Beauty in Brokenness

Struggle seemed to have captured me the minute I asked to go deeper in Christ. My romantic relationship with the perfect match (on paper) ended suddenly, my lucrative job fell through, and God began to show me parts of myself that were not so great. Before I knew it, depression enveloped me.

Months went by and the only thing that seemed to greet me were closed doors. Opportunities would present themselves, opportunities I knew I was qualified for, sometimes overqualified for, but I received rejection after rejection. Even the things I usually used to comfort myself, fell through, over and over again.

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.

1 Peter 4:12( NLT)

Then a morsel of respite presented itself in the form of a job. The job required a huge salary cut and no benefits, but it was job that would allow me to work in the house of the Lord. Though I could hardly live off of the money I made, I was convinced that this difficult season in my life would finally come to a close. God had heard my prayers

Those who plant in tears will harvest in shouts of joy.

Psalms 126: 5 NLT

Months later I was laid off without notice. The salary I could hardly get by with vanished and I felt I had hit rock bottom. I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of shame. I had never been laid off before, and even though they informed me it had nothing to do with performance and everything to do with lack of funds, their explanation did not seem to add up. I had such a horrible experience working there that I felt it was personal and extremely callous.

Shame ballooned into a deep sadness. I had never been without a job and I used to take pride in that. My family and friends lived so far from me and several of the people I felt closest to in Texas, suddenly became too busy for me. I felt that I had made a huge mistake trying to follow God’s instructions, and slowly my heart began to harden against Him. I was broke, felt purposeless, and wasn’t sure why I was needed at all in this world.

But in that dark and empty place, I learned to be vulnerable, something that I have struggled with my entire life. I learned that I needed people. Because I lacked, I was forced to ask for help, and though I felt embarrassed, I recognized that I couldn’t survive without help. This need to depend on others, broke me.

In my brokenness all of my flaws surfaced. I discovered I struggled with pride, un-forgiveness, stubbornness and a lack of self-discipline and this shocked me.

I realized that my pride obstructed me from being vulnerable, from asking for help, and making connections with people. My lack of self-discipline impeded my ability to fast and be more prayerful. Even though I was still in a place of blaming my issues on the Lord, who truly only has plans to prosper me, I knew that in order to climb out of despair, I had to trust and depend on Him.

My stubbornness transformed me into a bad listener. I was (and I am still working on this) someone who interrupted a lot, did not take advice much, and was skeptical of other people’s opinions. Though I believe my somewhat defiant personality can be a strength in that I tend to forge my own path, it’s also a weakness that has hampered me from being more successful and listening to good advice.

Lastly, after my somewhat traumatic experience at my last job, un-forgiveness pooled inside of me. I am usually able to forgive quickly because I give many people the benefit of the doubt. But I felt burned, humiliated, and let down by people who were supposed to mentor me, build me up and support me, for they are my family in Christ.

It took me a long time to realize that I was struggling to forgive them because I felt justified in my un-forgiveness. Not only were they wrong but I protected them, and continue to, by never fully disclosing what I felt I was forced to endure. But God revealed to me, after I fasted and prayed, that my heart could not thaw unless I forgave, and that I should be even more forgiving of my family in Christ. Christ forgave me and endured the cross to save us all, even though we did not deserve it. So who am I to not forgive people who probably do not understand the pain they have caused me?

In this season of brokenness, I discovered beauty and rest. I learned to be content, even though this season isn’t over just yet. My circumstances may not be awesome but I serve a God that is awesome.

I have learned to improve myself, and even though it’s been incredibly difficult, it stretched me and pushed me to a place I would have never discovered. I learned the beauty in forgiveness and the beauty in recognizing my flaws and boasting about them because the power of Christ works through my weaknesses.

And those friends who abandoned me? I have forgiven them but also recognize that fair-weather friends aren’t friends at all. So I thank God for revealing them to me.

What has God revealed to you during your most difficult times?

Shiny Objects: Dead Ends

After I surrendered myself fully to Christ, I imagined living the “Christian Curated” life. A life where, through prayer and supplication, I’d meet my wholesome husband instantly, land a perfect job where I could easily and safely spread the Word, sell some Christian merchandise on a perfectly curated website, and most importantly, take amazing photos with great lighting to add to my flawless social media feed.

I imagined living the life I described in my first post.

Unfortunately, on the journey to an impeccable Instagram page, I ran into obstacles. Many that I am realizing now, I created myself.

As I went deeper into my relationship with God, I began to hear from Him. Though, I didn’t immediately obey Him. I began to understand how I live a life of fear instead of one of faith. I would hear from the Lord and feel so grateful that He responded to my prayers and sometimes cries, but then become anxious, and convince myself that I knew what was best for me and my life.

Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

James 4: 17 (NLT)

I began to live in a toxic cycle of praying to the Lord, asking to go deeper in my faith, to hear from Him, to live for Him, then hearing his response and turning away from it. I allowed fear to eat at me, to control me, and instead of obeying, I turned to my creature comforts. Instead of seeking Christ wholly, I sought comfort, things I imagined could quickly fill voids, quiet my fears and hopefully strengthen me.

Relationships were my go-to. Men, really. I felt dating was a strength of mine I never really had to sharpen. I found myself in relationships, I never sought them. I found myself on dates, never asking for them. I wholeheartedly allowed men, some who didn’t identify with Christ, pull me away from what God asked me to do, time and time again. I realize now that even though I did not consciously seek their company, subconsciously I welcomed it. They were void-fillers. I convinced myself that they could sate the void that only God could fill. Some of them were even brilliant, hardworking, handsome, strong, and shiny, like a gift. But they could never replace my need for God. Despite their attractiveness and potential, I would eventually find myself unhappy and ready to abandon ship.

Though I realized this about a year ago, my anxieties and fears did not disappear overnight. I continued to get closer to God, now allowing myself to obey Him, but with trepidation. And during those times of inviting fear into my life, a shiny object would appear in my line of vision. And unfortunately, I’d allow myself to be distracted, over and over again until my disobedience caught up to me.

God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.

Colossians 1:13-14 (MSG)

God rescued me from the sin I was doomed to keep repeating, disobedience that leads to more sin because sin begets more sin. It pulls you further and further away from Christ and leaves you at a dead end.

It took finding myself in a dark place, at rock bottom, in a place I never expected to live in, a place I was too ashamed to share with anyone, to wake me up from disobedience. God allowed me to see the light in a place of darkness, and desire to live in His light.

Though the consequences of my disobedience haven’t completely vanished, I am happy to have learned a great lesson, to let go of the thoughts that try to control me. The thoughts that aren’t from Christ. I learned to obey. I learned what I allowed to distract me and why.

I have also learned to cut off the things that pull me away from God. I have decided to do a dating fast. I have realized that I am not strong enough yet to date the way that God wants me to, so I won’t until He decides I am ready.

What are you deciding to cut off today? What distracts you and pulls you away from His love and grace and light?