Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—
1 Corinthians 15:51 New International Version (NIV)
Life is so confusing at times. I’ve often thought that it feels like I’m holding a bunch of puzzle pieces that don’t necessarily fit together. All of them belong to me; representing different pieces of my life, but not quite matching up with the other pictures. So, what do I do with this? I know that the confusion isn’t from God because the Bible clearly states in 1 Corinthians 14:33 that God is not the author of confusion, but of peace. I know this to be true also because I had virtually no peace in my life until I let Him in. So where does the confusion come from and what am I supposed to do with it?
In the interest of figuring it all out, I began to write down all of the different things that had plagued me throughout my life. There was childhood. Part of which was good, part of which was bad. There was adolescence. Part of which was bad, and part of which was well, worse. Adulthood has been a mixture of good and bad as well. Some of which could have been avoided, but some of which was necessary in order to learn what I needed to learn for the next leg of the journey. At some point, I’ll have to write it all up as one of the saddest life stories ever but for now, I’m using it for the purposes of making some much-needed connections between some seriously mismatched dots.
As I looked from poverty to loneliness to fear to homelessness to more poverty to more loneliness and then to more fear and uncertainty, I realized that these times were also the times when I hadn’t been walking with God. I followed the path from anger to more fear to violence to more fear to more anger and then to addiction and to self-destruction and then back to fear. I hadn’t invited God in then either. Finally, I looked from loss to fear to anger to despair to more loss and fear and anger and then, in a very different twist, there was a time of surrender. This time was followed by a period of joy and then a time of release. When I first came back to God, the struggle to let Him heal me was real. It was like climbing a mountain while carrying about a hundred pounds of useless supplies on your back. None of what I was trying to take with me was necessary, yet I held onto it all.
Years later, I’m still fighting the urge to carry forward the baggage that disabled me for so long. Maybe not all of it, but at least one or two little things here and there. And it doesn’t match up. None of the fear or shame or guilt or pain that I felt years ago when I was walking a much darker path is necessary as I step onto the next platform. It serves no purpose other than to slow down my momentum as I try to press on. Do I throw those pieces away? Do I store them somewhere until I come back around? I will come back around to the bad stuff, right? I mean, I can’t just keep moving forward, can I? When you’ve been used to being hurt or disappointed, it can seem like those questions are perfectly reasonable. Why expect that your picture could finally come into clearer focus? Every time you’ve gotten close to healing, you’ve been hurt again so does that mean that healing isn’t possible? Does that mean that healing is being withheld because you’re simply not worthy of a life without pain? No, it means that you still have some learning and growing to do.
If you still believe that healing means that you will never injure yourself again, then you don’t understand healing. The process starts on the inside and it often takes much longer for the foundational healing to catch up with the superficial healing that is taking place on the outside. So, you may look like you’re all better when in fact, you still have a lot of healing left to do. But, from glory to glory, He can make you new. If you allow God to get in and do the work He needs to do, He’ll make it possible for you to move forward even when you are still battling the demons that seek to pull you backward. He wants you to see that a new picture is possible. He gives you the pieces you are willing to accept. And this is where I got so many mismatched pieces. I have been unwilling to let go of things at times that He has given me a little of the picture in hopes that I will move past it and begin building a new perspective. But it’s not a scavenger hunt. I’m not supposed to be clinging to the pieces that made sense for me at different points of brokenness. I’m supposed to let those go so that I can begin to put together a more beautiful picture than the ones I have long since outgrown.
Sometimes, it takes me a little longer than it should to get the picture (no pun intended), but here I am holding all of the pieces I’ve ever been given. It’s like holding onto your baby clothes because you think that you might, at some point, be able to wear them again. It’s dumb. It doesn’t make sense. And there’s no need for it. So, here goes…time to make room for some new pieces. Time to get rid of what no longer works without holding onto the remnants.
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18 New King James Version (NKJV)