Our greatest times of growth comes during the times we spend in the valleys.
I've heard that said different times throughout my life and have come to greatly believe it more and more the older I get. Sometimes it may take us a long time to be able to see the growth because we are blinded by the hard times we are in OR we might just be stubborn (ha!) Seeing the growth taking place WHILE we are still in the valley itself---that comes from spiritual maturity and faith.
THIS has been a valley week (or several weeks) for me. Multiple painful and stressful situations going on, emotionally on a roller coaster as I think of this time of year and grief, and physically a battle with lupus were already swirling like crazy and then I think the bottom of the valley floor smacked me in the face. I had the rug pulled out from under me in a way that I was TOTALLY not expecting with someone very dear to me betraying my trust like I've never experienced before. It literally took my breath away and physically felt like I broke in multiple pieces. I also had to FINALLY face the fact that a highly valued friendship(s) has changed so much that I had to "release" it and along with it I had to let go of my expectations, hopes, and LOTS of hurt.
In the valley, I can already see growth happening. However, I don't want to be in the valley. I most definitely do NOT want to be having to grow. I most definitely would rather life be easy and without pain. I would much rather just float along on "easy street". (Annie lyrics are going through my head as I type that----though I've not seen the newest version, this Annie fan of many years is quite excited to see it soon!).
I have a choice to make.
Kick and scream. Fight like crazy. Spiral downward. Shake my fist at God. Spew back hate and hurtful words. Give up.
See what it is that He is wanting me to see during this difficulty.
Maturity comes from trying to see through His eyes.
For me, this growth in this particular valley is all about forgiveness.
Forgiving the betrayal and trusting again, though my heart is bruised and the wound still very fresh. Offering grace and mercy SO the relationship can have room to be healed. Looking at the roots of the situations instead of just at the surface.
Granted, putting those two words together is quite odd. They really shouldn't go together. Why in the world should I need to forgive a perfect God? Who am I to think that He needs forgiveness?
But I do.
I need to say, "I forgive you", so that the chains holding me back can be broken. It has nothing to do with actually forgiving Him---it's all about the posture of my heart.
Sometimes, we just need to say it.
We just need to say it so we can move on.
God, I forgive you.
I forgive you for "allowing" me to go through this/that situation instead of preventing it. I forgive you for not "allowing" that dream to take place or forgive you for not making it easy and without obstacles. (After all, don't we tend to think that if God gives us a dream and calls us to something it should happen instantly and without obstacles! For example, our desire to be in the foreign mission field.) I forgive you for not allowing that friendship to remain as top priority and meet the needs that I thought it would. I forgive you for "taking away" that person (either by death, by location, or anything that causes separation). I forgive you for not solving the financial dilemma. I forgive you for not healing that person. I forgive you for not providing this/that on MY timetable. I forgive you for.............
I forgive you.
Again, He doesn't need forgiveness. He's done nothing wrong. His ways are FAR beyond our ways and He sees a big picture that we can not always see. His timing works entirely different than ours.
To say the words and mean them...
Opens the door to our heart for the chains to be broken. The growth to happen. The changes to take place. The bitterness to be released. The selfishness and expectation to be removed.
The forgiveness changes US.
Yesterday, I couldn't breath. Hurt was so heavy that I felt in a fog. I felt like I was waking with a pair of the kids old "moon shoes" on. Smiling on the outside when necessary---but crumbling on the inside. Thinking there was no way I could survive all of these "things" going on in my heart with any faith intact.
I realized that I'm growing.
I'm growing IN the valley. I'm not just waiting to see how I grew--after the fact.
Then I realized that THIS growth was about forgiveness. Sure, I need to forgive some individuals. I need to forgive myself. I need to seek forgiveness for some of my own reactions and faults...
But in reality...
I needed to forgive Him.
I had to ask for the chains to be broken. I had to release my anger towards Him. Had to release Him from the hurt. Because...
THAT'S when TRUE growth can happen.
I say it often, "I trust in Him." Yet, then I don't. I really only give him PART of my trust or I pair together trust and doubt. In reality, that isn't trust at all.
To trust means I have to completely surrender.
So in this valley, in this hard place, in this hard season----I surrender.
God, grow me. Grow me, HERE. Grow me, now. Teach me YOUR ways. Show me YOUR truth and YOUR plan.
Either in the valley or the mountain top. Grow me.