Friday, January 5, 2018

Renewed Hope In the New Year

Psalm 3: 3-6

"But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side."

I cannot lie . . . the past five years have been rough. Without going into a lot of detail, some extreme dysfunction within my family of origin had left me feeling depressed, anxious, and confused. It was a relationship in which firm boundaries were necessary to keep my children and me safe, but the person involved did not want to accept the boundaries. Because of that, I found myself estranged. Deep down, I knew that I could not fix the situation, but I still felt guilty and ashamed of myself for not being able to. I am a people pleaser at heart, and when anyone is unhappy with me, I tend to feel guilty about it, whether or not I am actually the one at fault.

My emotions have been a rollercoaster for these past five years. I have struggled with insecurity and low self-esteem. I found that rejection by someone who should have loved me unconditionally caused me to assume that I would sooner or later be rejected by everyone else, too. I walked through life wanting to avoid people and hang my head in shame, even though I hadn't done anything to be ashamed of. In other words, this trial completely rocked my world.

On the one hand, I knew that my family was safer as a result of the estrangement, even though I had never asked to be put in such a position. However, I still ruminated over it time and time again. I fell into despair. I was inconsolable at times. I tried to take control of the situation in my mind--to think about all the ways I should have been able to fix it by keeping the peace and erasing all conflict. The reality was that I never could have controlled the actions of another person, but I still kept thinking about it nonetheless, and I couldn't let go of the misplaced guilt. Essentially, I failed to trust God with it. I tried to take control of something that He alone has control of. I failed to acknowledge that He had allowed this situation, and that He allowed it for my good. He knew all along that it was going to happen. He allowed it to happen in a way that provided for my family's safety, and He used it for my own sanctification. 

As I acknowledge God's sovereignty, I am finally able to begin letting go. I still have a ways to go with that, but it is a start. I can begin trusting in His goodness and thanking Him for his kindness. The Lord is lifting my head. He is sustaining me. He is helping me not to fear anymore. He is helping me to see that I am loved and accepted, not because of anything that I have ever done or failed to do, but because God is love. And by His grace, through Christ's finished work on the cross, I am His child. As a child trusts a loving father, I can trust my Heavenly Father because He loves me and He is good.

So, I am beginning 2018 with renewed hope. God is sovereign over all things. His love and His good plans will never fail. Jeremiah 29: 11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." I can take that to heart this year, one day at a time. I can remind myself of it often, regardless of painful life circumstances. I know there will be days when I fail to trust Him, and the old anxiety will creep back in, but I also know that He will lift my head and refocus my eyes on Him once again. He has been with me through this trial, and He will ultimately use it for my good and for His glory. He is faithful, and I am so thankful for that. 

Psalm 121: 1-2

"I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth."