This is how half of my journal entries begin. The other half choose different names for God.
"First can I tell You that I'm so tired of this needing to be brought before You over and over again?
Yet, I apologize because your Spirit softly rebukes my heart, "How can you measure where you feel you should be right now? To what do you compare? I the Lord judge the hearts of man. Release it again."
God told me not long ago that He wasn't a girlfriend. He is God, and His friendship requires that I bring everything - over and over again - before Him even when I feel like 'I should be done with this by now.'" - 11-4-11
This is the nature of my personal journal - deep thinking, honest - God honest - rawish material of a processing heart.
The reason why I shared a small excerpt from my personal thoughts before the Lord is simple: this is where I was a year ago. I was stuck, and the Lord was encouraging me forward to be faithful and persistent in the rut. What I didn't know was that come the new year, the Lord would be launching me into a season of unwrapping.
The gift? Myself.
Sound self centered? Nope. Quite the contrary. Let me explain.
A year ago, I was begging the Lord to open my heart to dream again.
I was growing frustrated. Years ago I could dream dreams of planting churches and loving people and traveling to other churches and connecting and loving and....
But the only thing I could conjure up in my head a year ago was marriage.
This was frustrating because I had a feeling that marriage wasn't exactly around the corner and I also knew that it wasn't necessarily my "end all" dream which only agitated me further.
I was getting desperate and I felt embarrassed that my imagination seemed so limited.
Then... I started a new journal.
Now I don't know how interactive your personal life with the Lord is, but the beginnings and the endings of journals for me are like the beginnings and the endings of story chapters. It ALWAYS - since I was 12 - coincides with a new season in my life. Some journals are big. Some journals are small. Some are a few months long, others have been a few years long. But God knows this. He always knows this. Oh. And God names my journals for me - before I write in them. Prophetic? Perhaps. ... Absolutely.
And the journal name for the beginning of last year's "New Year" season for me was simply, "Deep Roots".
Sounds normal enough. Except, it wasn't a normal name compared to all the other journal names. I kind of questioned God on it round and round, before I finally gave up and wrote it down. Deep Roots it was.
What happened next in my life was absolutely appropriate of course.
For God is sovereign and what He speaks, is.
I first met up with a long-time childhood friend whom I hadn't talked to since we graduated (it goes by so fast, we both agreed.)
She was moving in her calling and dreaming up a storm, and it called my heart out and blasted through whatever door had locked me out of godly imaginations. I was a mess.
I had to face a few things - one of which was a belief that I was an exception to God's faithfulness and that because I longed for certain things, He would call me to something painfully opposite. I somehow convinced myself that I would have to learn to contain, condense and vacuum-seal the bigness of not only my heart, but also the bigness it so deeply longed for.
That's a hard thing to face for one very simple but difficult reason: If I am NOT the exception, than what I long for and the heart from which it comes is not too big or too overwhelming for God. And if what I long for is not too big for God, and if my heart is not too big for God... than I was intentionally created exactly in this way and exactly for these things.
And if this is the case, then what people have said and what I have believed about myself was entirely wrong. And it was true - all of this time, it was wrong.
And that would mean that the real Sarah - behind the empire of "Sarah" that had been widely constructed to appease the people and protect her true heart - would have to come out... and the city would have to come down like the walls of Jericho.
Sound glorious right? The freeing process and the healing?
Except I had spent most of my life resenting myself. When the "right things" would peek through, it was alright. But when the "wrong" things stuck out, I quickly locked it away in a tower for fear that it would jeopardize everything I had worked so hard to create and maintain. I had kept the things people loved and despised the things that people didn't understand or were overwhelmed by. I locked the true princess away in exchange for a kingdom I could perfect and control.
She was awkward and sensitive and said the wrong things anyway. She was angry and hurt and felt unloved and not understood...but her feelings didn't matter. Not anymore.
She saw too many things and felt too much and laughed too much. She dreamed too big and made too many mistakes for being so insignificant.
And she had been hated by the Sarah people knew.
And all of it had to come up and out and walls have to be demolished and the queen on that throne would have to be put to death if that princess was to be liberated and given back her royal identity.
Almost like it's own fairy tale, the story of my heart.
When I openly confessed I was ready to do what it took to be the real Sarah again, a dear brother looked me in the eyes and said with all the love of Jesus, "Good. God loves you, but God hates the Sarah you are not."
It's true. Take a moment and insert your name in place of mine.
God loves you, but He hates the you you're not.
My life took a major dive from there.
The real Sarah is awkward and private and painfully honest at times. Things come out wrong when she tries to say something but feels out of place.
Its so humbling to watch people openly think you're unstable and all over the place yet have no defense or excuse for them except that God is working in your heart.
Its hard to be okay with people not understanding. As a child, I didn't understand why people didn't get me.
But as a woman, I just accept it. Its just part of the process. And actually, this is normal for me.
Except now people know they don't understand me just as much as I do... because I'm not hiding it from them anymore.
Yet for the record, people relate to me better than they ever have as well, this much has been proven true this year.
This was just the beginning of 2012.
"I was thinking: how awesome would it be to be free from the kind of leader people think I am and have a clean pallet to be the kind of leader You say I am in a whole new way. What if I had an opportunity to... lead a small group?" 1-19-12
Things began to change. I'd become reacquainted with my dreams for church planting and I knew it was time to step down from being a worship leader as my main ministry in church. My mom challenged me by saying, "If you feel like this is what God wants you to do, you need to be obedient now where you are before He sends you off later. Otherwise, you'll still be doing what you're doing now... except it'll just be somewhere else. And if you really have a heart for church planting, I suggest you change your schedule around and start going to the new campus to get your feet wet."
Don't get me wrong. I love leading worship. But this new season is for something else.
So I talked to my pastor about it. He blessed it. And, I changed my schedule around and planted myself in the midst of a brand new campus our church was planting on the west side.
Oh... and I moved out of my parents' house then, too.
If you want to talk to someone about digging up old things both in literal and spiritual closets, I'm your gal.
I began to realize that not only do I have unnecessary boundaries keeping good things out,
I had a lack of boundaries that allowed the bad and hurtful things in.
I know, I sound like a mess, don't I? I'm not afraid to admit that I am.
I believe we're all a mess whether we're believers or not.
The truth is, I've been encountering grace as a churched kid this year.
I use that designation a lot in this blog, have you noticed? "Churched kid" or "Churched girl".
Its the truth. I've grown up in a culture that expects kids like me to grow up good.
But the truth is, I'm not good. Just because I grew up hearing words like "grace" and "loving-kindness" and excelled at Bible-drills and memorized scriptures doesn't mean that my views of God didn't need to be utterly demolished. Words like "grace" and "peace" and phrases like "guard your heart" and "God is good" meant nothing to me without experiencing them.
I had to unlearn that I was a good kid. I had to relearn true goodness.
I had to unlearn what righteousness was. I had to unlearn that purity isn't fixed in actions. I had a lot of "good" things to unlearn to even begin to understand the heart of God who's character is the epitome of goodness.
This year, God showed me a lot of mercy and grace. He showed me mercy by allowing me to go through some adjustments now while its still 23 years fresh instead of hitting up on this stuff later when its 45 years old. He showed me mercy by taking me out on the spot for my lack of respect and angry rantings towards His judgement and gave me grace to be more honest than I've ever been with Him. He showed me grace in the slip ups and the awkward ways I've obeyed Him this year.
He showed me grace when my own heart gave me none.
He looked at my blunders and called me "Snow White" because the blood of my Savior fills gap between what I am and what I will be when the glory of Christ is revealed. He see's me through that blood.
He's been a graceful God. And He's been showing me how to be a graceful woman. I'm learning how to be gracious even in my own lack of social graces. It is so humbling that God would care to reveal my heart by revealing His heart in such an irresistible way that I cannot keep quiet about the beauty of it all.
I've prayed that His word would burn like fire in my bones, and there were times where I had submitted that the Truth was too great to bear, but... It was meant to be food for my soul.
I'd had a taste for falsehood for so long that the Truth was hard to swallow at first.
But once it began to digest, it dispersed life to every function, every dormant and every hidden part of my inner being and now my mind is being renewed and my soul is coming alive and my bones are blazing with a strength that even physical death could not hinder.
Of course, the work isn't finished yet and of course I'm still being healed and being restored -
but oh, the beautifying work of the cross.
Folks, this story is meant to be a testament of a God who is patient and able and willing and passionate to restore the hearts of men and women to Himself.
He is a good God. He's a dangerous God.
But I guess that's a risk we have to be willing to take if we want to know the rest of the story.
:) This of course is just an overview of the past chapter from the year 2012 of the life book of a little churched girl named Sarah Faith and her friendship and journey with a Good Shepherd named Emmanuel.
Grace and Peace to you for this next year,