Staples

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. 

 

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20 Responses to Staples

  1. mj says:

    I agree with Katie….in saying we’re not ready, it presumes that you have to be perfect or have a perfect heart to get married, when I know a great many married people who aren’t perfectly evolved spiritual creatures and they still got married. I realize it’s good to work on oneself, but sometimes I think it is just God’s timing. I say this as a fellow 38 year old who has come a long way…and maybe still has a ways to go, but otherwise feels ready for that commitment, that next step, but yet I find myself still waiting…..

    • Kate says:

      Hi MJ,
      Forgive me for not responding sooner. I am new to the blogger world and didn’t realize I should respond to the comments! Thanks for your comments. Like you, I know a great many people who weren’t ready and are working their way through the act of marriage. For me, personally, I know it’s all about His timing and He’s trying to teach me that — it’s a hard lesson for me to grasp and I need to constantly re-learn it (it feels like) because I often never get God’s timing. It’s often a HUGE mystery to me. Anyway, thanks again for sharing. I am grateful to have this community where we can share and be honest with our thoughts.
      –Kate

  2. Mona says:

    Haha and I thought I was the only one crying myself to sleep about these things. Good to know I’m not alone. I have a friend who has severe facial deformities and she just got married to a tall, handsome Christian man. I’m terribly happy for her but it makes me when : when is it my time?

    • Kate says:

      Hi Mona!
      Nope, you’re not alone. And the funny thing, I thought I was being hyper-sensitive summer when I learned The News (twice) and watched how I was reacting. But when I confided in a close Christian friend how much this all had rocked my core, she told me it was normal and human to feel that way. It was then that I felt validated and …. ahem, not crazy! I can’t totally say the “when is it my time?” still doesn’t pop into my brain from time to time. But I also feel this tremendous sense of peace that in the end, it’s all going to work out.
      –Kate

  3. Autumn says:

    Boy does this resonate!! Several years back I was dating a guy from my church and I got way too emotionally invested (trying to make it work out because everyone else thought we’d be so “perfect” together). When things broke off, I went into a complete tailspin. It took years of the Lord taking my brokenness and slowly piecing me back together again into someone much wiser and stronger. As I went through this hurt, my ex just kept bringing woman after woman he was dating to church and my dating life turned non-existent. Then this year he got married. Insert more pain when I finally thought I was making progress. Those same thoughts you mentioned of “why him and not me” came back with a vengeance. But after months of wrestling with this news, I felt the Lord tell me that I needed to pray for them and their new married relationship (that whole ‘pray for your enemies’ and ‘bless those who curse you’ kind of thing). It was hard, but every time I had a negative thought about them, I forced myself to say a prayer of blessing instead. My heart wasn’t really in it, but I obediently did it anyway. Then God (who obviously knows our hearts) did something so crazy, I couldn’t help but laugh at the funniness of it. The wife started coming to the women’s Bible study I was in and for the first time ever, we all had to put our names on index cards, then randomly select one out of a box and that was our new prayer partner for the month. Guess whose name I picked and who also picked my name?!?! Yup 😛 So we’ve been touching base and praying together for each other. But it really was the blessing I needed to finally remove the last “staple” of bitterness and resentment out so that I could finally and fully move on. God is awesome…funny sometimes….but awesome 🙂

    • Kate says:

      Hi Autumn,
      Glad my story resonated with you! I commend you on first off, being awesome :-). And, secondly, for approaching this emotionally hard event with God by your side. When we look to Him and ask Him to be in the details, I feel we’re able to see things from His perspective. And yes, He certainly does have a sense of humor! Thanks for sharing your story above. I’m giving you a virtual high-five!
      –Kate

  4. Deb B says:

    Thanks for your honesty. I can definitely relate, the ex-boyfriend, the most serious one I’ve ever had, got engaged just 3 month after we broke up. In some ways the grief from that experience was worse than the grief I’m experience now after the recent death of a sibling. But now I can see that the intensity of emotion that drove me to cling to God during that time has prepared me for the what I’m going through now. God is always shaping and molding us, painful as it may be at times he will use our experiences for a great good.
    Though I do get tired of crying–ugh, it’s so exhausting!

    • Kate says:

      Hi Deb,
      I hear you, I hear you, I hear you. The pain of an ex moving on is, yes, just as hard is losing a loved one. The grieving process is just the same. It takes time and it takes faith to live in that pain and get through to the other side. A wise, former pastor once described it this way: “The only way through it … is to go through it.” Notice: not around, or not at all .. but THROUGH it. You’re going through it. The tears will flow, and that’s okay. In time, they become less and you become wiser and leaning on God is the game-changer in all of this. It’s what makes the pain and grief have meaning.

      I hope this helps. Thanks for sharing, Deb. I am so sorry about the loss of your sibling. Glad we have communities like this where we can share and console.
      –Kate

  5. May says:

    Thank you for sharing. I understand that there are always things in our heart that need cleaning up. As I read this I know there are a lot of things I need to work on to be healthy going into a marriage. At the same time, it’s frustrating because I too think of all the exes & friends who are married & wonder, “were they ready?” Are we ever truly 100% ready? At the age of 36 I feel like I am ready & as much as I try to stay strong those seasons in our life come that knock us down. I’m in that season right now.

    • Katie says:

      I agree with you. I think to say we’re not married because we’re not “ready” or our character is still in need of being shaped and refined etc, implies that all married people, if they were Christians, had/have no baggage or wounds or character defects. We will never be fully ready to marry, as it is an imperfect union of 2 imperfect people. The process of refining our emotions, hurts, pains, characters etc is a work in progress that we will need to labour on until the Lord takes us home.

      Its not necessarily about readiness, sometimes we just have to accept that God’s timing is different for different people and we will never know why. Just like how some people die young, its just the way it is.

      In fact, sometimes, when broken and hurt people find love, they are able to derive some emotional healing from their partners too.

      Readiness to me, would be more practical matters like maturity, a stable job and financial ability to enter into a marriage and have a family. And I think for most of us who are in our 30s, we have all that.

      • Kate says:

        Hi ladies,
        Thank you for your comments! Forgive me for my delayed response. Per my first response above, I’m new to the blogger community and didn’t realize you should respond to comments!

        I should have put a caveat in my piece that “ready” is specific to each individual. For me, personally, those two ex’s were deep in the recesses of my heart and I needed to release them before I could move on (but this is just my truth). Sorry if I wrote with a broad brushstroke. That wasn’t my intention. I do think that this time when we’re waiting is a good time to take inventory. What might be necessary for me is not at all needed for another. For me, taking time to do that inventory gives more meaning to the period of waiting; meaning and purpose.

        Thanks again for your thoughtful insights on the matter!
        -Kate

  6. Helen says:

    This reminds me of how God frequently uses common experiences like the painful removal of staples to reveal to us the attitudes of our hearts that are in need of removal. It is only then can we be healed and properly prepared to receive God’s blessings for us. He loves us too much, to allow us to walk into another marriage carrying residual bitterness and tightness of heart that is bound to be exposed and cause injury in a new relationship.

  7. Gill Abernathy says:

    Sent from Windows Mail

  8. hjm says:

    Hi Kate,

    Thank You for your transparency and writing something similar but different for me. I’ve had many discussion with friends on marriage versus career. My story instead of asking God why is on my career status instead of my marital status. Unlike my friends who ask Him on their marital status I have been for a couple of years now been asking him about my career status. I completely relate to your story as I have been working with the Lord on waiting for His will.

    • Kate says:

      Hi there,
      Thanks so much and I’m really glad you could relate to my story. I find that there is such promise and hope in the waiting period. And, really, that’s what this summer taught me. To look at this time as precious time to talk, listen and react to what God is trying to tell me. Good luck to you as you wait and I hope you feel that sense of peace that I have felt since learning The News.
      –Kate

  9. Carrie says:

    Right. On. Time. I literally cried in the floor last night with the whole “when is it my time God?” And “haven’t I learned it all already?” This reminded me to take a deep look at what I am, am not ready for and to ask God to keep working on me. Thanks for sharing the vulnerability of your heart.

    • Kate says:

      Hi Carrie,
      Sweet — glad my post last week was a timely message for you. So happy we have this community on Fast.Pray where we can be honest with our hearts and admit our moments of “why him, not me.” Hang in there. I can tell you, I now look at this waiting time as a period of great learning. It’s been cool to look at it through that prism.

      –Kate

  10. Neelam says:

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

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