I can get through this. I don’t need to turn to anyone else. I’ll do this on my own.
How many times have you uttered those words to yourself? I’m guilty of it far more than I’d like to admit.
A series of heartbreak and rejection led to retraction. I only wanted to share my problems and concerns with Jesus. He never left me. He was always there. I didn’t need anyone else. Jesus knew my heart, hurts, and worries, so I didn’t need to express or be vulnerable with those around me.
If anything, I’d seen a pattern. When I opened up, my track record hadn’t been pretty. It’d been hard. There’d been lots of tears and sleepless nights. I didn’t want to go back to that place.
It didn’t help that many of my most challenging seasons occurred within a two-year timeframe. Some even within weeks of each other. Let’s take a look:
In a long-distance relationship: I was cheated on.
When going through a tough season: a close friend I’d shared details with later informed me they’d been praying for something opposite of what I had asked.
In the job search: rejection after rejection.
With a family member: I was abandoned due to lies shared by another relative.
I found it easier to keep everything inside. I think part of the reason I didn’t want to talk about it was I didn’t want to admit I was going through it. If I spoke it out loud, it made it more real. On the outside to everyone around me, everything was golden. On the inside, that golden image was a wildfire blazing, and I was smoldering down into ashes.
When the Ashes Simmered
When the fire finally died down, all that remained were the ashes. That’s not usually the prettiest place. It might feel like we’re trekking through the wilderness, the deep waters, the muck. In the book of Job, he felt it, too. He cries, “He throws me into the mud, and I am reduced to dust and ashes” (Job 30:19, NIV).
The fire had destroyed much, but I knew my God was bigger than the mess and the mud that remained. In that season I learned to depend on the Lord like never before. I dug into His word, prayed, cried out to Him, and after time, found hope again. I was reminded repeatedly that those in the Bible went through similar situations. Joseph was sold by his own brothers. One of Jesus’ disciples betrayed Him.
I knew I was in good company. I was in a position where it had all fallen apart for a reason. God was stripping away the things, the people, the situations that would distract and deter me from His plans for me. I knew He would use the dust to build something beautiful.
After the damage is done, rebuilding takes some time. It didn’t happen overnight for me. If you’re in a season of fire and flames right now – I want to encourage you – it will be okay again. I know it doesn’t seem like it, and it might take some time, but you have a friend in Jesus who will never leave you. He will give you the people you need for each season.
It might be hard to open up again after you’ve been hurt. You might want to retract as I did. It’s still something I must surrender, but I’m reminded by the apostles’ example that we were created to do life with others, “Every day, they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2: 46-47, NIV).
We weren’t created to go through life alone. Yes, the fear of being hurt again can be intimidating. A few things that have helped me in sharing my vulnerabilities:
Pray over the conversations: not every person needs to hear every intimate detail of your life. Pray the Holy Spirit guides the conversation and the words spoken will honor and impact you as well as that person.
Embrace the things you’ve endured. The good and the bad, we go through each season for a reason. Can what you’ve been through somehow relate to someone around you? Maybe it’s even a stranger at a coffee shop that turns to you in conversation. No season is wasted.
Reflect on the good. After a season of trial, can you look back and see any good that was intertwined with it? Did you learn something new about yourself? About God’s character?
Journal your gratitude. Maybe you’re not grateful for that season, but can you write out a few things you’re thankful for?
It’s often the conversations I didn’t want to have that made the biggest difference. Sharing about certain vulnerabilities has tested me. I didn’t want to share. I didn’t want to reveal that hidden part of who I was.
It was in the revelation that God did the revamping. He strengthened me and gave me the words and tools I needed. He used my testimony to help someone through a season they thought they’d never get through. When collaborating on blog posts, it has always been the articles that were hardest to write that received the most feedback from their audiences.
Becoming more involved in the Church has brought new friends into my life – ones that ask the tough questions, that hold me accountable and encourage me when I want to stay hidden in my quiet secret place. I’ve grown beyond what I thought. It’s given me the conversations and push I’ve needed to take chances on things I know God is calling me to do.
Tearing down the walls around my heart with my husband hasn’t been easy, either. It took me a long time to finally trust he wasn’t going anywhere, and he wasn’t going to cheat on me like the boyfriends of the past had. When I finally let my guard down, it felt like a breath of fresh air. This was the type of relationship God orchestrated.
My mess didn’t happen for no reason. It gave me a message that would help others find their footing. It’d help them pick up their tools and rebuild. You see, the fire can only last for so long. After it’s extinguished, watch out! God will use the ashes to mold something beautiful. You’re in good company, and from the ashes, the only way to go is up. He is molding you, shaping you, and creating a masterpiece that will astonish you. Hold on – the best is yet to come.
Hilary is a sun-rise chaser, coffee shop explorer, and adventure seeker in central IL. For over five years, she has been sharing blog posts and publishing articles that encourage people to be all they were created to be in their faith and life. Hilary loves Ed Mylett + John Maxwell, and learning how she can become a better version of herself daily, so she can help others do the same. She enjoys nature, writing, and traveling with her husband.
Jana Smith says
I like how you described the pain as fire that turned to ashes and then by you stepping out in obedience and facing your fear God rebuilt those areas of your life one day at a time. You are a gifted writer and I appreciate you sharing your heart! Jana Smith