Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Just Breathe

As I was outside talking to my friend Mike today, the subject of time came up. I had mentioned to him that my daughter's birthday was coming up, and even as I write this I am in awe of how quickly time passes. We both felt the same way--the older you get, the more quickly it seems like the years fly by.

As I look back at the past couple of decades ( I CANNOT even believe that I am old enough to say "the past couple of decades" and still be talking about myself!!), I wonder if the girl that used to be me really enjoyed the life that was given to her. The girl that I am now is focused on totally different things than the girl that used to be me was. I used to be so concerned about what other people thought of me that I would protect my "image" at any cost. I used to not be able to bear the thought that people might think negatively of me, my family, or my home. I used to be so insecure that I couldn't (or wouldn't, depends on your perspective) allow the "real me" to emerge, proud and free. I used to be so rigid and uptight that even the smallest change in schedule would cause a meltdown. I used to, I used to, I used to...

I used to do a lot of things differently. Then I met Jesus. I don't mean I went to church one day and had this miraculous, tent revival-type rebirth where I repented of my old life and was suddenly a changed person. I mean, I discovered the meaning of one little word--relationship. Where my eyes were opened and I realized that going to church was a monotonous habit without knowing the One I was going to church to learn about. Where His merciful love was lavished on me when I didn't deserve it and His grace was showered on me. Where I discovered the difference between walking dead and being alive in Him.

As I look forward to the next couple of decades (at least I'm still young enough to say that I have at least several more decades to look forward to!), I feel like I can finally breathe. Don't you just want to say that? Just...breathe. Take in life. Live in the present, without worrying so much about what other people think or what the future may or may not hold. I finally have Someone who is strong enough to take my junk on His strong shoulders (“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.” Deuteronomy 33:12), who loves me unconditionally("Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever" Psalm 136:2), and who will never leave me (...God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” Hebrews 13:5).

I know those are some pretty bold promises, and sometimes it's really hard to believe that what the Bible claims is true. But, as time goes on, I appreciate more and more the promises in God's Word. Why? Because, like many, I can look on the past and see many different areas where I put my confidence and security: in other people, in material possessions, in appearance, in money, in acceptance, in intelligence...even in church (as in, church was my ticket to heaven). But every single one of those things let me down in one way or another, because those things were never intended for me to idolize.

This moment, this day...this is life--the good, the bad, the ugly. Embrace it. Breathe it in. Enjoy it. Be free. Allow His love to permeate some of those defensive walls that cover up past hurts. Release bitterness and unforgiveness. Give way to the perfect, redeeming love that is knocking on your door.

Just...breathe.

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