Opening my Hands

I had a strong faith for a long time. A very long time. I was raised in the church and my faith was an incredibly important part of my life. But I’ve had my moments of not really feeling it. Frankly, that’s been true for the last couple of years, in particular. Recent years have brought a lot of hard things my way. It’s not that I have a fair weather faith that can only function in what feels like favorable conditions. That’s actually why I struggled – because I have held onto my faith through the hardest times. To be honest, there was bitterness in my heart because I had done things the “right way” for so long. And still feel like I got screwed over. My life looks nothing like I planned. Even still, I did my best to make the most of where I was. I enjoyed my life as it was. Even stepping out to be a foster parent (and pursing adoption) was part of what I saw, as me just adjusting to how different my life looked, than what I’d planned. I chose not to focus constantly on what was missing. I didn’t want to be a single parent. But I wasn’t married. So I pursued foster care & adoption because I’ve always believed it would be part of my life in some way. And…I had the space (I had a big house), the desire to give a home to kids that needed it, and the ability to do it. But more than that, there are countless children in need and I believe that I am called to care for the “least” of these.

But the experience of being a foster parent also broke my heart. It broke my heart in a way I didn’t anticipate. I expected hard days, loss, and struggles. What I didn’t expect was the devastation that happened. Going on two years later, I haven’t fully recovered. I’m getting there. I’m a whole heck of a lot closer than I was a year ago – or six months ago. But I’ve still got work to do on my heart and honestly, my brain. I’ve also got work to do on my body. Letting go of my {foster} son was one of the most deeply painful things I’ve gone through. Very few people in my life know how bad things got and how painful. The truth is, there’s a lot I can’t share openly for privacy reasons. But I will tell you this, everything changed in my home – in a very short few months because my {foster} son’s family created a very hostile situation. My home had physical damage to it – that set me back for a while financially, personal belongings of mine were destroyed, and I feared for my safety. It was painful and honestly? It was terrifying.

I saw everything crumble in front of me. The way I handled those days and weeks and months after he left, weren’t great. I gained a lot of weight. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I drank way more than I ever had. I ate terribly. And I couldn’t deal with God. I couldn’t talk to Him and I certainly didn’t pray. I was hurt, heartbroken, bitter, and angry. It has taken me a long time to even partially want to trust God again. Even recently, I’ve struggled. I’ve questioned. And I’ve been bitter that my life doesn’t look like I wanted it to.

Slowly, however – in recent weeks and months, I’ve been sensing a new thing happening in my faith. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t understand – anything, quite frankly. But I do know that I’m never going to get anywhere staying in the same state of mind I’ve been in. I’m not going to church yet. But I have been watching online as much as possible. I’ve been pushing myself to pray, for myself and others – even when I don’t feel like it. And though I’m about a five-hour drive from Elevation Church, I’ve been feeling at “home” watching their services online. Today, in particular, really got to me. I felt a bit like today’s sermon was written for me, to be honest. Though I still can’t imagine what God can do – going forward, I don’t want to hold onto what caused me so much pain. So I’m ready to trust that by opening my hands, there will be something amazing that comes from it – even if it’s healing for others (i.e., my pain helping others). That’s what I took from today’s message, Protect the Vessel, by Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation.

I hope someone finds it as encouraging as I did.

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