Wednesday, February 4, 2015

It is well with my soul

Life is good. Life is really, really good.

In our hard times, it's difficult to see the light through the darkness. Money troubles. Relationship troubles. Dichotomy between where you thought you would be and where you actually are. Chaos where you always thought there would be order.

I can't tell you how many times over the last few years I've thought or said, "If only I had $___." If only I could pay this off. If only I felt unburdened by X, Y, and Z. If only I didn't have to worry about such and such.

I have prayed over my finances for about 2 years now. I've cried and agonized and gritted my teeth and worried myself sick...physically sick, to the point I could have been a poster girl for Zantac 150. I've budgeted and skimped and saved and done without, but I've prayed and prayed through all my strife. I had gotten to the point where I didn't even bother uttering words for my financial prayers; I just spoke with my heart because God knows my heart.

"If only I had $____."

Well, guess what? I just got $____ through my tax refund. Prayer answered. And what did it take? Several years of terrible financial troubles, bringing an unplanned [but never unwanted] child into the world, unemployment, not enough employment to do anything but strike evven, barely scraping by, unthinkable betrayal and the end of a long friendship/relationship. Terrible things...that led to head of household tax status...single parent status...a literal answer to my financial prayers, and an open door and unburdened soul for much, much bigger and better things to come. My tax refund was basically the exact amount I have prayed for for years: that token accumulation of funds that would relieve my financial stress. I'm not kidding.

The path is crystal clear in retrospect: just what God ordered for my life. His perfect timing; his perfect method. Would any person ever put themselves through all that and know that this would be the perfect outcome? Umm, no. That's unthinkable! In the midst of enduring it all, this outcome was not even on my plane of vision, and I think the enemy thrives on that negative energy--the idea we 21st Centurians walk around with that our lives are defined by our wealth (or lack thereof), possessions (ditto), relationships, how many movies and TV shows we can quote, the number of friends and followers on our social media, and just all this stuff that doesn't even matter at all!

I'm happy to say that my life--my success--is defined by Christ alone.

Is it coincidental that all of my challenges over the last 3 years led me to exactly where I am today? Is it serendipity that my life suddenly just really turned around and became this really great thing that I am so sincerely excited about living every single day?

Absolutely not. Want to know when a change stirred within me? When I "let go and let God." It sounds corny. (It probably sounds ridiculous to the non-believer.) It is positively true of my life, though. A friend happened to lead me to a church on Easter Sunday last year, and I was finally so spirtually nourished that I had no choice but to let my troubles fall to the wayside and give over all that pain and frustration and chaos to God.

I have never lived so lean in all my life: this house's budget is tight. But I have never felt more full in all my life. I don't dread waking up in the morning. I have friends. I have purpose and a place. I have amazing coworkers and the best benefits package from my employer imaginable. My sweet daughter brightens my every moment. I have passion for my hobbies again. I have goals for my future. I have confidence. I am loved. I have love in my heart. I have love to give. I have clothes on my back and hot water in my pipes and coffee in my cupboard and music on my computer and in my head and coming out of my mouth. I'm funny. I'm happy. I'm unashamed of being me. Life is really, really good, and the best part is that I'm not pretending. Being here and feeling this way and having absolute assurance in my faith and my eternal future is worth every single bump in the road in my rearview mirror.

I'm pretty sure I could give examples of all the "God things" in my life over the last half a year, ever since I really got serious about attending church and growing my roots, and make jaws hit the floor. I'm not talking about supernatural occurrences here, just other things--like the money thing--that keep happening. I'm talking about his plans falling into a clear path beneath my feet that, through trust, I am walking on more and more steadily, and it's really making all the difference in my life. I don't believe in coincidence; I believe in free will. When things appear to be coincidence, I belive that that is when human will and God's will align. My life is aligned. My soul is aligned.

Anyway, all of this is to point out one key word: trust. Trust is key. We look for trustworthiness in humans all our lives, but people let us down without fail. I don't have a single close person in my life who has never broken my trust in some miniscule way. There is no trust like the trust we can put in God. If you're looking for something your soul craves (honesty, trust, love, attention, acceptance, guidance, validation, worth) in someone, I hate to break it to you, but you're looking in the wrong place. There is only one way to quench the soul.

I'm looking forward to letting go even more and trusting and walking where I am led to go. Why? Why would this Type A control freak want to let go more? Because it's working.

I'm taking my first big step this May, when I'll be spending 10 days in Cambodia and meeting young girls who have endured horrible things through the industry of human trafficking. No human should be forced to deal with what these girls have dealt with. But, I think this is where I need to be. I'm so looking forward to committing scripture to heart and memory over the next 3 months, so I'll have the right words to say. I cannot wait to follow this call and be a messenger. I have dreamed about this journey from the first time I went to church camp around age 11/12 and first heard the concept of missions work. I think--I hope--my life experiences are for such a bigger purpose than I even know right now. I'm so excited to share my testimony with these girls and show them the freedom I have in my soul through Christ, despite anything that's happened in my past...the huge imperfections in my life that are made perfectly okay through the precious grace and forgiveness of Jesus.

I've tucked away this urge for years, deep in my heart and mind, and I think now's the time to act on it! I've done plenty of living for me in my life; I can't wait to see what happens when I start living for others just as much. And all that is to underscore the concept of trust. I'm trusting my curiosity and the tug in my heart and trusting that funding will work out and trusting that this is my path. The rest is up to the one in whom I trust, and guess what? He's never failed me.

Keep me in your prayers, peeps!

Much love.