Newness through the Pain

Do you ever question how God can make anything good come from devastation? 

No one wants to walk through seasons of deep pain and grief but it is inescapable… the way of a life lived.

As much as I long for Heaven where there will be no more death and anguish, it has been these painful times of my life that have been a catalyst for change. This change has led to a maturing of my faith in the Lord. Navigating my way through this inescapable pain is where scripture became more than just words on a page but the fire that set my feet walking and my heart beating. It seems to be that the Lord has used these times to birth out of me something new…

Newness.
When I think of newness I think of the morning sun, the smell of fresh flowers, the birds chirping, and freshly brewed pot of coffee. I crave the newness each day offers.

It’s a beautiful miracle when this newness becomes more than an experience but the face of a person.

We can change our hairstyle, our makeup, our clothes, our attitude but the real change comes when we surrender and follow our Savior and He makes us new!

Without Him, we’ve just been experiencing a cheap version of what newness really tastes, smells, and feels like.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

 

Journey over to, Stop the Name Calling: from Shame to Beloved, for a proper departure from here.

 

18077409_415896848794002_415488703601875014_o

Have you ever been in such a bondage of sin that you didn’t even remember how to find enjoyment out of things that are good?

Have you ever been in such a bondage of sin that you didn’t even remember how to find enjoyment out of things that are good?

Have you ever been in such a bondage of sin that you didn’t even remember how to find enjoyment out of things that are good?

I’m sharing with you some scribblings I wrote back in 2010. This was the year I truly surrendered my life to the Lord. In my surrendering, I was scared and doubtful because I fed too long on things that nearly destroyed my soul. It was in this surrendering that this list (pictured below) was birthed.  I made a list of “holy hobbies” (go ahead, laugh … my mom did) to remind myself of things I once enjoyed and trained myself to enjoy them again. These are things that I could do that wouldn’t lure me back to the things, people, and places that had nearly destroyed my soul. I knew what “hooked” me so I stayed as far away as I could because, even as a surrendered Christian, I didn’t trust myself near those things, people, and places. You see, I now knew what the human heart was capable of and had the smarts to NEVER even peek around the corner (praise GOD!).  I was a new creation and even though I didn’t feel it, God’s word said so and I was ready to do different. So, I relearned what it meant to enjoy life without destroying my soul (read the full story here).

I’m not sharing this list with you to be cute or funny because, quite frankly, nothing about this time of my life was cute or funny. I’m sharing this list with you to show you just how deep my depravity was (so much so that I had to write out things I could enjoy without unraveling again). In addition, giving a real life picture of what “dying to self” looks like (Galatians 2:20), and that you can never be too far gone for Christ to not redeem and restore (Isaiah 61).

Girlfriend, it may be the silliest, childish thing you’ve ever done (like writing out a list of “holy hobbies”) but if it keeps you from a pit of sin, separated from God, and living in a life of shame, you go for it because the old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17) and if you are His, you are free indeed (John 8:36)!

 

 

image1-14

 

Great Follow-Up Posts:

Redemption of a Good Girl Gone Bad

An Addicts Confession

Redemption of a Good Girl Gone Bad

xjdhjnlk

A Quick Note From the Author: This is a glimpse of how Jesus saved my life. Ultimately our saving is marked the day Jesus died on the cross; however, we have free will and my free will took me down a path I never want to travel again. In addition, this piece is written from my experience and perspective. This piece is meant to share testimony to Jesus’ saving ability. To know Jesus more and personally, the only source is the Bible, his true word. 

 

Good Girl. 

I’ve spent much of my life having an idea of who Jesus was and found great satisfaction in being known as the “good girl”. I went on living this way for years until one day I didn’t. I made a public decision that dethroned me of my “good girl” title. The effects of that decision created a wave of bitterness, anger, and resentment that came crashing down. Judgement sounds hammered loud from others and left scars of hurt. One public mistake changed the way I was viewed, talked about, and befriended and, because of this, my hurt turned loose. I was out for blood only to realize it was the Devil who was out for mine.

Gone Bad. 

As I tried to hide my hurt, I built up walls of bitterness and judgment for a certain group of people: Christians. Like the prodigal son, I left to go and feed my flesh most everything it desired. The deeper I got into this bitter way of life, the more addicted to my bitterness I became. You see, I started out angry at Christians only to find out that the true anger and hate I had was toward myself. I fed on things, did things that only proved I was worth hating. I thought I was satisfied until I became bored and then it happened- it didn’t happen overnight but when it did it was abrupt. I was hit hard with conviction from the bitterness that became me, of the things I had done. As the reality of the things I had done came crashing in, I realized I didn’t know who I was anymore. Suddenly, I became tormented with these thoughts:

 

 

“What have I done and who have I become?”

Jesus. 

If you’d ask me years prior to this, I would have told you I have been a Christian since I was six years old. The truth is, it wasn’t until this particular season of life that I truly surrendered my entire heart to Jesus. For the first time in my life, I saw the condition of the human heart apart from Jesus and was in tears by his ability to love me still, desire me still, and choose me still. At the point of thinking I had failed to the point of no return, he saved my life. For the first time, I stopped trying to be “good” and just accepted that he loved me at my worst.

In the summer of 2010, I finally learned what the human heart is capable of apart from Jesus, and I’ve never been the same since. It was that day I realized, I may not know what the future holds but I know one thing and that is: I NEVER want to be separated from God like that again. I haven’t left Him since that day and His word continues to prove he is more amazing than I ever thought.

 

Click here to read: An Addicts Confession (from the Unspoken Broken) 

“Because I started to face my pain, the Lord was able to bring healing.”

“Because I started to face my pain, the Lord was able to bring healing.”

It took me years to know how to handle the hardships of grief during the holidays. I was reminded recently of the verse from Psalms 147 that says that God mends the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. This resonated deep within me. Every holiday season, it almost seems like I have this wound that has started to heal but once I start going towards these seasons, the wound starts to re-open. When someone is in pain from a deep wound, it’s hard to get their mind off the pain. Your focus is only on that hurt. Your brain makes it a number one priority. And that is how it felt for me for so long.

I can really only say that once I started seeing Jesus in my healing instead of seeing only myself, was I really able to get through a holiday without that wound re-opening. He really started to bind up my wounds, therefore He was mending my broken heart. My blood started pumping towards His heart. His blood started circulating through my body, healing my wounds. I started to become one with Him.

I try to make it a priority to see my family as much as I can during the holiday seasons, even though we are placed throughout the world. That’s where I find my joy, in the love of Jesus and in the love of those who have loved me unconditionally. I’m not afraid to go toward these seasons anymore. I’m not afraid of the grief I still face. It’s so much better to go towards the grief than to run away from it. I ran away from the wounds for quite some time. Because I started to face my pain, the Lord was able to bring healing.

However hard this upcoming holiday season may be for you, don’t run away from your hurt. Use your boxing gloves and fight. Fight for the joy that this holiday season can bring for you. But also fight for the grief you are in. It’s okay to be in it. It’s okay to have wounds. But don’t stop putting ointment on it. That ointment is Jesus. Memorize his Word in your heart so that His blood can also run through your veins. I promise it will heal you. Maybe not in your time or my time but it will happen.

As I was praying on how to end this, I was reminded of this verse. I really feel that God wants to speak Isaiah 61:3 as a promise over all of you who are reading this with a heart full of pain and hurt. Jesus cares so deeply for you that He spoke to me to give this to you. How caring is that? So please read it. Get by yourself, take all of your worries and busyness out of your mind from the day and soak it in.

Isaiah 61:3 (NIV)

“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

About Audra: Hey y’all! My name is Audra Arnold. I’m a wife to my husband, a lover of all things birds and a nanny to three adorable boys (I love my job). Most of all, I’m a daughter of Jesus. If you would like to continue to follow my story or would like to get in contact with me, feel free to add any of my media links that are listed below. Thanks for taking the time to read my post!

Stay Connected with Her:
Instagram:  _audruh
E-mail:   audey4@gmail.com

“The thing is a change in perspective has the potential to change everything.”

“The thing is a change in perspective has the potential to change everything.”

surviving-holidays-laura-gThis year will be my fourth year celebrating the holidays since my Mom passed unexpectedly and quickly from cancer. I am not an expert on grief by any means, but I have discovered some helpful ways to make the holiday season still be one that I can fully celebrate in spite of the deep loss of my Mom not being a part of it. I am writing this in the hopes that what I’ve learned will be of some use to someone else that has suffered deep loss.

I would say this is THE most important and helpful tip I could give anyone regarding grief especially as a special day approaches.
As the anticipated day approaches, (whether it’s a holiday, an anniversary, birthday or any other big day that the loss may seem greater) allow yourself to grieve, don’t wait and hold it all in, in an attempt to “save” it for that special day.
Personally, I have learned that if I allow myself to be taken under the waves of grief as they roll in, I am able to resurface and experience peace again more quickly than if I try to control it by holding back and waiting for a convenient time. Another MAJOR benefit to this practice as special days approach is that by the time the special day becomes the present day, you’ve already grieved in such a way leading up to it, that the actual day becomes less sorrowful and more a day that can be truly celebrated.

I know that this may be a hard thing to practice, as it is a natural desire for our flesh to run away from what causes us pain. If this is you, take heart, my friend, may you find comfort from Jesus’ promise in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Did you notice that it doesn’t say, “Wait before you come to me”? No, it simply says “Come”. It has been my experience that when I come to him raw with honesty about my internal state of being, he meets me right then, where I am, and he gives me exactly what I need. REST.

Isaiah 54:10 “Thought he mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” It does my heart much good to remember that He has compassion on me, he hears my cries, and no matter what happens, his love for me is unfailing!
Typically the holiday season is one filled with traditions which makes it extra hard when one that you shared those traditions with is no longer present to take part with you.
The solution I have found for this is to do things differently than you normally would have. This enables you to be creative and to spend time thinking of new ways to make this time of year special with those that you still have to celebrate with, all the while it makes it not feel quite as big of a deal that the person you’re missing isn’t there because you’re doing things that they weren’t ever a part of. For instance, if you normally would gather on Christmas Eve and have a formal dinner, try meeting in a more casual setting and having an appetizer/dessert and game night. A personal example for me, we would normally all gather at my Mom’s on Christmas for brunch. This gave us time with our immediate families in the morning to open presents. Now that my Mom is gone, I have found much joy in planning some sort of special breakfast/brunch to surprise my kids with on Christmas morning instead of rushing off to my Mom’s house. I also carry on a tradition my Mom started when I was younger and I wrap a few “family presents” (games) to put under the tree. This way we have some family activities to fill our time on Christmas Day, and it feels fun to honor a tradition she started. I find Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 especially encouraging whenever a change is hard. “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven (v 1)…A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a tie to dance (v 4).” I cry and grieve as Christmas approaches, and I laugh and dance on Christmas Day.

Staying busy by focusing on others through the holiday season helps me to get my focus off of my loss and myself, and back to Christ and his command to love and serve others. Be creative and look for ways to serve in secret. If you have kids this is a great way to teach them that this life is not about us, it’s about bringing glory to God’s name. A tradition I started with my kids after my Mom died is baking cookies and homemade bread to take to all of the neighbors on my street, along with a Christmas card that shares about Jesus’ birth. Phil 1:27 says, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” –even in grief.
As the very first Christmas I had without my Mom approached, I remember having the realization that every day without her was hard, which begged the question, “Why should that particular day be any harder?” Even as I write that question I can hear in my head all of the arguments one could make against it. The thing is a change in perspective has the potential to change everything. Sure, one could have the perspective that a certain day will be harder, but does it have to be that way? Or can we change our perspective, and decide that it doesn’t have to be? Let me give you an example, one of the hardest things about not having my Mom here anymore is being able to call her to share with her the funny, exciting, or hard things that are happening with my kids. Another big one is not being able to discuss the hardships of my own life as she was very wise and knew me so well. These are some of the everyday losses that feel excruciating and are no less painful than not being able to spend Christmas or any other holiday with her. In my experience, deciding that the loss doesn’t have to feel any worse on a holiday than any other day has proven to make it not so bad on the actual holiday or anniversary. I suggest trying it!

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:2

Lastly, remembering 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14 “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” My Mom loved and followed Jesus faithfully, thus I have the assurance that she is in Heaven.
One of the things that help get me through Christmas and birthdays is remembering her love for Him, and her desire to be with Him in Heaven one day. I allow myself to imagine what it is like for her in Heaven on Christmas. Is there an amazing birthday celebration, or is every day a celebration? I picture what her face used to look like when He would move her in some way, I wonder if she has that look on her face all of the time now. Remembering that when she was here on Earth there was no place she would’ve rather been than in His presence, helps me to rejoice that she is there because I love her, instead of focusing on what it’s like for me to not have her here.

“Let us come before him with Thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” (vs 6) “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

Psalm 95:1, 6

It is my hope for all that have experienced loss to know that the Lord is good, and His love endures forever.

Laura

 

About Laura: My name is Laura, and I’m a daughter of the One True King. I’m a warrior in training for His Kingdom. I’m a sinner redeemed by Jesus. The only good you will find in me comes from Him, Jesus in me. Without Him, I’m just a mess… I’m also a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.  My passion is to inspire women to desire change, to go, do, and be, the beautiful and powerful warrior daughters God created them to be.
Stay Connected: lauragthr@yahoo.com