hard things realized

My heart beating wildly, I struggled to make sure I had heard right. I asked again for the last name…and I knew it was true. Before I could stop it, words came rushing out, speaking of a time that I had thought forgotten. The very mention of his last night…made my heart beat in panic, made that bitterness boil up, made me see red…and then I tried to move on to the purpose of our gathering.

There were times when this revelation would come to mind throughout the week, though often I was able to distract myself. I wanted to remember to tell my dear friends because they would understand my heart agony, and perhaps justify my rage. The night it had all been revisited in my mind, I had pondered many things on my journey homeward. Sometimes I love the journey home in my car, quiet and some music playing…but more often than not, God catches me in my car and we have conversations about things that I need to come to terms with.

And I have to be truthful and say that one my way home that night, I thought to myself ‘Okay God, that wasn’t very funny. I totally didn’t want to revisit that. But you know what, I think i’m good. So thanks for that.’

This morning (Sunday) on my way to church, the sun shone brightly and I hoped for a day much like the radiance and warmth that had graced us yesterday.  On the short journey to church, i revisited what I had learned and remembered, because I wanted to share my disbelief with my friends. I knew that we wouldn’t have time to chat until after church so i didn’t want to forget.

Walking up the path to the doors, I was not ready for what I was about to encounter. My heart began to beat hard as again my mind revisited some of those moments I tried so hard to forget. And while my mind was preoccupied with the fact that there were no people greeting at the door, I looked up to find my vision filled …with a figure standing off to the side of the entrance. And I willed myself to keep walking. I willed myself to not panic as the thought of him had begun in many several times before. I willed myself to not cry, to not wail and mourn…but to let my outside reflect none of the conflict I felt.

inside the door of my church this morning, stood the very person whose name I had heard mentioned this week, who I have not seen in 5 years and whom I was working through my remembrance of. My first reaction, other than ‘Just keep walking Janel’ was ‘ This is NOT funny God. I am not amused right now. What in the world do you possibly think this could benefit my life?’

and when this same person entered the service and sat three rows in front of me, I dismissed myself from the service and went out to catch my breath and perhaps find someone to pray for my hurting heart. I did dialogue with God a bit, tried not to repeat in my head ‘Are you kidding me?!?’ and try to breathe at the same time. I ended up returning to church and making it through the service…but as the final hymn began to play I remembered not only the hurt he had inflicted on m heart and soul, but the ways in which I had been responsible for hurting him as well. And my heart was then overcome with the realization that I had messed up badly, and some of the anger that lay harboured in my heart was the work of my own hands.

I wandered like a pilgrim searching for fresh drink, finding my dear friend and grasping her for dear life. Thankfully where we were was deserted and we were able to talk freely and I poured out the aches of my heart to her. The disbelief of earlier in the week, the remembrances and the running into all in the same week.

As I reiterated to her my statement of ‘God this isn’t funny at all’, She asked me a question that I won’t soon forget…’It could have been God that brought this into your life. But it also could have been the evil one bringing up old news to bring your heart to a place of despair and wallowing’. She continued, ‘it seems to me by saying ‘God, is this a joke?’ that you are implying that he’s somehow up there, looking down on you and amusing himself with your heartbreak. This Janel, is as far from the truth as you could get.’

She challenged my view of God, and I had to admit that I struggle to trust Him. I have a head knowledge of who He is and what He’s done for me, and also the desire He has for relationship with me. Moving that knowledge from my head to my heart or vice versa, or making it a reality, is a different things entirely. That is something I’m striving to come to a genuine understanding of.

As I shared my words with her about who God was to me, tears began to fill her eyes and she began to weep. She shared with me that as I had been speaking about my struggle in my relationship to truly know and be known by my Saviour, she had seen clear as day before her, an image of the Lord as a shepherd. And in his arms, he cradled a sheep, he was speaking gentle words to the sheep, lavishing his love and care upon the sheep…and he had it close in his never ending and enduring embrace. She said the sheep was me. That God longed for me to know him in that intimate way that she had just described. I was reminded of the verse,

“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.”  John 10:14 (KJB)

As I continued to share my heart, I let her know that my heart was starting to fill not only with bitterness and anger remembering my experiences, but also shame and anger over the way I had let myself treat him. I was beating myself up for things I didn’t think I would do as a ‘good Christian girl’. Things that I didn’t want to admit I was capable of, because then i’d have to admit that I am fallible, that i mess up, that its not always about what others have done to me, but rather sometimes what has happened at the blow of my own hand.

My friend, my dear companion on this journey of life, then spoke words of freedom, of liberation, into my life. Words that are still making themselves known in my heart, but words that are TRUTH and are like water to my parched soul, which had been looking so long for answers. she reminded me,

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”Romans 8:1 (NIV)

No condemnation. None. Everything that I had been wallowing in, everything that I had been beating myself up with…all of those things had been washed in the blood of the lamb. Forgiveness and healing must occur, but holding onto those hurts, letting that bitterness and shame push itself down so deep into my very being that I begin to doubt my Father’s unconditional love but instead think of him playing practical jokes on me and causing me pain as I revisit moments over again. I know he wants to work on these things in my life and in my heart. He does not desire to CAUSE me more pain but rather to work through the pain, of removing each of these thorns that wound so deeply and I’ve let fester, rather then letting his healing hands work on them. Removal will be painful, healing comes at a cost…but the freedom found in releasing those chains comes, when the Lamb hears the voice of HER shepherd and comes RUNNING because she knows, without a doubt, that her ‘sins that were once scarlet, have now been made whiter than snow.

there is no condemnation…NONE, for those IN Christ Jesus.

Go forth in this freedom, little lamb.


Linking up with Michelle, Shelley, Emily and Jennifer.

21 thoughts on “hard things realized

  1. Wow Janel, this is powerful. You should come over and link it up with Duane and I today as we talk about the chapter in Wonderstruck on forgiveness. This speaks of God wildly dedicated to us, to see us healed and walking in freedom. Love the serendipity of it all, the way He loved you through all the details He used relaying the message in the way only He would know you would hear it.

    • I’m so glad that I popped in here from IP! I especially loved the relationship here between you and one who is a true friend, how she spoke truth in love to you. What a treasure.

      • I am so glad that you did stop by. I am so happy to read your posts…they speak to my heart. I feel like when I was at Jumping Tandem I only got to know half the room. But I’m blessed to “meet” you here

    • Dear Shelly,
      Thank you for taking the time to read my post (it was quite lengthy) and for recommending that I link up at your ‘Wonderstruck’ linkup. I am humbled that you have seen something worth sharing in my words. Continue dear friend to speak the truth which he places on your heart. I am blessed by your gift.

    • it seems so strange at times when people share a bit of their heart and you realize that you aren’t alone in the journey…that you are able to thing ‘I thought i was alone’ and know that was never the case, because in EVERYTHING he walks beside. thank you for the reminder that he holds us each so near and so lovingly!

    • One day, i pray that my eyes are opened to see myself in the way in which she had seen. To see her weep, to know it was so evidently laid for by God before her…made my heart yearn to know what she described. thank you for sharing what you felt when you read this.

  2. That was a powerfully written piece. Thanks for sharing it. And isn’t it great how God gives us dear friends to journey with us, and at times borrows their voices to speak truth into our lives?

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I am blessed to have you read my thoughts. “borrow their voices to speak truth into our lives” – yes, this…i shall ponder this idea. thank you

  3. Janel, the way that you pour out your heart here is startling and revealing and so very honest and so, so brave. I am so thankful that you have a friend who can speak truth into your life, right when you need it. And I am even more thankful that you were able to hear and receive it. The Word is so powerful and it is true–NO CONDEMNATION. Amen. and Glory. And Hallelujah. Rejoicing with you that the God of the Universe cares so deeply about you.
    Love you and your heart, friend.

    • Oh dear friend, what a blessing to have you read what I have struggled to put into words. I’m still learning to ‘hear and recieve’…my rebellious heart would rather not. I pray that my heart is made tender in His hands. I am still striving to claim ‘no condemnation’ but so glad that I have a voice reminding me that its TRUTH

  4. I had to take a Xanax, once, to get through a birthday party with someone around whom I experienced profound anxiety. It was terrible, all of it. You sound very strong to me, and I’m glad for your dear friend and gladder, still, for God the Father working in your life. Here’s to healing and forgiveness.

    • Brandee, what a blessing to see you commenting on my post. Thank you for sharing your own experience. Thank you friend for seeing strength, where I am only beginning to catch a glimpse.

  5. This is so touching Janel. What a beautiful experience you had with your friend and her vision. I love God moments like that!


  6. Wow, this is powerful.

    I have often considered God that way too, that He almost laughs after placing me in bad situations.

    What a great gift to have a friend lead you through this difficult time.

  7. Tears, Janel. I have only tears. Just this afternoon on a walk, God revealed to me that I carry with me some deep feelings of defeat and shame – and fear, that I have somehow been a big disappointment to him. And so, I didn’t know how much I needed to hear this message, to know I, too, am that little lamb cradled in his arms, not condemned by my past, but dearly loved and redeemed. So precious, that God broke through this painful experience to bring deeper healing to your heart, and that you passed that along to us. Bless you, sister.

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