditch on that warm summer night. I was reminded of being completely panicked, covered in mud, desperate to get home and wash myself off. At the same time, I saw a picture of myself over the last six years, slowly navigating through my pain and heartache, giving myself proper time to take steps toward healing. I immediately understood the correlation between the two stories.
When we are forced to pass through the muddy reeds, our natural instinct is to get through as quickly as possible. It’s frightening to be surrounded by a dark and cold heavy layer of wet dirt. Fear engulfs us, uncertainly befriends us and desperation tugs at us, inspiring us to keep moving forward. When we do get through, we want to hose ourselves off because the mud is uncomfortable and unappealing.
Some people immediately wash it off, not realizing the weight of what just happened, nor taking the time to process the events.
What if we allowed ourselves time for the mud to dry and stay with us for awhile? Yes, it would be annoying and extremely unattractive, but may I present some of the benefits?
~Mud goes deep into the skin to remove contaminants. Mud draws out impurities and toxins from deep underneath the skin to the skin’s surface.
~Mud exfoliates the skin naturally and has the added benefit of moisturizing skin. It fights acne, reduces the signs of aging and improves elasticity.
~Mud replenishes skin with necessary minerals, salts and other natural elements that the body needs/craves
~Mud provides a covering, shielding us from harmful UV rays.
When we wash off our emotional mud (pain) prematurely, we forego the benefits our trials offer. Dismissing it too quickly makes us feel like we have it together but in reality, we are simply internalizing our pain. The problem is that we convince ourselves we look okay and we feel normal. We can operate like that for a season or even seasons but there is lingering work to be done. And it doesn’t just go away, it shares space with us wherever we go.
It’s been six years and over 2,000 sunrises and sunsets since my world changed, and I have only recently washed off the mud. Yes, I worked on myself every day and yes, it took me this long. I’m not saying that I’ve arrived but I am saying that my heart is in a good place and my soul is in a safe space. I harbor no blame and I carry no shame.
I’ve been writing this blog now for over a year and I can’t thank you enough for joining me on on this journey of vulnerability and healing. I am so grateful for you wonderful people who cheer me on and push me along. I’m going to continue writing but in a different way (I’ll still be blogging, but once a month instead of once a week). I’ve started writing my story and in this final year of my 40s I am going to focus on making it into a book. Honest moment here, I have been afraid to type those words until now. But I am compelled to keep telling the story of a God who loves us and heals our hearts so that we can function as healthy human beings. It’s the gift of an extraordinary exchange between God and us. It’s a trade where we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
“To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3).
If you know someone who could benefit from this post, please share. God carved out a path of intense healing for me and I would like to share it with as many people who need or want to hear.