“Your grace has found me just as I am, empty handed but alive in Your hands.”

I keep talking about this and writing about it and crying about it and thanking Jesus for it but I don’t think that means I shouldn’t write this post tonight.

On September 3rd 2012, just after summer ended, I started a job that I hated for the ten months that I was there. Before I started I was terrified because it was new and different and I didn’t want to do it; no part of me wanted to do that job but I knew that God wanted me there because the day I applied for it I just had this feeling I would get it.

Up until July of this year the thirteen months I lived through since moving back to Northern Ireland were a fight. It was a battle to get out of bed, to force myself to cook anything reasonably good for me to ensure I looked after my health, to go for a walk, to go cycling, to go for a run, to make plans with people, to motivate myself to do anything other than sit in my house and wallow. I felt like I’d had everything taken away from me, like I was never going to be happy again.

But tonight I sit here, in floods of tears, in total awe of how God has turned my life around, of how He has changed absolutely everything. This time a year ago I never thought I’d be sitting in my house crying happy tears because of how good my Jesus has been to me in bringing me through one of the hardest times of my life.

I do not deserve what He has done for me, I don’t deserve the amazing friends, the acceptance to study cookery at college, the Church family I am now a part of. Most of all I don’t deserve the love and forgiveness that God gives to me every single day. I have nothing to offer Him but He gives me all of Him, He surrounds me, He strengthens me. I have absolutely everything I need in my Jesus.

Every so often it hits me that I don’t feel depressed any more, and haven’t for a long time, and I just think, “What even was that?”

It all happened when I finally gave up on me, on my wants and needs, and put my trust in Jesus, when I realised I’d been making idols out of things, when I chose to live my life to serve my King; and it took me thirteen months to get to that point, to understand what I needed to do. But life takes time and you can only take it one day at a time. You can’t skip ahead because you’ll never learn anything. I’m not grateful that I spent that much time being sad, but I’m grateful that God is not wasting that pain, that He is bringing so much goodness out of it. Up until that point, I had never spent so much time chasing after Him, so many mornings praising Him as the sun rose and I ate breakfast before work, I had never wanted to share His word as much as I did in those ten months, never wanted to be as near to Him. I knew I needed Him and that He was my only hope, the only way I would get through it all.

I feel like my relationship with God is different now, it’s on a whole other level. Because of what I experienced in that time I no longer need to feel good to know that God is near, I don’t need to be on some “spiritual high” because I just know from seeing how life has worked out for me since moving home to Northern Ireland that that He is always working in my life, especially when I least feel like He is.

It’s almost September 3rd again and in just over a week I’m going to embark on another scary life experience again at college, but this time I get to do something I’m so excited about, I get to start working towards fulfilling a few of my dreams with Jesus, and there are also so many more brilliant things to look forward to in the communities I am now a part of.

Learning to trust in Jesus, knowing that He is the only one who can bring me out of painful situations, the only one who can heal my heart, is the most important thing I have gained from the past fifteen months. If it wasn’t for the grace of God I would still be wallowing, I would still be broken, I would still be lost and hurting. We can look for hope and healing wherever we want, but it won’t truly happen until we trust in the one who created us, who loved us so much He chose to die for us.

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