Then I would still have this consolation— my joy in unrelenting pain— that I had not denied the words of the Holy One.~Job 6:10 (New International Version)
I wish I could say that I followed this path when I was hurting. The truth is, I didn’t. When pain settled into my soul, I took myself so far away from God that I began to wonder if He was still watching me at all. Years ago, I attended a small Baptist church with my aunt and cousins. I quickly became very active in the church and although I was only fifteen, I felt like an important part of the congregation. For a time, I gained comfort and strength from being a part of the church. I didn’t necessarily make the connection to God in the way that I do now; it was more of a sense of family and community that made me feel secure. God was really not the big attraction. I didn’t get it. I thought the object of all of it was to get together, sing a few songs, have some food and be admired by each other for our steadfast commitment to consistently attending this social gathering. Needless to say, this experience in the church did not prepare me for the challenges that would come later in life.
By the time I was twenty, I had left the church and turned my back almost completely on the notion that faith was worth the effort. I was young. I knew it all. I had no real life experience, other than watching the pain others in my life were going through, and I felt like all I really needed to do to be happy was to make different choices than those people had made. It’s funny how that mentality backfires on you. Within two years, the entire course of my life changed. I trusted a friend and that friend took advantage of me in the worst possible way. From that point on, I set out on a path that held nothing but pain and misery for me for several years. I drank, among other things, to excess. I became the type of person that I had very little tolerance for before all of this happened to me. I completely stopped thinking about God and what He wanted for me and went after what I thought would dull the pain.
It didn’t work. When I finally came out of it, I shaped up and started acting like I had some sense. Other than the fact that I still didn’t reconnect with God. It took five miscarriages and the steady decay and eventual death of my marriage to help me see that He really is the most important thing. All these years, I thought that the people in my life were responsible for my happiness. I put my faith in them instead of in Him and each time, they fell short. Now, I’m at a point in my life where when I look at things from the perspective of someone who is counting their blessings, I can see that I have many. He has given me so much to be thankful for and so much to be happy about. So, what is keeping me from completely allowing myself to be happy? It’s that part of me that is still wondering if He really forgave me for the way I behaved when I was so far away from Him. It’s that part that is so desperately afraid that it isn’t good enough to be saved that keeps me from fully committing to Him and trusting that He really is there. I didn’t think that part was still hanging around, but lately, I’ve noticed that a tiny, but vocal part of it is and it’s time I dealt with it.
I do love God and I do know that He is with me every step of the way. I’m still on the fence about the people He sends to me each day, but I know for certain that He is there. Joyce Meyer said something interesting on her broadcast this evening. She said that God isn’t putting all of these tests in our lives to see how far He can push us. He wants us to see what is in our hearts. He wants us to know what we are capable of and to understand that life is what happens within ourselves. In light of my struggles, I would have to agree. Without lessons to show us what’s in there, how would we know what we can or can’t do? How would we ever come to the conclusion that He is with us if He didn’t give us these challenges? When I look at the significance of what I considered to be the worst things that have happened in my life, it is now so obvious that He never went away. He’s just been waiting for me to trust Him again.