By His Grace…

Peace

I’ve been feeling that writing ‘feeling’ all day today.  It’s that feeling you know you can’t let pass. So here I am.

I took the day off today unexpectedly.  It’s been a wonderful month. It’s March! My birthday month.  It’s also the 3rd month in my new role as a Treatment Admissions Manager.  The honey moon phase is pretty much over and I’m settling in nicely.

The other day during a team meeting one of my awesome employees asked, “April. Maybe you don’t have the answer to this.  But how do I do this job and have a life outside of here?”

She was right.

I didn’t have the answer.

After 3 months of working endlessly, I was still trying to find the answer myself.

As I sat at the end of the conference room table I looked out at the faces of the heroes sitting with me and asked for their advice.

None of them had an answer and yet none of them were complaining.

Ultimately we all left the meeting with an understanding that you just have to know when to draw your line.  You have to know how to set healthy boundaries.  You have to know when to look over at your teammate and say, “Help! I’m drowning.”

So after an extremely hard and wonderful month of helping save people’s lives from the disease of addiction – I took a day off.  It was completely spontaneous.  Unplanned. I just knew it was time to draw that line for 24 hours.

My daughter has been on Spring Break all week and as I left the office late Wednesday evening I felt such a sadness in my heart. I missed her and wanted one on one, uninterrupted time with her.  So I immediately requested a day off.

Today we had a beautiful time together.  We spent the day in Nashville and submerged ourselves in every moment.

I am so grateful for the sweet time I got to spend with my 9 year old baby girl today.  It was much needed and did this mama heart some good.

As we were driving back from Nashville this afternoon, Trinity was quiet in the back seat. We rode in silence.  I looked at her precious 9 year old face in the rearview mirror. She was looking out the window.

As I looked at her I giggled to myself and thought about the fact that no matter how hard I try to get this right with her, I’ll still mess it up. She’s still going to be broken.  She’s still going to figure things out on her own.  I’ll leave her love tank empty at times. My words will  (and have) wound her.

God has already given me great peace in knowing that no matter how hard I try to do this parenting thing right – I’ll still fail.  And that’s okay.  Damn it, I’ll give it my ALL though!

I have great peace because I know that God loves her more than I ever could – which is hard to imagine – and he’ll clean up behind me.

I’m a living testament of his faithfulness when parents lack.  So I have peace.

I’m sitting here tonight with incredible peace in my life, period. It was of no doing of my own.  I paused for a moment to reflect on how I felt to write the next line and tears built up in my eyes because I have nothing but gratitude for the messy and broken parts of my story.

He uses it all, you guys.  There is no part of your story God cannot and will not use.  We just have to stop resisting the pain.  We have to stop resisting the discomfort of life and learn to embrace it … all of it.  I believe with all my heart that Jesus came to give us abundant life – on this side of eternity.

This is why I had a melt down last fall.  I was sitting on my balcony, staring out into the night sky, pissed off at the world and thought, “THIS is not freedom. THIS is not abundant life.  THIS is not what You died for, Jesus.”  Then I spent the next 3 months discovering true freedom through Christ that changed my entire being. (You can read some of that story here and here and here.)

Jesus didn’t come to give you a boring, worrisome, tiring, bitter life.  He came to give you a life of freedom and abundance in the midst of this messed up hell-hole world we live in! He came to show you secrets that pour out of his nature.  He came to lavish you in love that can’t be contained …so you pour it out on others because it’s so rich and merciful and too good not to give away!   He came to give you joy in the middle of deep sorrow.  He came to give you hope in the midst of what seems like hopeless situations.  He came to give you great courage when your knees are shaking and fear feels big.

And He’s still here.

We’re missing Him moment by moment. Day by day. Completely missing Him.

Being so wrapped up in the troubles of the world.  Silly and petty stuff that means nothing.

You’re caught in hating your job but then you get a new job and you wind up hating that job too.  Complaining. Being a gossip.  You hate your boss’ decisions and think you have better answers to all the company’s problems.

You’re angry at your spouse. They’re never good enough or do enough.  You’re constantly picking out the negatives about them instead of speaking life into them and praising them for all they are and all they do.

You’re upset about never having enough money when in fact you’re just not budgeting and managing your money properly.

You complain about your health but do nothing to enhance your health.

Distracted, busy, down and out.  Completely missing God in what you think is just another mundane day.

He’s there, y’all. He never left. He never leaves.

Last year I left the ministry role of ‘teacher’.  I don’t write this to teach or preach. I write this to tell you what I know to be true.  I write this because I was once damaged goods until Jesus picked me up and said, “No. You’re just good.”

You are not damaged goods.  You are just good.  You were made by the Creator and He says you’re good.  All that He has made is good.

The broken and messy segments of our lives are not who we are.  Those are just fragmented pieces that allow God’s glory to shine through us.  Trust me, you don’t want to NOT have those pieces.  I know that sounds crazy … but I’m just being real.  Those very shreds of your life create the breeding ground for miracles that only God can perform.

If you are consumed in shame and guilt tonight you need to know that you are deeply loved.  Yes.  Even if you did that thing (whatever that thing is).  There may be real consequences and there may be real pain associated with whatever that thing is … but that never takes away from the fact that you are deeply loved.

If you are overwhelmed with your past tonight.  You can be free from it.  God is wondering why you’re still holding on to it and allowing it to steal your abundant life from you.  Hand that over to Him tonight.  However you need to do that …  just hand it over and don’t carry that with you anymore.

If you are drowning in anxiety, worry, fear tonight –  you have a control problem.  You want to be in control and know the outcome of everything.  My friend, that is sin.  That sin is killing you.  I know because I still experience some negative affects to my health due to a year of debilitating anxiety and panic attacks from 2011.  It’s 2017!  It was killing me.  My body was in so much turmoil because my brain would not shut off.   That’s not abundant life!  It’s a lie from the Devil.

Your battle is not against anxiety.  Your battle is in your resistance to go to God when anxiety rears its ugly head.

If you are flat out in a place of complete defeat and pain tonight.  Real, deep, pain.  Only you understand it.  It’s that type of pain that knocks the breath out of you.  Where you have no words and even when you try to talk about it – it doesn’t make sense out loud.  If you’re in that place tonight- my heart is with you.  It’s the place where there are no real answers.  Heck, you’re not even sure you’re looking for an answer and you actually get annoyed when people offer an answer.  Answers are stupid at this point.  Do you know that place of pain?  I don’t really have words of comfort for you tonight because I know there are no words of comfort, there is only The Comforter.  He sees you and His heart breaks when your heart breaks.  He is there with you.  He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  He truly does.  I’m sorry you’re going through this.

Ugh. Those seasons suck.  Beauty is birthed from them  but while you’re in the middle of them they just straight up SUCK.

So, all of this rambling to say –

God is good.  Even when we’re not good. He’s good.

There is beauty in the pain of life. Your story is still being written and it’s not over yet.

Look for Jesus among you. Don’t just make Him be at church. Blah. That’s boring.  The Kingdom of God is among us.  Wake up to that!  He’s playing the best ever scavenger hunt game with you but you haven’t showed up!  He’s waiting.

Seek God consistently on how to love and mentor your children but don’t be so hard on yourself when you totally screw them up! 😉

Know when to draw hard lines and set boundaries to take care of yourself and be present in the moment.

If you’re not living an abundant life – you’re choosing to live a life that was never intended for you.

You are so dearly loved.

I can only write all these things by His grace.  He’s a good and faithful Father.

– April

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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