Friday, March 5, 2010

A Journey of Grace: Rebuilding the Ancient Ruins©

When Jesus called me out of religious activity, life began anew for me. I began to realize things I’d never known before. When at Calvary Jesus said, “It is finished”, He meant it. When He walked out of the tomb His completed life was made available to me. I could now lay mine down. I’m still learning what that looks like. I guess I’ll be learning until He takes me home.

All the years of trying to be something for God had left me empty. I was ripe and ready to need, though I didn’t have a clue what that looked like. I didn’t know how to be different I just knew I wanted to be. I entered into a road where dependence would be the key that would unlock the doors to my freedom. I would never be able to figure it all out. It would be up to Jesus. I needed and I needed badly.

Everything around me was affected by that one choice, especially my children. For the first time they were given the opportunity to be seen in who they really are, apart from their performance. It’s a domino affect after all. What the parent experiences trickles down to the children. If we don’t live in our true identity, our children won’t be allowed to either. I won't ever be able to give something that I, myself am not experiencing.

One of the hardest parts of it all has been seeing the affects that my captivity cost my children. My performance-driven lifestyle had spoken to them in so many negative ways. I wish it weren’t true, but it is.

When I do not live in the finished work of Christ in me, I will hurt those I love the most. I have passed along messages that were far from the truth. Words and actions really do affect children. I’ve seen it. I know. My love for them is not based on what they do or don’t do, I love them because they are mine. They haven’t seen that. They have a chance to now.

I can often feel the regrets of the years that have gone by. Sometimes it's hard to understand why it took so long for me to get to this place. The damage could have been much less had I gotten this sooner. But even that His grace covers. I was reminded of that this past weekend when my oldest came home with her boyfriend for a visit.

As I shared some of my story with Nathan, I verbalized that I wished things had been different for my children. Immediately my daughter responded, “It’s OK, Mom, things are different now. I see a difference.”

Such tender words remind me that God paints a picture in the midst of the mess that opens eyes of those around us to see, “there’s a difference.” He even uses my blunderings to show His character. The mess of my flesh allowed my girl to see that God really does make a difference.

It’s that mysterious thing that God does with His grace, as He makes all things work together for good. My children see what life lived in one's own strength looks like. It never works, it never will. It puts expectations on people. It hurts.

But best of all they now get to see that God really does make a difference.

I've often contemplated what it was that catapulted me into this newfound change? What was it that finally made things begin to click? It's simple, really. My point of reference changed. Instead of seeing myself in all my broken places I began to ask God what He saw in me. I started learning to love myself the way God loves me. In the process I’ve discovered something. Who He tells me I am is so much better than who I've thought myself to be.

Learning to believe what He said was true has allowed me to learn to trust Him. It has opened me up to be a lover. Now it’s trickling down affecting those I love deeply.

The rebuilding continues as layers of flesh are being exposed and peeled away. He has come for me. He won't stop until I see Him face to face. He has changed my heart. I will never be the same again.

The Restorer is rebuilding the ancient ruins of my life. This time it's built on a firm foundation. He is the builder, not me. My regrets are turned to joy as I see that nothing is wasted in His economy. He really does make all things good. His grace covers everything, even the ruins of my past.

©copyright: 2010, Julie L. Todd

Thank you to all who have taken the time to read my journey into grace. From time to time I've had people ask me questions about things I've shared in my story. I would love to open my blog up for that. If you have a question, or would like to know more about a specific thing I've written about, simply write a response to the post and ask away, or you can email me if you prefer. You can find my email address on my profile page.

To read previous posts, click on the titles below.

A Journey of Grace:

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:

Part Eight: Walking Without Crutches:

Part Nine: Assessing The Damage:


Laura said... Reply to comment

And he redeems those years, doesn't He? Your story is so beautiful. Yes, when we are weak, His glory just shines. He shines in you, Jewlz!

Tabitha@ichoosebliss said... Reply to comment

I'm noticing the change in my daughter as our Father changes me. It is awe inspiring and beautiful at the same time. I loved reading your words.

Jo Princess Warrior said... Reply to comment

No! I don't want this series to end. The posts have touched me so much.

Thank you so much for sharing your journey which has impacted my own life more than you will ever know. xo

Crown of Beauty said... Reply to comment

This is another great testimony of your life transformation, dearest Julie!

I especially like what you wrote:

"If we don’t live in our true identity, our children won’t be allowed to either. I won't ever be able to give something that I, myself am not experiencing."

This is so true.

And indeed what your oldest told you, that it's OK now, she already sees the difference, that was so heartwarming!

I am amazed that you speak the same language as I do in evaluating the events of my life...

Praise God for He really is the author of our life stories!


Aine Willis said... Reply to comment

I have really enjoyed getting to know you through your story over the past few blogs. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. I've learned things and on this particular post ... I learned that my past, even my "mess ups" can be used to show God's grace. I hadn't ever really thought of it that way. I've always know He can make things beautiful in His time ... but I had never really considered that in the making of the beauty from ashes, others would see His grace. That Rocks! God Bless!

Carmen said... Reply to comment

With God's grace, it's never too late. Glad your daughter noticed that! We all realize things so late in life sometimes, and yet, God can still make it all okay. Wonderful post!

Amy said... Reply to comment


I'm rejoicing over the way God has taken your regrets and turned them into joy!

God is amazing...

Love you!

Katie said... Reply to comment

It is so wonderful to read your story, Jewel...and to read the comments of others who have also discovered the wonder of letting Christ live through us. It changing, no doubt about it. Like Lidj said, it is wonderful that "you speak the same language as I do in evaluating the events of my life." If you've never read my version of your story, which I called "My Ultimate Makeover" feel free to...I think you'll recognize in it, the same lessons that I recognize in yours.

God is so good!

Mary said... Reply to comment

No. It's never too late for change - and the effects it has on those around us is phenomenal. :)

Thank you for sharing with us. It has been a beautiful testimony.

God always redeems the time. He always does. :)

xxxx M.

Liz said... Reply to comment

I am so waiting for you to publish your book :)

Gretchen said... Reply to comment

Lovely, Jewelz. Reading the book, "The Search for Significance" by Robert McGee helped me a lot in realizing that it's who and Whose I was that was important,not what I was doing at the moment.

Great series.

Karen said... Reply to comment

Bless you for sharing all this, sweet sister....

Christina said... Reply to comment

"Instead of seeing myself in all my broken places I began to ask God what He saw in me. I started learning to love myself the way God loves me. In the process I’ve discovered something. Who He tells me I am is so much better than who I've thought myself to be.

That part spoke to me like crazy today. on Alece's blog, she definitely asks us to describe ourselves in 10 words and i definitely have no clue of who i am. i think im in a similar place of just being helpless and needed God to transform my mind, attitude, and heart into one of reliance and dependence on Him. keep me in your prayers as i continue on this journey, as i keep you in mine.

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

How well I understand some of your feelings of regret, sister. I harbor some as well. It's not always easy to take a look backward and realize the damage that's been done to our children because of our personal sin. How thankful I am for second chances, thirds, fourths, and fifths, and for finally arriving at a place in my journey with Jesus that allows me a grace-filled look back rather than a completely, regretful one.

Thank you for this.


The Milk Maid said... Reply to comment

I really enjoyed reading this. It is very encouraging to me.

I miss you SO much and can't wait to hang with you on Tuesday.

Love ya

Connie Barris said... Reply to comment

you and I are on such a similar path.. I still want to meet up and have that coffee we have talked about for so long...

Manda said... Reply to comment

I remember reading a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. which said "religion is the natural default of the human heart". You are not alone. We all can, from time to time, start to perform again and take ownership of our salvation. Resulting in us becoming religious.
I praise God that He unveiled your eyes to see... as He has for me.

Thanks for stopping into my blog! It was great to see you there. Come anytime!

Sara said... Reply to comment

I am on the same journey friend. Being set free from religion and learning to dance in His love.

Thank you for sharing today. Looks like I have some reading to catch up on!


Sara said... Reply to comment

I loved getting to know you a bit more and hearing about your name.

Thanks for splashing around with me today,

Vicki said... Reply to comment

I love reading & hearing about others' grace journey...blessings to you this Resurrection Day! Our life in Him is all grace - what a wondrous thing.