I have sat staring at a white space with flashing cursor for a while now, wondering how do I even begin. I’ve got stacks of notes and scribbles. I’ve got a message burning to be shared.
But the thing is, this message it’s both gruesome and glorious. It’s personal and in a lot of ways something that I have kept very private. It all takes place in the midst of uncertainty, which makes me feel like maybe I should wait until I am not in the middle of the mess to share.
I am gently reminded that encouragement is most needed in the middle of our messes and maybe if I can share mine, it will bring hope to another and reveal a bit of God’s good glory as well.
I confess that I have been hording regrets and remorse. I have been collecting them in my head and in my heart; picking up stones that support my regrets here and there over the course of approximately seven years.
Each stone seems small and incidental, but over time it has become a built up roadblock in my life, a barrier of my own making which had become a oppressive obstruction in my life.
In the early spring of 2012 we moved out to the country, to a small farm site just up the road from where my husband grew up. The evening after we walked through this house and property the first time, I begged my husband not to make us move into a place like this. It needed so much work and seemed so far from what we had planned – a little house in a small town. This place seemed like so much more than it was worth, and would require a lot of work.
And yet where I begged that we would not go is where we ended up. After many attempts to persuade my husband to not do this, I relinquished my fight. I couldn’t see how life could work for us on this property with the facts that I had before me. I thought maybe it was a test to be a submissive wife. So I said I put my trust in him and would follow where he would lead, even if I didn’t see how it would work.
Looking back in that moment I picked up a stone of regret. I do not think it was trust I had back then. I think I just gave up trying to convince my husband it wasn’t a good plan. Maybe I picked up the stone of regret because I really wanted to throw it at my husband so he could feel just a bit of the hurt that I was feeling.
A stone of regret for not being heard. A stone for not fighting harder. A stone for not having more convincing and convicting evidence that this was a bad plan with little chances of success.
I would like to think looking back that somewhere inside of me was at least a tiny seed of hope that my husband was right, that it would work out. That it would be okay. That there would be good things in store for us here.
My wonderful in-laws gave and continue to give us considerable assistance in getting into and being here on this farm site. They are generous and patient beyond compare, especially with me. I know that in the sting of my own sorrows I have said things that are selfish and ungrateful, that I can’t apologize enough for. Stones of remorse, and a gnawing distress that I am not the wife and daughter-in-law I should or wish I could be.
There are days here that I just regret and feel remorse over who I am. I am not a country girl. I wasn’t raised on a farm, it isn’t in my blood. I don’t have the experience. I don’t know what they know or see what they see. So I pile more pebbles washed in tears that I am not who they need me to be.
This place has had a plethora of problems since we moved in, an abundance of opportunities to pick up stone after stone after stone, to contribute to the building of my roadblock of regret and remorse.
The biggest bolder of them all, each problem feels massively out of my control and ability to fix, with positive progress being made at such a painfully slow pace. As if getting ahead in one area, will cost backsliding in two other areas.
It’s like I have been collecting pebbles in hopes they will help me climb out of the pit I have dug myself into. I did it all quietly and subtly while I was trying to serve my family the best that I could through the day to day.
This past Saturday, while my husband was away at work and my daughter preoccupied, I was alone when all my pebbles, the roadblock of regret and remorse, gave way pounding into me like a landslide that felt as if it would certainly be my demise.
Cries of the Crushed
When circumstances threaten to crush us, when the breaths we take are shallow and fast paced, the cries we call out with are surprisingly short. It’s not long ballads of five syllable words. It is short, intensely punctuated calls for help.
When I was feeling the distressing emotion, the weight of all this sorrow, grief, loss, regret, and remorse. I knew that between the sobs and sniffles of my tears I needed to repent. I wrote this prayer:
“Help me to let go of what I wish was, so that I may be deeply grateful for what is. Remove the regret from my hands and the weight of it from my heart.”
“Godly sorrow brings repentance
that leads to salvation and
leaves no regret
but worldly sorrow brings death.”
2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV)
My prayer had hardly left my lips when I was able to take in one very deep breath and release it fully without constriction in my throat or my heart.
I wrote down what I thought I heard the Lord saying to me. Often times I write the responses that I hear in my time of prayer in the form of a letter from God to me. I am sharing with you today exactly what I wrote down on Saturday.
“I am Your Forerunner. I’m before You. I make the path personal and filled with love.
Julie, you have no idea how long I have been waiting for you to ask me to remove your regrets. You’ve been holding onto them so tightly.
So I say to you right now, in this moment, IT IS DONE! Really. It’s done. You don’t have to go back to them any more, ever again. If you have something you struggle with confess it to me, give it to me, and be done with it.
It really is done. All the pebbles, the boulders, the stones. They are gone. I believe it is a miracle of God’s goodness in my life. Truly a work of wonder and glory beyond my understanding. It is awesome. It’s amazing and incredible.
I feel like the woman at the well in John chapter 4. The one who just had to share her experience with others, despite her reputation and sins of her past.
This feels like it has to be shared! I hope that with the sharing of my words will bring praise to God, glory to Him, for who He is. These kind of miracles, they happen out of God’s love for us.
Here’s the craziest part. There are still piles of problems on this place we call home, pretty much everywhere you look there is something to be done or needing to be fixed or tended to.
I am not suddenly filled with solutions and fixes. There is no breakthrough that has cured the backsliding. At least that my meager, mortal, severely near sighted eyes can see.
The regrets and remorse that were burdening me have been purged in such a way that perseverance feels possible.
“Distress that drives us to God does that.
It turns us around.
It gets us back in the way of salvation.
We never regret that kind of pain.
But those who let distress drive them away from God
are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
And now, isn’t it wonderful
all the ways in which this distress
has goaded you closer to God?
You’re more alive, more concerned,
more sensitive, more reverent, more human,
more passionate, more responsible.
Looked at from any angle,
you’ve come out of this with purity of heart.”
2 Corinthians 7:10-11 (Message)
Who knew the distress that goads us towards God could have so many wonderful benefits?
Live It Out
I hope and pray that more than anything my words would offer you a breath of encouragement, a deep healing, a renewing breath that brings life to you in whatever circumstances and mess you might be in the middle of.
If I could, I would gently take your hand in my own and look deep into your eyes so that I could tell you softly, please put the pebbles down. Don’t hold on to the regret and remorse any longer. It seems like just a little at time, but it grows into unstable roadblocks so quickly. It hurts so badly when they come crashing down.
Repentance is the way to release, and restoration of a path unobstructed by regret and remorse. It may not immediately move the mess away, but a way will be made to move in the mess.
Pray Through It
Beloved Lord, thank You so much for giving me the courage and the conviction to share what You have so gloriously done for me in the middle of my mess. Lord, I don’t know what the intimate details are that are occurring in the lives of each of my readers, but I know that You do.
You know each and everyone of them, looking upon them with such love soaked compassion that You can feel the weight and the burden of any pebbles or boulders of regret and remorse that are in their hearts.
You know what it is like to be crushed and I cry out to You on behalf of all of us. Please bring Your goodness, Your glory, and Your miracles to the middle of our messes. May our distresses drive us to You in repentance so that we may be released to a place of purity of heart even if the problem filled mess remains.
In the name of Jesus, who was crushed for our sins so our repentance would be met with restoration of relationship with You Lord, amen.