I keep being reminded of my grandmother and my ancestors. I keep being reminded that I am only where I am in life because of their sacrifices for me. I met a woman named Anna today who reminded me of that. I do taxes seasonally and the tax company I work for does mostly lower income tax filers’ returns. This particular woman I met today was a stripper. But she did not want to be called a stripper. Even when I used the term “exotic dancer” she did not embrace it. Instead, she described herself as “entertainer”. There was a dignity there that kept her from even wanting to be associated with the word “stripper”.
I wondered what separated myself from Anna. We are the same age. We live in the same city. I look back on my journey and see how the Spirit disrupted my life. He said “not you”, and gave me living water. Similar to the woman at the well. I was one of those “well women”. I may not have had experiences as devastating as some, but there was potential there. Yet Christ gave me living water. And I drank and drank and drank. There were times I did not want to drink, but then He fed me with manna.
I pray He feeds Anna with manna.
“Come to Me Anna and I will give you living water. I will show you many things.” That is what Christ says to each of us. That is what He says to the lost and the broken and the hopeless.
He is hope. He is life. He is wholeness.
He makes us a new creature and gives us 2nd chances at life. And 3rds. And 4ths…
Jesus caught me young. I happened to be born into a family who knew Him and therefore I had a foundation to go to when darkness surrounded me. But there are those who do not have that foundation. And they are waiting for you to bring them the light.
To bring them the manna.
2013 was a rough year. For the 2nd time in my life my world was turned upside down and the thing about it was it had nothing to do with me. But I felt like it did. Because I had unhealed wounds. I thought I had healed. I even was in the process of writing a book about it at that time. But there are so many layers to the human heart and anyone who thinks they have “arrived” has to think again.I was out for a run and in my mind I was thinking about current events and I was pointing the finger. I was blaming and casting judgement and not being a friend. I was being a Pharisee. And God in His grace showed me that the very one I was judging had in the past responded to my sin in love. How could I not do the same? But I did not know love then. I only knew pain and I had let my pain respond instead of love. It was during that run that He challenged me to look inward. I did not want to. I was afraid and knew I would see something ugly. But I did it anyway b/c He asked me to. Because who can say “no” to Jesus? That decision was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. It was making that decision and so many thereafter that set me on a path of wholeness. Up until then I had known His salvation and I had even known His healing but I did not yet know that even with His salvation and healing I was still a very broken person.
After that run I had many other runs and so many of them felt hard. I was running but I was empty and I could not run away from my emptiness. Instead of choosing to numb my emptiness with alcohol, attempt to fill it with food or another unhealthy, toxic relationship, I went cold turkey. I let it burn. I had no idea if the emptiness would ever end but one day I cried out to God in the midst of it all. And I realized He is what I need. I had been looking to others to fill me and meet my needs, but He was the only One who could.
I spoke with her recently and she said that every day she is learning to love herself. I am too. We realize now what we did not know so long ago, that we are broken. That knowing Christ was not a quick fix to life’s problems. It did not exempt us from the need to heal and get healthy and be whole. But it did promise us that eventually we would get there.
I function now differently these days. I have carved out a life for myself. I do not put people in that place in my heart. Again, I have not arrived but I am better than before.
Each day I learn wholeness.
I learn that my Maker is my Husband and He is for me no matter what I think or believe. I learn how to receive and give love. This will probably be a lifelong lesson, but I am so grateful He helped me to choose the more narrow way. I am so grateful that even though it has been so painful and humbling to face my brokenness, I chose not to self-medicate. I chose not to hide like Adam in the garden. But instead I turned to look inward and see what God was pointing at.
And I have never been so grateful that I did.