“How am I going to ever go back to the way life used to be?” “When will everything finally feel normal again?” Please tell me I am not the only one who has asked these questions.. because honestly my life has revolved around them for the past 3 years. And honestly, there aren’t answers to those questions. They are real fears, and when you let them into your heart and mind, they sound like the song of 1000 giants. Thankfully, it’s not about ‘going back’ or ‘feeling normal’ at all – it’s about moving forward.
My questions have changed to ‘How do I move forward?’ and ‘How will I create a new normal?’ Truthfully I don’t know. One day at a time, one prayer at a time, I guess. I have learned a little about letting go of the past, and allowing Jesus to fill me instead of shame. That’s what I’m going to share today.
I’m not going to explain this all to you. But I do want you to know that no matter what shame, hurt, pain, struggles, or sin you are carrying, the cross sings the song that silences the giants and sounds crazy pretty all at the same time. Because we have a saviour, to rescue us from the hurt and guilt and shame, the cross allows us to move forward.
The cross tells us that what is behind us stays in the past. It says “Ab, you can stop trying to go back to normal.” The cross shows me that there is a new, beautiful normal waiting for me to just accept. This process is messy, but worthwhile.
Stop praying to go back to how things were before this all began. Stop begging God to let your normal be your reality once again. And heres why: Our God restores and He does restoration much better than we do. When we restore something — say a car — we fix it and paint it and clean it. We get it working at the same caliber it was at before it needed fixing. It goes back to the way it was before, but it truly can never be restored back to it’s fullest potential.
I’ve noticed through my life that God doesn’t do restoration like this. He uses your broken, ugly, rusted out, ‘worthless’, pieces to create something new. Your broken pieces are no longer broken therefore you are just new. Completely.
To me, this sounds scary. I have an old friend who used to say that sin isn’t knocking over God’s sandcastles, it’s kicking sand in his face. I get scared to think that in order for God to take my broken pieces, I have to give them to him first. This includes lust, lies, habits, addictions, selfishness, and other sins we don’t like to say out loud. I have to stand in front of him and say “Sorry I thought I was better than you, and that I wanted other things more than you.” How do you honestly confess to the creator of the universe that you kicked sand in his face?
Pursuing Christ in the middle of your hurt and shame sucks. I was at a conference a few weeks ago and I verbalized some of this shame and sin to a friend who just held me and prayed with me was there with me while I told God my heart. She said to me “Ab, you don’t have to be afraid. He already knows. He loves you anyway.”
It’s not going to be pretty or cute or Insta worthy or fun and adventurous. It’s going to be an ugly mess that results in utter, unfathomable beauty.
That being said, I feel way too often as though the broken pieces are what forms me. And that those pieces are holding me together and sustaining me but they are so ugly and gross. I feel like that, okay? As dramatic as it sounds. I feel like my hurt and shame are scars that should be hidden and covered up with clothes and masks. Because the fear of what would happen to me if people found out is suffocating.
So I hide behind walls and smile at cameras and I am living with this brokenness. And I in no way, would ever want to glorify this lifestyle. Way too often in our society we hear dumb phrases like “fake it ’til you make it.” Because he created you fearfully and wonderfully, you are not to submit to those words. I know it’s so scary to stand in front of a friend or your mom and admitting to her your shame. Then ultimately, before God and tell him your heart. It might mean consequences, and it might even get messier before you feel clean — but don’t you see? You will be made NEW in the eyes of a God who already holds his love for you.
Because this is pretty much just an explosion of honesty hour, I’m going to tell you some more quick truths not to forget while you’re struggling. I have not nearly walked the entire path of pain thus far, so I need to make a list of reminders for when we have to go through this and we don’t know how.
- You are loved by God. He died on the cross for you, and with his death, he killed all the shame and guilt you have ever carried or will ever feel the need to carry again. Do not underestimate him. He is not a resource, he is a saviour. He will pull you from this, but it’s going to require some serious sacrifice — primarily pride.
- Pink Starbursts — always.
- You are loved by the people God has placed in your life. Friends and family and the people at church and the teachers and coworkers you have good connections with. Those people love you. They are more than happy to answer the phone and listen to your tears and help you walk through this and pray with you. I promise.
- You will breathe again. It feels like you’re carrying the weight of the universe on your shoulders and it feels like no one really notices. But I promise, you don’t NEED to let this hold your heart captive. You do not need to be bound to whatever it is you wish you could go back from. You were made to breathe again, and you will.
- Eat well, please. Take care of yourself. Being in this dark place will hurt and eating food that makes you feel sluggish physically, will in no way benefit your mental illness right now. So lay off on eating TOO many Starbursts and try eating a salad. You’ll thank me in an hour.
- Remember joy. Joy is my middle name, and it’s been something I’ve been trying to live out in my life very intentionally. You do not always FEEL joy. But you can still have it. Paul learned about it while being tortured and beaten and bruised and captured. Paul still knew joy. Remember joy, read lots of Philippians if you need a place to start.
Jesus is waiting for you to ask for forgiveness. He has already dealt with your pain and sin, He just wants you to live like that’s true. I don’t know about you, but I really do struggle to bring my wounds to the cross. It’s ugly and it’s so messy and it’s a lot to carry and it’s heavy and it hurts. Thankfully, the Lord himself said that by His wounds we are healed. He took our brokenness and made us beautiful. He doesn’t hold the sand against you. Stop letting the song of the giants get stuck in your head.
If you grew up around church like I did — you’ve heard this before. I also know that as many times as I’ve heard the story of forgiveness, I didn’t expect it to be as tough to live out as it actually is. It hurts a lot to bring all our crap to the holiness of God. It does. It takes so much courage and bravery… But that’s the beauty of God, He is with you. You don’t need to do anything alone. You just need to show up. He’s with you even then, too. What a God we serve, hey?
This is a beautiful restoration process where He picks you up from the foot of the cross and He just points you toward heaven — forward. You will never go back to the way things used to be, and that might sound sad initially, but He is about to give you a life that flourishes. FLOURISHES. Guys, come on. Do we get this? What he’s about to do in your life, especially considering everything you’ve been through is beautiful. He is making you beautiful. You are beautiful. He has made you beautiful.
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name, and you are mine” ISA 43.1
He is calling you ‘mine’. He does not want you to live bound by the burden of your faults and failures. Start living forgiven, my friend. Leave the past behind and start moving forward.