Yup, I'm talking about Lent. While I only just barley understand it (and I have been told by several people that only Catholics "celebrate" it...I am a Christian, I'm still going to celebrate it), I am going to learn about it while I'm at it!
God has brought me through A LOT since Thanksgiving. That is the main reason for the quietness. While I cannot post everything on here for personal reasons, I will say that I am so much more anchored in who I am in Christ than I have EVER been before! That is absolutely invigorating!
I have been part of a small group since the week of Thanksgiving. These people are absolutely amazing, and when I first started, I felt like the spiritual baby of the group. I also felt like, "Wow, these people are amazing! Why do I deserve to be in this group? I'm not that good of a person."
It has taken nearly four months for me to finally come around and understood that, as humans, we are not worthy of God's grace and blessing and none of us deserve anything good, but by God's grace, He GIVES us that grace and puts those people in our lives that will edify and and lift us up. Ask, seek, knock. That may seem contrite to some, but when you can feel that in your soul....wow...the power of that is out of this world!
I'll be straight honest. Around Christmas, I started getting angsty in my flesh. These people (my small group) were not showing any sign of not wanting me to be around. They were also not showing any sign of wanting me to go away. That BOTHERED me. My whole life I have been pushed aside, told I wasn't good enough, or left out, so I'm use to rejection. When they weren't showing signs of rejecting me, I started acting out.
God took me through a few storms. One of them was feeling loneliness (that will be another post), and one of the others was overeating (gluttony). Those were HARD because they were heart issues and faith issues. I didn't realize they were faith issues until one of my friends pointed it out. Through those storms, I was clingy, whiney, angsty, and ten kinds of other things. There were times when I would physically be doing something/saying something/acting out and I would have this third person view of myself, internally screaming, "WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?!?!?! STOP IT!" And my flesh wouldn't stop.
This last weekend was kind of the thing that tore it. It was stupid, but I attend church with two of my friends and they went in before I got there and I got there and waited for them. After about ten minutes, I tried calling them, no answer. Texting, no answer. I went in and there they were. I was hurt. I am a grown woman and I was hurt by something so trivial. That certainly showed what was in my heart.
And I showed that hurt in my demeanor towards them, even if I was screaming at myself from the inside, "KNOCK IT OFF!!"
When my friends and I parted ways after church, I saw the hurt on one of their faces and the concern on the other one's face and it hurt me. I turned and walked to my car, crying. I saw right there how my bad attitude hurt these people who have done nothing but LOVE me unconditionally and accepted me despite our differences. I was humbled and ashamed and my heart hurt because my actions and attitude hurt God's heart...and theirs.
My knee-jerk reaction to high emotions, especially painful ones, has been to smoke (I'll get on that one another day) and eat until I felt better. I had every intention of doing both. I pulled into the parking lot where I could satisfy both of those fleshly cravings, parked, got out of the car, and walked towards the restaurant....and I never made it to the door.
It happens that at the place I stopped at, there was once a big grocery store that is no longer there, so there is an equally big parking lot that is now empty. I stomped around the parking lot, purse and keys and cell phone in hand, for an hour. Crying, whining, repenting, occasionally screaming...all at God. (And, Lord, thank YOU that You are big enough to take my childish tantrums!!)
After I had my say and fill, I got back in the car and went home. I sent my two friends a text, apologizing for my attitude and disposition. They both answered with love. That made me cry more.
Fast forward to last night at small group. I admitted to them all that I had been acting out because I am use to rejection and when they weren't rejecting me, I did what I could to try to get them to reject me. It didn't work.
They all answered with love.
I am so very very humbled and so very thankful and speechless by God's amazing grace in my life and love for me. I have never experienced community and understanding....or anything like my small group ever in my life. No grudges. They bear with me through my junk, and love me all the same.
I pray that those who are reading this have the opportunity to experience this kind of love. This is Godly, amazing, LOVE like you will never believe. I know there is going to come a time where I am going to have to bear with them, and I know that part of the reason God led me through this really tough time with these amazing people is so that I know HOW to bear through all of the hurts and trivialities when I need to. And how to answer...with love.
God's blessing and love.