2013 has quite honestly beaten me. And while I’m being honest… so did 2012. It’s been more than a while since I have written anything, and here I am, taking a risk, about to bare my soul. I feel a fire being rekindled, so I sat down early this morning and started this post that evolved into what I hope will be a turn back to writing, and more importantly, a turn back to God.
Five days into the new year, and here I am, feeling like a little bit of a failure for not setting any “goals” or making any “resolutions”. Heck, our family barely made it to the table for New Year’s Day dinner. Over this Christmas vacation, I felt the new year rapidly approaching, and I don’t know about the rest of you… the whole five who are probably reading this… but I would sit down and to try and examine different areas of my life that I wanted to change… my family, my kids, my health, my marriage, my job… every corner of my life seemed to be SCREAMING for improvement.
I felt… I feel very overwhelmed and I would find it easier to shut down and do nothing except sleep late and stay in my pj’s and surf the internet, as if hoping to get some idea of where to start on reorganizing and improving my life. And I again find myself at the shiny new start of a new year, and I should be feeling excited at the new possibilities a new year can hold, right???
But instead, I have felt like I have been in the bottom of a very dark pit, reaching for a rope that is just out of reach. And I jump, and I climb, and I claw, but whatever I try to do to grasp it, I fall short. And I got really tired, so I made this pit my home. Oh, I jumped in willingly about a year and a half ago, with some really bad decisions. But the road that led to my pit was camouflaged and ended up with some horribly awful decisions that could have caused destruction to my family the likes of a nuclear bomb. Decisions that came with consequences that I never expected, but choices that I fully take ownership of now.
And yet, still, to this day, I can not explain why I did what I did. Oh sure, I could rationalize it or excuse it away, but I’m not going to. How this bible studying, church going, mission traveling, God loving girl ended up in such a huge pit is really quite a mystery to me. One day, I packed my bags and walked out on my husband. At this point, the day I left, I was completely numb. Indifferent. Detached. To my marriage, and more importantly… to God. I did not anticipate the devastation I was causing… because devastation was not immediate. It came slowly and started long before I found myself driving away from our two story white brick house.
Devastation seeped in one small moment at a time. I was unknowingly in the driver’s seat on a one way trip to destruction-ville. I had my eyes fixed on so many other things other than Christ. I woke up one morning and found myself in the biggest web of a mess I had ever known, and I did the only thing I knew to do. Leave. Get out. So that’s what I did.
Months later, somehow and miraculously, my husband offered forgiveness. Not just He fought for me. I saw the devastation in his eyes and through his tears, but yet he fought for me. He fought for our family. And with every letter, with every conversation… I slowly started to come out from under a fog of influence that I can not explain… like going through detox. And the more he fought, the more I breathed in God’s grace. Over the course of many months, we reconciled. And once I took in a fresh deep breath of God, a sorrow hit me like none I had ever known before. I can remember the day exactly… March 10th.
We decided to go to a big community event. I spent the evening catching up with old friends, and it really was a very lovely evening. I remember feeling that our marriage was back on track. We were having fun together, after such a long time of feeling that everything was falling apart. The next day, we woke up and my husband said something that caught me off guard. I asked him to repeat it, and the conversation turned me back to a very dark place. My sin had been exposed, and my “friends” were talking about it. I thought I had done my best to cover up my dreadful choices, but not only did people know… they were talking about it…and talking about it to my husband. I felt shame wash over me like a tidal wave. I felt defeated. I felt betrayed. I felt like a failure on so many levels that shame and self-disgust are not even accurate words..
Sorrow replaced my ability to function for what seemed like forever. Oh I’m sure I looked ok on the outside, but I was a crumbling weeping mess. Shame mixed with sorrow over my inability to stop comparing my life to others, which led me to my sin that caused me to leave my family and put my husband through such turmoil. Sorrow over how ungrateful I had been. Sorrow over the loss of our home, the near loss of my marriage. Sorrow and shame to an extent I have never known. And it didn’t go away. I thought I had started to climb out of the pit that I willingly jumped into, but in one fell swoop, I slid back in. I felt hopeless at overcoming this rock-bottomness. I felt alone. I would periodically pop my family into church, but just overall felt pretty doomed. There was one lingering question that remained… did I feel sorry because I was truly remorseful and repentant for what I had done, or was I just sorry to find out that people really did now about it. This fog seemed to continue for quite a while until….
But on a spiritual level, I feel pretty slimy. And gross. And in need of a gentle reminder, that there is a tomorrow. There is another day. And that more than the perfect mom, my kid needs to see a mom that falls hard (even after well-intentioned plans) and picks herself up again, by the grace of God.
And oh my heavens, yall. I feel slimy. Spiritually slimy. Today is the first Sunday of the new year, and I had all intentions of waking my family to see to it that we got off to church, but instead found myself fighting with my own two feet like awkward appendages to hit the ground. And Ann’s post echoes in my head…. how do I move forward into the new year when I feel like I have failed the year before. And maybe even the year before that.
How in the world do you step hopeful into the next year when you tripped messy through the last year? How do you stand brave with all the smiling rest and ring in the new year when the old year still feels a bit like a millstone around the neck? What if everyone else is making New Year’s resolutions and you just want New You solutions?
And just a few days ago, something miraculous happened. Something that made me realize….
I don’t want New Year’s resolutions. I want The One that makes all things new. I don’t want a plan to have a better year, I want a plan to experience more of His plan. I don’t want more inspiration, I want The One who inspires. I don’t want more organization, I want to be organized by Him. I don’t want to be challenged to save money, I want Him to save me. I don’t want to eat healthier, I want for the only words that matter to be my constant diet.
I don’t want to compare my life, my past mistakes with anything or anyone other than The One whose opinion matters most. I don’t want to feel inadequate, haunted by the sins of the past; I want to exchange those failures for experience. I’m worn out and tired and I want to rest in His arms.
So what was it that turned me around??? Well, after an argument with my husband… he found me in the bathroom sobbing. I just could not shake this sorrow and was so desperate for healing… was so desperate to get back to normal…. even if it was a new normal. He scooped me up, and just hugged me. Through tears, I asked him “how do you not totally hate me??” His answer –
And it hit me like a bomb. I felt like the sun was rising, I felt a heaviness lift. I felt the past melt. I felt warmth. I felt blessed, and the swelling of gratitude for this man was unearthly. Because I promised to love you until I die. And all I could think about was God’s mercy and grace and goodness. And how He loved me until He died.
On this, the fifth day of the year… a day that I should have been in church, I am finding peace at 2:42 in the afternoon, still in my pajamas. Because mercy has found me. And where there is mercy, there is love. And what started with my husband’s overwhelming ability to forgive me really started with the cross. So please, if you will, please join me in this prayer… pray it for you… pray it for your family, but if The Spirit so leads you… please pray it for me.
Father God, I come running back to you. I come running home. I want to fix my eyes on you and nothing else. Jesus, I lay 2013 at your feet and with it all of the mistakes and bad decisions. I thank you that you make all things new. And as I stand on the brink of 2014, I pray that you will guide my steps. I pray that I come to know you more. That I read your word more, that I commit it to memory so that I can live it out. As my family starts this new year, I thank you for the peace and gratitude that I feel for them. For the relief that I feel that I don’t have to try to be perfect. I thank you that you chose to love me so much that you died for me. I pray that I don’t grow weary. Help me to remember that you have forgiven me, so that I may forgive myself. Help me to replace anguish over past mistakes with an anguishing desire to know you more. And as I step forward into this new year, help me to let go of my resolutions and hang onto you.