The Way Forward
When I first received my one thing word for 2018, I was filled with hope and expectation. The past several years had been marred majorly by some very bitter experiences, although I experienced very many sweet ones as well. I was expectant that when I received this word it would mean new birth for me. A sort of springtime for my soul. I was looking forward to a season of rest and the prospect of prosperity (I didn’t need to be Oprah yall, I just wanted to relax). It has been tough. I had been pushing and grinding, and honestly, I just needed to know something was coming. So I filled up with hope more than a hot air balloon headed for the heavens.
Yet, there I sat, in April, a few days from my 31st birthday feeling very very tired.
AKA Not renewed.
Last night, I had a very difficult conversation with a friend about the state of my life. She challenged me in a very particular way, and it hurt. But I am grateful.
Simply because in the light of morning, I have realized that the way God defines the word renew, like Him, takes on more facets and dimensions than the simple positive connotation most of us give it (at least here in America).
I have realized, that like this verse, God in His mercy is washing and renewing me. He is allowing the results of many years of toiling to be refined in me this year. Through my tough spots, both internally caused and ones I am just externally harmed by, He has been reminding me of the sweetness of His Spirit.
My friend, although hard on me, did me so much good and pushed me to a place of confidence in an area where I had been timid and too afraid to speak up. Another friend, and in my head, mentor, gave me both practical tools and a “big sister” point of view on my season in life that I might be able to begin to handle a gift I’ve long known I’ve had but been unable to really use well. My husband has pushed back more on our schedule in this season, and while I was honestly angry in the moments, he has helped me to refine my priorities, our family boundaries, and really wait for God’s best, not just what I could slap together.
My point? We all want the new life, but very few of us are willing to endure the washing process.
This verse was a wonderful comfort to me, reminding me that I am being renewed, but that must come through washing, cleansing, and regeneration first.
I have been covered in dust from my journey. At points, the cake on my eyes has caused me to stumble and stagger forward. Its darkest parts finding its way into the depths of my throat choking both my air and suffocating my voice.
But in the light of the cross, fresh from the glow of Resurrection Sunday, I am reminded of the seated place of our Savior, on the night He was betrayed, gently washing the grimy, stinky feet of His followers. He renewed them.
I am reminded of the story of Esther and not the part we all rejoice in. Not how she was chosen, or how she saved her people, but in how she was thrust into a competition she didn’t ask for but won because of her submitting to her renewal process. She endured over a year of beauty treatments, which certainly sounds luxurious, but lacks the understanding of her being stripped away from the only family she had, after losing the one she was born. It’s turning a blind eye to the fact that she was to be offered to a King, who might only want her in his harem leaving her with the slightest chance of a husband. In short, she was stuck preparing for a man for a year with the risk of ending up with a permanent side chick status.
Yet, she endured, and listened, and learned. Under the leading of wise people placed around her and the gracious leading of God, she became the chosen one.
We rejoice that she was chosen because we can see the whole story. But in the middle, I have no doubt the process brought its challenges and concerns. Friends, this process has existed for ages and we are not alone. Steven Furtick summed this up best for me.
“We can only call it Good Friday because we see it from Sunday.”
Sunday is coming friends.The washing may not feel as jarring as the events, but just like physical therapy is paramount post surgery, so is this process.
It’s a time of settling, securing, and seasoning our character for the life that is yet to be lived ahead.
Washing requires exposure, a vulnerability and “nakedness” that is just as uncomfortable and make this season sometimes very hard to delineate from the difficulties of seasons past.
So what do we do dear friends?
We submit. We trust that the same God who started this process will bring it to completion (scripture) and that it will result in something great that He had planned for us long ago (scripture) when He knit us together.
We trust. We trust that the friendships, situations, and seasons of this time in our lives are indeed working together for our good even when we don’t understand how.
And we pray. We pray that God would send the right people to walk through with us, the right encouragement for the really raw moments, and protect us in this very vulnerable state.
After all, renewing does not simply mean to make something new again. The definition of renewing is to resume an activity after the interruption. Am I ready to begin again, fresh and free? It also means to reestablish. Hear (or read) to lay down new roots, and sure up the old ones. It means to reaffirm and reassert. I don’t know about you, but I could use some reaffirmation of who I am and whose I am in light of all I have endured.
I need more than something brand spanking new. I need to see the beauty that has been formed in my fire – the success secured in my scars.
So, I trust God in this season to remind me of who I am. To tell me of the greatness He has placed in me, and to build.
But that process is two-fold sometimes, both breaking and then refining. So, right now, I am very transparently allowing God to nail down some broken stuff and smooth up the edges of my soul to make me into a better version of myself, more like His original design.
Because today, however hard, or uncomfortable, or annoying, I know two things- He does really love me, and I am and will be okay.