I am not the woman I once was, but I am more myself than I ever have been before.... This thought keeps rolling around in my head lately as I contemplate where God has brought me from, what He has brought me through, and the changes He has made in me in the process. I just finished up the Beth Moore study on Revelation this morning, and she said something that really helped me make sense of this seeming contradiction. I am paraphrasing loosely, because it was not written in the book, just something she said on the dvd. She said that in His redemptive purposes, God makes all things new, but leaves enough of the "old" identity that we can SEE what He has done for us-- See what we have been delivered from, what we have overcome, and just how different we are as a result.
In the book Captivating, by Jon and Stasi Eldredge, she says this, "God wants to live this life together with you, to share in your days and decisions, your desires and disappointments. He wants intimacy with you in the midst of the madness and mundane, the meetings and memos, the laundry and lists, the carpools and conversations and projects and pain. He wants to pour His love into your heart, and He longs to have you pour yours into His. He wants your deep heart, that center place within that is the truest you. He is not interested in intimacy with the woman you think you are supposed to be. He wants intimacy with the real you."
So how do we come to this place of being our truest selves before God and in our relationships? Through our suffering. Our trials, our battles, our failures, all the things that drive us to our God for help and comfort. It has been a gradual and painful process for me, and I have a feeling that I have only just begun. But I KNOW the changes He has made in my heart, in my thoughts, in the way I live and love, and I am most certainly not the same person I once was. Different, and yet more comfortable with myself than ever before. I am painfully aware of the flaws and imperfections that remain... the selfishness, the pride, the envy, the apathy that sets in when life gets to be too much... But I have learned to trust His love for me even when I am at my worst. To know and to believe that God loves me just as much when I fail as He does when I succeed takes the pressure off of me to pretend to be something I am not. I couldn't fool Him anyway, could I?
There is such a freedom, too wonderful for words, in being confident that NOTHING will separate me from the love of the One who rescued me from myself. And it is this freedom that allows me to open my heart fully to others, without fear, and without first counting the cost. Because it will cost... authentic love always does. I can love fully only when I am convinced I am fully loved. No human relationship on this earth can ever serve to meet that need. What a painful lesson to learn! How many tears have we shed over not feeling loved as we are? And how hard have we worked to make ourselves more loveable, and in so doing, have lost the truest part of ourselves? I may be only speaking for myself, but I have a suspicion that this where many women find themselves.
This post may read like a collection of random thoughts... I never really know because I can't read my own words objectively. But my desire is simply to share what God is doing in my life. Because it is real, and it is good, and because writing it helps me to process it all. And if He works in the heart of an ordinary woman like me, maybe it will give someone else hope that He will do it for them, too!