One of the most valuable “God” lessons I’ve learned over the past couple of years is God’s uncanny ability to take a situation – good or bad – and work within that situation to use it (or me) for good. Have you ever noticed that? Take that awful thing that happened to you back then. That time that you felt your world imploding. Then fast forward to that time when a friend, relative, acquaintance came to you in a similar situation as THEIR world was imploding. You stood tall, took a deep breath, and let the Holy Spirit move through you a you shared your story and led them through their pain via your own experiences and new-found wisdom. God took your icky door, the one you thought you had closed and moved on from, and swung it wide open for the sake of another’s healing. It may have hurt to revisit that junk, but it may be worth it because it helped someone else!
This has happened to me several times over the past few months and I feel called to share my story so that maybe others will be willing to let their icky doors fly open, if needed. 2011 was an awful year for me – it’s personal and a long story, but it was very painful. Over that time frame I went to counseling, prayed hard, and worked through some of the hardest personal growth challenges I’ve every encountered. I feel I’ve healed, and with that I thought I had quietly closed that door of my life and moved on to a happier, healthier place. Then, I find my circle of influence is jam packed with others who are suddenly spiraling in the same type of dismay I found myself in back in 2011. For whatever reason, people I just met are pouring their hearts out to me about their own situation completely unaware that I, too, have been through that very thing. In all honesty, it kind of wigs me out . . . it’s as though I have a sign on my back that says, “I’ve been there, done that! So come talk to me!”
Just yesterday I encountered this with a friend who is struggling as I did back in 2011. I was able to share my experiences, my wisdom, and I feel she found some peace. And, yet, I walk away from those encounters feeling the twinge of pain I had back then. All of that junk stirred back up in me. After those encounters, I have to be alone for a while and just pray – I have to pray for my own peace and pray that I don’t let those old wounds get the best of me. It’s as though every conversation I have with others about it just picks at a scab that hasn’t fully healed. But, you know what? Even with that pain, I have the warmest joy in my heart. It’s a bizarre thing, really. I keep thinking of this passage from Scripture and I feel that this is what God is working within me:
Psalm 30:11 (CEB)
11 You changed my mourning into dancing.
You took off my funeral clothes
and dressed me up in joy
I think that God is using me in this way so that my mourning will become dancing through others finding joy out of their pain. I found peace and joy through my struggles and I believe all of those I’ve spoken with will find theirs as well. What if these encounters with others who are hurting are God’s “new clothes” for me? What if my being open to them allows them to find joy all so I can be clothed in joy?
I’m not sure that’s making sense – sounds good in my head (and heart) :). Regardless, I encourage you to never deadbolt your painful doors. God may need to open them for others in need one day. We have so much to learn from one another and God uses us to help each other every single day. Even if it’s a little painful, we need to keep that door available for the Lord’s use!