For the past two years since escaping an abusive relationship with a spiritual leader, I’ve been in a place surrounded by family who love and accept me, waiting for the next coffee break with my one good friend nearby, answering emails from long distant friends, and talking to my faithful counselor and friend once a week on the phone.
It’s all gone by so fast, and yet some painful days have not gone by quickly enough.
It’s all been so predictable and for the most part safe. Even though it’s been difficult living in a new place for the past two years, I recognize now that it has been more of a home than I thought it was. It’s been what my counselor called a protective bubble. And she prepared me early on that God wouldn’t always have me inside of it.
That’s what good counselors do, prepare you for what is to come.
Thank you, Sharon.
This past Monday life outside of this protective bubble began by going to work in a strange place, surrounded by strangers, and learning a new job.
The bubble burst.
It’s been terrifying but also strangely comforting.
I’d begun to wonder if I’d always have to live in this bubble.
In some ways I wanted to. It felt predictable and safe.
Yet in other ways I wanted out for fear I was suffocating.
Now – new people, places and things.
Opportunities for new friends.
Opportunities for new hurts.
I want to run.
I want to stay.
I want to give up.
I want to fight.
I want to be angry at all the ways my former pastor led me astray. I want to call him up and ask him why oh why did you do what you did to me?!
I want to kick myself for doing what I did in response.
The memories bombard me as I deal with new people who could potentially judge me and reject me or accept me and show mercy.
It all feels like just a roll of the dice.
But God allowed my bubble to burst, so that I could see that even outside of my protective environment He is still God. He’s my loving heavenly Father who can be counted on no matter what may come.
It’s so very hard.
But it’s also so very good.
Because I recognize I’ve learned so much.
I’m not looking for these new people in my life to be the source of all my hope.
Their acceptance cannot save me.
I’m reminded of a time ten years ago when I believed that someone could, and it ended in disaster.
Now I know better.
God is the only one Who can save me.
And He will even though I still fall short way more than I wish I did.
I wish I was a stronger Christian who could go to my work place and shine for Jesus.
I wish I could show them how faith overcomes fear.
But I can’t.
I can only be honest and let them know I’m afraid, and do the best I can pressing forward fumbling and getting back up again.
After all that’s really the best any of us can do.
Because we really only shine for Jesus when we keep getting back up, refusing to allow shame to hold us down.
He makes all things new.
Thank you, Jesus!
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.