Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Journey of Grace: Let Freedom Ring©

I remember the day back in 1991 when David told me I didn’t respect him. His eyes revealed his pain. I knew he was right. It pained me to admit it, yet I knew I had to in order to move forward. To be honest, I didn’t have a clue what respecting my husband looked like. I had been killing my marriage.

I had been a controlling, woman for so long I didn’t know how to be anything else. Control had become part of my self-protective armor. It’s what you do when you’re afraid, you try to control your world by controlling those around you. Behind the facade of the competent woman was a scared little girl who wondered if she’d ever be enough to be wanted.

I was ready for a change. I was desperate. I couldn’t live like this any longer. So much of how I had lived was wrong. Though it felt overwhelming I later learned that not being able to fix myself was the best place I could be. I couldn’t possibly change this mess I had made.

God brought along an older woman to mentor me. There’s something about having a woman who’s a bit farther down the road involved in your life, especially when your personalities are similar.

I began to learn how to see God from a different view. He invited me to enter a new road, one where I would begin to see things through His eyes. It would take some time to get there. There were many destinations to be visited along the way.

I read a book titled “Hinds Feet on High Places.” I saw myself in the character, Much Afraid. She too wanted to find love. I prayed that God would plant a seed of love inside me to nurture and grow I didn’t realize it was already there.

God began to rescue this damsel in distress, one layer at a time from myself. I can look back now and see how relentlessly He has continued to pursue me. As He began to teach me, my grasp on my tightly controlled life began to loosen. God began to woo my heart to trust.

Learning to trust has been the longest, hardest road I’ve walked. So much of who He was had been distorted to the point that I really didn’t know His heart at all.

Gradually He began to wash away my preconceived ideas. It was slow going at first, much like a patient lover with a woman who had been betrayed. He waited for me to be ready for each and every step of His pursuit and then He came. Like an onion being peeled layer by layer, He has taken me to greater levels of freedom one step at a time.

Special times stand out as mile-markers in my mind. In 1992 I had found a house that I wanted to rent. It was more than we could afford. The owners were discussing whether they could rent it for less. As the clock ticked by I found myself at a pivotal place. Would God love me enough to give me the house? I had always gauged His love based on how He responded to my requests.

The next day at church during communion I sat thanking Jesus for the cross. Out of nowhere words stopped me dead in my tracks. I wasn’t used to hearing His voice so clearly, yet I knew it was Him. “Whether you get the house or not, is not about my loving you.” “The cross proves my love for you.”

It was my first encounter with the deep love behind the crucifixion. It would not be my last.

He continued to speak to me at random times. Each time I would recognize His voice more easily.

One night I was walking towards our bedroom when out of nowhere words interrupted my thoughts. “I loved you first”. A few days later I sat down to look at my Bible study homework. The verse for that week was “We love because He first loved us.”

I knew then and there that He was breaking through my “Cinderella syndrome”. It was one of those defining moments in my life. He was telling me that He loved me before I could ever think of loving Him. I wasn’t the daughter He had to take because I wanted Him. I was the one He loved first. It would be the beginning of the rest of my life.

©copyrighted 2010; Julie L. Todd

Next up: Part Five: My Deliverer Is Coming

Part One: In the beginning:

Part Two: My Fig Leaves:

Part Three: Lost in Translation:


elaine @ peace for the journey said... Reply to comment

I have a controlling personality. My husband does not. In some ways, that has made it easier for me to dominate and get my way over the years. I'm still working on it, but God has been transforming me along these lines, all the while reminding me of his lavish love in the process.

You're right; my most controlling moments stem from life circumstances seemingly spiraling out of control. I'm a "steady as she goes" gal who doesn't bode well in rocking boats.

Great thoughts here, Julie, and thanks for sharing on the blog regarding the passing of your father. Such tender times.


Amy said... Reply to comment

This is another great testimony of God's ability to set a captive heart free!

Carmen said... Reply to comment

I'm not a controlling person at all, and yet my husband has felt that I didn't support or trust him. We were raised very differently, and so it's been an upward struggle in some areas for 25 years. We're both working on it though. Thanks for such a transparent post!

christy rose said... Reply to comment

Isn't is amazing the great lengths our Father will go to in order to woo our hearts to Him and Him alone. And knowing that He does so by revealing His love for us unconditionally and unmoved by our rejection of His love, makes us be able to let go of control of our lives and the lives of those involved with us because we know that love is what we have been trying to make happen in our lives all along. I am loving your story of your journey Julie.

I have something fabulous over at my place for you.

Mich said... Reply to comment

I stopped by to say "hi" and was blessed. thank you for your honesty and for sharing your heart. You never know who will be reading and will be touched by your experience.

My dad started reading the "Hinds Feet..." book to my sister and I when we were young. I've always loved that story and how much of me can be found in the characters of that book.

Blessings and prayers...

Aine Willis said... Reply to comment

I love how you talk about God speaking to you. It's just like that ... isn't it? He speaks a word to us right in the middle of our everyday lives and it changes everything. God Bless, Aine :)

Angela Nazworth said... Reply to comment

I'll be honest with you...I started reading this post and stopped...and then started and stopped...I'm in one of those places now that I kept thinking "I'm so not in the mood for this today!" Terrible huh? But I know I needed to read it...and I did and it was lovely and I was blessed...and convicted...thank you.

Lelia Chealey said... Reply to comment

I love this post Julie. Thank you for sending me the link to it.
I love how God changed you. And what you wrote here rings a bell w/ me:

I had been a controlling, woman for so long I didn’t know how to be anything else.

I am one of God's "problem children" so there is much to work on w/ me. ;)

Crown of Beauty said... Reply to comment

Thank you for sharing this, dear Julie.


Paula said... Reply to comment

I LOVE this blog entry, Julie. I LOVE it.

My experience was similar. I had been studying the book of Ephesians and delighting in the first few chapters--how God called me and had a plan in my life and empowers me for that plan through resurrection power. WOW!

Then I came to Ephesians 4:2. The version I was reading said, "Be completely humble and patient." I threw my Bible across the room.

"God, I can't be COMPLETELY patient for an hour much less a lifetime. How dare you put this on me??"

That old failure, not good enough complex roared back to life in that instant.

But God spoke gently to me, "Think about what you just read," He said.

I was reminded of the passage in the chapter before about praying that our roots will go deep into Christ love and that we will know how high and wide His love is, and that then He will do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.

Then the Lord said, "Paula, all your life you have tried to be good. Get to know me and let me make you good."

What a paradigm shift! My job was simply to seek Him, His love, let my roots go deeply into His love. He promised to do the transforming of this inadequate, failing vessel into something good.

Anonymous said... Reply to comment

so enjoying reading your journey of grace. I am still in the middle of mine. He is still pulling off my layers! xo

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

Amazing how we don't love others fully until we realize His love for us.


And my name is Gretchen, and I can be controlling. I am God's WIP, for sure! xxxooo

Anonymous said... Reply to comment

I had always gauged His love based on how He responded to my requests. Wow! I've been there!

Tea With Tiffany said... Reply to comment

I hear His sweet voice. There's nothing more healing or life changing than the love of God.

Thank you again.

Karen said... Reply to comment

Such beautiful truths about His love....