On the kitchen floor in a puddle, brokenhearted by my own actions and feeling the full weight of my mistakes. This is where I was when I understood what the cross was all about. Jesus hung there because I mattered more to him than his own comfort and happiness. I mattered so much that, even if I was the only person on earth who needed forgiveness, he still would have hung there in my place. That realization set me free rather than filled me with guilt, which at first, seems like opposite world. I guess it is opposite world – that place where Jesus lives. A place where you love your enemies, turn the other cheek, forgive, and sacrifice.
I married very young, freaked out after one year of marriage, and left my husband in pursuit of “something more secure”: a relationship that I though would bring a stable future. The truth was that I was a frightened young girl with father issues and I didn’t know I should have been turning to God for stability and comfort. Even if I did know that I should, I didn’t know how; and at the time I probably didn’t want to know. I mistakenly thought I had to leave to find happiness, contentment, and the sense of purpose and validation that I was desperately missing. What that decision brought me was over twenty years of emotional and physical abuse, which I believed I deserved for leaving my husband. Part of me still has trouble fully letting go of the guilt. After all, I made that choice and deserved whatever consequences came as a result. That’s what I told myself until the day I fully grasped that God loved me too much to let me continue that way. That’s where my long and difficult seven-year journey to freedom began. Once I was finally, truly free of the abuse and accepting the love and support of my church community, my life took an unexpected, unbelievable turn.
I received an email from the man I left so many years ago. When I saw his name in my list of messages, my first thought was “I can’t deal with this.” I was a single mom, working full-time, and still fighting ridiculous court battles with my abusive ex-husband without an attorney. My kids were suffering the consequences of living without enough money in a crappy apartment and the emotional trauma of having an abusive father and living through divorce. So, even though I really wanted to know how he was doing, I just didn’t think it was a good time to start talking to anyone. It quickly became obvious that God had another plan. The man that I prayed for consistently after I left - prayed that he had the loving wife he deserved, prayed that he was safe and happy - was miraculously, mysteriously, back in the picture. Five hundred miles apart, we began talking daily through phone calls, email, texts. Two years later, we were remarried. My marriage was restored. While we’ve had a lot of baggage to sort through, we are solidly, happily, and forever bound together. And we both know that during our years apart, God carried us through each day, paving our paths to merge again exactly where they should.
This picture of a husband loving his bride, forgiving her, and waiting with loving arms for her to come back to him – this is an example of Christ loving his bride, the church (all of us), forgiving her (all of us), and waiting for her (all of us) to come back to him.
As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. ~ Isaiah, 62:5
Father: Remove the guilt we cling to; let us feel your Spirit and understand that the sacrifice of the Son has set us free. Thank you for letting us feel your love and your presence. Thank you for being a God of restoration.
Second Best, Joshua Calhoun
Rather than a full meal, how about a refreshing, restorative drink? Coconut water with fruit. Put a few pieces of your favorite frozen fruit into a tall glass (strawberries, pineapple, berries, peaches), fill with organic coconut water. Restore your fluids!
Be still. Set aside at least five minutes and just sit there. Fifteen would be better. No music. No TV. No phone. Lock yourself in the bathroom if you need to. Take some deep breaths. Ask God to make himself obvious. Keep breathing. Be restored.