Broken Roads

From Julie: 

I walk this road with dry blood on my feet. Feet that are full of rocks and cracks formed by years of endless walking. Feet that don’t look like my own anymore. I have spoken my life and sweat and tears into this road. I have given more than I have ever received on this path. When people walk by on other paths or even beside me, I smile and hope they don’t see my feet. I pray they don’t see that my path leads to nowhere. I don’t look them in the eye, because I am full of shame and defeat. This road has heard my whispers, my cries and anguish, my secrets. This path has also heard my moments of joy when I try to leap off the road only to find myself once again standing on its rough and hot cracks walking, always walking. There is no running on this road, no skipping. Just plodding forward one step at a time, one foot in front of the other.

This is the road I have walked most my life. The road I have walked in the past and possibly in the future. The road I am on right now. Except now, for the first time, I see detour road signs. I see signs that say “you are not alone, there is another way.” “I am selfish and need to stop focusing on myself.” “There is life another way.” “I am with you always.”

You may look at me and see me on another path, you may see my feet through perfection. But they are not. They are still filled with dry bloody cracks from walking so long. But for the first time, my feet feel a little lighter because of one thing………. hope. Luke 7:50, “Jesus said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (I wrote this first portion when I we returned from living in another country)

It’s not necessarily when your broken road started or how. We all find ourselves on one at least once in our lives. It may not have been a major life altering event or destructive habits that placed you on this path. It may have been someone who chose for you or hurt placed on you from a circumstance. For myself it wasn’t necessarily of my choosing to walk on a broken road to begin with, but it was my choosing to stay on this road. I was put on this road by hurt placed in my life from other people’s decisions, but as time has gone on,  when good things or bad things happen, I have chosen to remain.

The second where you choose to stay in this place, instead of looking forward,is the moment when you let fear hold you.

Fear is one of the biggest enemies. It’s quiet and sneaky and can stay around much longer than you would let a major sin. Fear can hold one in place, hold one back from potential and fear can help steer decisions. In my life, many times people would ask me why I didn’t move forward with something or put myself out there knowing that I had the potential. I would always give a list of excuses of why I wasn’t at the end result yet or what happened that was hurtful to hold me back. Really in the end it was fear.

Fear is of the enemy, it is definitely not of God. Yes, we are to have a healthy fear of the awe of God, but that is not the same thing as having true fear about something. Psalm 34:4 is David speaking, “God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears.”

I have had panic attacks filled with fear when major change is presented. I have felt fear in how I raise my children, always fearful that I don’t measure up to other mothers. I have used fear to hold me back from a fuller relationship with Jesus because I was afraid to fully open myself up to Him and let him in the deepest and darkest places of my soul. I have feared never making or being seen as a person with value.

Fear will hold you on the broken road more than anything else.

Fear is a crippler. Fear is a controller. Because fear is a silent killer. It is not worn on your jacket like a drug problem, divorce or childhood abuse. It is worn on the inside of your soul. In the deepest and darkest places it hides. Waiting for you to open a new chapter in your life and it appears again and again. It waits for you to think about getting off the broken road and “bam” its right in your face holding you still like cement. It will keep you feeling like you are sitting at the window watching life pass you by outside but never able to leave the window seat.

1 John 4:17-18 says, “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and matures in us, so that we are free of worry on Judgment Day – our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well – formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life – fear of death, fear of judgment – is one not yet fully formed in love.”

Joseph in the Old Testament could have had more hang-ups on fear than most. He was born into a broken marriage arrangement. Every day of his life he was reminded by his father that he was special while always seeing jealousy from the rest of his family. His mother passed away when we was young. His brothers literally hated him to the point of wishing for his death. He must have felt inadequate because what little brother who has 12 strapping older brothers doesn’t feel he needs to measure up somehow. He then gets thrown in a pit and sold as a slave by the very brothers he is looking up to for validation. He then moves on to serve as a young slave in a home where the mother tries to seduce him and then lies to get him thrown in prison when he doesn’t welcome her advances. He sits in prison year after year, and this is one without TV, air-conditioning and 3 square meals a day. He tries two times to be remembered by sharing his interpretation of 2 separate visions, but is left to rot. And then he finally gets a break, becomes a important person in the kings government only to be reminded again what his brothers did to him upon their return to Egypt for assistance during a famine.

At the very moment the doors opened to his office and his betraying brothers enter with requests for assistance is the moment he chose to get off the broken road. He does haggle them a little, but really we can’t blame him. But what he does is more than a lot of us would have been able to do. He uses forgiveness to heal his fear.

Love conquers fear. Hope conquers fear. Forgiveness conquers fear. Trust conquers fear. Pessimism invites fear back and so does doubt, worry, negativity, unforgiveness and hate. When you are living a life that is full of the promises of Jesus you are in a place where you continue to remind yourself that He is Lord over everything in your life. Fear is not the prominent player. Joseph could have let the pain of the past and fear of rejection hold him on the broken road and never helped his brothers. He even named his children names with significant meaning when it came to the pain of the past. His two sons where named Ephraim and Manasseh. Ephraim means “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Manasseh means “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household (Genesis 41:49-52).”

One son caused him to forget the past and the other son reminded him to remember the present. I am not sure if I could name my children something that has to do with conquering past fear, but can you imagine every time Joseph held his sons in his arms he felt like a conqueror. Every time he prayed over his sons and tears came to his eyes, every time he said their names to the Lord, he was saying his position was no longer on the broken road. He was saying that the pain of the past and fear where no longer holding him captive. He was saying that he has been able to forget the trouble and move to another path of forgiveness. He was showing his own children that you don’t have to be a product of your upbringing and that through God anything is possible.

Fear is my biggest kicker when I am feeling down.

It is the one thing that can speak loudest in my sleep and even prayers. It comes out in how I react to my spouse, family and even with friends. It speaks to me when I look in the mirror or change something in my life. It is the one thing I have to constantly conquer. I have to consistently remind myself that fear has no hold on me.

I watched a weight loss show on TV once. It had the contestants who has lost over 100 pounds or so do a relay race. The contestants had to carry a backpack full of sand measuring the same amount of pounds they lost throughout the show. One guy said he had forgotten what it felt like to carry this extra 100 pounds around with him all day and was so happy he had lost the weight. Another contestant started crying after the race because she was scared that she would find herself in that place again where she would gain the weight. It’s funny how people, going through similar experiences, choose to view the end results differently. I visually picture fear as a giant backpack full of sand glued to my back and weighing me down.

Freedom from fear is a life that is lighter, one that has bounce.

Fear is a glue that is hard to unstick. It holds you cemented to the spot on the broken road. It makes your feet rock and your body stone. Fear is all consuming. It can take up all your time and energy and love even. The opposite of fear is love. The opposite of cement is Jesus.

I mentioned earlier that sometimes you choose to be on the broken road and then sometimes you are placed there by others. If this is you, if you have been placed on this broken road because of someone else’s choices or wrongdoing, I am sorry. I know that God hurts with you for being placed in this broken place. He wants wholeness for His children.

You may have been dumped on this road because of abuse or pain in your childhood. It may be from shattered relationships or others choices in handling your heart. It may be because someone was selfish and didn’t put a value on your well-being. I can only grieve with you.

But the difference between a victim and a conqueror is Hope. Bethany Hamilton was bitten by a shark when she was surfing at a young age. Her entire arm was taken off. She had a movie even made about her amazing story. But in every interview I have seen not once does she say she wallowed in her circumstance. Not one does she say that it was unfortunate. In her biography on the movie she says that weeks before the incident happened she and her mother where praying that God would reveal His purpose and plan for her life. And then a shark bit her entire arm off. What did she do? Less than 2 months later she got on a surf board and then in the course of the next few years she won competitions. She won a medal in the Special Olympics. She kept moving forward.

I was watching her movie while in a broken moment. She was on national television sharing her story of hope. I looked down at my arm. I said to myself, “I didn’t physically loose an arm but at this time in my life, due to hurt and fear, I feel like I have lost a limb. I have lost a part of myself. How does she have the courage to go on and I am paralyzed with fear because I am crippled?” Now, just in case you were wondering, I have all my limbs intact. It was an emotional cripple that was keeping me paralyzed. Later I spoke with someone about this. How did she move on and I was still stuck in the state of being cemented in place? The very wise person said that everyone deals with things differently but the only real difference is that she chose to move on.

So that’s it? I just have to choose to move away from the broken road, from fear? No, at first it’s a minute by minute coaching myself to choose hope. Then it becomes an hour by hour and a day by day. Then eventually a week by week and then longer in between. I daily have to say that He goes before me. I daily have to remind myself that fear is not of God… that he wants to be my hope. I am not crippled by others choices. That I can be whole, that He is freeing me from the broken road. I have to remind myself that I choose daily to no longer be paralyzed.  I choose freedom.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”                       2 Timothy 1:7

He goes before me

 

 

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