I recently had the opportunity for some family getaway time. The respite along the east coast of Maryland was spot on. It was a beautiful and scenic drive from Ohio. Once we arrived, I spent a lot of time sitting on the beach while my daughter played in the sand and collected seashells.
Removed from the distraction and grind of daily life back home, I walked the shoreline. Found some intimate prayer time. I reflected on this current season of life, a season of fractured relationships. Of how the process of healing often works for me.
Standing in front of the vast, rolling waves of the ocean, I was reminded of how great God is, and how small I am in comparison. It is strangely comforting to feel so small, and to surrender my trust to Him. I realize my healing and the ocean are somehow intertwined.
Initially, the process of healing feels like I am adrift in the deep end of the ocean. Shipwrecked by life and the brokenness it sometimes brings. I feel surrounded by a vast expanse of complicated human emotions, much larger than me. Only fully known and understood by God, Himself.
It is during those times, when the pain is so raw and deep, that I know it is nothing other than His grace carrying me back to the shoreline. Back to wholeness and a new perspective again.
From that adrift place, I can see the shore and the invitation of beauty still happening all around me. Life continues to go on even when it feels as though it should stop. I can remember how life felt before deep pain entered my story. Yet in the present moment it’s hard to imagine normalcy or the absence of pain again.
Then, after a little while, I moved from that space of fresh pain into a space of anger. And sometimes anger just feels like a useless expense of energy that rises because the emotion beneath it has nowhere else to go. But that’s not the kind I’m talking about. I’m talking about being properly angry or having righteous anger. The kind I experience because sometimes life is unfair. That sometimes people are not as they should be, and circumstances feel undeserved or unjust.
This space of moving from the initial raw pain to a space of anger. It is actually where the healing begins to happen. While it sounds contrary for this to be, it has proven true for me many times. Then, slowly anger turns to healing, one moment at a time.
Like the shore before me, it seems that every time that tide returns to brush over the shoreline again, it carries me further along in my healing. It brings forth a new me. One that is refined and ready for life on the shore again.
One who has gone through the tough work of healing and won’t bleed onto everyone who didn’t hurt me. One who carries treasures only found and experienced in the deep. Treasures like forgiveness and wisdom. Like softness towards the pain that others have to suffer.
After the healing process has done its refining work, the anger subsides and it turns into something more powerful. It turns into fuel. Fuel that carries me forward. Fuel that helps me extend forgiveness and live free again. Fuel to be a light in the world the way I am called as a believer and follower of Jesus.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
In the Book of Acts, chapter 27, we see Paul aboard a ship bound for Rome because God had told him to go there to preach the Gospel. On this journey, the ship encountered a very severe winter storm, described as a "violent battering" (vs 18) And after persisting for several days of darkness, eventually it caused them to give up all hope of being saved.
The story doesn't end there. In verse 24 it says that an angel appeared to Paul telling him not to fear. Saying that his life and the lives of all who sailed with Paul would be saved. Paul tells the men with him, "keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island."
Paul and his shipmates all eventually made it safely to shore after the shipwreck. They made it to land by floating on planks and pieces of the ship. I can't imagine the range of emotions they all experienced. From fear to discouragement to abandonment, and maybe even anger towards God.
By no fault of our own and even while trying to walk in the will of God, we sometimes find ourselves feeling shipwrecked. The storms of life's circumstances and the pain caused by other people can do this.
When we're feeling like everything is dark and we are adrift, it's easy to feel abandoned and give in to despair. This story is a powerful reminder of God's faithfulness to us during those difficult times. That His perfect will is being carried out in our lives even when it feels like everything is against us.
Like Paul, we are called to trust God. To reach out in prayer in good times and in bad. To reach for and cling tightly to the Life Preserver when we are feeling shipwrecked.
Father, thank you for this reminder through Paul that life does not always go as planned, but that your faithfulness to me still stands. Thank you for the reminder that you are my rescue. That you are committed to healing the wounds and layers of my heart and to fulfilling your purpose for my life. Praise you Papa. Amen.
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