Friday, February 19, 2010

A Journey of Grace: Assessing The Damage:©

One of the most brilliant scenes in the Lord of the Rings series is when Theoden is delivered from his captivity. He had been brainwashed by the whisperings of the evil adviser, Wormtongue. Gandolf arrives on the scene and demands the curse of darkness leave. Once Theoden awakens, he is told that he will remember his strength if he grasps his sword. The sword is brought to him, he takes hold and rises up into who he really is, the king of Rohan. He throws Wormtongue out of his domain and begins to assess the damage done while under the influence of evil.

Every time I watch that scene I see my world. The whispers of the enemy disoriented me. I was brainwashed by an evil advisor in hopes that I would be steered away from living in who I am. Once the Deliverer awakened me it was then I was able to see what my captivity had cost those around me.

Fear always leads us to control our world. Control births expectations and expectations sabotage relationships. Expectations are resentments waiting to happen. I’ve had many of them. I have sabotaged relationships, especially with my David.

I will never forget the day that God came to talk to me about him. I remember it now 7 years later as if it were yesterday.

This time God spoke through a vision. As if watching a scene from a movie, an image was immediately uploaded into my mind.

I was on a playground, with my children. Another woman I knew was there with her children too. All of a sudden she began to parent my children right in front of me. She didn’t like what they were doing so she took it upon herself to try move them to do what she wanted. It upset my children. It offended me. As quickly as the vision came, it left. It was then God spoke.

“How would you feel if someone did that?” I answered back, “I wouldn’t like it.” He replied, “Neither do I.” “David is mine, Jewel, he’s my child.” “Can you leave him with me?” “Will you let me parent my child?” I felt His words pierce to a deep place. I knew I had sinned. I had stood in the way of love.

For too many years I pushed, pulled, and guilt motivated, hoping that I could get David moving. I told him what he needed to do and then griped when he didn't do what I wanted. I complained because he wouldn’t lead me. Like most women who aren’t led I didn’t realize the part I played that blocked the path. You can't lead a person who's not easily led.

I was often frustrated with David’s passivity, yet unaware that my demands fed it. It was easier for him to shut down than to try and fail. He could never do enough to meet the unending expectations. The demands I had could never be met. They were birthed out of fear. No matter how hard he might try. He could never satisfy my fears.

I sought to manage the apprehensions that infiltrated my world. I allowed them to grab hold and shake me, causing me to try and shake my husband too. I spent many years trying to move him where I wanted him to be. I sought to control his world, while maintaining mine. It didn’t work, it never will.

In the process I emasculated him with each failed attempt. I spoke many words of death.

Many say control is the curse on the woman because of Eve’s sin. As if that makes it okay. But it’s more than that. Control is giving way to the presence of fear. If I do not trust, I will fear, which will lead to control. I will try to control what I fear.

And so it comes down to trust, yet again. To live in grace, there must be trust, not in a man or his performance, but in my God.

I’ve looked to David in many distorted ways. It’s the most common place a woman goes. I believed he should meet my deepest longings to be loved, wanted, desired. I’ve wanted him to make me feel safe and secure.

It never happened. It never will.

For only God and God alone can fill the deep needs of the soul. I didn't know that for such a long time. I wish I had.

God saw me. He knew. He came.

As His perfect love cast out each fear, the demands are melting away leaving no need for control. In the process, David is being released to be parented by the only One who knows.

Grace has come to this heart, and this home. It has opened the eyes of the blind and is setting the captives free.

©copyrighted: 2010, Julie L. Todd

Next up: Rebuilding the Ancient Ruins

To read previous posts in this series, click on the link:

Part One: In the Beginning:

Part Two: My Fig Leaves:

Part Three: Lost In Translation:

Part Four: Let Freedom Ring:

Part Five: My Deliverer is Coming:

Part Six: Alone In The Wilderness:

Part Seven: Glimpses In the Wilderness:

Part Eight: Walking Without Crutches:

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Journey of Grace: Walking Without Crutches ©

As I stepped into the waters of trust I found myself crying out to be emptied of all the efforts I had used to manage my world. They had become crutches I had relied on to carry me. Though the pruning was painful I knew the old had to be removed in order for the new to be known, seen and lived.

As the pruning progressed I found myself relating to a hedge that sat at the end of our flower bed. David had gotten a little carried away when pruning it for spring. By the time he finished all that remained was the base of the trunk.

I watched it weekly to see if there would be any signs of life. If it could be cut back that far and still live, maybe I would too. If spring came to it, maybe it would come to me too. I waited and watched for new life. So much of my life was being rearranged that I often found myself wondering who I really was.

I knew that in order to find life, the old things had to be left behind, as well as the hurts of my yesterdays. For until the hurts were redefined I would carry them into my today and my tomorrow. They would remain in my memory bank continuing to define my life. The affects of the past had to be removed in order to move on.

I always knew when it was time to have one healed. Jesus would bring up a memory. It was as if He was hand delivering an invitation to my healing.

I had believed many things about myself through events that had taken place through the years. Who I truly was had become lost underneath layers of deception. Jesus came to scrape the lies away, much like a restorer with a piece of furniture. At just the right moment He would apply the varnish remover, pick up the tools, and gently sand away one layer at a time. He was determined to bring the original design out from under the coats of deception that covered me.

On one such day I remembered a deep rejection I had experienced. I knew it was a summons to my healing. I could hear Him asking, “Can we talk about what happened, Jewel?” Hand in hand Jesus and I walked back into the memory.

When I was a 16 years old I thought I had fallen in love. I thought I would love this young man forever. After all he had promised we would marry. Less than a year later he broke up with me, breaking my heart into tiny pieces. I reasoned through the mind of a 17 year old girl. At that point I believed there was something wrong with me. I believed this man had rejected me because of my flaws. I believed I was unwanted, yet again.

As we remembered together I began to tell Jesus how rejected I had felt. I wanted to know where He was when this was going on. I wanted to know what He saw, what really happened. He gently spoke, “Jewel, you weren’t rejected.” “I took him away from you.” “He wasn’t right for you.” “I had to remove him.”

Years of heartache and rejection were healed in an instant. I could see something I had been blind to for years. Until that point my identity had been defined by a moment in time when I believed something that was far from truth.

For years the hurt places caused me to look for things that could bear the weight of who I feared I was. In the process they became the crutches that hindered me from walking in what was really true.

The broken places distort everything much like the carnival mirrors I played with as a child. He came to restore the broken places with His truth. He came to teach me how to see and love me.

Remember the shrub that had been cut back to the trunk? By the end of spring it was filled with new fresh shoots of green life. The pruning had had it’s purpose. So it has been with me.

He knew who I was all along. He invited me to see. In the process the crutches have been removed. I don’t need them any longer. For I now walk with a God who has been loving away my pain. As He has loved me He has taught Me how to love Me. In loving me I have become free to love.

Next Up: Released to the Redeemer:

Part One: In The Beginning:

Part Two: My Fig Leaves:

Part Three: Lost In Translation:

Part Four: Let Freedom Ring:

Part Five: My Deliverer Is Coming:

Part Six: Alone In The Wilderness:

Part Seven: Glimpses Of The Wilderness:

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Journey of Grace: Glimpses Of The Wilderness©

In the wilderness the facade is exposed for what it is. All that you have relied on no longer holds any value. Amidst the barrenness the oasis of God meets you and in the process you are changed.

You can ask anyone who knew me, I was not known for being still. It didn’t seem to be in my dna. As a child I couldn’t sit still for the life of me. As an adult stillness was not a place that I volunteered to go. As I entered into the wilderness the call became clear. “Be still and know me as God.” I didn’t have a clue what that meant.

Soon after I heard a woman speak of how she had asked God what He wanted to say to her about a particular subject. She mentioned how she waited and listened until He spoke. Truth is I’d never considered such a thing. Most often the times I spent with God focused on my telling Him what I was thinking or what I wanted or needed from Him.

After 22 years of walking with God I decided to give it a shot.

I so desperately wanted it to work, yet at the same time, I was so accustomed to getting into the mix of things. What if somehow I manipulated His words? It came down to this. Could I trust Him to overcome me?

At 44 years of age, blank notebook in hand, I stepped into uncharted territory. I asked, “Is there anything you would like to say to me?”

What happened next was ‘otherworldly’. God began to speak so fast that I struggled to write it all down. I had never experienced anything like it before. The words He spoke took my breath away. They were so tender, so intimate. I became aware of patient love. It’s the love that does not force, but waits until the recipient is ready to receive.

When I was ready to receive, I discovered He had much to tell me. It all began with receiving and receiving begins with trust. For the truth is, until I trust, I will never receive.

It’s easy to trust God with the big things in life, like keeping the earth rotating, but trusting Him with me was a whole other matter. What if He didn’t show up? What if He let me down? What if I couldn’t make it? There were many seeds of control planted in my life and the root of control is fear.

God began to expose what I feared. With each one He asked “will you trust me with this?” Until I released my grip on my life, His would never be realized.

He spoke to me often about trust. Would I trust Him with my life and the plans He had for me? Would I trust Him with my husband? Would I leave David to Him? And what about my children?

I’d spent many years trusting in myself. He wanted me to trust in who He was. He is unpredictable in what He does, yet consistent in who He is. It was time to learn that. To do so meant to step out in unknown waters, believing He would be there. Would I trust in what I knew about Him verses what I could or could not see Him doing?

As I learned to trust, the doorway of grace opened for me. It was there all along, I just couldn’t find my way in. As I found that perfect love, fear began to dissipate taking with it the need to control, releasing my hands to His.

In the stillness He came to restore His image to me. He began to teach me who He really was. It has changed my world forever.

The desert has been what He promised it would be. He has tenderly spoken words that have freed me to know Him as my One true love. They’ve revealed to me the heart of the One I’m learning to trust.

When I entered the wilderness I didn’t have a clue what it looked like to be still. I do now. In fact I’ve come to love this place called stillness. For it is the place where His voice has been loudest to my soul. It’s the place where He has become my God.

©copyrighted: 2010; Julie L. Todd

Next up: Part Eight: Walking Without Crutches

To read previous posts, click on link:

Part One: In The Beginning:

Part Two: My Fig Leaves:

Part Three: Lost In Translation:

Part Four: Let Freedom Ring:

Part Five: My Deliverer Is Coming:

Part Six: Alone In The Wilderness: