I’ve looked at life from both sides now….

Devotional for this post

From inside the meeting fellowship and outside of it.
From a workers viewpoint to that of just an ordinary person.
From a servant to a saint.

Am I any kind of authority? Not really. I’ve just had a very few experiences along the way compared to most. Have I had regrets? Yes, quite a few. Do those regrets come back to haunt me from time to time? Yes, they do. And, that is what this post is all about.

Re-writing my story.

I read an article recently by Heidi Priebe titled “26 Ways to Take Your Life Back When You’re Broken” and one of those ways was to re-write your story. She said:

“The past is nothing more than a story we repeat for ourselves and allowing ourselves to understand this is an incredibly liberating notion.”

She talked about journaling out experiences:

“until you’re able to come to a new understanding of why things happened the way they did. Learn to pinpoint the experiences for growth within the destruction of your past and then move forward with those experiences close to your heart.”

I don’t believe anyone gets through life without some regrets; decisions they made that they wish they hadn’t made. And, not just in our youth either. Those regrets can keep us awake at night, eat us alive, wear us down, rob us of our joy, and cause us to get stuck in the present because we haven’t deal with our past.

Of course, that is the essence of the Gospel; to forgive, to redeem, to set us free. We know this in our heads and hearts but sometimes there are unfinished chapters that come back to haunt us. Not because God hasn’t forgiven them but because we need to re-name them.

So, in this light, I thought first of all of the times in the Scripture when God renamed someone. He was helping them rewriting their story. Like Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Cephas to Peter. Revelation 2:17 speaks about a time when those who are saved will get a new name in heaven and that will be the ultimate life story do-over! Our names are going to be very carefully chosen by God Himself and each name will loaded with meaning. What I find also interesting in that verse is that it says that no one will know our new name except each individual person. I wonder why? Someday we’ll know. We can only speculate now on that one.

“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”

But my main point here is this; God is going to re-write our story. We will be known as we are known. Truly known. (Is a good thing!? I think it will be because He is going to finish the story; not us.) The Bible calls it redemption. Turning ashes into joy. Bringing to life what once was dead.

What about my story? I’ve already re-written some of those chapters from bad to good and it has really helped. Like my parents’ divorce when I was very young. God used this experience over and over again when I was in the Work (ministry) when working with children of divorce. Or my relationships with men (beginning with my father) that did not go well. My father forsook our family when I was 5; Jesus assured me He would never forsake me.  I’ve dated men who could not commit, love me unconditionally, or choose me over others.  Jesus is 100% committed to me, loves me unconditionally, and chose me! 

A quote from The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren, Daniel Amen & Mark Hyman says

“God promises that he will fit everything – even your setbacks, relapses, and failures – into his plan and purpose for your life. God loves to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones and crucifixions into resurrections.”

A big one for me that needed re-writing was all my years in the ministry; nearly 22 of them. I have ranted and raved at others and at God for those years, calling them wasted at times, feeling they are the reason I am alone now and have so little materially compared to my peers; both relationally and financially.

This kind of thinking got me nowhere. I still don’t know for sure if it was God calling me into that ministry back in 1974 or if it was pressure from the group (the fellowship), or my own messed up thinking of wanting approval of others and to be the best in that group that I could be. I was so determined at the time to do something different in my life than other members of my family had done. Maybe it was a little of everything.

What I do know now is that being in the ministry those years saved me from some very likely heartache. I would not have known how to choose wisely in marriage at that age so the likelihood of ending up divorced (like all the women in my family) and being a single mother were in my favor. I will say this; ALL the women in my family who raised their children alone did an amazing job. They were powerful, strong women who raised some great kids who are now amazing adults.

Being in the ministry put me in the Word on a daily basis at a level I seriously doubt I would have attained otherwise and I will be forever grateful for that. I met hundreds of people I wouldn’t have met otherwise and got to see much of the US and Canada. I had strong friendships and experienced a comadarie with the workers that I miss to this day.

Finally, had I not been in the ministry so long, I may never have begun to long for so much more of God than I was experiencing in that church. To see what was missing and what was so wrong. I wouldn’t have started asking, seeking and knocking and I wouldn’t have discovered the Gospel of Grace and freedom and deliverance of the stronghold that church had on me.

It has taken me years to re-write those chapters of my life. The years of loneliness after leaving the meetings lead me into a deeper, sweeter relationship with God than I had ever known before. Without so many others to lean on, I leaned into Him hard and found He could handle it. Yes, I don’t have much materially or financially but I have what I need; just not always what I want.

God has been faithful every day, every year. He has not failed or forgotten me no matter how weak my faith at times, how small my love, how foolish my choices. He keeps refining my spirit and my character and teaching me more and more of His love and grace.

So, my readers, what chapters in your life do you need to re-write for the sake of your peace and your liberty and your growth?

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “I’ve looked at life from both sides now….

  1. Hi Darla
    I love reading your blog.

    As far as regrets about the past ….I have been looking at the past as a launching pad for the future. What great energy our past has given us to fly into the future God has planned for us!

    Also, don’t worry about not having material things ….mine are a hindrance! Not the money of course, I’m very grateful for my generous superannuation. However, God does amazing things.

    Take care
    Barbara

    Like

  2. Darla you will probably never know the people’s lives which God used you to touch during your years as a worker, your reward truly will be heaven. It isn’t our nature to say thank you to someone for a gift that isn’t visible and sometimes words can’t express our gratitude until years later and we have lost touch with the person who made a difference we didn’t realize at the time. Thank you for allowing God to use you now through your blog for those like me that you will never meet or know personally.

    Like

    • Thank you, Sam, for your very kind words. I immediately thought of other workers and friends who had words that made a difference in my life as well and that God will not forget that either.

      Like

  3. Darla, once again your thoughtful posts resonate with your readers in a remarkable way. I am so glad you are back to blogging!! This post in particular brings back so many memories, some good, some not so good, but when we see that God’s hand was in it all…..we humbly acknowledge His amazing ability to take our wanderings (even our failings) and “recycle” them into something positive. Someone has said “God is the great salvage operator”. A comforting thought for those of us who have been down some winding paths, and even wound up “in the ditch” at times!

    While we don’t look back at the years (nearly a decade) of owning a convention grounds as a “failure” or even as wanderings, we do look back and ask ourselves how it became such a life-changing experience in a way we could never have predicted. And at times it has felt like we wasted many good years! But God was at work and He changed our “trip route”! We now believe that God used that decade to get us off a “dead-end street” and to open our eyes to what we never would have seen otherwise! We began to seek and search for the real Jesus. Instead of trying to “be like Him”, we came to understand that we can never fully be like Him, but we can appreciate what He is and what He accomplished for us on Calvary’s cross that we could NEVER do for ourselves! And recognizing that, we take up our own cross to follow…….but without the delusion of thinking we are accomplishing our own salvation by doing so!! Looking back, it was the “group-think” (we must strive to be what He was)……followed by the inevitable failures (missing the mark)……that always had us wallowing in our self-contempt and failures……..and “wanting to do better this coming year” (Ever heard that phrase?)

    I was just saying this week to Dennis that even when reading the scriptures, it is a challenge for me to lay aside the old paradigm! Hard to read the scriptures for just what they say, without all the “spin”! We now really value expository teaching but still struggle with all the effects of “cherry-picking” the scriptures that we experienced for most of our lives. We want the pure Word of God. We want “meat”, not what someone has called the “pablum” we were being fed! Can I ever get all those cutesy, rhyming little sayings out of my head? Can I ever get beyond the shallowness?
    Can I ever quit regretting the spiritual laziness of not testing, examining, and questioning?

    Perhaps it is not a bad thing to remember our past if we use it to remind ourselves of what we learned, like not touching the burner on the range because it was really painful when we did it last time!! Leaving the group was probably the hardest thing I have ever done, since so many valued friendships wound up being casualties! I still grieve over the loss. But at some point, we simply had to change directions! As Dennis puts it, the first step in de-tox is to stop ingesting the poison! Now that (for us, at least) life is mostly in the rear-view mirror, the challenge is to glean from the past in a positive way, while not allowing our past to be a burden that hinders our forward progress!

    I am still trying to learn how to let God do the driving……

    Like

    • Jane,
      You have written so clearly and honestly. Thank you for that. I could so relate to your question of “Can I ever quit regretting the spiritual laziness of not testing, examining, and questioning?”
      And I think you struggle with your years on the convention grounds like I do my years in the Work but we both are now able to appreciate where those years ultimately lead us. Oh, I wish you and Dennis lived closer!

      Like

  4. Hi Darla, it’s amazing to think how powerful an organization can be on the minds of followers. I wasn’t even a willing participant , meaning I was brought into the fellowship when I was four years old and indoctrinated accordingly. Conditioning plays a major part of our life. We have all struggled to overcome the maliciousness that can pervade our thoughts based on a self immolating culture. The context we’ve been weaved into for so long tells us that we are inherently bad (flesh), we need to deny ourselves and be perfect like Jesus.

    Conditioning even plays a major role in our culture. Let’s face it, we’ve been told a lot of things and sometimes we’ve been sold a “bill of goods”.

    Fortunately, for those of us who can read (and think for ourselves) , we saw in the scriptures that we as humans are weak in our flesh, but have a provision through the spirit that lifts us up, we have God’s grace and so on. I don’t really need to recite ad nauseum what it is we all heard numerous times and especially how it made us feel (individually).

    Since I have left the meetings, I have learned so much about God’s grace and love in a way that I never knew was possible. Besides forgiveness and redemption, I have a much greater perception of the kind of compassion Christ had on those around him and how opposite he was to the religious establishment of the day. Instead of looking down on a brother or sister who has struggled or stumbled, they would prosper if others had an actual support network instead of an established set of rules and regulations that condemns anything that doesn’t conform with the group-think.

    Also , since leaving, I have done immense research (on the group and its history) for the sake of my sanity so that I can truly come to a greater discernment and avoid double speak and have a transcendental comprehension of the kingdom of heaven without the dogmatic recitation. A didactic relationship with the creator has a more meaningful effect on our lives.

    Like

  5. Thank you once again, Darla, for your deep thoughts on such an emotional subject. I too have often looked back and wondered why I endured 35 years bound to a legalistic church in which I had such little true spiritual joy. Often they seem to have just been “wasted” years. But it’s been said that God often leads us through several ‘doors’ (i.e. life experiences) before we are prepared enough to truly appreciate being led through the doors where He wants us to be.. And now, like you, I can also look back with heartfelt thankfulness for the blessings as well as the struggles that enabled me to truly enjoy the awesome relationship I now have with Christ.. Our most holy and sovereign God has a plan for each of our individual lives. He continues to guide & lead us as He wills. All He asks is that we trust Him and obey that leading even when those experiences are impossible for our human minds to understand or our human hearts to accept..

    Like

Your comment adds interest to the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s