August 22, 2015

T-Minus Two Days and Counting

Today is Saturday, my last full day off before school begins Monday. I am rested, but a little bit apprehensive about what will happen over the next 16 weeks. I know the Lord has me so well covered, and I am blessed, thoroughly and completely blessed. My whole thought process now is to focus on completing my courses at Regent, studying for and passing my qualification exams, and THEN resting, really resting. I am so tired, so very tired.

The past five years, from 2010 onward, have been difficult, not just in completing my schooling, but in the fact that my marriage crashed and burned, and I was forced to learn to live on my own as a single adult. So many changes have taken place -- I've moved twice -- and now I am contemplating another move next year. I have gone from being married to divorced, and I am hoping to go back to being married some day soon. I left my home that I shared with my husband, and now I live in a home I share with my parents and son. I've bought two cars after having no car for many, many years. I've worked at home as a website designer, before moving into retail at Macy's while I finished my Master of Arts degree. My first "real" full-time position since I left Share Base Corporation in 1990 was as a student advisor at the University of Phoenix. After that position I worked as a Communications analyst at CVS Health, and now I am an adjunct instructor at two Christian Universities.

Be Bold

My life since 2010 has been marked by a series of progressive changes as I transitioned from one thing on into the next. In all these changes, my Rock and my Redeemer has been faithful. He has steadied me, kept my "ship afloat," and provided for me financially. I am still not where I think I should be -- financially, professionally, materially -- but I know that where I am today is right where He wants me to be. He has given me confidence to know that I am on this path for a reason, and that the plans He has for my life are good. I am excited about my future, especially the thought of moving to be near my love, and hopefully (Lord willing) come to find that it is His will for us to be married. I am so looking forward to starting that relationship over, to be able to be intentional and purposed, and to make it work, really work. Yes, I pray that the Lord will grant me permission to be married again some day, and I trust that His timing is perfect. He knows me well, and His plans are good -- for my life and for my love's life. It is all good, and all the time, it is good! Selah!

Joshua 1:9 says, "This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." These past years have taught me the lesson of being bold, being courageous, and being strong -- in the Lord -- and not in my own strength. Yes, the Lord has placed me in positions where I have had to learn how to rely on Him, to trust Him, and to stand in faith in order to see His blessing and provision come to pass. I have often faltered, shirked back in fear, and even refused to step forward as the Lord was calling me to follow after Him. Yes, I wasn't always, every single time, faithful. The goodness of the Lord prevailed, however, and even though I wasn't faithful to Him, He was faithful to me. He kept His promise and His word to me. I received the blessing, albeit delayed at times, because of His gentle care and compassion that saw me through each event, each hurdle, and each new change that He allowed in my life.

As I consider my life today, I am confident of one thing: the Lord loves me, and He is guiding my steps, helping me to make wise choices, and leading me onward one step at a time until I reach my final destination. I may not know where I am headed, but I am certain that I am following after the One who does. God is good like that and He always makes it possible for us to see some part of His handiwork as a testimony to us. We are able to see His hand prints and with that, we can know for sure that we are on the right track, walking according to His way, and following in obedience as He shepherds us home.

Today is a good day. I rest in the security of knowledge that says to me that the Lord is in control. He knows what He is doing, and He knows me so very well. He knows what I can and cannot do, He knows my limits, and He presses me hard, but He doesn't break me. He knows what the outcome will be, and He knows how much I must give up or in to accomplish His will for my life. Yes, we do wrestle at times, and even when we tussle a bit, I know that He gently waits for me to come around to His way of thinking, of knowing, and of accepting. It is important to state right up front that this is not about me getting my way, but rather it is about me letting go of my way -- freely, sacrificially, and without bearing a grudge. I am not giving in out of frustration, but I am coming to understand why I must let go, why it is best for me to stop striving, and why I am better off by aligning to His way in every area of my life. It is not easy at times, and often, His way doesn't make sense to me initially. I often feel that His way is harder, more challenging, and more obscure than the path that I see before me. Yet, He knows that while His way is obscured, it is also a better way to go in the long-run. It will see me best, which means that it will provide for me in the very best way possible. It is for my good, always for my good.

Thus, as I scan the horizon I see so many possible paths. I see this way and that way, and frankly, they all look really good to me. They seem nice, easy to walk, pretty on the outside and outset. Yet, I don't know what lays around the bend or if there is steep drop off behind that crag. No, I cannot see but a couple steps in front of me, and that is why I must rely on the Lord for His Sovereign rule, His grace, and His ability to help me navigate this course I call "my life."

As I think about all of this today, as I ponder it, I marvel at the goodness of the Lord, at His grace toward me. I deserve nothing but His wrath, and yet, He has graced me with mercy, with forgiveness, and with a blessed plan for my life. He has given me the very best, the very best of everything, and I know that without His power, His presence, and His provision, I would be so worse off. Yes, I would be utterly miserable -- not to mention -- utterly lost. The Lord has been so good to me, He has taken me by the hand and allowed me to walk with Him through some very difficult transitions in my life. And, while some of these transitions were costly, like the failure of my marriage, I know that what happened back then was the result of many, many things, and while I am not to blame for 100% of the failure, I am complicit in some ways. I accept my responsibility, my role, and my response (often it was my response that lacked) to many of the events and circumstances that took place. I know that, in hindsight, I could have stopped much of the problems at the get-go, but I didn't do that, and I let them "ride," so to speak. In the end, they turned into a disaster, and as we all know from experience, disasters are crises in chaos -- often unpredictable and difficult to overcome. Yes, I am well aware that the choices I made early on in my marriage could have prevented the heart ache, the pain, and the sorrow. Of course, my choices were my responsibility just as my ex-husband's choices were his responsibility. I believe that we allowed much of our life to slip by, not really taking control and authority, and not being intentional with one another. I should have stepped in and said "enough" early on -- and meant it -- before things escalated and then deteriorated to the point of divorce. I accept that I stuck my head in the sand far too many times, and that I allowed my hurt feelings to simmer. I should have spoken up, stood up, and said "no more" when I first discovered things that ultimately led to our downfall. I didn't do that, and I am ashamed to admit that my lack of response predicated my ex's rationale for his behavior.

Yet, notwithstanding, I am here today as a living testimony to life after divorce. I don't take pride in the fact that I am divorced. No, in truth, I really do not like to bear this label. I would much rather be seen as never married or married. However, this is what my life is today, and I cannot run from the truth of my past. "I am what I am" to quote Popeye, and that folks, is the whole story. The Lord is gracious, and He forgives our iniquities. He is good to those who love Him and who seek His face. I long for the day when I will be able to go into His presence with joy and thanksgiving, and to be able to sit at His feet and worship Him. He alone is worthy of my praise, my honor, and my worship. I know that He has redeemed my life from the pit of sin and selfishness. He has given me a new way to walk, a new way to think, and a new way to live. I long to spend my days with Him in eternity, but until I go home to be with Him or He returns to take me, I am content to remain where I am, to serve Him as I am able to do, and to live my life wholly and fully devoted to His cause. He is good, always so very good to me! Selah!

Boldness in the Face of Uncertainty

It is vital to remember that boldness can be fleeting especially when we are faced with uncertainty. It is difficult to remain strong, to not give in to fear and to doubt, and to remember that if God is for us, then no one can stand against us. I long to be bold, to be strong, to remain courageous even in the face of danger, difficulty, and disaster. God is with me, He goes before me, and He protects me. I know this is true, thus I walk on with courage, in faith, and until He calls me home, I wait patiently for His timing, His grand reveal. He is good, He is God, and I worship and adore Him.

I am looking forward now, and trying very hard to no longer look to my past. I have spent the previous ten years reflecting on my life, especially my childhood experiences because they were the foundation to my eventual adult outcome. I mean, I am who I am in part because of my childhood, my family, and my upbringing. I cannot divorce myself from these early experiences, but I can embrace them and allow them to have their place in the sum total that is my life. At some point, though, it is time to move on, and I sense that the time has come for me. I have reflected and spent a great deal of time processing the pain of those early experiences, so much so, that at times I have felt constrained by my past. Yet, I know that this process was necessary as it helped me see myself wholly and completely as I am. I am no longer ashamed of my background, my past or the choices I made when I was a child, a teen, and a young adult. I may have messed up royally, and I did, but I am alive today and I am living to please the Lord. Therefore, my sins are washed away, and I stand forgiven before His presence. I am cleaned, washed white as snow, and I am free to walk on in perfect grace. Truly, His grace is sufficient to meet every need. I am living testimony of His marvelous grace, and I thank God for His mercy toward me. He is good to me, so very good to me. Selah!

So I let go of the past, the hold it has had on my life, and I embrace the future and all the uncertainty it contains. I can do this today because my Savior, my King is with me, holding me and beckoning me to "walk on" with Him. He is calling me forward, and as I step out in faith, I remember that He has never let go of me, He has never left me behind or allowed me to go on ahead of Him. No, we walk together, and for that I am thankful. I am thankful that He and I go together, we remain together as friends who walk side-by-side. The Lord is at my side, and I love the fact that He is next to me. I am not alone in this journey, I am not trying to make it all happen in my own strength. I am trusting in His advice, His guidance, and in His approval as I consider every option, every turn in the path, and every new way to go. I go where He goes and in that way I am sure I will always be safe, always be secure, and always be surrounded by His presence. He is good, He is God, and I adore Him! Selah!

Next Steps and More Transition

Yes, I can say for certain that my time spent in good old "transition land" is not over yet. I doubt that I will be settled any time soon, but I hope that at the least I will be further down the line. I would like to finish my studies, be graduated, and be settled in a full-time job soon. I also would like to be moved to the place of His choosing, to be settled in that place, and to be at ease (ready to live and no longer waiting for His will to pass in regard to moving, jobs, etc.). I know that my future is good. I feel confident that in a year or two my life will look vastly different. 

For starters, I will be finished with my schooling (hooray!), and I will be working as a professor at some other school. I also believe that I will be settled, meaning that I will have a home somewhere, and I will be self-supporting (earning income and living off my own two hands). I know that many things must take place before this comes to fruition, but I still am looking, no, longing for this next step. I am so ready to be done, to be through with all the struggle, the strain, and the stress related to doctoral studies. Yes, I want to me finished. 

I also know that there are many uncertainties right now with regard to my parents care and well-being and my son's education. Still, the Lord knows this well, and I am letting this go so that I can focus on what He has assigned to me. I cannot be responsible for tasks and roles that are outside of His plan for my life. He has given me plenty to keep me occupied, and I don't need to be taking on other people's "business" just so that I can feel the "burn," so to speak. I used to do this all the time, you know, always be the "go to person" who never said "no." I learned that magic word five years ago and since then I am pretty good at saying it (nicely -- as in -- no thank you!) I am content with the lot I have been given, and I will do my best to be faithful to the Lord's leading. I will wait upon the Lord, for sure, and I will be patient and endure while He prepares the next steps He has in mind for me. I am OK with waiting, with being patient, and with enduring -- staying strong -- for I know that this is His will and it is for my good. I will wait. I will wait.

Heavenly Father,

I confess to you that I have been impatient, far to impatient for far too long now. I am ready to let all this go, to embrace the life you have given to me, and to begin living in the now, the here and now. I ask in Your son's name that you take care of everything that concerns me this day, and that you complete your will, your precious will, so that I can rest and live as you call me to live. I am ready to begin this work, to do my studies and finish strong. I ask for grace and mercy as I manage my life, my studies, and my work. Prepare me and build me up so that I can live according to your will, your way and your word. I ask all of this in the mighty, merciful and majestic name of Jesus. Amen, so be it, thy will be done. Selah!

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