Some of the meaning of this journey would be lost if I didn’t give some background of where I came and how it came to be. First, like many of you I had some rough times. Nineteen years of rough times. People would ask how did you do it…raise twin daughters from a year old, alone, no husband, no parents, no friends; how did I do it on 400 dollars a month, buying a junk car every 6 months because I couldn’t afford better or repairs. How did I manage all this and put myself through graduate school while raising my girls and working several jobs? There was more heartbreak than I have time to write about. By the grace of God because I can’t imagine anything in me that could make the life I was living work at all.
Then all my dreams came true. I landed a great teaching job at the university I graduated from, made more money than I needed, bought a house, furnished it, bought my dream car – with cash, and was able to go out to eat, go to movies and travel. Life was good. No it was great. It was a dream come true.
But with all dreams we pursue out of God’s perfect will they all disappear. After only three years I lost that great job and within three years I lost everything else. The worst part was losing the dream “I” had worked so hard to accomplish. Suddenly I was left with nothing to look forward to, no goal to pursue, no dream to chase. I felt worthless. My daughters had moved a thousand miles away and I was alone to enjoy my own miserable company. I tried substitutes: working at church, starting a business and making friends. All good things but not what God was calling me to. Eighteen months later I hit bottom. I cried out to Jesus, “I can’t live like this anymore. I’m dead inside and have nothing left to live for”.
Now our God is not flippant and doesn’t always give us a quick answer. No some problems go deep and for him to work out in me what he needed to it would take months, years even to unbury the abscesses deep in my soul. The rest of these blogs will tell the story of God working to restore the beauty of this soul.
Then next nine months Jesus worked closely with me, opening my heart and soul to inner cleansing, getting the junk out while meeting my needs.
Step one: he had me discover my talents to find what my dreams really are, His dreams for me. He had me make a book of these dreams with pictures and descriptions, over 160 pages; dreams of being a photographer, writer, business owner, dreams of traveling, especially going back to the western US. Then what did he do? He said “now take that book and put it up. Give up each and every one of those dreams; give them all to me as a gift of obedience.” Ugh, are you serious? I did. and the next two months were filled with anxiety, depression, and health problems. I suffered greatly in my detoxification from my own dreams and plans.
Step two: let go of all that you are doing…socializing with friends, working at church, even bible study. I was to devote all my time to pursuing Jesus. Even bible study had become part of my plan.
Step three: Five months into this detoxification, digging out the abscesses in my soul I began healing from the inside out. This healing began with reading “The Shack”. By the end of the book, working out my own deeply buried issues I felt raw, as if I had been beaten, skin stripped off, exposed, vulnerable and susceptible to infection. I became very aware and careful as to what I’d let into my life.
Step four: healing. Every morning for six weeks after I finished “The Shack” I’d ask God, “What next”. Nothing! I wanted so much to find another book that would touch my soul as “The Shack” had. Every day I would search my shelves for something to read and found nothing. Then finally, a light blue binding caught my eye. I pulled it out and thought “where did this come from?” You see the book’s title was “Captivating: Unveiling the mystery of a woman’s soul”. “A woman’s book! How did that get in my house?” I read the total woman once and was convinced all Christian women’s literature was a joke. I would have never bought that book let alone have it in my house. God knew what he was doing. I thought, “Can’t hurt to read the contents”. Then on to the introduction, I read page one and that was it. I was hooked. I couldn’t put the book down, it was drawing me in. I was captivated. I spent the next nine months devouring everything I could get my hands on by John Eldredge. So much happens over the next year and God will be evident in every moment.