You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Asking God to “use” me for His glory has been a difficult thing for me to get used to. There was a time in my life when I allowed people to “use” me and didn’t give it a second thought. In fact, the whole idea of being “used” had a very different meaning than what I now seek daily from God. In thinking back over the years I spent giving people permission to make me feel like less than I am, it occurred to me that everything I went through was a lesson I needed to learn about how to give and receive love in the way God intended.
It’s ironic that the very thing that made it so difficult for me to cope with the shame and guilt of my past was absolutely necessary to give me hope for the future. The “thing” I’m referring to is my excellent memory of pretty much everything I did during my bouts with alcoholism. This evening I was thinking about all of the times when God had clearly rescued me from what could have been a situation with a horrible outcome. There were nights when I would drink so much that I found myself (or rather someone else found me) passed out at the bar. There were nights when I got behind the wheel of my car so drunk that I couldn’t see even the backside of my windshield, much less what lay on the other side of it. There were nights when I dragged myself into my apartment after 2 a.m. without looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was lurking nearby. There were more than a few nights when I went home with someone whose interest in me would expire with daybreak. Some of this was the result of family problems which I won’t air here. Much of this was the result of pain that I carried with me as a result of being raped by someone whom I had considered to be a friend.
One wound piled itself onto another and before I knew it, I was not a person but a pile of wounded flesh. I was stuck under years of feeling worthless and hopeless. I felt like no one would ever care about me or if they did act like they cared that they couldn’t possibly be in their right mind. All the while, I had drifted farther and farther away from God and had resigned myself to a life of unbelief and faithless wandering. I had no purpose other than to find the next thing that would make me feel “okay” for a while. When I made the decision to quit drinking, it wasn’t really a matter of quitting to be a better person. It was more that I was exhausted and even the alcohol wasn’t helping. I got married, but mostly did so because at the time I thought it was the right thing to do.
For a time, I found solace in the relationship because it gave me a reason to stay out of the bars. Eventually, after a few years of sobriety, it occurred to me that my life was still very empty. I did love my husband; however, after some time had passed it became clear that his definition of love wasn’t the same as mine. We had very different ideas about what it took to live a fulfilled life, but this didn’t become clear until we tried to go to church together. The more I learned about God’s love, the more I saw what was lacking in mine. I just hadn’t been allowing myself to experience love and had settled for my own ill-understood brand of what passed for depth in my relationships.
It’s painful to leave something you’re familiar with, even when that thing is what’s been causing you the most pain all along. The familiar sometimes overshadows that which we should be pursuing. The insecurity that keeps us trapped in situations that continuously hurt us can be healed, though. We don’t have to choose to low road just to show everyone around us that we are (or that we believe we are) in control. Choosing to let someone or something trap us in our own negative emotional patterns will not eventually make us a better person. Only choosing to break free from the negative and embrace the fact that God’s love is always there to heal our wounds will bring us up from the depths of our painful experiences. We can always come up higher. We can always do better. We can always receive God’s love and move on toward the reward He has for us. No matter how bad it gets, when we reach for His hand He will always grasp ours and begin the process of lifting us up out of our pit. And after all of this, once we are lifted up, the next time we seek to be used it will be for His glory and not for your own destruction.
You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.