I talk about waiting a lot. Mostly because that's been the theme of the past couple of years of my life.
But also because it's been the thing that God has used to turn my heart and identity upside down (or right side up, depending your perspective.)
Two years ago, I stopped painting.
I stopped writing.
I stopped all intensive exercising.
I stopped looking for opportunities to move forward because I just felt that it was time to be still.
And, most significantly, God told me to just wait.
"You've forgotten who you are," He said. "I'm going to help you remember."
Almost exactly a year ago, I took a very long walk to get away from my home for the evening. Nothing was wrong in particular, except that we got the news that family wanted to come visit soon. I remember feeling the anxiety rise up inside me as I imagined how I could explain my season of waiting to them. I didn't want to be misunderstood. I didn't want to be judged. And there were so many things I didn't understand myself about why the heck I needed to do nothing —or even how long this season would last.
So I walked. And I found a bench right as the sun began to set, and there I sat and waited for my Father to speak to me.
I'm not leaving until you give me an answer. Tears rolled down my face. Or I'm pretty sure they did, because they are as I remember this moment. I will wait here all night until you give me some kind of clarity.
I remember watching the clouds dance across the sky as they turned from white to gold and red. And what felt like hours later, though I'm sure it was only mere minutes, a still small voice filled my space on the park bench.
"You forget who you really are. That's the source of all this hurt you carry. It makes you feel unsteady, like you're trying to cross rushing waters on a makeshift raft.You believe the lie that you will never be enough. Not for Me, or your loved ones, or even yourself."
But what's the answer? Who am I then? Will you help me remember? What's the truth? I'll wait here all night for you to speak.
And I waited a long time watching that sunset. At one point I wondered if time had frozen because there was this moment where the colors were so vivid it was unreal. And it lasted far longer than a sunset normally does (in my opinion). Or perhaps it was just because I was sitting still enough that I finally took it all in —the time it takes to paint the sky.
And what He told me next might sound odd to you. It certainly sounded odd to me, even though I know it's true.
"My sweet girl, if you want a new heart to pump life inside of you,
then what is dead needs to be cut off.
Feeding off of the approval of others has left you a shell of your true self."
When I finally walked home that night, my husband asked me why I took so long to get home. I told him about my anxiety about having to explain to family why I was waiting. I didn't want them to think that I was lazy or stupid and taking advantage of my husband's student salary.
"That's why you need to keep waiting."
"You need to realize that what you are doing is of value, Jeana," he said. "When people ask me about you, I tell them the truth: that you are an artist. That you paint sometimes and you write sometimes, and you bake a lot these days. I tell them about how I admire your creativity. That right now, you make our home into a lovely place to be, and I would be miserable without you —the real you. I could come home to a wife that is burnt out and stressed as I try to get my PhD. But instead I come home to someone who loves me dearly and makes wonderful art and food in our own home. And until you realize that that is priceless —that you are priceless— you need to keep waiting."
And then I cried. I really do forget who I really am.
But thankfully, I have a husband and Heavenly Father who remember for me.
The past couple years have been the undoing of me.
I've been turned upside down and tipped over until all the things I thought I could build my life upon were laid upon the ground.
These aren't bad things —it's a gift to live life in any of those roles. But when they become things to place on the value scales of our self worth, they become idols that never grow us or shape us into who we are meant to be. Instead, we worship people and titles and job descriptions as if they can set the earth upon its axis and keep the sun rising and setting everyday.
And we are left running in circles, wondering why we're so tired and unsure about who we really are.
So, friend, if you are wondering why there's this pain you can't shake, why you can't quite catch your breath, why it's hard to feel rested, then let me tell you this: It's time to stop.
I don't know what you're holding onto that needs to be put down for a little while. But if you catch a moment to listen, I'm sure He'll show you. During the weeks that passed after I went on that walk, God began to speak into my heart about who I really am:
"I want you to listen to who I SAY YOU ARE:
When you know that YOU ARE MINE and that THAT IS ENOUGH,
then you don't have to live a life buried in the ground of your fears.
I'm bringing you back from the dead, and you're going to grow up in my love for you
—into your identity as my beloved daughter."
We have only this one sweet and wonderful life to live. Let us not waste it because because we forget who we are. Instead, let's try to remember who God is and what that says about us.
And when He calls you or me to be still for a while, let us be unafraid to wait for Him —to watch Him paint the sky.
( I wrote this piece as a guest post for Annie Eskridge's blog Making Room for Peace )
I so appreciate you being here! I wrote these words for you, and I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
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