I want to forgive myself.
You know how God likes to take your expectations and completely flip them upside down?
Today I attended a beautiful women's event at my church. The Spirit-filled teacher had a gift of reaching out and making me feel like I was the only one in the room. It wasn't a typical women's event, at least it didn't feel like it, and the teaching was full and deep and touched on these really painful topics that we don't usually talk about.
I expected to hear from God about infertility today. It's an obvious theme in my heart and life, and with the spiritual battle I had faced all week, I figured something in this piece of my journey would be set free. I was expectant and excited.
Infertility is comfortable for me to talk about - it's not by choice, and it is not because of something I have done. I prefer to do the "work" on this topic, because the shame is preached away easier. God has a plan, and His timing is perfect and pleasing and good. I pull Scripture for this hurt and I get through. Instead, God decided to show up in a really deep, really dark space of my heart. He rooted around and flushed out some of the shame I have been holding captive from sin I've been unwilling to fully forgive myself for from years ago. And while I know I'm not who I used to be, and I know that I have a repentant heart, I struggle with forgiving myself for a choice I personally made. Those involved have forgiven me. Those who know the story do not hang it over my head, nor do they speak out as though it is who I am. Most importantly, God has forgiven me. But my pride and fear stop me from letting go of that shame.
This shame makes me feel wounded and bruised, and today I felt like God began tenderly pushing on all these bruises as if to show me they're yellowing now. They're healing, and it hurts - but it doesn't hurt nearly as much as it used to. I felt God tell me it's time to pick up the shovel and dig into that pain, and pour it into His hands - the very hands that were nailed to the cross - for the very sin I feel shame over. I heard Him whisper that it's time do to the holy work of sifting the shame.
I felt Him whisper to me that my identity is not tied to my sin.
My identity is in Him. As Chara, the speaker today, stated, "Identity is not something we achieve, it is something we are given." As someone who ties her identity to all the wrong and weird things, this spoke to me. It cannot be tied to my shame, my sin, or even my infertility, because I did not create this gift. This gift of identity was given to me by Jesus - He gets to name it - not me.
But friends, don't worry - infertility didn't go by the wayside, no ma'am. Today, I got my proof that we received another failed month.
A week early. Timing, right?
And while typically this would send my soul into ache, a wave of grief crashing over my heart, today I could not focus on my infertility. I could not focus on my lack.
For the first time, I truly felt like I could surrender another failed month to Him, because me and Jesus? We were busy working on some other really hard stuff. It reminded me that there's a lot of "stuff" Jesus and I get to work on. Not just the hard stuff, sometimes it's incredibly mundane. Some of it is the day to day in folding laundry, doing dishes, going to work, showing up. I feel like He is using this "no" to show me that my focus has always remained on lack, not on abundance. Not on the work. Not on the rest I am able to do in His hands.
I wish I could tell you I left that event completely healed of my shame. I wish I could tell you that I cried all those cleansing tears and now I know where my identity is and I gathered all the tools necessary so I can just go and be and live a surrendered and loved life. Instead, I left this event feeling a little brokenhearted, a little heavy, a little achey. Poking wounds will do that, I suppose.
But I also left with hope - something I'm typically afraid to pick up and allow to settle into my bones. Today, I am clinging to the hope that screams "God forgave me, so I can forgive myself". The very hope that screams "you don't have to stay captive to shame". For the first time, I feel like God told me it's time to let it all go, like I finally heard permission to move forward.
Chara had a lot of amazing lines I didn't have the ability to scribble out, but another nugget of wisdom that spoke right to me today was this: Sometimes we learn to walk wounded, and we give up on healing.
I don't want to walk wounded anymore.
I don't want to give up on healing.
I want to take the risk of hope. Of forgiveness. Of moving forward into the life I am called.
So the next few moments in life are going to be filled with a lot of heart to hearts with Jesus, a lot of questions, and a lot of listening. I can't wait to see what He has to say, and I am choosing to hope. I won't allow my wounds to cause me to question my identity. The wounds do not define me, and it's about time I start living that way.
Now, it's time to get to that holy work.