Journal Entry: November 22nd, 2021.
Today is my birthday.
It’s been two years since my dad lost his job. Two years since my world turned upside-down and my family began the desperate search for a place to live and had no income but EI and the kindness of friends. Two years since that lost seventeen-year-old girl was stripped of every sense of security because a church chose not to act like the body of Christ. That was a birthday I will never forget.
It’s been one year since my break down. One year since I could barely close my eyes because of the fear, barely eat because of the nausea, barely get out of bed because of the exhaustion. One year since a broken eighteen-year-old girl was sure she would have to give up her dreams of university because she couldn’t even sleep in her own room. That was a birthday I had wished I could forget.
Today it’s my birthday again. Today I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and a small smile spreads across my face – because I feel like celebrating. I know that for the rest of my life I won’t be looking back on those two birthdays with anger, despair, or confusion.
Today a tired but hopeful nineteen-year-old girl looks back and sees gardens growing up from death and healing shining from the brokenness.
Every Moment Belongs
If there’s one thing God has taught me in these past two years, it’s that God wastes nothing. Not a tear, not a bad day, nor a single sleepless night. Nothing is wasted. God wastes nothing. Not a tear, not a bad day, nor a single sleepless night. Nothing is wasted. Click To Tweet
God started to reveal that truth to me through Jason Gray’s Every Moment Belongs. The song ends with these words:
“I am who I am today ’cause every trial and triumph that I’ve been through were just the chapters in the story of my rescue. And whether I was brave or afraid Your love was strong. Through every mountain and valley to where I stand, You took each moment and made me just who I am. And from here, I can see You were with me all along. It’s so clear to me now, every moment belongs.”
We aren’t God — we can’t see how it all fits together in the end until we get there. But we can trust that He doesn’t waste a single moment of pain; each of them fits into our story and who God is making us to be.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2)
I’ve been surrounded by turbulent water. I’ve been encompassed by roaring flames. I did not drown. I did not burn. And if you trust in God and choose to redefine your story and your struggles as what will help you grow, you won’t either.
All the pain and struggles bring us down to one choice: to believe the God we believe in. It is in those moments that life forces us to not only trust in His existence, but trust in His promises even through our doubt.
But, if these floods and fires are what help us grow, why might you still feel so small, waterlogged, and scorched?
“Look how far we’ve come. Look where we started from. Best thing about it is you know we’ve only just begun… So, when I’m stuck out in the cold, let me be warm-hearted. When it weighs too much to hold, let me be light-hearted. When all I have is not enough, I won’t be broken hearted. ‘Cause you taught me how to love, to live, to learn to live wholehearted.”
This is part of For King and Country’s song, Wholehearted. Even though when you look back you see there’s still some healing, some forgiving, and some growing that you need to do, you can choose to see the growth that has occurred.Even though when you look back you see there’s still some healing, some forgiving, and some growing that you need to do, you can choose to see the growth that has occurred. Click To Tweet
You can choose to live wholehearted. You can serve unreservedly, you can love unconditionally, and hope unbreakably.
Broken Yet Whole
Today, I’m still broken. There are still things from the past that make me bristle, weep, or tremble. But I see where they belong, and I’m learning to live wholeheartedly. As the birthday wishes pour in today, I see that I am loved. Though my life situation is different, I’m different too. God took each moment and made me who I am today. I’m braver, wiser, and kinder than I was before.
It broke me, but God used it to remake me.
After my dad lost his church and therefore our house, it was amazing to see how some people really cared about us. We joined a church that welcomed and loved us, without expectations. Now I know how it really feels to be part of a church family. And I’m learning that not everyone throws you out because of one mistake or disagreement.
Even though this situation left us in what seemed to be hopeless homelessness, God shone through in incredible ways, and now for the first time my family owns our home.
Even those days last year, when I was absolutely terrified of nothing at all, when going up the stairs left me breathless, and I raided my little sister’s closet looking desperately for clothes that fit, God used them to make me stronger. To teach me to rely more on Him. To increase my compassion for others. To give me a voice.
There are still days I sit on my bed and internally punish myself for still not being able to do something others around me can. On those days I look back to a year ago, where I’ve come from, and celebrate the victories. But I also must remember that God isn’t finished with me yet, and never will be.
A Work in Progress
Paul writes in Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
This is for the one who is still amidst the suffering. God is working on you. God is using your pain. It will be worth it in the end, He promises.
This is for the one who is finally in a calm between the storms. God isn’t done with you. You don’t have to settle for where you are, or who you are now. When you aren’t happy with where you are now, look at where you were. Look at how far you’ve already come.God isn’t done with you. You don’t have to settle for where you are, or who you are now. When you aren’t happy with where you are now, look at where you were. Look at how far you’ve already come. Click To Tweet
We’re all a work in progress. Some of us may still be on the Potter’s wheel. Some of us are sitting to dry. Some of us are in the fire. No matter where you are, remember that this moment belongs. Choose to live wholeheartedly and trust that God is continually making you new.