I'm craving Needtobreathe and moments reminiscent of 3 years ago...a quiet date night with the Lord.
Can we turn back time? Tonight, I'd really like to.
But, we can't.
I had coffee with a friend earlier in the week. We had a wonderful 3 hour visit, sharing bits and pieces of our lives, our pasts, our stories.
Inevitably, she asked me about my marriage.
So many people present in my life today didn't know me 5 years ago. They never knew me married. They never knew my previous life.
That's what it feels like...a life long ago...a different person...a distant memory that takes effort to conjure up.
And, frankly, with each person who asks, out comes a different answer from me. I don't mean I change the story, but for some reason, I don't ever tell it the same, from the same point, or even with the same attitude.
I'm not sure why this is, well, I probably do...relationships are complicated. There just isn't an easy answer. ever.
And if you have 15 minutes to sum it all up, it's kind of hard to know what to include, where to begin, and what to share.
You add into that perplexity on my own part, desiring to be transparent and genuine but respectful and not jaded, then, well, I need more than 15 minutes to explain.
Thankfully, we both had time, and we both shared hard stuff we've lived through and carry the scars and baggage, the beauty and wisdom from walking down tough roads.
But, there was a piece to the puzzle that became quite clear as I talked with her. I had shared with her how I was hell bent on getting married. I had my plan, my vision for my life and acknowledging red flags and having patience weren't part of it.
To this day, I firmly believe, God could have stood before me, in the flesh, and said, "You know Shelly, I have a different plan for you. You need to trust me...frankly, you and Me need to get to know each other, but either way, this isn't the road for you."
And this proud and fearful 20 year old, would have stared blankly back at God and said, "I got this covered but thanks."
I jumped off that bridge. On my own. With all that I knew. With all that I was taught. With the prayers of my mom from before my birth covering me. I jumped. Leaped...and left my gut behind.
Unfortunately, my choice, how I decided to conduct my life, took me down a path that was filled with hurt, pain and confusion, anxiety and fear...all that I was trying to set my life up to avoid.
All that my plan was supposed to not include...it incubated it.
I was the Titanic and the iceberg was dead ahead.
My friend and I talked about our kids and how we want them to avoid so many mistakes we made and the prayers we have for them.
I told her that as much as we want to smooth the paths, to help them avoid the pitfalls and craters, unfortunately, we can't. Our prayers, though powerful, are not guarantees.
My mom was one of the most prayerful women I ever knew. I know that she prayed for my spouse from the moment I was in her womb.
I wrestled with God with that for years.
What was the point God? She prayed, yet I chose.
And let me add...I didn't pray...just chose. (key point)
Even though my mom prayed for every area of my life, I am certain her number one prayer for me was that I would know the Lord, that I would choose Him, that I would love Him and have Him be Lord of my life. And as she prayed that prayer, I don't think she would have wanted God to share with her what all that would mean,
"Well, she will, Carol, but you will have to die, she will have to go through a hard marriage and then divorce. Your grandson will be a child of divorce and she's going to wrestle for years with Me, but mostly with herself. She'll experience My grace and forgiveness and it will change her, but it will take her years to forgive herself...
In fact, Carol, she will almost refuse to forgive herself. She will feel like she failed, which we both know that's the last thing she wants to ever do. She will experience incredible regret, which nearly kills your girl. She will have new levels of fear when it comes to relationships that she can't comprehend or manage...and Carol, this is going to take time and patience on her part...two things that she fights against. Your daughter's pride and fear will take time to break down.
But, slowly, she will come around, and she and I will meet, and her journey of trusting Me will begin."
The night I first really met God, just me and Him, occurred in March, 2004.
For several years, I had been experiencing high levels of anxiety. I didn't know what it was, but my marriage was upside down, I was incredibly unhealthy and seemingly living in the twilight zone. I had had Cade almost a year prior and my mom had been diagnosed with cancer a few months back.
My mind and body had enough. I couldn't keep it in anymore.
So, I didn't.
One night, while at a Bible study, I became violently ill, and the friend with me as I lay on the cold concrete floor feeling half dead, heard the spill of all I had been holding in for years. She got the fire hose of the secrets of Shelly's life.
It wasn't pretty.
I was down for the count in every way imaginable.
My friend and my mom got me home.
My husband was there and by now, my dad had arrived as well.
They knew something was desperately wrong, and that I needed some help...for some reason...because they didn't know a thing about my secrets...because I didn't share my secrets.
As I lay in my bed and my mom brought me Sprite, and my dad sat next to me, I begged him to pray over me.
"Just pray dad. Please, pray."
I knew that I was desperate for prayer.
And all I wanted was for my dad to pray over me.
And as he prayed, I remember becoming more desperate.
I remember thinking, my dad's prayers aren't helping.
My dad isn't saving me.
I am in a hole so incredibly deep, and the man who has always been able to rescue me, isn't.
And even scarier, he can't.
That moment. That was the moment I met God.
I grew up in a family that sang Jesus Loves Me from conception. We went to church 3 times a week and LIVED it. Our friends loved the Lord. I was involved in every class and knew my Bible. I was baptized, went to church camp, had parents that lived their faith, walked out their faith, had faced storms together, and I had watched God work in and through them.
But, not until I was 26, did I turn from my Dad saving me, to God.
It was that dark night, a night that felt like my desperation was eating my bones, that I knew this was now between me and God.
My dad can write a check, give me wise advice, shore up my Starbucks card, hug me tight, and even pray for me day in and day out, but he can't save me.
My parents' faith can. not. save. me.
I needed God. I needed Jesus.
It wasn't until I was in my own personal hell that I turned to Him and begged, pleaded for Him to save me.
So often, we have to experience our own moment of hell to realize we need a Savior; that no matter what we do or what others do, it won't save us. It can't save us.
I'm 10 years removed from that night.
Since then, my mom died. my marriage ended.
Yet I sit, still wrestling, still saying to God, "I got this covered" even if He is saying back, but My plan is better. BETTER SHELLY.
But a difference today is that I know the road before me, is between me and God. That my dad, nor a paycheck, nor a friend or my own plans will save me.
God has me in a place, that keeps me very aware of my dependence on Him.
Financially, physically, spiritually is a daily walk with Him.
I don't have many back ups, no one else to blame, no scape goats or many safety nets.
I have to rely on Him. I have to rely on the gifts He's given me. I have to recognize that I need saving, day in and day out, and that chasing Him is the best place to be.
When I returned from Boston and coming off the incredible high I had from the adventure, I told myself that chasing that high again, would mean chasing God, because that high was a God moment.
It wasn't a career high, a money high, a dating high, or any other earthly high...it was a chasing God high.
Those moments are found in Him, with Him, through Him.
When I look at my life and see the things that bring me genuine joy and fill my heart with passion and wonder, those things have been brought in by God.
They weren't in my plans. I couldn't have even planned them or thought of them.
They were better than I could have planned, than I could have dreamed.
They were or are all gifts...a weaving of life provided by God's grace.
But, certain areas of my life, I can't seem to surrender to Him. Despite my pleas and prayers, my obsession with my plan seems to override it all.
As my heart clings to, "But I want something different Lord." He keeps saying, "then be something different and leave the rest to Me."
As I drove to Starbucks tonight, I concluded that I'd really like to earnestly try. To beg Him each day to help me let go. To let go.
To. simply. let. go.
In my 36 years, one of the many things about God that has struck me as quite remarkable is His patience...His willingness to wait.
We are to wait on Him, which I never want to do, but when I think about how long and how much He has to wait on me, it seems unforgivable.
But that's where the remarkable occurs. He's kind. He's patient. He's faithful.
Through the wrestling and questioning. The ignoring and the whining. Through the pleading and begging. Through the irreverence and impatience.
He stands. He waits. He loves.
His plan continues to weave.
His willingness to enter a bedroom of a young woman, lost, lonely, scared beyond comprehension because her dad can't save her, He whispers, "but I'm Your father who can", and that my friends, takes my breath away.
From the land of broken plans but grabbing hold of being different and traveling the path set before me,