From the Other Side of the Storm

othersidestorm

When you are standing in the middle of a storm with the wind howling fierce and wild all around you, it can feel like the storm will never stop its onslaught.  But it will.  Stop.  No storm is forever.

The last two years have been a stormy trek through loss and betrayal, through injustice and brokenness, through grief and pain.  But the violent ripping away from what I thought was to be the rest of my life gave me some incredible gifts, even though they were packaged in pain.  If you are in a storm, even if you can’t fathom this now, there are treasures hidden in darkness.  Jesus never wastes our pain.

As I watch a community stand up and forgive the brutal act of terror that took 9 beautiful lives Wednesday night, I’m humbled to see lovers of Jesus living out His incredible grace calling us all as a nation back to God’s love that never fails.  Sitting here today, I am reminded again no matter how atrocious the storm is, it will not last forever.

In catching up with a friend recently, I’ve started to see some of what these last two years have worked into me.  What God desires to pour through us, He first works in us. I am not the same person who walked into the storm.  And I could never step into what God has called me to without journeying through the last two years of facing many of my worst fears.

Can I be a bit vulnerable?  There might be something you can relate at least a little to in this journey ;-).

In 2013 the transition back to the USA caused a stripping away of almost every major ministry relationship in my life.  There is no blame at all here for that. Many relationships drift away in transition periods because they are seasonal in nature.  I was afraid of loneliness, of alone-ness, of being left out and displeasing leaders I respect.  Suddenly I had nothing to “fit in” to and 98% of my relational network had waved good-bye at the last fork in the road.  Again no blame.  I had to face those fears.  And now I have better, deeper relationships  in my life than I have ever had before.

I had a fear of simply being myself so I was constantly self-editing to make sure who I was fit the assignment well.  And then in the space of a few weeks in the summer of 2013, all my assignments were stripped away and all I had left to be was myself.  So I found my voice with an inner boldness I’ve never experienced before. I’m just not afraid of stepping on toes anymore. I do care what people think because I care about the people who are having the thoughts. But people’s opinions just don’t rock me like they used to.

Love doesn’t play it safe.  Love speaks truth to power from the place of vulnerability. I no longer have or am looking for a mold to fit into.  There isn’t one. I get it. I get now what God has been whispering for years.  I finally have the assurance just to be. I’m not looking for the next “thing” to be a part of.

I’ve learned so much about myself in this journey. Funny things like I enjoy doing radio more than TV {It is pretty awesome to share with thousands sitting in my PJ bottoms at home with no makeup on sipping on coffee.}  I’ve learned I love doing illustration more than classical fine art, that I’m not a big conference/event person {unless God calls me to be there}, that I’d rather sit under a tree with Jesus or spend time with family.

Even with all my God experiences, there was still a part of my heart that wanted validation {ahem, I called it confirmation} that I heard God correctly. And that internal hesitance created a dynamic where I’d second guess what I thought I knew. But when any and all external validation got stripped right out of my world, I found the actual deeper level of internal confidence I needed rooted in Jesus where it can never be stolen.

God never wastes our pain.  I’m standing on the other side of a 2 year storm and I no longer see the good that which was ripped away but rather the great that grew out of what remained.  And there is SO much more great growing than good lost.  The stripping always yields strengthening in God’s Kingdom.  It’s a process called pruning.

The storm the enemy purposed to destroy all God was doing and me in the process, only wound up strengthening my roots in Jesus and accelerating my growth.

If you find yourself in a stormy patch right now, hang on, press into where Jesus is sleeping in the boat and hide under His robes.  When you get to the other side of the storm, you will find treasures and gifts to unwrap you had no idea you even needed.

That which the enemy means to destroy will be the very thing that establishes you and prepares you to become even more dangerous to darkness. So much so he will regret ever trying.