As I look back at who I was 365 days ago and the journey God has taken me on through those days, I get a little misty. One of my favorite analogies about life is one that describes it's days as climbing a mountain. At some points during that climb, as you look out from your path, it might seem like you're seeing the same exact thing that you saw earlier. But alas, it is not, for your are much higher and further then you were when you were last on this side of the mountain. It reminds me of that old school Third Day song, "Mountain of God".
And I know the road is hard
Well, the One who's gone before me
He will help me carry on
After all that I've been through
Now I realize the truth
That I must go through the valley
To stand upon the mountain of God
So is life, no? I know I have moments of frustration, am I SERIOUSLY struggling with this AGAIN?! And I feel like I've made no progress. That all the work and prayer and breaking and healing have been for nothing. But the reality is, that couldn't be further from the truth. The reality is, I'm further up the mountain. I have all those experiences and memories in my tool belt, and will conquer whatever is in front of me far more skillfully then I would've a year ago.
December was a hard month. It was filled with adversity and struggles and Satan being a bastard. I cried and stayed in bed a lot. My reaction in the past during times like this was to throw up the walls, bottle it up, handle it myself, and give everyone the metaphorical (and maybe sometimes literal) middle finger. Including God. Being self-sufficient ='s being self-destructive sometimes.
But this time, it was different. I immersed myself in the Word. I let myself be surrounded by people that love me. I let myself cry in front of people. I spoke with people who had walked through similar times and got awesome advice. I didn't try to do it by myself. And you know what? It was awesome. Don't get me wrong, it sucked. A lot. But all I could do the whole time was point back to Jesus. Every time I was certain I couldn't do it anymore, there He was, filling me with more peace and patience and joy then I ever thought possible. Every time I decided that I was done, I was ready to run, there He was, softly whispering "I've got this. Just keep your eyes on me." He carried me through a hard time, and now here I am on the other side, so thankful I didn't tap out.
I'm pretty sure there were periods of time that my iPod played the same song at least 20 times in a row. No exaggeration.
A sacred refuge is Your Name
Your Kingdom is unshakable
With You forever we will reign
We will keep our eyes on You, we will keep our eyes on You.
What a freaking awesome song. (You can listen to it here) It was just a constant reminder of the fact that I'm always surrounded by Him. That He is a safe place. That he is un-freaking-shakable. Everything else in this world falters, and often fails.
Unshakeable- adj. firm: marked by firm determination or resolution; not shakeable.
And now, here I am on the other side. I feel like I grew so much through December that I'm a shadow of the person I used to be. I mean-I cried in front of the Ring. (If you missed "Brag on Jesus" night, you're out of luck.) Because I threw myself into Him in a time of hardship, it gave God the opportunity to start stripping off things that just had to go. Selfishness. Impatience. Anger. Being joyless.
I'm not going to pretend I'll never be selfish or impatient or angry or joyless again. But I feel better equipped to encounter those struggles again. When I see that point on the mountain next time, I'll know I'm higher, stronger, and ready to take it on.