Tuesday, September 29, 2009

24-Forged in the Fire

Sometimes I stop and reflect on my life, especially my life since my baby girls. It has not been easy. I have endured trials I could have never imagined and I have found strength I didn't know I had. At twenty-four, I have lived a lot of life. But more than I look back and see struggle or pain, I feel blessed. I feel so very blessed! God has been so good to me and I am so grateful.

I don't have to look very hard to see the way that God loves me. My life, and my family, my friends, they are all evidence of how much God loves me. Twenties are hard no matter what, at least that is what I hear. But the bright smiles, the love, the people who are willing to walk beside you- they make all the difference. I feel like I have learned so much about myself in the last few years- some things I like, and some I don't. It refreshes my spirit to consider that this is merely the beginning of a life of refinement. God will be at work in me for all the days I am alive here on earth. Thank goodness this is so! Thank goodness no one stays the same from twenty-four to eighty-four! I am thankful for so much. I feel like I could burst!

I have learned so much, but there are a few things that really stand out to me. First, I have learned the family I am creating is nothing like my family of origin. I don't have to be afraid. I can know, from the start, that I will make mistakes. I will hurt my daughters. I will make wrong choices and that is okay. But I don't have to fear for my daughters what I experienced as a little girl. The great thing about being an adult with children, is that you get to make decisions about what is acceptable in their lives. Every single day, I get to create our lives. There is nothing to be afraid of. My daughters are happy, bright, vibrant, loving little girls. They know they are loved deeply. I'm doing what I am supposed to do. By the grace of God, I am a good mom. 

I have learned that I have so much potential! I am a strong, independent, intelligent, caring, God loving woman! I love that I am very loyal. I love that I can be silly. I love that I can go without make-up, hair in a pony tail and I don't feel insecure. I love that I can finish something. I love that I am a good listener. I love that I am a mother. I embrace my disorganization, my indecisiveness, my lack of punctuality, my self-discipline that ebbs and flows, my messy home, my mistakes, my imbalances. I want to change these things. I am working on them. Just accepting that I have lots to work on is an accomplishment. I am so flawed. God doesn't care.

I have learned that identity doesn't come from all the things that people sometimes want to believe. Who I am, or am not, does not reside in my accomplishments, my bank account, my marriage or lack thereof, my gender, my socioeconomic status, my education, my appearance or what I own. Lord knows I have so much more to offer the world than any of those things can hold! I am so glad I have realized, by twenty-four, that I don't have to buy into all the crap that makes us all feel like we can never measure up. I can be rid of those pressures. Just think of all the better uses for my energy! Now, this is a daily decision. Believe me, I have those moments where I compare or I feel inadequate based on the standard somebody else sets, then I just have to choose to be kind to myself. Apples and Oranges folks. God doesn't care about all those worldly measuring sticks or compartmental boxes. There is no one in the world like me, and I am far too extraordinary to fit in any box.

There is no one in the world like you, and you are far too extraordinary to fit in any box. How dare someone try to measure you!?!?

Most importantly, I have learned how to love. I mean real love. I have learned to love from a completely selfless place, a place that God fills so that you can love like Him. I have learned true compassion, when I should have been angry. I have learned forgiveness. I hope that each person has someone in their life that has hurt them to the core, that has wronged them, that has brought them to their knees. I hope that they have made the choice to love that person. I don't mean accept mistreatment. I mean love them. Pray for them. In the face of their choices against you, I hope you find a place to love them from. I hope you forgive them so that you can pray fiercely for them. To be able to love someone, when they have given you every reason to walk away from them in either anger or sadness, that is remarkable. To love as completely as you can, and get nothing in return, this is loving like God loves.  You could choose hate, but instead you choose love. The true beauty, is that it comes back to you. In one way or another, God blesses you tenfold...elevenfold. It may take time. You may have to endure a period of painful refinement. But it passes. And when it does, you are so much better for it. You love yourself more. You love life more. You love God more.

I am overwhelmed at how God loves me. His grace takes my breath away. In just over a month, I will be twenty-five. I know that it will be a lovely year. I know I will be amazed by what God has in store. I am amazed by what He has already started. 

You were tough. You were a hard season of refinement, and still there is so much left to be done! As you come to a close, I am excited for the end of the chapter and grateful for what I have from it. You showed myself to me, my God to me, in ways I had never seen before.  Because of you, I truly appreciate my strength- which always has and always will be in Christ Jesus.

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