This past not quite a year and a half has been tough to get through. It’s been a long season of walking through some hard things, facing painful things from my past, having the blinders removed around certain family narratives and unhealthy dynamics, and letting myself experience the painful emotions that I’ve denied and stuffed down and ignored throughout most of my life.
Throughout this journey I’ve come to realize that I have C-PTSD, and how that has impacted my physical health, as well as my emotional and spiritual health. Together with my husband, I’ve walked through anger, intense hurt, grief, feelings of perplexity and confusion, anxiety, and at least one bout of severe depression. But through it all, I’ve also experienced healing and growth. I’ve learned how to silence the mean voices in my head, ignore the lies and replace them with truth, reject the labels that have been placed on me throughout my life and shed the identities and expectations others have tried to force on me.
Last fall, my husband and I were given an opportunity to move to the Ozarks of Arkansas, a place we’d talked about off an on over the years in a “wouldn’t it be nice to live there some day” kind of way. It seemed like it was being orchestrated by God, and it still appears that way. We’re renting a home on a large acreage in the middle of the woods on top of a small mountain near a lake, miles and miles from civilization. Our house has woods on one side and large expanses of fields and grass on the other three, with a vast view of the sky where we often see eagles circling overhead. Whenever I step outside, I take a deep, cleansing breath and think of all the times King David praised God in the Psalms saying, “You’ve brought me to an expanded place.”
I believe God brought us here to give us the room we needed in order to heal, to rest, to grow into who He meant for us both to be, free from the forces and influences that have always hindered us and held us back and kept us (or at least me – I don’t speak for my husband) in an unhealthy place of striving to be pleasing and acceptable to people instead of to Him.
As I write this, I’m in a much better place. Lately I’ve been feeling calm and settled in a way I can’t remember ever feeling before. I’m crying far less often and laughing and smiling much more easily. I’m having an easier time knowing my own mind and making decisions and speaking up about what I prefer instead of staying quiet and going along to get along. I’ve reached clarity about some decisions I’ve been going back and forth on for years, unsure of what I actually wanted and afraid I wasn’t allowed to want it, finally confronting that fear and naming my desire. And with that clarity has come a deep sense of peace, even as I acknowledge that my decision might not have the outcomes I hope for and could very possibly lead to a lot of pain.
But I feel assured that, even if that turns out to be the case, God will be with us, walking us through it and holding us together, not letting us break but making us both stronger and using it all for our good.
Part of this newfound sense of peace and wholeness – really, all of it, probably – is due to coming to a single, important decision: do I believe in God’s goodness or not? I realized that I haven’t always, but decided that, ultimately, I do. And that if He is truly good, with no darkness in Him at all, then He is completely trustworthy, even when whatever I’m going through is the opposite of good. That He is good, and powerful, and faithful, and no matter what happens I can absolutely trust him to turn it around and purpose it for good. Even when it hurts like hell. Even when my heart is breaking.
The other thing is that I’ve learned –am learning, really, but getting better at it – that I don’t have to hustle and strive to achieve the life that I want for myself and my family. I’m always having to learn this lesson, and I’ve said no to hustle before, but it’s always so easy to get swept up in my goals and trying to accomplish my own plans and lose sight of what I really want, which is a life that’s free of hustling and striving in which I can simply work steadily at my own pace doing work that fulfills me and uses my giftings to accomplish His purpose.
I mean, just last month I was complaining about feeling overwhelmed because I forgot that I’m in a marathon and was running like I’m in a race.
But I was gently reminded that it’s okay to slow down. I don’t need to hustle. The Lord is my provider, and I have everything I need. He’s not going to let me miss out on any good thing He has for me.
And I’m also discovering that the more time and effort I put into seeking Him, the more I’m finding myself and the life He has for me.
I don’t know how long we’re going to be calling this place home. I don’t know what our future holds. And for the first time ever, I’m okay with that uncertainty, because I know and trust the One who holds our future. I’m living out this simple, quiet life one day at a time, seeking my assignment for each day, offering my work to Him, releasing my hopes and plans and leaving the outcomes up to Him as He orders both our steps. I’m more fully present in the here and now than I’ve ever been before, enjoying this season of life while anticipating with joy and hope where He’s going to lead us and for once being at total peace with having no clue where that will be.
But wherever He leads us, I know it will be beautiful.
“You direct me on the path that leads to a beautiful life. As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment.” – Psalm 16:11, VOICE