December 6, 2015

Blessed Assurance

It is a blessed Sunday here in sunny and chilly Phoenix. I woke up feeling refreshed (finally!) and filled with hopeful expectation for this beautiful day. Of course, I didn't get as much done yesterday as I had hoped to do so, but I did take care of some major "to-do" tasks such as putting up the house lights and fighting the crowds at Target. Today is a day of rest, the blessed Sabbath, and I plan on resting for much of the day. I do want to work on my dissertation, actually read through what I have written already so that I can get back into the "head" part of this project. I mean, I don't even remember why I am writing about mediated content and the church! What a sad state of affairs to say the least!

My goal for this good day is to rest up as much as possible so that I can begin my PhD Phase II on Monday. Yes, now that I am 'officially' finished with my classes, my next step is to study for and pass my written exams in February, 2016. I have approximately 10 weeks to study, more than enough time, but I need to make sure that I have everything ready to go in two weeks. I have set my timer, my goal, to be 8 weeks out from the test so that I can give one week to each of my 8 subject areas. I need to have all my materials, my study notes, my index cards (flash cards), etc. ready so that I can begin studying them by the week of the 12/20. I am feeling positive, hopeful, expectant -- and I know that I cannot do this work without the Lord's help, guidance, and inspiration. Thus, I am working toward His goal, His plan, and His completion of this LIFE EVENT. I plan on doing it HIS WAY and not mine. He is good, so very good to me.

It is crazy to think that I am "this close" to finishing my degree. I know that I have been blogging about this fact for the past couple weeks, but in truth, I am overwhelmed by my progress. I am absolutely overwhelmed at the thought that I am finished with my classes, and that I will be ABD in just two months! I have longed for this day, to be ABD (all but dissertation) now for 20-plus years, and here I am, right around the corner from achieving that dream. It boggles my mind to think that the Lord has honored me in this way. Why me? Why me, Lord?

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope" (Jer. 29:11 NLT)

Yes, I believe that He has a plan for my life, and that plan is coming to fruition right before my eyes. You see, I lived for so long believing a lie, believing that my life was nothing more than a grind. Well, that was my life, I mean. My life was filled with sorrow, with years and years of hardship, struggle, stress, and pain. I never believed I could be good at anything. I never felt accomplished. In fact, I felt so insecure that often I would act out in ways, self-sabotage, just to prove to myself that my feelings of low self-esteem were true and accurate. I was miserable inside, feeling worthless and unloved and devalued. 

I believed this lie for so many years, that my life and the work I did didn't matter. My life was all about making my husband happy. I was his wife, thus, my life was to be about his care, his needs, his wants and his desires. I am not sure when I bought this lie, when I stopped pursuing my own dreams and desires, and started to seek to please my husband rather than myself.  It is not that I didn't believe Scripture or that I didn't understand Biblical headship and order in the home. Far from it. No, it was sometime in the early 1980s when I came to realize my error in judgment, that I had chosen a man for my husband who wasn't interested in seeking the Lord first nor was he interested in keeping his part of the plan (to love his wife as Christ loved the church). I was young, foolish, and naive, and I married a man who was self-centered and out for his own well-being. He did want he wanted always, and rarely, if ever, did he choose to do something for me. In short, I married a narcissist, and because of my religious upbringing and training in the church, that meant that I had to "make the best" of a very bad situation.

I gave up my dreams, goals, and aspirations in order to keep my marriage in tact. I didn't want to be divorced so I agreed to stop pursing what I believed was the Lord's will for my life so that I could make my husband happy. I chose to be miserable so that he would be happy. In the end, all my sacrifice was for naught. He told me that he was never happy, that I had never made him happy, and thus, he wanted out of the marriage. Lesson learned. Do not forsake your own happiness, contentment, and joy in order to try to please another person. Please the Lord first, and then let all the rest come second. Had I placed the Lord first in my life, before marriage, during marriage, etc., things might have turned out differently. My husband may have left me early on, but it would have been his choice and not mine. He may have backed down, stopped issuing threats, and simply turned back toward the Lord. Perhaps our marriage would have been healed, restored; I am not sure. But what I do know is that I did no one any favor by placing a human being in a position higher than that of the Lord, Himself. 

It has been five years, almost six, since my now ex-husband told me that he wanted out of our marriage. He walked away from me and our then 16-year old son in order to pursue forbidden love. He has the thing he wanted, his freedom, and now he makes his own happiness. I, in turn, am living in a way that is wholly devoted to the Lord, dependent on Him for my security and provision, and predicated on His will in and through my life. I do nothing now that is not first washed through the Word, and second, that doesn't seek to honor, to praise, and to glorify His name. I live my life for Him alone, and I give Him all testimony for He has cared for me, so deeply, so assuredly. He has made a way for me, a way to go, and I am living and breathing out this new life, His new life.

As I think about the years the locust has eaten, I marvel at the goodness of God. I mean, He could have said to me, "Carol, you made your bed, so now you must lay in it," but He didn't. No, He didn't condemn me for walking out of the marriage as soon as my ex-husband said he wanted out. I could have protested harder, worked more diligently to try to save our marriage, but in the end, I saw the futility of that action. I guess you could say that in a very short amount of time, my eyes were opened to the truth, and I saw the pattern of lifestyle my ex-husband chose to live. I saw with my own eyes the reality of our life together, and I made the decision quickly that I wanted to no longer be a part of it. I mean, he opened the cage door, and through his actions, gave me a choice either to stay imprisoned or to fly free. I chose to fly free.

Flying Free in the Lord's Merciful and Magnificent Will

Today I am flying free. I am flying solo, and I have been for five years. I look forward to the day when I can partner with someone again, to make a life that is wholly devoted to the Lord, and that is predicated on His will, His way, and His work. I will not yoke myself to any unbeliever, and I will not choose a yoke of bondage. I will wait for the Lord to bring me the person of His choosing, a Godly man who seeks to honor the Lord in all he does. Until that time, I remain single, and devoted to the Lord's will for my life. I go and do what He asks me to do. I do this work, and I surrender fully, wholly, and completely to the Lord's hand. He is good, so very good to me.

My prayer, of course, is that the Lord will continue to develop the relationship that I am in now, to make headway for us to be together. It is difficult to sustain a long-distance relationship with someone you have never met personally. I am trusting the Lord to provide a way for this to happen, for us to meet, to visit, and to spend time together in proximity so that we can know for sure that the Lord intends for us to be together. We believe it is His will, but due to our circumstances at present, it seems that the Lord has purposely placed hedges and barriers between us -- to keep us apart. Perhaps it is to facilitate His will in our lives, to work out the muddy details that are critical to our being together. Perhaps it is to give us time to learn how to be in relationship with one another without any physical component, just spiritual, just communicative, just as friends.

I look forward to my next steps, and as 2016 approaches, I sense that it is going to be a year of great challenge and great achievement. There is so much on my plate, so much that I must do, achieve, accomplish. The Lord has me so well-covered, and I know the plans He has for my life are good, so very good.

Today, is a blessed day. The Lord reigns, and His glory shines from His thunderous heaven. I look up, and I patiently wait for His hand of deliverance, His goodness, and His security and provision. He is good, so very good to me. Selah!

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