I write and don’t write for the same reason. There’s too much to say and I have no idea where to start, or middle, or end. And these days, I speak little besides the toddler dialect.
The Breaking Free study I participated in came to a close. I feel a little out to sea. Before you lob the “Jesus is your best friend” bombs at me, please understand that going through this study has opened my heart to knowing Christ in a way I’ve never been able before. The noise in my head has been quieted by the voice of God. This is new. This is exhilarating. And terrifying. I’ve been embracing a fallacy for most of my adult-ish life. With arms and legs wrapped tightly around it as my identity. With an extended family full of emotional and mental turmoil, and the self-propagating cycles of abuse and religious oppression very real factors in my existence, I was paralyzed by both the knowledge of them and the inability to change anything.
I fully believed my mind and heart had been irreversibly compromised by the things said and done to us as children and into the teenage years. That my mind was damaged. That I was unable to love God. To know His love in a life-changing capacity. To experience the boundless joy of genuinely believing He delights in me.
‘Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City” or “The Desolate Land.” Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” and “The Bride of God,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride.’ (is 62 2)
I embraced forsaken. I identified with desolate. There would be moments of delight. Brief windows into His adoration, but so fleeting I was convinced I’d all but imagined them. Every time I opened His Word, I heard echoes of the voices I’d grown up hearing, of the negative God we have. Of judgment. And punishment. And withholding to teach a lesson.
I call “Bullshit!”
His goodness leads to repentance.
We love because He first loved us.
The pain that permeates our lives comes from sin. Comes from untruth. From pride, which, simply put, is seeing ourselves in any light contrary to the light of Truth.
Yes, there are consequences to being outside of Him. To living at odds with His perfection. But they are mostly the natural results of said disconnect. In fact, more often than not, His vast mercy spares us from the full decimation our desperate humanity would have wreaked upon ourselves. And at times, when He allows this cause-and-effect to knock us down, it is His perfect longing for us pleading with us to return to the safety and wholeness of His sheltering wings.
Anything that dims the truth of God’s boundless, obliterating, restoring LOVE is not from Him but from the enemy of my soul. It is a lie that could derail me yet again should I choose to reach out and take hold of it. The thoughts of despair, of less worth, of crippling fear: they may occur to me. They may pause in my mind. They may scream in my face. But oh glory! I now know what they are! They are not for me. They give Him another opportunity to remind me that self-doubt is not humility but the sin of unbelief.
I am a new creation.
I am a branch of the Vine. The pruning of the Gardener causes pain to the Vine. Because I am attached. Because my roots are in something much bigger and stronger than me. Because I am part of a living, nourishing Life.
So call me Hephzibah.
Because He delights in me.
“God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” (ps 68 6)