On Mondays, we pray and fast for God to soften our hearts as women, to raise up men, and to give the gift of marriage to those who desire it. This week we have a guest post from a gal named Kate. Our hope is that you will be blessed by her writing as you pray and fast.
This summer was marked by two very important, heavenly ordained encounters where I learned The News.
Memorial Day weekend I encountered a friend of a friend who knows my ex. Through the course of catching up (it had been years since I saw her; same amount of time since talking to my ex), she causally brought him up in the course of our meandering conversation. And then she dropped The News – “You know he’s married now, right? And, expecting a child.”
Now, I’ve never played ice hockey. I have a niece who’s a freshman in college, living her dream, playing NCAA hockey. I’ve spent countless hours watching that kid zoom around the ice in chilly rinks along the East Coast. I can tell you, upon hearing the news about my ex on that warm Memorial Day with our feet dangling in a sparkling pool, I felt like I had just been checked hard by an NHL hockey player skating 40 mph, drilling me into the glass. I felt shaken to my core.
Here was the voice that played inside my head that moment and in the hours and days following: “HIM? You’ve got to be kidding me, God. He doesn’t even like you, let alone know you! Why him and not me?”
The “why him and not me” refrain followed me. Everywhere. I said it when I brushed my teeth and when I walked the dog; when I accepted a meeting invite at work and sat at a red light: Why him and not me?
Flash forward several weeks to my second heavenly ordained encountered this summer. I’m at the gym, working out with my trainer. An acquaintance who knows, through professional circles, my most recent ex is beside me lifting weights. She asks me if I’ve heard The News. “Bob got engaged, did you know that?!” Why, of course not. Why would I know that? Is what I wanted to scream at the gym.
This is the second proverbial NHL check into the glass. And my reaction is the exact same. Same voice, same recriminations: yelling at God, doubting His plans, believing He has withheld something great from me that I deserve more (the gift of marriage). Oh, so much more.
In the wake of getting emotionally drilled after hearing The News (twice) over the course of one month I go through a dark period this summer. There are lots of tears and sleepless nights. Sadness moves in and sets down a chair to make itself at home. The refrain becomes: “Why them and not me?” Why, God, why? And I befriend this refrain for several weeks; it plays on a loop in my head.
But then, God moves in. He speaks and begins to work this out in my heart. I liken the whole process to the following story: At the tender of age of 38, I am the unlucky recipient of two lower back surgeries six years apart. Thankfully, both were a success. But for the second surgery, they had to close the incision with staples. Believe me when I tell you – the removal of those staples was worse than the back pain that lead to the surgeries; worse than both of the post-op recoveries. I gripped the table and gritted my teeth when the kind nurse removed those staples. One, by one, by one, the staples rattled as they were dropped into the metal dish.
They had to come out because it was only after the staples were removed that my back could truly, completely heal.
I liken this summer to the removal of staples, but this time, in my heart. Emotional staples that I didn’t even know existed. God very tenderly and lovingly told me, “It’s time to remove these staples, Kate. You think you’re ready for marriage, but we need to remove these staples in your heart so you can truly heal.” He orchestrated those events so I could hear The News and He could begin His work. I captured this truth in my June 19th journal entry: “This is all about cleaning house, the house of my heart. This is needed. It’s useful. It’s painful. We’re removing staples. The first staple represents the one I loved. The second staple represents the one I haven’t been able to forgive. Unworthy love and unforgiveness (for and towards my ex’s) have been souring my heart. There’s hardly any room for The One to come in when such sadness, blame, pining and unforgiveness reside. There has been no room and no way healing can take place. This is the start of something great. This must be where and how you start to make all things new. ‘I make all things new,’ is what you said (Rev. 21:5). So then, do it. Keep pulling out the staples. Make me new.”
I share this story, the Summer of Receiving The News, because it’s illustrative of so many things as we wait patiently for God to reveal His will. This waiting period is not a time to presume we’re perfect and ready (like I pretty much thought I was), so let’s just get on with the show already, God. This is a precious sliver of time to ask God for His help in honestly assessing our hearts. Are we ready for marriage? Really ready for what God has planned for us? Is there anything hindering the process of healing and restoration? Is there anything preventing us from being emotionally whole, healthy and ready for His ultimate good and perfect gift?
Before this summer, I would have told you, “game on, I’m ready.” And, yes, my heart is in mint condition, thank you very much! But after this summer, I can tell you I am humbled and ever so grateful for God’s gentleness and patience. For the way He communicates and reveals. For the way He lets me have my temper tantrums and the loving kindness He bestows in reaction. He knows every square inch of my heart, each crevice and patch. And the most beautiful take-away from this summer is this: He doesn’t wince or look away from the icky staples. Instead, He offered to hold my hand and help me remove them. It’s breathtaking, the magnitude of His love. The good He intends for me. The protection He provides. The peace that is mine because I am His.
What an intimate and loving Father we have who works with us as we prepare ourselves for His ultimate design.
Kate lives in northern Virginia where she has a heart for rescue dogs, singing in church, strong coffee and those moments where God reveals so much.