It really is a blessing to be here. I am deeply grateful to my friend and founder Lisa for inviting me to walk alongside her and so many other wonderful women on this restoration journey at LWGL.
I love a good story. I love storytelling. And I love learning about people and what makes them tick.
Today I get to introduce you a bit to my story, which is both exciting and challenging because–you know–vulnerability is a scary thing. It’s something I’ve always run from.
But I want to grow and take steps toward greater things. I agree with St. Teresa of Calcutta when she said, “We have been created for greater things. To love and be loved.”
And I don’t think we get to experience loving and being loved by keeping all our cards close to our chest. That’s the way I’ve been playing my hand most of my life. I’ve realized that, while I might be keeping up walls to protect people from hurting me, I’m also keeping people at bay if they want to love me, God included. Who really wants to live like that? Deep down, I know I don’t.
C.S. Lewis sheds light on my dilemma, and I believe a dilemma for many of us when he writes,
I quit my job 5 months ago, feeling a tug to step away for a period of deeper healing and perspective. One of my biggest takeaways was something that I’ve always really known, but I suppose I needed to face in a bigger way this past year: I’ve sought to establish my worth and my “enoughness” on my achievements, my performance, pleasing others and a pretty picture I paint of my life and self.
It’s as though God has had to repeatedly hit me upside the head so that I will see my behavior, find the reason for it and develop healthier habits.
The ‘whys’ of my behavior aren’t too hard to identify. My parents divorced when I was a baby. My father reenlisted in the army shortly thereafter and never returned (he reemerged via an email 25 years later – more on that at another time). The way my mom coped with the pain of divorce and her own brokenness was deeply hurtful to me. As an only child facing pain on her own, I learned to depend on myself and trust no one. I numbed my feelings through addictions. And through it all, I developed such a false sense of identity and made decisions in my mind and heart that I’m still working on undoing today, for myself and those around me.
The beautiful thing about the need for healing and restoration though, is that what’s been lost can be restored one thousandfold, if we are willing to do the work to get there. I can attest to this in my life. In my past, there are some dark and crazy things. But as I keep staring at those things, and allow a fuller picture to emerge, I can see that all of it helps to put together a story and image of my life that, when beheld for all that it is, is nothing short of a God-given miracle. God takes everything and makes something beautiful out of it.
So, what is that fuller and more beautiful story of my life? It begins with discovering the core truth of who I am instead of the lie. The truth that with my feet planted firmly in the ground, I claim my real identity as a beloved child, a beloved daughter of God. I am loved, I am worthy, I am good and I am enough. If I ever waver on these beliefs, I return to the feet of God so he can reveal the truth to me again and implant it more deeply in my heart and mind.
I also understand that part of the journey towards greater wholeness and freedom has to do with the state of my heart. As a kid, I was in situations where I experienced traumatic pain, pain that I believed was too hard to handle. I dealt with my feelings by numbing them or pushing them away. I hardened my heart. I made a decision that I would not be my true self. I decided that I had to be someone other or someone better than myself. Why? Because as a kid I didn’t know how to process what I was going through in a healthy way. I believed that being myself meant allowing my pain to come to the surface, and that was not something I was willing to live through. I also believed that if I was someone who could be treated in such a way by her own father and mother, I couldn’t have been worth that much, definitely not a person worth being.
After years of wearing these different masks, I understood that allowing my heart and mind to remain in this state wouldn’t help me realize that fuller and more beautiful image of my life that God intended. I’ve had to reverse those decisions (again and again) and learn how to accept and love myself more, to see my beauty and the beauty of those around me.
Today my heart and mind are better than what they were 5 years ago, 10 years ago, and my journey of restoration continues. As I continue walking this walk, I’m able to see more of the good things that God has to show me, and I can be more grateful for all that has been given to me, instead of the things that were taken away. I’m also invited by God to have compassion on those who’ve hurt me. My mother and father suffered immensely in their lives, and I can easily see how their hurts rippled into my life. That doesn’t erase the pain, but it helps me in my journey of forgiveness and peace. After all, in my humanity and imperfect way of loving, there are people I’ve hurt along the way, too. My hope is that I’ll forgive just as much and easily as I’m forgiven.
I still have my struggles and disappointments but I realize that as hard as things have ever been or might be in the future, God is telling the truth when He says He will always be there with us.Danielle knight
One of the most beautiful parts of my life, and the way God has shown himself to be true to his promises, is my grandpa. During my childhood, I desperately needed a safe place where I could feel loved and affirmed. Around the time when my mom had to return to work, my grandfather retired from his job and became my caretaker. I stayed with him and my grandmother many days and nights and I was always glued to his side. We developed a bond and love that I believe saved my life. I felt as though God the Father reached down to love me through my grandfather. That my grandpa was a true instrument of God’s love in my life, a golden vessel that was especially gifted to me by God.
When I reflect on how good God has been to me, despite having gone through my hills and valleys, I’m always amazed. Amazed by the way God stoops down and lifts us up out of our messiness, blows the dust off of us, and breathes life back into us, saying, “Hey! I’m not done with you. You have a purpose. You are good. You are mine. I love you.” And when we wake up and surrender to that call, we can respond, “Here I am, Lord. Lead me.”
And that’s where I am right now. Asking the Lord to lead me in my next chapter. I’m looking for a job and in the meantime, enjoying life with family, friends, my boyfriend, and all that life brings my way. I’m grateful and happy to be alive. It’s not always rosy, but I am learning to let go and surrender, instead of trying to control everything. I’m working on letting God have the keys, while I sit in the back seat and let Him show me the way. I don’t expect Him to do all the work, but I believe that He has a lot more to show and give me than I can do on my own.
And this is just the beginning of my sharing here with you all @littlewgreatlove. I look forward to continuing the journey with you and encountering you where you are in your walks of life. God Bless You!