Wednesday, May 28, 2008

In my last post I reflected on my Exodus. My journey. Well, I'm on it to be certain. Yeah, there's been a bit of wandering but there have been revelations as well. I can feel deep changes taking place in my life, my self, my soul. Like a deep tissue soul massage. I've got knots and kinks in my heart and in my thought-life patterns. This extended soul road trip has been desperately needed and I'm praising God today for loving me so much.

Going deeper in my relationships with people is what set off a chain of painful yet healthy events over the past year. Stuff's come up. Stuff's come out. I'm getting to know me and the Lord in a whole new way.

Honey seems tasteless to a person who is full, but even bitter food tastes sweet to the hungry. Proverbs 27:7

2 years after I gave my life to the Lord I began serving on staff at my church. I loved to serve and I loved my church very much. I enjoyed helping others and it gave me a sense of significance that I was longing for. I met so many people and I felt loved by them. I also enjoyed being busy. Quiet and quality time with God was always interrupted. I typically found myself working on my Sabbath. But it's for the church, right? So it's okay. It's for the Lord, right? So this must be what he wants me to do. What baloney.

So whereas I was loved by many people and I felt love from God. I was floating just under the radar when it came to intimacy. Did people know facts about my life? Yes. Did people know what brought me to my knees and then eventually to the Lord? Yes. Did people know what was going on with me when I would grow down and frustrated about life. Errrrh...sort of. Hmmm. Well...not really.

In the past year that I have not served in ministry, I've had the chance to reflect more deeply on what's ailing me and work with a wonderful counselor. It was then I began to see some patterns in my life. I could see that I had issues with intimacy. I put the connection together that this was probably why I had remained single for so long.

Some of the biggest symptoms were that I couldn't successfully handle conflict or criticism. Which is what marriage is all about, right? Seriously, this is the mark of a healthy, strong relationship. This is honesty. This is authenticity. Yeah, it sometimes hurts when someone tells you you suck. But this dialog can contribute to how we grow. In godly relationships, truth is spoken in love. At the foot of the cross I came to some great truths about myself and my past. I also came to understand the depth and breadth of God's vast love.

I avoided conflict at all costs (not too hard to do when you don't choose to delegate say YES to way too much work then isolate yourself with it even to the point that it's killing you...). Criticism hit me deeply. (after all, a "martyr" doesn't want to hear she sacrificially killed herself for you the wrong way... or to put it another way, no one can bust you on your unhealthy behavior if you're always serving them like a dog, can they?) My behavior was really manipulative now that I think about it.

My name is Danielle
In my life, being a leader was how I received accolades and praise. When I stopped leading, the praise grew dimmer. People criticized me. People criticized my relationship with Radford. Throughout this time, I kept thinking of the meaning of my name, Danielle. It is from Daniel, which means "God is my judge." I kept thinking this over and over and telling myself not to worry about what other people might be thinking. I was living for an audience of one. It was difficult to climb down off my post at church and say that it was going to be all about me, for a time. Well, it was going to be all about me and my relationship with the Lord. Just me and Him. Cleaning up.

Charles Swindoll wrote:

"Hypocrisy permits us to travel both sides of the path--to look righteous but be unholy, to sound pious but be secretly profane. Invariably, those who get trapped in the hypocrisy syndrome find ways to mask their hollow core. The easiest approach is to add more activity, run faster, emphasize an intense, ever-enlarging agenda."

My hypocrisy, my profanity has been that I haven't trusted God with everything and that I was offering my busy life to God instead of my aches and wounds. How hypocritical I was to think that the Great Healer was there for those who hurt worse than I do. How foolish I was to limit the Lord and not take my burdens to him. For my weaknesses and my pains are really my transgressions, the wood plank in my eye.

When I gave my life to Christ, I was transformed in a very dramatic way. A lot of the anxiety I had felt was swept away. Much of my depression was gone. Knowing I was loved by God, that I was no mistake and that God has a purpose for me life was cool clean water to my thirsty soul. And I was a woman who was so broken. Christ's touch was soft and loving. Understanding and saving. But the causes of my anxiety and depression were still within me. I've been dealing with these issues for the past year with Radford's encouragement and the encouragement of my closest friends and mentors. I am learning it is going to take some work to break free from those strongholds. It begins with forgiveness of those who have hurt me. This is where I'm at right now. My prayer is that I can forgive fully and be rid of the hurts. To even get to this place has been tough. I am in the beginning of this process.

Oh Israel, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? How can you say God refuses to hear your case? Have you never heard or understood? don't you know that the LORD is an everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or wear. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the LORD will find strength. They will fly high on wings of eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:27-31

One thing that attracts me to my husband to be and to my closest friends is their desire to grow. I connect with them because they also understand there's a freedom in Christ but that we won't get there unless we take some necessary steps to break free from these strongholds. Practically speaking, this involves examining our relationships with people and identifying where things went wrong or where thing are going wrong. And then trusting God to walk with us on the journey of conflict, confrontation and forgiveness.

I want to be strong for the Lord and allow him to strengthen me and direct my life. I believe I am still on that Exodus away from slavery. The promised land lies ahead. Or maybe to the left. Or maybe to the right. Hmmmm...I'm not too sure but I have faith that after I've finished my wandering and fighting these battles, I'll be with him forever. I'm learning too that sometimes in the wandering there is a plan, there is a purpose and even sidesteps can bring us one breath closer to the Lord. He's just cool that way.


Blogger happytheman said...

why is it people think they have a right to speak into our lives and give us their opinion when they have never invested into it. God is our judge! and to that I walk with my head up. What I always know is that my savior isn't going to beat me up like I and others do.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Amen! I like what you say here "my savior isn't going to beat me up like I (do)."

I hear ya. God's grace IS saving! It very often saves me from ME!

12:31 AM  
Blogger Gardenia said...

Awesome post! But Danielle, in your brutal honesty with yourself, I would offer up ...... that you served God with all your might the best you knew how - I saw much of myself in your post, but after all these years, I see where all those phases in Christian service and even motives (wrong or right) were known to God, yet He uses us when He needs us - remember it is God who lifts us up.

I remember your posts before your mission trip - I was truly in a dessert and they lifted me up, they were so full of God.

He truly uses wounded healers and he heals us as we go. He never waits until we're perfect. That is the marvelous awesome show of His power that he uses us, and Christianity continues, grows, and spreads through the power of God in us, despite us!

6:22 AM  

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