We've all asked this question too many times to count. Tossing in our beds with midnight skies surrounding us; we lay awake tormented by words and choices that changed our lives in split seconds: breakups, a falling out with a friend, an opportunity lost ... "What happened?"
It's moments like this when it's so easy to slump into the negative space that our wounded minds and hearts have a tendency to create. Too many of us answer the "What happened" question with negative self talk, self blame and fear.
Fear has such a nasty way of reshaping the truths of who we are and convincing us that we are who we truly are not. Fear tells us that it's all our fault, that we deserve it, that we messed up, that we are hopeless.
So many tear stains on our pillows fall as a result of lies rather than truth and though it is so difficult to see the silver lining in the midst of our worst moments, I want to remind you all that fear is a liar and the enemy is the father of lies. His goal is to steal our joy and prevent us from confidently clinging to the value that Christ has placed over us - a value that declares we are purposed, promised and protected!
We may never understand why God allows certain experiences to visit our lives, but we know that all things work together for His glory and our good, so the reason really isn't important. What's most important is how we choose to allow God to develop us in the mess, knowing that our ashes can reflect His beauty in all things. So, take these three suggestions as you navigate through your midnight experiences, which are honestly a perfect backdrop for God's light to shine!
1. The Truth is a Confidence Booster
Intimidation sets in when we mistake assumptions for truth. When we elevate our feelings and emotions over the scriptures- we hide. We allow ourselves to slump into mindsets that emphasize the negative, though it's never near what is true. But we experience continual victory when we declare the truth of scripture with confidence that it really will set us free from any negative word, feeling or opinion that surrounds us. “… if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 7:34. Because of this freedom, we can see ourselves in the defining light of the truth and Word of God- we are precious and valuable and we have great worth. No more wishing we were different or that what is behind us will always define us. No, in Jesus, we have grace and mercy which both beacon us to come, to trust and to rest. We are continually invited to come boldly to God's throne of grace. What a confidence booster- that nothing I am dealing with will disqualify me from accessing God. Nothing. Why? Because He loves us.
Society will always remind us of who we were, but the saving grace and love of our Savior always reminds us of who we are becoming, through the power of His holy scriptures. We are loved. The pressure of perfection cannot withstand the security of claiming Christ's unconditional love over us. That is where our value lies. And the world and our pasts can never take this away.
2. Our Present; God's Presence
I am a firm believer that the past prepares the present and the present impacts our future. There is no way around that. What we did yesterday will have an affect on tomorrow and those who heed the lessons learned in hindsight will benefit with better outcomes if wisdom is applied. In so saying, though the past does affect the present, God's presence is not omitted by our past failures. The regrets we've made, words that went misunderstood, decisions we are ashamed of ... that's what we did; it isn't who we are. Some parts of our past we must take responsibility for, but some parts were truly out of our control. We cannot control someone else's decisions. We cannot control someone else's opinions, remarks or rejection. Either way, we can't allow these hurts and devastations to influence our self perception or dimension the value God has placed on us.
I personally struggle with this: accepting the truth that my past affects my present, but that my present is not subject to my past. I can't tell you how many conversations I've replayed in my mind, how many scenarios I wish I could re-create for the sake of maintaining friendships, opportunities and my reputation. But those occurrences are gone and I don't want to be chained to what is no more. I have a life to live and God's abundance to enjoy! You do, too. So, girl, we've just got to stop. It's time to dry our faces and lift our heads, know where our help comes from and that we are the head and not the tail. We are not limited to what was done or wasn't done because God's not done! He's still working and as long as we're still willing, today and every day to follow is a true gift and greater blessing! It's our opportunity to experience His new and fresh mercies that rise over us with each new sunrise.
“With everlasting kindness, I will have compassion on you,' says the LORD your Redeemer." Isaiah 54:8
3. God Sees All Sides
Sometimes, the greatest hindrance in celebrating our value and our worth in the midst of negative experiences is the remorse that justice might never come. How can we rejoice when the guilty party seems to have gotten away with it? How can we be happy knowing that a relationship we valued or an opportunity we prepared for slipped right out of our fingertips without any warning or curtesy call? Remember, God knows all things, sees all things and allows all things for His purposes. What you are dealing with is not a secret to Him. What was said to you did not pass by God, unbeknownst.The forgiveness you struggle to give, the wrongs you want to right, the apologies you've expressed, the disappointment, frustration, confusion, doubt ... He sees it all, girl, and He is in control!
"We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ"- 2 Corinthians 10:5
What this scripture reminds me of is that perception is rarely actual truth. It's so easy to get caught up in our own thoughts and feelings and falsely claim these as realities. But seriously, there really are two sides to every story and God sees them simultaneously. Nothing escapes Him. He knows all things and still calls us chosen! He still has a plan and He still has a calling over us, no matter what.
So we truly can rejoice and celebrate who we are and who God is continually forming us to be because no-one and nothing can or ever will change that; not even ourselves! So I want to encourage us all to look ahead, look forward and look up! Your value was never in your relationships with people, but always hidden deep inside the security of God's love over you!