God is about to shift some things big time in my life. I can sense it and I can feel it.
I have never been good at resting or doing nothing. I was raised to work hard and to serve with all my heart. That’s not bad at all but at the end of last year, I found myself on burn out, exhausted, overwhelmed and literally on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
I was experiencing panic attacks and shutting myself in my closet sobbing, hoping to escape this brutal cycle I hated being in so much. I had spread myself too thin, I felt trapped. I felt like I couldn’t say no to things that were wearing me down.
I lived in a constant state of chaos and felt like my heart would explode at any moment. I actually feared a heart attack due to the level of stress I was under. Those times in my closet, were way too often. I was wishing things were different, wanting change desperately but saw no way to get better.
In January 2016, Jamie and I started to see a Christian therapist. I needed it, our marriage needed it and my relationship with my kids needed it. I remember the first day – I sat on her couch sobbing. I told her I was on the edge of a cliff barely hanging on by my fingertips.
I told her I could let go at any moment and that would be the end. I was so serious that day; saying those things out loud and admitting I was at my limit, was the day things begin to shift for me.
I was scared, I had moments where mild panic attacks would hit me and I would feel like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. Everything I was doing was ‘part of my job role’ so I didn’t know how to say no or communicate that it was all too much. Over the next several sessions God began to work in my heart and I started to find some peace. In the process of meeting with our therapist, I realized I needed to start saying no to things.
This was a big challenge for me. I didn’t know how to say no. I remember being mad at my therapist when she would say “just say no”. I’d say, “that’s easy for her personality type but not mine”. The thought of even saying it to my bosses (who were my parents) sent me into a state of panic. They never told me I couldn’t say no but I would feel it by the comments made along the way when I would not attend every church activity. It made me think I have to attend everything as part of my job. I began to feel resentful to the church and my job for taking me to a place of no return.
Everyone had an expectation of me and everyone needed me to do something for them; with several job roles in my lap how could I ever say no. Sadly I felt like a failure as I wasn’t doing anything well. My reactions were harsh and often rude, then I’d beat myself up for being that way. I dreaded anytime I had to do anything with church. What was once a joyful thing to do had become a noose around my neck and at any given moment I might fall off the box and hang myself (not literally).
I got to the place that I never stopped working, I never took time to rest and do nothing. I did not know how to sit still and be with my husband or kids without multitasking at same time – after all, there was so much to get done and how could I possibly take time for anything else. I was not a fun person to be around and most people probably avoided me. I had become a person I did not want to be and I felt totally trapped in a cycle I could not get out of.
After one session with our therapists I remember thinking this is such a waste of time – nothing is changing and I will never be able to say no as long as I am in this job. Slowly God had been at work in my heart and step by step He walked me through a process of healing and freedom. I found the courage to pull back a little bit at a time.
I remember the first time I actually said “no” – it was a big deal. I kept apologizing while I was saying – I just can’t take on another thing. It was helping with a woman’s event that my Mom was leading. I was so stressed at the thought of communicating to her that I could not help but I did it! I knew it was not only a victory for my heart but that God wanted to give a confidence to my Mom that she could do it without me too.
We all face seasons where parts of us break and I think it is important to take time to mend. However some of us get stuck in that place and continue to live with a mindset like we’re trapped in some old ugly rental house, when we actually own a gorgeous house full of great things. This was me, I knew I was created for more but I insisted on staying there instead of allowing God to make me new and be fully who He had created me to be.
In serving Church, I got caught up in the ‘doing’ all for the sake of the gospel but at the total expense of myself. It says it so well in the Message in Mark 8:36 “Follow me and I will show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way to saving your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? what could you ever trade your soul for?”
I felt like I had traded my own person relationship with Jesus Christ in order to please others with nothing left to give to the one who matters most in my life – my heavenly Father.
I had to do something or I would be trapped forever. The day I spoke those words out and my counselor gave me the courage to face reality as it was, I began to feel the blinders fall off me eyes. God began to speak to my heart that it was time to strip myself of my brokenness and allow Him to begin to heal my heart, one layer at a time.
He brought me to Ephesians 4:22-24 “Strip Yourselves of your former nature (put off and discard your old un-renewed self) which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts, and desires that spring from delusion; And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind (having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude). And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image. (Godlike) in true righteousness and holiness.”
When the Bible tells us to strip ourselves of our old nature it says to discard your old un-renewed self. When we wear an old stinky t-shirt no matter how we try and disguise it with febreze or perfume it is still an old stinky t-shirt and eventually the nice smelling cover up will go away and we will smell the stench again. You have to get rid of it completely; take if off and throw it away, not cover it up. God says that He has something new for you that is far better than you can imagine!
How do we have a wardrobe change? In verse 23 it says, “and be constantly renewed in your mind” We do this by spending time in His Word, worshipping and being in His presence. When we do this it says we put on a new nature – a whole new self!
You can ask anyone in my family to confirm this but I am not the same girl I was 6 months ago. I am allowing God to come in and do a work in my heart. Do I get in my flesh sometimes and try and put on that stinky t-shirt sometimes… absolutely and man it smells bad – everyone knows when I am wearing it.
My husband has said to me many times over the last few months how different I am – you have such a calmness about you and so much more peace. This is because I stopped living broken and I am allowing God to make me new.
We just wrote a song with my nephew last month that expresses this very thought. “You took a broken me and you made a masterpiece, You fill my heart with perfect love.” His heart for us is so much bigger then our most difficult seasons. He will use any season of brokenness to shape and mold us but don’t get stuck there, allow Him to transform you completely.
A few weeks back my daughter went to a worship night and God spoke this to her heart, when she shared it with my I began to cry but this so accurately fit where I have been and where I am going.
Here is what she wrote: Jesus loves us so much and unconditionally. It’s almost as if He’s sitting there saying, “I Love you, you know why? Because you are made in my image. You are deserving. You are my child. You’re not broken, you know why? Because I love you and I have made you new. You know why? Because you are worth it. You know why? Because you were created by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
He has made you with a plan and purpose, full of life and destiny. Let Him make you new today.
SCRIPTURE STUDY ON PURPOSE
- Psalm 16
- 2 Corinthians 5:17
- Colossians 3