standing stones

Posted: May 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

In the process of packing, I found a couple more old filled-out notebooks – just small glimpses from other sections of my life.  One of them was from the first time God picked up my life and basically said, “Hey, I’ve decided to do a complete do-over – we’re going to change EVERY SINGLE THING about your life.” 

Well, actually He DIDN’T say that – a little warning might have been nice, though maybe it would have just scared me so much that I’d have pulled a Jonah and headed for far-off places or just balled up in a corner and refused to deal with reality.  There was no “saying” that at all.  It just happened that way.

My kids and I were living with my parents (it was the only time that happened in my adult life – as my dad says, though, with his serene smile, “Hey, that happens.  Sometimes your children come back.”)  I was between jobs, and when you’ve been self-employed for over 10 years and thus not paying into unemployment, there is no nice check showing up to make that easier.  I had come out of my church amidst a lot of ugliness, some of it self-inflicted, and was trying out a new place.  My daughter was about to leave for college. 

Really, it felt like God had crumpled up the paper that my life was written on and tossed it in the circular file.  I had no reference for how life should be and was floundering. 

In the midst of it all, I got a strong feeling that there was something I was supposed to know about going forward.  I wasn’t even sure what the question was that needed answered.  i just knew there was a question and only God had the answer.  So I started off on a juice and water fast, determined to figuratively kneel at His feet and refuse to move until He gave me further instruction.  Every morning while the others around me were eating breakfast, I would sit at the table with my juice work on my “read through the Bible in a year” program (something I have not ever completed even once).  Throughout the day, I would pray.  But my prayers weren’t questions or requests or plans that I wanted Him to stamp.  They were mostly just:  mentally do that business of kneeling before Him and waiting quietly, with very heightened awareness that He was there and whatever He might say was the only thing that mattered. 

Also throughout the day, I would write.  My writing was not quiet like the praying.  My writing was a cry out to God.  And as I re-read the notebook last night, I realized that MOST of my writing was:  apologizing.  Apologizing for my choices, my actions, my attitudes, my words, my situation, the consequences to others around me because of me…apologizing for who I was. 

My heart kind of broke for that old Karen as I re-read her words.  “Ashamed” was a big theme.  At one point there a number of pages of unbroken script, just listing all the things I was ashamed of.  Sentence after sentence, starting with those 3 words:  “I am ashamed…” 

I wonder what it was like for my family, living around me with all of that mess boiling around inside.  To be honest, I don’t remember a lot of interactions from that time.  I don’t recall how it was going among us all. 

It wasn’t all horrible.  There are also big sections of worshiping, praising, and thanking Him.  Big sections of study about Him, written out with scriptures and reflections.  I wasn’t just using the notebook to piss and moan.  But when I talked about where I was…WOW…the me I am now, with so much healing between then and now, can only feel massive compassion for the me I was then. 

That fast was a strange one.  I prayed every day all day, I wrote long on a lot of days, and still it stretched on.  Somewhere along around the 2 week mark, I told God that I was clearly too much a mess to hear Him.  I begged Him to tell a very specific person whom I trusted deeply to bring it to me, no matter what it was, who was also praying along with me from afar.  And on day 21, early in the morning before anyone else was awake in the house, I was up getting that message, delivered from that very person via cell phone.  It was hard news but it was SO GOOD, because it was AN ANSWER in a season when answerlessness was making me feel adrift…making me feel crazy. 

I followed the answer, trusted Him in it, and very soon after, doors opened for me, one by one.  A job.  An apartment I could afford with that job.  New friends at my new church.  The first beginnings of change that would alter me so completely that I would say I’m not even the same person I was, before that shift. 

I’m glad I wrote those things down in notebooks.  Some past things I’ve written, I have destroyed as I’ve packed, because things I’ve said in my pain could be so painful for others to read.  This one, I kept, despite all the shame and awfulness I wrote about there, because it’s a little picture of God’s goodness and faithfulness.  It is like those standing stones that God told the Israelites to place along the path, that they might never forget where they had been and what He had done. 

I hope you have some of your own standing stones. 

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