Thursday, August 23, 2012

Searched, found, reminded.

{Psalm 139:23-24}

Sometimes I think I have myself figured out. I assume I see myself clearly, believe I have dealt with my past, think my belief in the Lord is aligned.  Then the Lord uses strangers, who aren't strange at all, to reveal the truth in my heart, a reality I could not see.

In prayer, just a half hour or so before, I had asked to be searched and examined because I don't want to live in untruth, and I saw God answer that. I did not expect it- at least not then and there. Through that, the Lord affirmed to me what He was showing me in my studies- that He places believers (brothers and sisters in Christ) in our lives (possibly in passing, maybe for a season or a lifetime) to be mirrors, to ask hard questions, to shine light on areas we never knew were in darkness. 

The Lord revealed an area where I had unknowingly been living in untruth. He freed me to speak the truth about what I was feeling deep within, feelings I had been carrying for over a decade, even though relational healing had occurred.  I really did not see how these things tied into how I felt about my God, and it was really amazing to see God pull that out of me using a fellow brother in Christ as His instrument in a small prayer session.

Most of my life, I have had a running commentary on who I am set on repeat in my mind.  You're different. You're weird. That's bad. You're ridiculous. You're annoying. You're a bother. You're dumb. You're unworthy, uncool. You're a screw-up. Nothing you say has value. You don't fit in. You don't matter. You don't deserve....

For some reason, my flesh looks for reasons to affirm those things- inspects what people say and do, likely reading more into it than is really there- just so it can say, "Yep, you are those things. Here's the proof. You haven't changed."

In sharing that, we were able to trace the threads back to various situations where someone's words became the soundtrack of my life, which brought forth how I really feel about those situations and that period of my life.

The word that kept repeating to me was, "Unprotected."

The person I felt like should have been there in particular situations, who should have stuck up for me, who should have been my protector, was not. His comment of, "You can take care of yourself," may have been meant to build my confidence, but it did not.  I desired someone to step in and shield me, stick up for me, protect me.  I desperately wanted this person's approval, and lived most of my preteen/teen years doing things to win it- dating certain people, doing drugs, taking risks that I wouldn't normally have taken- which really put me in many dangerous, unhealthy situations.

Much of this happened in a time when I was pretty much left to myself. At that time, I probably would have said I rather enjoyed it- preferred it because the boundaries which I was used to had suddenly disappeared (or could be easily manipulated) and by default I was given more control over my own life- but now I can see how desperately I needed those firm, unmovable boundaries.

Thinking on these things brought out my true feelings on the matter.  I didn't realize that I was frustrated and angry with the situation that the people I felt should have sheltered me, who should have protected me from the world... or even more important, protected me from my immature youthful self, had not been there (for whatever reason- I am sure there are more reasons than the ones I understand). I had put that upon the Lord- feeling like He had abandoned me, not been there for me in those situations, left me to myself.  (To be clear, I was frustrated with the situation, not with the people. I have forgiven the people involved.)

I didn't think I felt those things towards the Lord because I can clearly see that He spared me from sinking even further, saved me from situations which could have been much worse, but God revealed that there was still something deep within me that questioned Him, something within me that didn't completely believe that He had really sheltered me.

I found myself asking, "Why weren't You there, God? Why didn't You save me sooner? Why did You let me go through all of that?" I saw myself as a little girl, needing a covering but without one. I suppose something within me felt like God wasn't there, that He let me endure all of that because .... well, let's go back to the soundtrack repeating through my head...

You're different. You're weird. That's bad. You're ridiculous. You're annoying. You're a bother. You're dumb. You're unworthy, uncool. You're a screw-up. Nothing you say has value. You don't fit in. You don't matter. You don't deserve....

I'm probably not conveying this clearly because, honestly, it wasn't super clear in my mind, and it's difficult to tie it all together. The mind is so screwed up- that's why it needs renewing.

I was told to ask, "Lord, who do You say I am?"

I just couldn't bring myself to ask it.  The whole thing of asking questions, seeking answers was really difficult because I felt like a spirit of confusion and forgetfulness was hovering over me. I had a hard time focusing. My mind would go completely blank, and not in a good way, or I would be flooded with so many words and images at once that I couldn't focus on anything. My friends prayed that those spirits would be cast out and would not be able to hinder me from seeing the Truth.

I asked God where He was in all of that.  Where was He when I was suffering? I did not have a relationship with the Lord then. I was not a believer. I knew about God, but it was a list of rules to me.  

God gave me a picture of an old frail man laying on a cot. The man is racked with regret and guilt and pain. He feels like he is far from God- unredeemable.  What he doesn't know is that the Lord is there with him in that very moment, that the Lord has stretched his years this far even though death should have overcome him long ago. He has done that for a reason. And He has been there all the while.

I know this man.  He is my grandfather. Yet he is also me.

I heard the Lord say, "I pity him," and I was filled with disgust because pity sounds like a bad word, and I wanted to yell, "I don't want your pity!" but I realize I need it.

The Lord said to me (not audibly, but.. it was very plain and clear), "I was there then. I watched over you, protected you when no one else was protecting you. You were in My hand. I knew you though you didn't know Me. I could have saved you, opened your eyes, given you faith, brought you into My fold then, but I waited. I waited to give you a grander testimony for My sake, to reach those who needed your testimony. You needed to feel unredeemable to reach those who feel unredeemable."

Finally, I was able to ask, "Lord, who do You say I am?" and He gave me the simplest answer.

Do you know what Amanda means?

Worthy of Love

Below is great song that I have been singing a lot these last couple months. As I listened to it again that night, every single word seemed to resonate within me. It's really amazing how the Lord brought together lyrics I have written recently, songs I have heard on the radio or through friends, a blog post I wrote this time last year, things people said, conversations we've had recently, and so much more... and brought it all together for me at once.... like pieces of a puzzle I had gathered throughout the years, finally fitting together.

Do you need to be reminded of who you are because the voices around you and in your head keep telling you lies?

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