It has been one of those days. One of those days where truth is seeping out from unexpected places. You see, for the past seven months I have been walking through a valley. Without going into detail, it was as if I was a Russian nesting doll. As you open each doll you find another layer hidden beneath the first. At lunch today a friend used this doll as an example of peeling back the layers of our flesh and getting to the core, to the masterpiece that is in each one of us, that our Creator has designed.
For nearly seven months now I have been peeling back layers of myself that I had no idea existed. Layers of guilt, shame, anxiety, fear, discouragement, unforgiveness, and on and on and on. I cannot say that this refining has been delightful, as I said before, it has in fact been a valley. Triggered by the loss of our child, I began to feel as though my life was never going to be what I thought it would or should be. Thoughts of, “I’m not good enough…” and “I don’t deserve anything better…” seemed to be etched in my very soul. I wandered through days wondering if I was ever going to find the core to these layers. Could I find that small, delicate masterpiece hidden under all the layers of flesh?
Words speak straight to my soul. Spoken or written, words have a way of stirring me and leading me to discover more of God’s truth and character. Today it was words that brought me to tears because these very words could have been my own:
“…there are weeds and disappointments and seeming failures. There are days that tear out still-beating chunks of your bare heart, whole seasons that feel like every breath is through burning smoke. There is always hope. The real essence of the universe is endless grace – which is the theological term for surprise. As long as there is still time – there will be surprises. Apparent failures can be the way your Father births a successful faith. God is always growing something to fill the empty places up. And it’s always possible…”
(excerpt from Ann Voskamp’s Blog)
I cannot shake the stirring that occurred as I read this. THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE. Beneath the layers, inside the wooden doll there is hope. A hope that is not anchored in self, but hope that is anchored in our Creator. At times I felt as though I had functioned for so long in my own strength that I could never learn how to truly function in HIS strength so I faked it. A smiling face, the right words and I convinced myself that this could work. Until my world was shaken and my own strength exposed as weak.
“But He said to me: My grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness…” (1 Cor. 12:9)
Now that I am on the other side looking back at the layers that have been stripped away I am amazed. Amazed at the love of our Father. Amazed at the grace that I walk in daily. Amazed that He takes the layers of my broken life and makes something beautiful. Amazed at how easy it is to breathe uncovered. It got pretty lonely and dark in there. My husband’s efforts, my family’s concern, a friend’s encouraging words were unable to reach me because my soul, my heart, and my mind were suffocating beneath the layers.
So what did it take to peel them back, those layers that were weighing me down? Courage. Trust. Belief. But most of all, HOPE. Without hope every step is questioned. Without hope every decision is shaky. Without hope change seems temporary. But WITH hope every step is secure, every decision is solid, every change has a future. Beneath every layer there lies the potential for hope. When I decided to choose hope instead of fear my life literally flipped upside down. Each day is a challenge, but also an opportunity for HIS strength to be made perfect in my weakness, and that is my prayer every morning.
They say that healing comes from sharing. So I guess this is for my healing…and I pray that it may be for yours as well.