The Tools

by Rhonda, April 15, 2024

There are days I get buried in it all.  Divorce often (not always) takes two people to contribute, and sometimes I look back at the last twenty years and wish I'd done things differently.  But, my marriage had been difficult for a long time, and near the end I felt like I was losing my mind in the craziness of it all.  He would say the same.  My life now is much more peaceful, I know that, but you also don't just forget twenty years.

I was thinking about when the kids were young the other day.  He and I had taken them camping, and there was a creek (nearly a river) we needed to cross by using stepping stones.  The water was rushing,  and I was ready to turn back towards the safety of the campsite.  My son was probably three years old, my daughter five.  There was no way they could jump between the stones to cross the river, and I just knew they would be swept away by the water if we attempted it.  But, he wanted to keep going.

So, he scooped both kids up, and he jumped across the stones in the river holding both of them like a sack of rocks under each arm.  They were laughing loudly, safe in their Dad's arms while he carried them to the other side.  They got to the other side of the river and then yelled for me to follow, which of course I did, because I couldn't be outdone.  I snapped a picture of it, and I am sure it is floating around in my storage room somewhere in the box of memories that I won't open.  I doubt the kids even remember it.

Life never takes us in the direction we anticipate.  I was at a business conference a few days ago and one of the speakers said, "The most difficult changes in my life have always resulted in my life being better, even though at the time it feels like everything is falling apart."  I've been pondering on that statement, wondering if it is indeed true for me.  I think the answer is yes and no.  God uses all things for good, for those who believe in Him.  But, I could have certainly lived without my son's cancer diagnosis, and a few other events in my life.

There's a new level of healing that occurs when I can look back at the past and be grateful for the experiences, but not feel buried under guilt, shame, or regret.  Its also a new level of spiritual maturity, and if I think about it, spiritual maturity seems to fast-track healing.  When I think about the past and begin to feel buried, the best counter-attack is to pursue my Savior.

I like to pursue Him in a variety of ways, but these are my top 3 ways in a situation like this:

1.  Prayer Journaling:  I spend five minutes writing down my prayers to Him.  I thank Him for things.  I ask Him for things.  I write down realizations I've had and ask Him if I'm on the right track.  I ask for help with my problems.  I set a timer on my phone and when it goes off after five minutes, I put my pen down.  

After five minutes, I set my timer for ten minutes and I write down everything I believe God is saying to me.  I try to always listen to God for twice as long as I talk.  I write down His truths about me, I write down Bible verses that come to mind, and I write down how much He loves me.  Over and over, I write down how much He loves me.

The interesting thing about this exercise is that if I go back through my piles of journals, God seems to tell me the same things over and over (and over) again.  I forget easily and so often, yet when I look back at the pages of my writings, I can see how He reminds me of the same things again and again.  His truths don't change.  He simply has to tell me a lot of times so I will remember.

2.  Exercise:  Even though I complain about it incessantly, I actually do enjoy exercising.  In particular, I enjoy running and listening to worship music.  There's something about pushing your body to do difficult things while listening to praise music that lifts your mind from a state of chaos to a state of praise.  I don't do this one often enough, because the hardest part of exercise is convincing yourself to start.  But, when I do, I never once regret doing it.

3.  Devotions, Podcasts, or Reading:  I am an avid Youtube watcher, and my subscription list is filled with live-streamed church services and devotion channels.  I like these types of study that help me read my Bible, and also understand my Bible.  There's been a lot of situations where I've struggled and I click on a podcast that directly addresses my particular dilemma.  

If my mind is exhausted, I won't watch devotions or podcasts on television.  I'll pick up my Bible or a Christian book instead.  I still love old-school reading where we get to flip the pages and make notes in the margins.  Sometimes I need to turn off all distractions and just curl up with a book that tells me biblical truths.

These are some of my tools to stop my mind from taking me to the bottom of my grief.  I think it is important for everyone to have their own spiritual tools, and it is important to know yourself well enough to know your favorite ways of working on your personal relationship with God.  Your tools may be unique, because our God made you unique.  

If you find yourself recovering from a very difficult event in your past, it might be worthwhile to write down your list.  I called them tools, but in reality, they're weapons.  They're tools for you to connect with God, but they're also weapons to be used against your enemy.  I love the image of a tool being used to help you connect with God as one function, but the same tool becomes a defense weapon.

So, fill your toolbox and stock your arsenal.  

You aren't meant to be overrun with the past.  You're meant to be powerful in the future.

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