Tag Archive | Pain

Hagar in My Heart

Since I didn’t really know how the two were different I couldn’t decide which I was feeling more like – a gypsy or a nomad – so I decided to look up the two words so I could make an informed decision.

A gypsy is a member of a tribe of people found throughout the world who has no permanent home and has a wandering lifestyle.

A nomad is a member of a group of people who have no fixed home and move according to the seasons from place to place in search of food, water, and grazing land.

Well that settles it.  I am not a gypsy because I am not a member of a tribe.  I may be able to skate by on the nomad title but only if I count E.v.e. and I as a “group” and my current residence as “grazing land”.  Sigh, I am officially a nomad, aimlessly wandering through the wilderness in search of food, water and shelter.

Lately I have spent some time thinking about another nomad named Hagar and what her life must have been like.  She and I have a very similar story and I keep finding little bits of her tucked away in my heart and I am not sure I like it.  

The Bible tells part of her story like this: 

Abraham exiles Hagar.

Hagar and Ishmael (E.v.e. and I) being sent out to wander in the wilderness

“So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagar’s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba. When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush.  Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yards away. ‘I don’t want to watch the boy die,’ she said, as she burst into tears.”

I can’t imagine leaving my child under a bush and walking away so I wouldn’t have to listen to her die.  The pain and the anger she must have felt.  The hopelessness. She didn’t choose this life.  She didn’t plan on being thrown out into the desert to fend for herself and her young son.  The hatred she must have felt.  Being a slave, she had only done what was asked of her and now that Abraham had a new son with his wife she was no longer wanted or needed. 

I have never had to deal with the anguish of knowing my child was about to die from thirst or starvation but I can relate to her in some of the other areas of her life.  I know what it is like to have the father of my child not love me and send me away for another woman he apparently did love.  I know how it feels to have another child prefered over my own despite the fact they share the same father.  And I know what it feels like to wander aimlessly in the wilderness not knowing where to go or where provision will come from next. 

Some days, like today I guess, I feel like my water skin is almost out.  I feel like if God doesn’t come through really soon I might get an even more personal understanding of how Hagar must have felt that day. 

Despite the similarities between Hagars and my own story there are some very important differences though that I need to remind myself of.   For example, I know that I am no longer a slave.  I know that I am the Daughter of a King.  And I knew when I was first sent out into the wilderness that is currently my life that the King had a plan and a purpose for my and my daughter’s life, even if my ex husband did not. 

Some days it is very hard to remember these simple truths but I have to hold tight to them because they are what gives me hope that my story isn’t the same has Hagars.  My story doesn’t have to contain as much pain.  I don’t have to let myself become bitter.  I don’t have to allow hate to well up inside me.  I don’t have to feel hopeless and full of despair because I can see a truth that Hagar could not.  I can’t let myself forget that truth or I will be no better off than Hagar and my E.v.e. will be no better off than Ishmael. 

When Hagar was sent away she didn’t know that the Lord had just had a conversation with Abraham where He told him, “Do not be upset over the boy and your servant(Hagar). Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.  But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagar’s son because he is your son, too.” – italics and bold added by me.

Abraham sent her way trusting the Lord to keep His word but she thought she was sent into the desert with no hope, no promise and no assurance of any kind.  She and her child was rejected and in her mind sent away to die a painful death in the desert.  Sometimes I catch myself feeling like Hagar rather than remembering that I was sent out into the desert full of hope, believing in a great promise and with all assurance that my Lord would provide a way for my little family. 

I know that my ex didn’t have a talk with God before sending me and my tiny baby off into the great unknown to fend for ourselves but I also know that God knew ahead of time the trials I would be facing.  He, as my Daddy, knew what I could handle and how he could use my current circumstances to mold me into the woman He needs me to be and the ways that He would provide for us.  I know that God has a great plan for my daughter and I and that we are, every day, moving one step closer to that promised land. 

I have to learn to keep my heart in check and not allow the bitterness of Hagar to steal away my hope and assurance of a promise made by my King.  Hagar did eventually learn of the Lords provision for her and her son and they went on to prosper and create a whole race of people still around today.  However, her bitterness stayed with them and to this day the two families stemming from the same father still hate each other.  That is not the path I choose.  That is not the story I want to live. 

I choose peace.  I choose hope.   I chose to belive that I am not rejected.  I am not unloved.  I am not second-rate.  I am not a slave. I do not have to fend for myself.  I choose to continue to trust in the Lord that all of this wandering, all this aimless, dreadful wandering, is for a purpose and is for my and my daughters betterment and that one day it will come to an end and I will finally see my promises fulfilled. 

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Hurts So Good

Life is a crazy, beautiful mess isn’t it?  I have been fighting so long, pleading for God to help me make sense of my life.  It doesn’t seem to mesh with any of my previous understandings of how the Bible says things work.  I have tried and tried to do the right things, make the right choices and to seemingly no avail.  My life has still been a mess. 

I would read scriptures like Haggai 1:2-11 and I would think – that sounds exactly like my life!! Everything that the Lord is telling these people is a direct result of their lack of commitment to Him and building His temple sounds like what I am struggling with in my life.  I spent months and months after reading that passage dissecting my life and looking for where I had let God down.  I walked around feeling punished but not understanding why.  If all these things going on in my life were a punishment or at the very least a side effect of my actions I never found out what it was I was doing wrong to deserve it.

Anyone who knows me personally knows I have had a pretty rough time of things the last 3 years. Husband divorced me for someone else, I lost everything I owned except my car which I still have to make payments on, at first I had a job that paid well but not on a regular basis – sometimes I wouldn’t work for a few months in a row but when I did work it was a lot – and then had a job that pays on a regular basis but not enough to really live on.  I moved at least half a dozen times in the span of 2 years before moving in with a Russian atheist that I either really really liked or really really disliked – not sure which, the jury is still out on that one – sometimes I miss her! :-O Place got infested with mold and I had to move back in with my parents, I almost never have enough money to buy the things I need, (just for example I either slept on the floor or a very uncomfy couch for the first 2 years after my divorce until I found a mattress left out in the snow by a neighbor which I then slept on for a year *it’s ok you can be grossed out with me* >.< then when I finally had a little money to save it still took me a couple of months before I could buy a mattress for 160$). Most days I can’t seem to get my head above water and I almost never know what I am going to do next or even what I am supposed to be doing right now!

Through all that, I kept dissecting myself – where is the flaw? where is the fault? where is the deficit in my life that would be causing all of this?  It didn’t help matters when I would come across a passage like the ones found in Matthew where it talks about how if you seek first the kingdom of God, He will give you the things you need.  I would read that and slam my bible shut and cry – “GOD! What am I doing wrong?!? How am I failing you? I want so bad to please You, how can I be failing so miserably? Why does my life hurt so bad when I am trying so hard?!” 

What I wasn’t taking into consideration is that, as cliché as it sounds, there are a lot of people out there waaaay more in need than I am.  Not once in these last 3 years have I been homeless.  Not once did I truly go hungry.  Not once did I run out of gas in my car.  My child always had more than enough clothes, shoes and toys.  I had clothes to wear – who cares what they look like, they covered my skin. Sure I couldn’t always go everywhere I wanted or do everything I wanted but everything I needed was provided for me.  I never even had to put E.v.e. in daycare!  I have a job where I get to take my baby girl with me to work.  How many single moms – or any mom for that matter – can say that?  I was so busy looking at all the things I don’t have that I was ignoring the blessings I do receive.

I have felt so exhausted lately and I think it is from the massive amounts of energy I am spending fighting against how my life is right now.  I keep fighting to make my life “better”, to move past this season of pain and trials not willing to accept that maybe I need all these troubles. 

God is doing a good work in me and I can see it now.  Thinking about it the last few days with a fresh perspective has helped me realize He is working hard to undo the damage of 15 years with out his saving grace plus another 8 years of choosing to run away from Him after knowing His love.  I have a lot of scars and brokenness from my life. There are a lot of lies still swirling around in my mind acting like truths.  There is a lot of hurt and fear gripping my heart.  But like a tender lover, God is tying to gently strip away layer after layer of those hurts.  I have been fighting Him, kicking and screaming! 

I have this image in my head of me clinging tight to my filthy rags looking for any and all holes I need to patch, tares I need mend to make myself more worthy.  I hold tight to all the hurts and lies and fear seeing it as “me” and feeling like it is the best I can ever have or be.  I have to work with what I’ve got and do my best to keep myself held together. I don’t realize that God wants to completely remove those old garments and wash me and wrap me up in a robe of His love and beauty. 

I am so focused on my own lack and so upset about the state that I am in that I don’t realize God is standing beside me trying to help me.   I am so focused on my actions I don’t see His.  

Every time He starts to pull off a lie or a fear that I am clothed in it hurts and I fight against it – my self-focused perspective causes me to think ”I must be doing something, or not doing something, and that is why I am hurting, that is why I am being punished, that is why this enemy is being allowed to harm me” and I fight and struggle to get away from the pain. 

It isn’t that God wants to hurt me.  He is being as gentle and tender as a lover, which is probably why it has taken me three years to even realize He has been working on me.  He doesn’t want to hurt me just like I dont want to hurt my E.v.e. when I have to remove an old band-aid.  I know that scrape needs some fresh air and to dry out and heal but she fights me with every ounce of strength she has.  Keeping that old nasty band-aid feels a lot less painful than it does to have it pulled away. 

The last couple days it has felt like He has wiped the mud out of my eyes.  I suddenly see it is His hands on me.  I can now see His intentions and with that revelation comes peace and submission.  Remove those rags my love.  Take these pains.  Heal those wounds.  It still hurts but a good hurt.  A cleansing hurt.  I can suddenly see the patches of clean fresh skin showing through – here is where I felt unworthy before but now I feel cherished.  Here is where I used to keep my fear of rejection but now it is replaced with His acceptance of me.  This spot used to be infected with self-hatred.  It is still a little tender but well on its way to being healed as well. 

I can now think back and see how each situation I have encountered – although hard, painful, and sometimes scary – has helped re-shape me.  I have come out on the other end stronger and bolder and trusting the Lord even more than before.  For example, I now know that no matter what God is going to provide at least what I need to survive and sometimes bless me with even more – I don’t have to do anything other than trust Him and He will come through for me.

I know it is probably going to take my whole life – however long that is – but I now understand that if I lay still and let the Lord do His work on me, if I let Him lead me through what ever trials and heartaches it takes for me to understand His truths, one day I will have all these filthy rags removed and I will be clean and pure and clothed in His white robe.

Love, thank you for letting me understand.  Thank you for letting me see that it is Your healing hands that are upon me.  Thank you for all the work you have already accomplished within me and all the work you still have planned for me.  Thank you for clearing out the old lies and replacing them with the truth.  Thank you for your tenderness. Help me to submit to your work and go peacefully about my life.  Help me to remember that your plans are to prosper me not to harm me, even when those plans hurt a little or seem hard.  Clean me up love. I’m yours.

~Nichole

Devil, You are Cruel – God, You are Just

I sit here at my computer full of conflicting emotions today.  Pain, anger, fearful longing and tender hope.  I experienced Saturday probably the most cruel attack of the enemy against my very soul and convictions as I ever have and that is saying a lot when you consider the painful events of my past. 

Saturday started out like any other day.  I was watching my occasional weekend group of children (3 precious boys I love like crazy!!) and decided to do a little house/job hunting while they watched a short movie.  I have been trying to take a little time each day to look for what the Lord has for me next in those two areas.  I have no idea what my job will be or what side of town I am going to live on but I am totally open to what ever God has. 

So, I was looking around online and found this ad for a 2 bedroom, 2 1/2 bath for rent with a fenced in yard not very far from my dads house.  I shot out an email to find out the price and was surprised at the reply I got.  apparently, the house was owned by a female pastor and her family and they had gone on what was supposed to be a short-term missions trip but doors had opened and they would be staying for at least a year but maybe even up to 5 years. They were looking for someone to take care of their house for them while they were away.  They were asking 400/month and sent a link to their missions webpage and several shots of the house inside and out.  I thought – no way, this is too awesome….should I even hope?? 

Well, my dad and I decided to drive out there and take a look at the place and the neighborhood ect.  The neighborhood was so cute and quiet.  The houses looked taken care of but in a laid back sort of way.  Nothing was “perfect” but everything looked very loved and established. When we pulled up I couldn’t get out of  the car fast enough.  The house was small and a little run down with some obvious need of repair but to me it looked like heaven.  Literally everything I had ever hoped and dreamed about for a place to live – it had. 

The back yard was huge and fenced in.  It had a chicken coop, storage shed, HUGErope swing (the rope was thicker around than the widest part of my arm – and that is pretty wide!), garden plot, an area that looked like it was used for wood shop type activities, a little koi pond, a gazebo, screened in porch, and great big cedar and eucalyptus trees (my favorite!!)  My dad was so excited he was bouncing up and down like a little kid.  I was so excited I couldn’t stop smiling. I thought ‘if I smile any bigger I might just burst!’  The house had wood floors, tile, a fire-place, a washer and dryer and lots of windows – all of which I LOVE. 

I kept thinking to myself ‘This is it.  This is what I have been waiting nearly 4 years for.  I have been making the hard choices and the painful sacrifices I feel God has asked me to make for him and I am looking at the beginnings of the reward for that.  He is finally giving me the desires of my heart and blessing this next step of ministry.  This is where I am going to raise my daughter for as long as the Lord wills.  This is where I am going to bring precious children to get loved on and heal while their families work to get their lives in order.  And how awesome is it that the family I would be renting from is on a missions trip in Africa spreading the love of God?!’ 

Just to be on the safe side we decided to talk to the neighbor and see what he had to say about the family that owned the house.  When we get up to the guys house there is this big metal plaque nailed to the door that reads “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord”.  I thought – yay! Christian neighbors!!  This super cute old man answers the door and we start talking to him and his friend who was apparently visiting him at the time.  They had both lived in the neighborhood for upwards of 50 years and it was a good place to live.  When we asked about the family he seemed a little confused.  “No, a guy named “Roberts” (name changed simply because I can’t remember what he said) owns that house.  It is for rent but not for 400/month.  More like 6 to 8 hundred.  Someone is trying to scam you.”

My heart didn’t stop falling until it hit the ground.  Then I am pretty sure I stepped on in when we walked away because as we backed out of the driveway it hurt fiercely. Some one had laid before me all the desires of my heart concerning a place to live and said “its yours for a low monthly price of exactly what you can afford” only to have it be a lie.   Then, to make it even worse the truth was “well, actually you could afford this if you just gave up all your convictions about parenting and ministry and just put your daughter in daycare and got a real job.”  Ouch.  OUCH!  Writing this makes my eyes water and heart ache.  What a horrible realization to swallow! 

****(this next little bit is not a part of my story – added it in as a thought process while writing)****

At the time I didn’t see the similarities between this and when the devil took Jesus up to the mountain top and offered Him the whole world if He would just kneel before him –  I see it now as I write this.

Jesus was taken up to that mountain top and told he could have everything he desired minus all the pain and suffering He knew was to come and all He had to do was kneel.  Such a simple act yet so profound.  To kneel was to renounce everything He had lived His whole life believing and all the choices He had made up that point. To kneel was to admit He did not think He could do what was being asked of Him on the cross.  To kneel was to choose the devils plan for His life instead of God’s plan for His life.  I can’t help but think that maybe up there on that mountain top looking down at the world and knowing all the anguish He was about to go through He just might have felt some of what I was feeling yesterday and today but on an even bigger scale! (now back to the story…)**** 

The more I thought about what had just happened the more I hurt and the more I doubted all my choices up to this point.  Maybe I should just put E.v.e. in daycare.  Most other single moms have to.  Maybe I should give up this Nanny Ministry.  There has to be someone else that can do this job with out it costing them so much personally.  Then, I could get a job somewhere paying minimum wage and then I could afford this place.

I have loved being able to bless the families I work for and their children.  They pay me what they can and I have accepted it as being what the Lord has for me right now.  I struggle with it from time to time but I know these are the choices I have made in an effort to follow after the Lords will for my life.  Never before this day had I ever truly believed – ‘maybe I am really wrong about all this and I just need to give up, get a “real job” and admit I made a mistake’.

Then, and even uglier thought entered my mind.  Maybe, just maybe, what I believed wasn’t a mistake.  What if I was totally right about everything I had heard the Lord speak to me and the choices I had made?  What if those times I can recall hearing a request from the Lord and choosing not to do it for what ever reason – fear, not understanding, lack of faith, whatever the reason, was to blame? 

Maybe I could have had this place if I hadn’t done this sin or that sin.  Maybe, just maybe, God had promised me some amazing things and ment it but then I screwed it up and this was my “Moses Moment” – Here’s the promised land Moses but because you hit that rock out of anger and frustration instead of just commanding it like I told you – you can not enter into this land.  Here is your dream home Nichole – it could have been yours – but because you messed up you can no longer have it.  I can not even describe the anguish I felt – and to a small extent still feel right now.  I started counting down the seconds till Sunday.  I knew I needed some fellowship and wisdom from my spiritual family.

I had saved up money all week and made sure I had enough to pay for the gas to get to church today and I was so looking forward to it.  After the day I had just had Saturday I reallllly needed some refreshing time with my Christian family. I knew I could count on God, my precious Pastor and my family to speak some truth into my situation.  I just needed a little bit of encouragement  and worship and I hoped with that I would be ok. 

So not what I got.  It was no fault of the Pastors.  I am sure his message was very encouraging to others and spurred them on to run the race well.  I how ever did not receive that stimulating message because a few minutes in he talked about Moses not getting into the promised land because of his choices.  Needless to say the rest of the message was lost to me.  I was fighting off despair with everything in me.  I was praying in the spirit, rejecting all the thoughts that were swirling around in my head and just trying to hold it together long enough to get through the sermon and out to my car before I broke down.

I did end up totally loosing it in the front row but not untill most everyone had left.  A precious sister came and prayed with me and I did get to talk to her and a few other women I respect and look up to but there really wasn’t much they could say to comfort me.  I have no idea why the Lord allowed this thing to happen to me.  I have no idea why I am stuck in this same rut I have been in for nearly 4 years.  I don’t understand any of it.  And no one else there did either.  All they could do was pray for me and remind me this is not the Lord being cruel.  The devil is cruel, God is Just. 

All I can keep doing is holding on to my tender hope. The enemy tried to snuff it out this weekend but I can’t let him win.  I may be bruised but the Lord says he will not crush me.  My hope may be a flickering candle but God says He will not put it out.  He will cause justice to be victorious (Matthew 12:20)

 I am afraid to keep longing for the things in my heart but I can’t give up out of fear of being let down or hurt again. I have to keep longing and expecting.  I have to keep trusting that God really does know what He is doing and that He is guiding my path.  I am so willing, so eager to do this work He has called me to – all I can do is keep clinging to Him and trusting that one day it will all make sense – even if that day isn’t until the day I see Him face to face. 

~My love, I don’t understand.  I hurt so deeply.  I want to trust You.  I ‘know’ I can but Love please help me knowit. Yesterday was so hard and today was no better.  I never, EVER want to doubt again that You are directing my path.  That doubt felt like a poison and it ate at my soul. Love please heal my heart. 

I am choosing today – right now – to trust You.  I am choosing to trust that whatever happened yesterday was part of the testing fires – a proving of my faith in You.  I don’t want to be guilty of giving up and choosing the easy, wide path instead of the narrow, difficult one you have set before me.  The narrow, difficult path leads to an eternal life filled with You and what earthly comfort or desire could ever compare to such a treasure as that!

You are Faithful, You are Just, You are Trustworthy, You are my Strength and Comfort in my times of difficulty.  Help me remember that sooner the next time the wolf comes to steal, kill, and destroy. ❤

  ~Nichole