Sunday I sat across the table from a friend while at lunch and I told her that August had sucked. It had. The end of July is when things really began to spiral and then just spilled over into all of August. It wasn’t fun. I don’t know that I’ve ever had quite a month like August was. She asked me what sparked it, what started the downwardness? I couldn’t tell her, because I’m honestly not sure.
July/August marks three months of counseling. Maybe it’s that I’m getting to those places where I desperately need to be, but don’t want to be. Those places where my emotions have been buried for so long, that I’ve never let anyone see them. They are starting to come out now. And that is scary.
See, I’m a peacemaker. A 9 on the enneagram and avoider of conflict. Something else that means? For me, I don’t do vulnerability. I can look at every single relationship I have — family, friends, guys — and see that there’s only a certain level that I go to. Eventually, we get to a wall and I don’t want to go over it. I’ve never had a thing for heights and apparently never a thing for depth when it comes to relationships.
I don’t let people see me cry, I stuff and bury emotions until they fester, and then I explode into anger.
Does’t seem like a peacemaker at all. Because there hasn’t been any peace.
Last week, I shared how I often need the reminder that God's words are true and wonderful. I know they are truth, but sometimes it's hard to live in that daily. Life throws a lot at us, it gets hard to focus on truth and light. I launched a poll asking whether you guys were in need of this reminder, that God's words are true and wonderful, or if you were obeying and praying His word. Overwhelmingly, most of us said we needed the reminder that God's words are true and wonderful. This space, Polished Arrow, is a place for simply choosing. A place where you can simply choose Jesus above all that life throws at you. A spot where you can come for encouragement and gentle reminders that God is here for you, no matter what decision you are in the middle of making or whatever stage and season of life you find yourself in. The other thing to know? That I'm right there with you. Because the words found here are stories, mainly my story, of how God has shown Himself faithful to me over and over and over again. Simply because? I choose Him. Is it hard? Most definitely. Yet for the grace and mercy He shows continually, it's worth it.
And this week? He showed me that through coffee. Which is just fitting, because well, I love that stuff.
Written on one of the pages of my note-taking Bible, in Psalms, are these words: God’s Word is true and wonderful.
Last week was one of the worst weeks mentally and emotionally that I’ve ever had. I’ve mentioned here and there, but most recently on the blog, that I’m in counseling. The decision to go to counseling was one that I had been throwing around for about a year. In May of this year, I finally made the brave decision to go for the first time.
There is a lot that comes with counseling. I thought holding everything inside was hard, and it is, but once I started voicing everything out loud and had someone responding with truth and light, I actually had to begin to process the things I was feeling. And when it comes to processing things, I’m one of the slowest people. Last week, I woke up one morning with a lot of things swirling in my head. There were some things that finally clicked from my latest counseling session, but I had to go to work. There was no time for me to process anything that was happening in my head. One thing escalated on top of another and I found myself deep in a tunnel of darkness.
I talked about that dark tunnel recently. About how it easily pulls me in and there it seems my steps should be cautious, yet they are the opposite. In the dark is where I almost find myself running carefree. But, I know that eventually I will run into something. I know that I cannot thrive there. The darkness is only hiding what is in the shadows, masking it.
And I know that the Light promises so much more, because there are no shadows where the Lord is.
Yet, the light was so hard for me to find that day. And the next. Even the one after that. It wasn’t until the weekend that I slowly began to feel the darkness leaving and light surrounding me more.
In the past, I would have retreated farther into that dark tunnel. I would have pushed all my feelings and emotions farther down, just hoping they would disappear. I would have stayed silent to myself, my friends, and God. I would have continued to believe that they didn’t care and that they were too busy to listen to my worries. I would have continued to build walls that only further isolate me.
Not this time...
Last week, my counselor handed me some fruit from a tree in her backyard. And I've been thinking about it all week long. I'm sure she plucked them from the tree and handed them to me only because I asked what they were out of curiosity. But, my mind has constantly gone back to those little green fruits that look like limes on the outside, but are like oranges on the inside. Whatever they may be, they are fruit. And when she placed them in my hand and told me to let her know what I thought about them, my mind was flooded with thoughts of how the Lord is growing fruit in my own life.
I am an introvert. To my core, for sure. I HAVE to reenergize by being alone after trips, night outs, basically anything high energy. But, once I reenergize I have to then put myself out among people.
Even if I'm just sitting at a coffee shop alone reading. Or walking around Target. It is so easy for me to stay in my “reenergizing” bubble. If I'm not careful, what I say is me recharging quickly becomes isolation.
It’s a true fight, because my tendency to isolate myself leads to all this other junk.
Isolation becomes ignoring community, then feeling alone, depressed, and anxious. I have to recognize there is a difference between reenergizing and isolating and ignoring my community. They can look similar, but are also very different.
One brings light in, the other darkness.
The darkness pulls me in so easily. It's as though I'm standing in front of a tunnel, but with a small opening. It seems the only thing that could fit inside would be me. But, when I step in, it's a vast space, not small at all. Normally, I step gingerly wherever I go. Yet, in the blackness, where my steps should be cautious, they aren't at all. I can almost feel the urge to run carefree in this tunnel of darkness.
How can darkness be my friend when I'm called to be a child of the light?
Parts of me fight with each other: a part wishing it would go away, the other never wanting it to. Though I find myself running in the darkness, I know that I cannot thrive in it. Darkness may be surrounding me, but it doesn't get rid of what is hiding in the shadows. It's only masking it.
And while this dark tunnel seems never-ending, I know eventually I will run into something. Do I dare to keep going to find out what happens when I do? To see what I will find beyond the shadows?
Looking back, .I have to squint to see the pinhole of light that comes from where I entered. A small bit of light that completely ruins the darkness.
I know that the Light promises so much more than darkness. Good and perfect blessings are found in the Light, salvation is found in the Light. Life is found in the Light.
The Light dispels the darkness and it takes its lies with it. Like the lie that I don't have love? Gone.
Love is found in the Light. It may not be anything like what I expected or thought it would be, because it is so much more than I know. Maybe more than I'm capable of knowing...but I know that I want to try and know it anyways.
While isolation leads me to a tunnel of darkness, Light brings me energy and so much more.
And this introvert wants to spend her life chasing the Light.
"During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven 20 and said:
I've created a devotional guide to help lead you through 6 truths that God speaks over us. Want to receive this free guide? Subscribe and join the Polished Arrow Community by clicking here or fill out the form over on the right and it will be in your inbox!
follow along and share
Lately, I have been so surprised as to how each book I've read has been the book I needed to read. There isn't usually a reason for the next book that I pick up, but I do try and have three current reads at a time, especially if I have a goal to read a certain amount each year. For instance, this year I want to read 24 books and I have my books separated into genres/themes and I try to have one from each grouping going at a time. Besides this, I normally just pick one randomly when it's time to begin a new one. But so far this year, when I've finished a book, I have realized that it was the book I needed for that moment. I wish I could recap all of them so far this year, maybe one day I will, but today I'll talk about "The Secret Garden" and how it met me right where I am in learning how to simply choose truths over lies.
There is a neighborhood that I pass on the way to my favorite ice cream place. It's probably one of the cutest spots and I think I would like to live there one day. It's probably not true, but I feel like the houses have been passed down through families, like you have to inherit a house on that street. Old, amazing trees fill Mobile and on this street, almost every house has lights strung among their branches. A soft glow of lights, filling the street, down as far as you can see. A few weeks ago, while on the way to the ice cream place (can you tell where we hang?), I passed the street again, but this time it was blocked off. The curbs were free from cars and under the canopy of lights, tables filled the street. There were people everywhere! Block party, birthday party, wedding, whatever it was, it's what I dream about. Community.
I’m an emotional person. It’s not hard for me to write that (except for my fingers fumbling over my phone, at my work desk, where I’m writing this). I can easily wear my heart on my sleeve, but of all the emotions, anger is usually the first one people see. All the others I keep bottled up inside. Which makes me feel heavy and constantly searching for a breath.
Three words are always on my mind as I walk through Holy Week.
Palm Sunday, the day we celebrate and remember when Jesus the King had His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, is a moment of celebration, filled with shouting and praise. I think a lot about the people who were there to greet Him as He came into town. I try to put myself there among them, excited for the arrival of the one true King. I think I would push and fight my way through the crowd for a good spot along the road. Clinging tight to my palm branch, as I anxiously await the first views of the young donkey that carries Jesus.
My palm branch, when waved, declares Jesus as King. A symbol of hope, but also a symbol of what I lay down before my King and a symbol of praise. Excited to see Him, I wave it shouting, "Hosanna!" But before He reaches my spot along the road, I lay it down. Along with it, I lay down my sin, my sorrow, my shame, my worry, my doubts. I lay it all down. He will lay down His life. My palm branch now on the ground, with the King only steps away. He rides by, my palm branch crushed by the hooves of the donkey. Just as my sin would be crushed a few days later.
Jesus the King came to restore. He saw a tree with no fruit and a temple of prayer turned into a den of robbers. Worship and prayer and righteousness were replaced with business transactions and money exchanges and no faith at all. A tree with no fruit then cursed and withered. Yet, a hint of faith still to be found there, to trust that God will remove whatever hinders us from coming to Him. Christ the Son found Himself soon going to a tree. Where the work of dying on the cross would fill the chasm that separated. And the veil that once hung to separate, would be torn.
Jesus urged the disciples to stay awake. And that plea to stay awake echoes to us still today. To focus on the reason of His coming. To take part in the proclamation of the gospel. We remember a woman's sacrifice of love, as she anointed Jesus for His impending burial. An action of love, not a waste, but a beautiful thing.
Then, an upper room prepared with a feast. A meal partaken and a covenant established. Followed by a prayer cried out for a cup to be removed, as reality is accepted by Jesus the King.
Darkness grew as light continued to slip away.
Jesus the King was led to Pilate. Silently He stood in front of crowds, as they yelled for Him to be crucified. Delivered to the people, He was beaten, mocked, and placed on a cross. Hanging on a tree with people yelling for Him to save Himself and to come down. But Jesus, the beautiful King, He stayed there. As the sin of the world fell upon Him and as darkness covered the land. His final cry came. And with His death, the veil was torn. The earth shook. Rocks split. Finished. Tetelestai.
Christ a propitiation for our sanctification.
He was put in a tomb where He wouldn't stay. He couldn't be held there. Three days He would rise. Resurrected and fully alive. Death absolutely defeated. And what I would have laid down before Jesus the King when He came into the city on a donkey, is replaced with new life. Joy. Courage. Freedom. Peace. Comfort. Assurance.
Hallelujah to Jesus the King who has come and is coming again!
There is a quote, that I can't for the life of me remember right now. Something about holiness and something about hard places. But those two words have been repeating themselves over and over in my head this past week. Since the start of the year, I've been wanting to find my one word for the year. A word that could encapsulate the year and help me keep my focus throughout the year. I went over word after word, never feeling like it was quite the one.
About a week ago, I finished reading a book that is coming out in March, "Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot" by Mo Isom. I was on Mo's launch team for her first book, and while this one is quite different in content, I felt like I needed to apply to be on her team again. So, I did. And when I learned I was on the team, I thought to myself, "Now you actually have to read this book." I wasn't sure what to expect in between it's pages, but I was intrigued.
If anything, I thought it would be a great resource for later, when or if, I got married. But now, after finishing, my kindle version is highlighted up and down of truth that speaks so much new life into my singleness. That is one thing that I wasn't expecting. But it was something that I've been unknowingly praying for. Another prayer that I had forgotten I was praying. When all the chapters were read, a renewed singleness is what I found.
Honestly, I've been over it. Completely over being single and all that it offers...and doesn't offer. I've struggled through my singleness more times than surrendering it to God. But why? Why would I constantly want to tie myself to bitterness, anger, loneliness, and jealousy? Those things only inflict more of themselves. They lead me nowhere towards light and only deeper into darkness.
The crawl towards light seems to be a never-ending, all out fight most days. There is lots of kicking and screaming, much like a child. And while a lot of that has been directed to God in my anger, I also throw a lot back to myself. Because when you're the only one in the room, it's easy to make yourself the target. And words thrown at myself are easier to fix than holes in the wall. Or so I tell myself.
Words are powerful. They speak life and death. No matter if you are speaking them to others or yourself. And before reading Mo's book, one that I didn't know how much I would relate to or needed, I wasn't expecting to read words that gave me a new hope in my singleness. But that is what came.
And while I highlighted up and down, there are some thoughts that I wrote down from Mo that I have been clinging to in the week since I finished her book. Each day, I pray through one of them. Expectant that God will answer. That my daily surrender of my singleness will pull me closer to light than the darkness. That each day, my focus would not be my singleness, but of what God has for me that day. That each day would drive me closer and closer to His holiness. I've prayed that God would use every second of this time and for Him to encounter me. To equip me with strength. To teach me daily how to walk. And for His love to compel me.
I've realized over my prayer journey, that oftentimes I pray for the wrong things. Always masking my true agenda in words that seem right. Never quite praying in God's will or for the things He would have for me. But, the past week I have watched as He has answered my prayers, in ways that may seem small, but speak in such loud volumes, that I cannot ignore it. When I prayed for Him to encounter me, He met me in a quiet, morning moment of bright stars shining down into my backyard. When I prayed to be equipped with strength, He met me at a hard day at work. He is daily teaching me how to walk, how to give Him moments that matter. And when I asked for His love to compel me? He brought a college friend to my mind as I sat in church this morning and then again as I sat on my bed weeping, as that same friend posted that she had lost her earthly father.
I almost wanted to take back my morning prayer today. As sitting on my unmade bed crying wasn't what I expected when I asked for His love to compel me. But His love compelled me to call out to Him on my friend's behalf. To offer words, then tears when the words wouldn't come. Sometimes, my tears are the only offering I have to give to God.
And while I can't remember whatever that quote is, I'm learning that holiness is found in the hard places. That there in those moments, where the stars shine bright and where I'm left crying on my bed, in those hard moments, He is revealing Himself to me, showing Himself holy. When the prayer has left my lips, I then anticipate His answer. I wait with great expectation.
That word for the year? Expectant.
Expectant of what His answers will be. Expectant of what He will show me. Expectant of what hard times will inevitably come, but expectant that His holiness is always to be found if I ask Him to show it to me.
This year, Lord, with my heart renewed, I wait, expectant of all that You will do.
More Things From Mo
Click here to pre-order Mo Isom's new book, "Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot", available March 6th!
Click here to order Mo's first book, "Wreck My Life."
Follow Mo on Social Media (for words of wisdom and lots of laughter): @MoIsom
Click here to check out her website.
Affiliate links are present on this post. Meaning if you purchase, I also get a little something.
Get the Guide!
Sign up below to join the community and get your FREE devotional guide!