Clayheart

Outpourings from an imperfect but redeemed & treasured heart of clay.

Category: Personal (page 1 of 51)

Seasons of Sorrow

I used to write on a weekly, if not daily, basis. It was not only my creative outlet, but my safe place to express all that was within me – good, bad, and ugly. Selfish, sinful, triumphant, and praise-worthy.

However, over the past few years, my writing slowly faded away until I completely stopped. I didn’t like how or what I was writing, but really I stopped because I mostly didn’t like the reminders. I didn’t want to let things out on paper – because I felt like that made painful experiences became more real somehow.

I succumbed to my seasons of sorrow. I let them overtake me without a fight.

Since I wasn’t writing and because I was angry with God, I turned to other methods of coping with my pain and sorrow – including alcohol and boys. Yet I’ve still been left with the deepest emptiness I have ever felt.

I’m still unsure of how to cope with the wounds and hurts of these seasons, but maybe with time and learning to seek the Lord again, I will receive the healing I need to move forward. And I may start writing and sharing again too.

I’m sure I’ve learned a lot from these seasons, but rather than try to decipher what I’ve learned – I’m going to focus on Him again as I walk out of this dry and bitter time.

My soul is weary with sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word. – Psalm 119:28

Rocks Will Cry Out

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” – Isaiah 55:12

I went for a hike this evening after work. It’s been a very stressful couple of days and I was trying to figure out some healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with the work-related environmental stress.

See, where I work is also where I currently live. Although I’m making a lateral move in the organization, receiving the same pay and still considered an intern, they are requiring me to move to a horrible dorm/community style staff building instead of remaining in the private apartment space I’ve been living in for the past 9 months. It’s unsettling, and it also isn’t fair.

I’ve felt very wronged by the upper management of the organization. I’ve tried to have meetings, but my voice hasn’t been heard here for quite some time. I’m moving into a department that does hear my voice though. This department is the heart behind the organization, the “mission” side of things that works directly with people, so all my supervisors and co-workers in that department are “people” people and relational focused… not business/operation focused.

It’s hard not to get offended or upset when my living space that I thought I’d be in for 2 years is being prematurely ripped out from under me, right in the middle of the transition to a new department. It makes me question whether the organization I’m working for is worth working in when they treat me and other staff in this manner. I’ve taken it personally to be sure and been very offended on a number of levels for a number of different things.

Therefore, when I received the news two days ago that I have to move sooner than expected (and mind you, this living situation has not been discussed with me since December),  within 2 weeks, I was thrown into chaos. I couldn’t sleep and was stressed to my max. I have to balance this while working my full time hours and still working partially in one of my initial departments till they get my replacement in. I was fighting mad yesterday. I texted some friends to pray for me hard because I was so confused, hurt, and offended.

He answered their prayers because I have felt more at-peace today… which is very rare lately because my job has been stress after stress with no work/life balance, being mistreated left and right and neglected, so I’ve allowed my environment and the organization to slowly crush my spirit. It’s been difficult to keep looking up when all of that keeps happening around me.

On my hike this evening, something broke… I was thinking about my situation and trying to come up with a solution. Then I just stopped and surrendered. This was all while I was listening to worship music. I was gradually overcome with peace and joy for no seemingly “obvious” reason. My situation hasn’t changed, but my attitude and my heart was altered by God as I let go and stepped out of the way.

I just started clapping and singing. Mind you, I have headphones in too, so I couldn’t hear how I sounded, but I didn’t care. I stopped by a stream and a little waterfall to take in and overflow with the worship song I was listening to… then I was hit with something beautiful… I was surrounded by rocks…

There were so many! And God recalled a verse to my spirit.

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” – Luke 19:40

I was struck with an overwhelming sense to sing louder. I haven’t praised the Lord in so long, and it felt like He was reminding me how much the stones had been praising Him because I had forgotten or neglected to. It was a healthy competition then, I didn’t want them to cry out louder than me! Yet it was as if I was also singing in unison with the stones… so I praised my heart and lungs out! At one point I just started dancing on the trail as I sang.

I learned many different lessons today and there are tons of take-aways from this. But the main thing I wanted to focus on is this… if we don’t praise Him, something will. Then in the end we will be devastated if it isn’t us. So no matter your circumstance, praise His name – He alone is worthy.

Its easier said than done, I know. I have been through the worst year of my life and had distanced myself from God and everyone else. I was reminded today, in the cold woods, that regardless of what I’m going through, I do still have a choice to praise Him or not.

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” – Revelation 5:13

Brokenness

There’s a common theme in my walk these days, and it’s finally coming to my awareness. I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s beginning to hit me deeper just how important and necessary it is.

Brokenness.

In my Streams in the Desert devotional this morning, the following sentence hit me like a thousand light bulbs:

The best things in life are the result of being wounded.

It was interesting to read that, and I don’t think I would have even accepted that statement two weeks ago. Additionally, before that opening sentence in the devotional passage, a portion of Acts 14:22 was referenced. It said “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.

That part of the verse is actually a direct quote from what Paul and Barnabas were saying to encourage and strengthen other disciples to remain true to the faith. I’m sure I’ve read that verse before, but in this time it was exactly what I needed to read.

I’ve been on a journey toward healing for the past several months. I’ve been very intentional with seeking help this time. I reached a point where I actually needed to seek counseling. Before going to counseling, I was actually mentally dissociating to cope, disconnecting from everything and everyone around me, and trying to construct a different reality in my mind to distract from the pain. When I realized this, I knew I needed outside assistance. So I now attend sessions twice a month.  Counseling was something I never imagined would be helpful, but it is actually liberating to talk to a stranger who has no connection with the other people in my life and will not be affected by what I share. I can glean unbiased feedback and similarly to my times with Jesus, it is a safe place to express my pain, struggles, and brokenness.

I actually used to believe that counseling was unnecessary, that I should only talk with Jesus and confide everything in Him – working through life and struggles solely from our direct relationship. But when I realized my relationship with Him was actually adversely affected by the wounds I experienced due to mental associations surrounding particular events, I sought assistance from a total stranger, a counselor who also believes in Jesus. The fellowship I have in the conversations with my counselor are wildly different from friends or other believers, but it is often-times much more encouraging. I am pointed back to the Cross during each session and slowly my relationship with Jesus is being mended in my own heart and spirit. I also have stopped dissociating.

I have wept and cried at every meeting as I’ve regurgitated scarred and calloused wounds from my youth, as well as the more recent gushing lacerations and bruises I sustained in the past couple of years. Some expression felt like my heart was being torn to shreds or sliced in pieces by a scalpel, others felt like I was internally bleeding, and even the scar tissue that was being re-examined and torn open again was basically like superficial nerve damage. So I couldn’t feel until it went deeper and got to the muscle and viscera tissue. It’s easier for me to describe the emotional and mental pain in physical metaphors, so I apologize for the dramatic and graphic imagery.

I am not afraid of my brokenness. It keeps me humble and grounded in the truth/reality that I am in desperate need of a Savior, and I cannot bring my own healing or do this “life” on my own. The issue is that I sometimes tend to wallow in brokenness or dwell on it, forgetting the other half of the story – the BEST THINGS in life. Streams in the Desert noted that incense must be burned by fire before its fragrance is set free and that the earth must be broken with a sharp plow before being ready to receive the seed.

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. – Psalm 51:17

It’s amazing to remember that there is beauty from the ashes, and God uses pain to make things beautiful. I hope that I continue to remember this as I walk forward, not wallow in the brokenness, but find joy in the healing… that the fragrance set free from this time is a beautiful display of the truth of God’s character and image in me, so others can see His glory and mercy. I’m ready to receive the seeds of His goodness.

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