Pain Like Never Before…

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I was not expecting this or was I ready. But, God the Father already had this figured out. He knew this season was going to be a time of pruning and pain. He also knew it would be the point where I finally learned how to let Him love me.

Going to ministry school was something that I felt God had been speaking to me for about 2 years. Unfortunately my idea of ministry was only a small piece of what it has actually been. Yes, there has been theology and Bible study and my knowledge in those areas is already expanding and I look forward to even more growth there.

The other side of ministry school was something that took me by surprise. It involved LOVE. More specifically the LOVE of the Father. Even as I write this, I am beginning to cry yet again. I cried, no wept, for 2 hours today. Why? All because of the amazing love of the Father. In this time with Him today, He pruned me… deeply. It hurt… deeply. I felt love in this pain… and even though it was one of the hardest moments in my life, I can honestly say it was probably one of the moments where I felt the most love I have ever felt. Yes, in a moment of my worst pain, I felt the most love ever!

As the tears began to fall, it was the beginning of worship. I don’t even remember what song we were singing, but I couldn’t even sing, I just stood there, arms by my side, head down, tears rolling down my face falling to the floor. I began to ask Papa why I was crying, and all I heard was, let it go Irene. Stop trying to be strong, it’s ok to be weak. In your weakness I am strong… let me be strong for you.

Then He proceeded to bring me through moments in my life, moments of pain and regret and loss, and as we remembered together, and I cried, He asked me for each memory… and He took it from me. His patience and tenderness for me made me cry more because I felt like I didn’t deserve it. He told me I did and reminded me of His love for me no matter what. I cried more…

I wondered if the tears would ever stop…

Worship continued and I fell to  my seat and then to the floor and the tears fell as abundantly as the memories floated through my thoughts. The Father remained by my side, holding me, loving me… because He chose to.

Worship ended and my tears finally subsided, though I was wrecked, physically and spiritually… I had nothing left in me, or so that’s what I thought.

I got home, and called my husband, and the floodgates opened up again. As I cried and shared with him, the Father showed me His love for me yet again…

He showed me that I was to see the beauty in myself so I could call out the beauty in others…

I wept again…

In my weakness and my lack, my Daddy strengthened me and breathed life into my spirit. His life-giving breath filled me and refreshed me giving me hope.

At this point, the sobbing stopped  and as I quietly cried I realized I had a new hope for who I was in Christ. In that moment, with my tear-streaked face, puffy eyes and snotty nose… I began to see myself as beautiful and as the Father’s beloved… even as tears continued to flow, He was there catching every single tear and loving me.

I know my process is not complete, I will always be in process with the Father. This day has been a defining moment for me though. I will walk from a place of renewed strength, filled with hope and life in a new direction looking for beauty which is born out of pain… a beauty that the Lord has found in me and is teaching me how to find in those around me.

My Revelation…

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My life has been a variety of experiences and challenges both blessings and hardships. I know all of us can relate. We each have many stories to share of our life journeys. Even as we look back many years later, we often remember the moments so clearly and the emotions that surrounded that time. Sometimes it even knocks us down with the overwhelming realization of what happened. This is what I found this morning while drinking my coffee and having my quiet time with the Father… He took me back over a period of time in my life and showed me truth. His Truth. He allowed me to see that time in my life as He saw it. And, all I can say is, WOW and let me share…

As this particular time in my life began, I was searching for meaning. I needed to know that there was a reason for everything. I had lost my mom, my marriage and even myself. If I was to survive and not self-destruct… I had to find myself.

I did find a way to God like I had never known before. Being raised Catholic, I believed in God and prayed and knew He was with me, but I didn’t really have a relationship with the Father. I did not know Him, because I didn’t know His Word. I really did not understand that Jesus was there always and that the love of the Father was covering me always. So, to say the least, when I met Jesus and became part of the family, I came to know God better and began to deepen my relationship. But, in that revelation, I lost sight of everything else.

I became a “Jesus Freak” and not in a good way. I became judgmental of everyone around me if they were not like me. I felt like I was doing the right thing and everyone else was wrong. I alienated many people during that time in my life because of my actions. The crazy thing is, I thought I was doing it for God and being a good daughter.

Even in my ministry work and serving at my church, I lost sight of the great example that Jesus himself gave us…

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.   John 13:12-14 (NLT)

When we serve others, we humble ourselves to loving them, just as Jesus did.

I served and worked hard, but it was all about the “tasks” and not LOVE. The most important thing about serving God, in whatever capacity you do, is to walk in love… ALWAYS.

I thought I was loving, because I was in ministry and serving all the time… didn’t that mean I loved the Lord and the people? Not really. Where was my heart? Was I putting the tasks and the stuff, whatever it was, before the people? And, essentially, before the Father?

Had I become like the Pharisees…? Oh no! That mere thought haunted me and made me sad… and in that moment, Jesus allowed me to see my heart. I had been confused and misguided and distracted, but not completely. As, I read His Word more, I came to know Him and His nature and well, my heart began changing. OH, our Lord is so good to us as He constantly guides us… such a good, good Father!!!

As my heart began changing, I knew the Father was taking me in a new direction. I had been shown that I needed to love more, and love unconditionally. But, it needed to start with me… the Father wanted me to know how much HE loved His daughter and wanted me to love myself too. Only then would I be able to to love others fully.

Loving ourselves is often harder than loving someone else. But, you cannot truly love to the capacity the Lord has given us if we cannot love ourselves. Once we love ourselves, we understand the love of God. With that understanding in our minds and His love in our hearts, we can go out and serve others in the fullest magnitude possible!

10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.  1 Peter 4:10-11 (NASB)

I now know what it means to serve God and walk in His love. I also believe that I needed that season in order to be ready to receive what I have currently been given. Each season in our life is a step closer to the Father and part of our path in becoming more like Jesus. My love towards people around me is so much more now that I understand the Father’s love. I am most excited that I constantly strive to find ways to share love and cover others with that most amazing love. I want to show people how. Everyone needs this love… and it is available. We are charged with showing the world so everyone can know the love of the Father. Don’t waste an opportunity… it might not come again.

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