2016: Growth in Being Uncomfortable

John 12:24: "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives."

It’s amazing how much life can change in a year. I heard or read "A lot can happen in a year" 3 separate times in one day last year (and just saw it again today ironically enough) and I pondered what God was saying to me. In this year of being uncomfortable (My One Word for this year was "uncomfortable"), life as I knew it changed in every way imaginable. So I have to thank God for getting me through it, especially for those He sent to go along the journey with me. In short I found out I was pregnant, went back to law school with a full scholarship while working full time, and best of all, I gave birth to my angel, my prince! I never thought I could love someone else so much…I tear up thinking about him!

But I experienced so much loss, so much death to change and grow into who I am now. I lost friendships, I saw people for who they are, and some of my dreams died. I cried so much at the hurt I felt, like there were points this year that I cried multiple times a day and I begged God and my baby to forgive me for it. I pleaded with God to understand why things happened the way they did. The events of this year forced me to take a hard look at who I was portraying myself to be, who God called me to be, who I actually was and see whether those pictures matched and make changes if they did not. I faced and owned my sins, questioned my core beliefs, and allowed God to repair the schisms that came to exist over the years.

Let’s be honest. I am not married. I wasn’t married to my son’s father and he and I are not together. I sinned. Yes I was praying for deliverance from this and trusting God for my way of escape, but I was sinning nonetheless. God used my learning of my pregnancy to give me that escape I sought and much more. Over these last nine months I truly saw me and how I saw myself change. I had to make a choice about the direction I was going in, what I wanted out of life and where I saw myself going. For once I chose me by saying no to everyone else and everything that was not benefiting me and in choosing me/saying no, I chose my son. His growing inside me helped me to heal and purge in so many ways. I prayed to change. I had to deal with my wounds once and for all and put to bed the lies I believed so that I could cultivate an environment of love and nurturing that will allow my son to ultimately become the mighty man God desires him to be. Like the verse above, I was a seed and parts of me had to die so that new kernels — new life, in particular my son and the new me — could come from it.

I learned to view sin differently. In most churches, we are taught to cast sin down and condemn those that engage in it as long as their sin can be easily seen or known. This type of thought teaches us to look for the sin in others instead of seeing the person and thus loving them with the love of God. What God taught me is that everything, even sin, has use and can be used by Him. In taking me to the story of Samson, I learned how Samson’s sin and proclivities allowed God to use his life to kill off many of the Philistines. However, Samson’s sin was not without great loss — his eyesight and strength, and then ultimately his life. This doesn’t excuse my sin of fornication, rather it helped me understand that I could not overcome it in my own strength and in my turning it, and everything, over to God, He could bless the outcome — the birth of my child and his life. The losses and casualties I experienced were unhealthy relationships and dreams that I had allowed to become idols in my life.

As a result I became fiercely protective, private and even more discerning so that I would not allow the judgment of others cause me to condemn the blessing God gave me in spite of my sin. Every voice could not be listened to, every “word” given could not be received, and I had to see what God wanted me to see despite the surface presentation. For example, a person coming with a “word” from God could claim to be doing so with the intention of condemning me — something that God has not done, and had I not been vigilant, I would allow that condemnation to fall on me and push me away from God.

What I’ve learned in protecting my pregnancy and my child is that we are all multifaceted creatures, hiding behind things to disguise the real us. It’s easy to call out other people’s mess; it’s really uncomfortable to look in the mirror and see your own, let alone discuss it publicly. It’s uncomfortable to be authentic and transparent because of the vulnerability it implies. It is uncomfortable to acknowledge we sin or what our particular sin may be. It is uncomfortable to pull scabs off old, infected wounds. We as a whole despise the judgment and the criticality of others and if we live in what we deem to be righteous ways, we pour out that judgment on others with abundance. We seek out and use whatever we can find as our bandage or the mask we hide behind. If we are religious, we start or continue Bible thumping. If we are under the pull of the ways of the world, we beg to not be judged. In my “absence”, I noticed that people crave acceptance and often do whatever to get that acceptance, including missing out on what life can be if we step away from the status quo and obey God. I realized comfort and complacency cause people to stick others in categories and it’s much easier to magnify the dirt of others than acknowledge how we allow our labels to make us feel elite or worse yet that we have a need for God.

Throughout this time, God stripped me and put me in a place to see what I was doing, the things I hid behind. I became more observant and sat back as God denied me the right to defend myself and instead taught me to allow Him to do the work — the defending, protecting, and covering. He taught me to rest in knowing that He allowed my pregnancy and the surrounding circumstances to create a unique and distinct opportunity for Him to be glorified in my life by showing me I could not make it to the other side without Him. In not defending myself, God taught me to rely on Him and that I no longer needed to assume that role. He guarded me and covered me.

So it is in the days since my love bug was born that I’ve realized an answer to a question I asked God back in 2006. I asked God why was I alive, and what was my purpose. At the time, I was in the hospital to have a kidney biopsy to determine what was wrong with me. Over all the years of things — molestation and other childhood difficulties, kidney failure and transplant, multiple relationship failures (relationships of all kinds), lost friendships, other diagnoses of illnesses — I intensively questioned my purpose and the things I believed God called me to do. All of the failed plans that I thought He ordained — I see now that in those failures He still blessed me. This year He was calling me to a deeper level of faith and trust, because if He could use the mess that I had made of my life, if He could fix it and make it work, that it would prove to me His love, faithfulness and willingness to demonstrate His love and ability to be the same God that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worshipped and had relationships with (although He doesn’t have to prove anything). I was born to live my life the way it has gone, to get to this point and realize that I cannot live life without God steering and directing me. I cannot live this life without trusting God to protect and provide for my child and I. These things are the very essence of surrender and submitting to God, to living life for Him. I lost control in a very painful way only to give it back to God.

As a result of all of this, I have a different view of God (can’t you tell?!) and a different perspective of the things that happen in our lives. I learned that it is pointless to be offended by things or have a spirit of offense towards people (often times people who themselves have been hurt) and allow your life to come to a standstill. I learned it is better to be silent than preach at people, to instead pray for them and allow God’s perfect work to manifest. Life has an uncanny way of teaching us the lessons we don’t want to learn. In being uncomfortable this year I experienced things I cared less to go through. But I learned that I am not alone, that when everyone steps away, God is still there. He alone heard all my prayers and cries, saw my tears, and gave me the strength to keep pushing another day. As each month of my pregnancy passed, my faith was stretched and I was pushed to a new level of faith in God. Now that my child is here, I know that life still has much in store for me, for us and that I have much to learn. I still don’t have it all figured out; I cannot tell you what tomorrow holds. But I know that God has me and my baby despite the uncomfortable situations that may come!

If you’ve gotten to this point, I challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone and trust God in the midst of your situation. Allow God to transform how you see yourself, how you see life, even your interpretation of the word of God. Ask God to grow you, stretch you, remove the blinders, show you yourself so that He can get the greatest use and glory from your life. Your story may not be like mine but I know that God is not a respecter of persons, so just as God was with me He is waiting to be there for you, if you will let Him. Don’t look at death and just think of it in the physical sense. Look at death as surrender and submission, see it as an opportunity for God to produce a harvest from your life in the way He wants it. I’ll be honest, being uncomfortable is as the word means. It will not feel good. It means you may hurt, you may cry, you may feel lonely, whatever your "uncomfortable" may be. It is fair game for you to experience that thing that will make you uncomfortable so that you can grow.

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