Season of Renewal

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

Three years ago, today, my whole world shifted. Everything I thought I knew was turned upside down in a single instant – in a single paragraph of knowledge, something I could never unsee or unlearn. Reality as I knew it would never be the same. A wound so deep my foundations would crumble.

What followed would be the darkest, most chaotic, most lonely, most volatile years of my life. I was angry. I felt like I was bleeding internally with nothing to cauterize the wound. I couldn’t run from the people who had wounded me. I couldn’t run from the wound. I was in constant suffering and distress.

I tried rebuilding my foundations in an unfamiliar environment, with new people and new work – I was focused on that for a time and I thought it was slowly helping… I was using different types of relationships and experiences in my anger to try to fill a crack that was too deep in my foundation. It wasn’t healthy. It wasn’t healing. The wound was still bleeding, and worse, it was getting infected.

My anger turned to bitterness and I was well on my way to a hardened heart because I was in no way soaking in the grace or healing of my God, my Savior, my Comforter. In my running and rebuilding, I took things into my own hands and turned my face away from my King.

Eventually I found some healthy relationships, some soothing friendships and people came into my life who gave me a place of belonging – instead of trying to distract myself, I felt that part of me could focus on healing. Yet in that process I was still looking away from my King, after all, in anger I thought, “He doesn’t have my best interest at heart anyway, He’s betrayed me and lied to me all this time.”

He took some of those healthy relationships away from me… December 2017, one was put into an early forced retirement and moved away… April 2018, one retired legitimately and I couldn’t see him daily anymore… August 2018, my supervisor, mentor, and friend had her position dissolved and was forced to find another one and moved away.

The foundation I had built had work at its center, and these relationships were work colleagues who became more than colleagues – they were all my friends and mentors and a core group who provided comfort, support, and belonging that I thought was helping me heal. It was all suddenly gone! And the infected bleeding wound I had distracted myself from, suddenly came right back up to the surface. I was more volatile than ever. Every little pain hit harder and harder.

So I asked my new boss for an extended leave of absence. After four and a half months of incredible chaos both at work and in the deepest parts of my soul, I finally got it… and the leave of absence just so happened to be for the month of January.

Just coincidence? Probably not…

I started calling it a “sabbatical.” It wasn’t just time to be away from work, I desperately knew I needed healing, rest, and to reconnect with God. It started on January 5th and will end on February 4th. So I’m right in the middle of it. And although January 19th is my least favorite day of the year, today feels different than the previous three January 19ths.

See, instead of running from and covering up my wound, I’ve stopped running and turned to the Great Physician and Healer again. He’s been opening it up to clean it. There’s a lot of infection in there, as well as scar tissue that has to be scraped and massaged, adhesions, inflammation, and it’s still bleeding. Yet it has to be opened to be cleaned and cauterized properly. It’s painful, but this “surgery” provides hope for renewal.

As painful as it is to reopen a wound, and a long-standing deep one such as this one, I know it’s what I need and the Lord is being good to me. He’s been with me through all of these years and the years prior to the wounding, I just didn’t turn to Him.

On January 7th, I went on a personal retreat to an abbey. The space provided was quiet, Christ-focused, and surrounded by nature. I had three whole days there to be unplugged and rest. I slept a lot, but I also read a lot (which I don’t ever do). I walked a labyrinth, I prayed, I let go, I forgave, I broke down, I worshiped God, I started to heal – I started to be and feel renewed.

So the theme that arose with the first leg of my sabbatical journey was the verse that I opened this post with – to ‘be still and know that He is God.’ And dwelling and meditating on this verse and who He is, rather than the loss of who I was or am, has brought forth more healing than I imagined possible.

His healing surgical tools have been solitude with Him, scripture, His discipline, His mercy and grace, His forgiveness, His death and resurrection. For the first time in many years, I am feeling peace and hope. I know that it is only because of Him, and not something I’ve conjured up on my own. This month has begun my season of renewal – thank you, God!

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
– Psalm 46:1-7

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