I recently had the opportunity for some family getaway time and respite along the east coast in the state of Maryland. It was a beautiful and scenic drive from Ohio and once we arrived, I spend 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 also walked the shoreline and found some intimate prayer time. I reflected on this current season of life, a season of fractured relationships, and how the process of healing often works in for me.
Standing in front of the vast, rolling waves of the ocean, I am 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 sort of 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, and 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 that is carrying me back to the shoreline, back to wholeness and new perspective again.
From that adrift place, I can see the shore. I can see 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, but at that present moment it’s hard to imagine normalcy or the absence of pain again.
Then, after a little while, I move 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 righteous anger. The kind you experience because sometimes life is unfair and sometimes people are not as they should be and circumstances feel undeserved or unjust. When you’re angry because you should be.
This space of moving from the raw initial pain to a space of anger is actually where the healing begins to happen.
It seems that every time that tide returns to brush over the shoreline again, it carries me closer to the shore and 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 and softness towards the pain that others have to suffer.
After the healing process has done it's refining work, that 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 again in the world the way we are called to be as believers and followers 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 Paul to go there and 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 caused them to give up all hope of being saved. The story doesn't end there though. In verse 24, it says that an angel appeared to Paul and told Paul not to fear, that his life and the lives of all who sailed with him 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 back to shore, but after a shipwreck, stranded and making 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.
Sometimes, by no fault of our own and even while trying to walk in the will of God, we find ourselves feeling shipwrecked by a storm of life circumstances or by the pain caused by other people. When we're feeling like everything is dark and we are adrift, it's easy to feel abandoned and to give in to despair. This story is a powerful reminder of God's faithfulness to us during those times, and that His perfect will is being carried out in our lives even when it feels like everything is against us.
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 and you are committed to healing the wounds and layers of my heart and to fulfilling your purpose for my life. Praise you Papa. Amen.