Today, the 2010-2011 school-year came to a close.
It was a year of many challenges, and certainly did not start off on a very good note. I was thrown into Fall quarter only 12 days after the most devastating heartbreak. The days that followed September 11th were marked with misery. I couldn’t eat, or sleep, or move for days. I don’t know if you’ve ever been so emotionally sick, that you just randomly vomit from the extreme pain. I hope you’ve never had to experience that kind of suffering. But it is through my suffering that God pulled me close to Him and braced me for the whirlwind that would characterize the year to come. He filled my heart with the love to bear all things, He equipped my mind to face all challenges, He gave me the self-control to regulate my emotions, He comforted me through every ounce of grief. He let me know that it would be a long, bumpy, painstaking, agonizing journey of healing, but the results were to be eternal. At twenty years old, my loving Father told me, “Bethany, we’re about to start the first day of the rest of your life.” The old is gone, the new has come. I believe full well that God uses trials and suffering to redeem us, to mold us, to change us, and to make us more like Him. On the day I felt like my whole world had fallen apart, God was looking down on me with an eager heart to lead me toward Him.
It’s been almost nine months since that day. Wow. Most of me cannot believe that it’s been that long. But it has. Nine months ago, on September 11, my life (as I knew it) fell apart. I feel like it was only nine seconds ago that we were all just living and everything was fine and figured out. Yet, another part of me feels like this exhausting and painful journey has spanned nine years. No matter the time-frame of the mind, the reality is that the school-year has gone by in the blink of an eye. It’s unfortunate to say that many of those nine months went by without much living. However, while lacking life, this period of time was miraculously filled with lessons, growth, understanding, and spiritual maturity. It has not been an idle time, yet a time of great purpose. God wanted me to learn what it’s like to really live.
I will never argue that this year has been filled with suffering, and has broken me down in unimaginable ways. But the beautiful thing is how God built me UP. How He pulled me to Him and grounded my heart in His love.
I want to break this down a little bit further.
On that seemingly normal day in September, everything I knew, everything remotely familiar was stolen from me. All the memories dear to my heart were polluted, all the love I had developed was flushed down the drain. The man I had put my identity into walked right out of my sight and no longer wanted to be in my life. I put all my trust in him, and I’ve never experienced anything shatter so much as my trust did that day. I did not write in my prayer journal that day, but I did just about every other day during my journey through the unknown. Lets take this one day at a time.
On September 14 2010, I begged for God’s grace and love. I prayed that I would be God’s clay and that He would have His way in me.
On September 15 2010, I found myself alone on the Amtrack headed down to Oregon. Raw and numb, I headed to a Christian Workshop called “HeartChange” that I had been registered for for the past six months. God is so great in His mighty timing. I have no doubt that He orcastrated everything perfectly. The destruction of my old “identity” right before going to this workshop made it possible for me to undergo a life changing experience, a HEART CHANGE. I am now convinced that if the break up had not happened, I would absolutely not be where I am now. I would not have been the malleable clay that I was when I went through Heart Change. While, I cannot disclose any details about Heart Change, I can wholeheartedly say that God used the experience to wake me up to who He really is and to who I am in Him. In my time of dire pain and numbness, at Heart Change, I received a jolt of Jesus that would prepare me for the long grief process that was about to ensue. God had mercy on me in allowing me to realize that I really needed to grieve my loss and go about healing in His way, in His time-frame, and on His terms. And only after, He taught me the things He had in store for me to learn. On this evening, I told God I surrender. I asked Him to take the lead of my life. I told Him I had no idea what to expect, but that I knew He had brought me here and I trusted Him. God knew the hurt in my heart that night.
Just two days after finishing the workshop, I found myself in class receiving my syllabi for my fall classes. Fall quarter was marked with denial, shame, sadness, and pain. But the pain drove me to Christ. The only time I could rest, find joy, or be free from pain was in the Arms of Love–reading my Bible, praying, listening to His still, small voice.
Christmas break was a very dark time in my life, marked by depression and pain. Christmas day, I couldn’t hold back tears while watching those around me with their loved ones. I couldn’t be joyful while thinking about the years past and feeling the sting that comes from missing an entire family– a lover, a mother, a father, siblings, cousins, and grandparents. All which I lost in the blink of an eye.
The lonelier I became, the closer I sought The Lord. When you have been betrayed and there is no comfort:
“Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are on her cheeks. Among all her lovers there is no one to comfort her. All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.” Lamentations 1:2
You see, no one can love us like The Father does. No one can comfort us like He does. No one will ever know and understand us like He does.
“Turn up the music,
Turn it up loud,
Take a few chances,
Let it all out,
You won’t regret it,
looking back from where you have been,
‘cause it’s not who you knew,
and it’s not what you did,
It’s how you live.
…Wherever you are,
and wherever you’ve been
Now is the time to begin.”
(Point of Grace; ‘How You Live’)
This song sums up my feelings while facing the pain I experienced and while letting God have everything. ALL OF ME!:
“I’m not gonna hide,
I’m not gonna run away,
I’ll uncover the scars,
And show You every mistake.
Your love has mended my blisters,
And my bruising shame,
I am safe”
(Natalie Grant; ‘Safe’)
God has healed me.
I can now think of memories and smile.
I can talk to people about my journey of pain and not be phased.
I can look at pictures and be unmoved.
I can talk to him without having my heart-strings tugged on.
God has brought me through this year. Every ounce of strength I had came from Him. He has healed me fully.