Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Biblical Womanhood series. Be sure to check out the rest of the series here.
At nineteen years of age, I decided to come to terms with a dark past that had kept me burdened for almost 10 years. While I was ready to begin the healing process of the abuse that had occurred for the majority of my childhood, I wasn’t prepared for the time or the means it would take to get me there. Somewhere in my mind, I longed for a simple, quick fix to repair some significant wounds. But deep wounds need more than plastic little “Band-Aids” to heal them.
Quick fixes often seem easier don’t they? Where I overindulge in perfectionistic tendencies in areas of my life, I find myself lacking in others. Painting is clearly one of those areas. As my husband will unashamedly tell anyone, I often create more work for him when I try to paint. Specifically, my love of store bought spray paint, has led to many disasters. Just bringing up the two little words creates minor panic in my sweet husband. But I love it! Where else can you find a product capable of covering and transforming something so quickly with so little work? The problem is that over time, the lack of proper prep work I put into whatever piece of furniture, metal, or unassuming object, begins to reveal itself over time. Soon the paint starts to peel and all the flaws surface again. My desire to heal was going to take time but all I wanted in the moment was a quick fix.
My desire to heal was going to take time but all I wanted in the moment was a quick fix.
Terrified that I now had to deal with flashbacks, memories, and dark places of my past, I confided in a friend. This was just the beginning of a very messy, bumpy road and I really had no idea what to do next. Thankfully, I was attending a phenomenal church with some amazing women who were grounded in their faith. With the encouragement of a sweet friend, I agreed to see a counselor. In the beginning of my counseling, I remembered looking into the eyes of this God-fearing woman, and being told I had two choices. I could accept that God had allowed some painful things in my life and go on to experience the joy that could come in healing or I could be mad at God and become a bitter and angry person who tries to fill this void in my life with everything other than Him.
The simplicity of the choices before me jolted my sense of security. Weren’t there more options? Where was the warm fuzzy feeling I so desperately wanted? I wanted someone to comfort me not confront my theology. But pain and trials force us to make decisions about who God really is. What I did not want to admit was that God had been very small to me, someone I needed when I was caught in uncomfortable self-imposed predicaments. He was my ticket to Heaven, but not the One to whom I had surrendered my entire life. He had parts of my heart, but not all. I liked the god who I understood and could be explained in simple terms, not the One True God who is Sovereign, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Holy, and has the ultimate authority to allow events to occur in order to accomplish all that He wants in and through me without asking for my approval.
I had two choices. I could accept that God had allowed some painful things in my life and go on to experience the joy that could come in healing or I could be mad at God and become a bitter and angry person who tries to fill this void in my life with everything other than Him.
Years after my initial healing journey, I would encounter the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13. She was the daughter of King David. She is the picture of the girl who seemingly had everything. Yet what Tamar experienced was so deeply painful you wonder how she ever survived. The Bible is full of stories that would shock most people. And this story is one of those. Tamar was raped by her lustful and sly half-brother Amnon, and then left to deal with the pain and violation alone. After hearing of what had transpired, King David was furious, but ultimately did nothing. In the mean time, her full blood brother Absolom’s hatred toward Amnon builds. Absolom ultimately kills Amnon and Tamar becomes a desolate woman.
The story brings sadness and anger to my heart every time I read it. Inside this one chapter exists so much more than the few words on a page. Many stories in the Bible exist where we find ourselves hoping for the fairytale ending where fairness and good to come to all. We like a god who operates according to our expectations, lets sin slide, or prevents harm. Most people, at some point in their lives, ask the question, ”Why does God allow painful things if He is really good?” I have asked this question myself many times when I don’t like what I see…when cancer is diagnosed, when my sweet friends lose their baby at 4 months, when my daughter is in tears because of some misunderstanding with a friend, when my brother and his wife miscarry for the third time, when children are neglected by undeserving parents, and when life just doesn’t make sense.
I liked the god who I understood and could be explained in simple terms, not the One True God who is Sovereign, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, Holy, and has the ultimate authority
Ultimately, I wanted something more for myself than ending up like desolate Tamar or an angry woman on the fast track to bitterness, constantly in search of an empty quick fix. Happiness was something I was accustomed to creating for myself and it fit within the box where I kept God. What I began to desperately want was a God who would bring me joy, regardless of circumstances and based on who He really is. The victim card and allowing the pain to identify me was old and worn. My identity could be found in something greater that could help myself and others heal if I could just accept some mind-boggling truths. Joy was within reach, not because any circumstance magically changed or my past and other’s pain around me disappeared, but because there was a Someone and not a something with which to explicitly trust.
In her book When Life and Beliefs Collide, Carolyn James writes “We are called to trust a God we cannot see and often do not understand, which is infinitely more difficult to do when we are content with what we already know about him or if our understanding of his character is faulty and superficial.” This has challenged me to continue to know Him, let Him dwell in my heart and mind, and pour out truth to others asking the “why” questions too. She goes on to mention that “Even King David, with all the terrible tragedies and mistakes of his life, strongly believed that long before we are born, God plans the details of our birth, the moment of our death, and all the days in between (Psalm 139). Our lives are not haphazard journeys that evolve as we go along, depending on what we do or what happens next. Each of us is running the race God has marked out for us. This race is not determined by the good or evil actions of others, no matter who they are or how much power they hold over us. Neither do we run wherever we please. God has planned our race, and he is carrying out his plan – a plan that guarantees our good and His glory.”
Joy was within reach, not because any circumstance magically changed or my past and other’s pain around me disappeared, but because there was a Someone and not a something with which to explicitly trust.
And while there are days that I walk terrified of what He has the power to allow in my life to accomplish His purposes, I remind myself that without Him, life would be happenstance. That scares me more. God may not ever be fully explained or understood through the lens of what He allows in our lives. But I assure you there is no better place to be but in His hands, accepting all things He sets in motion. Isaiah 46:9-10 “I am God, and there is no other: I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” Yes, He is God, and I am not.
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