Did you start your journey through life with a beautiful plan? I did! Well, I thought I had a "perfectly" beautiful plan. To say life has not turned out the way I planned it would be a little like saying water plus dirt equals mud. What we call in our family "a no-brainer" or "duh."
Many of the plans I had over the years were not wrong in and of themselves. Each were worthy life goals. The problem was they were not what God wanted for me.
By nature, I am selfish and want my own way.I want to be in control and I am stubborn to a fault. Now, my family and close friends have it in writing with my name signed to it. In one paragraph I have confessed both my greatest strengths and weaknesses. It truly is what you do with the strengths God gives you. The choice is mine whether to use them for good or harm.
My desire has always been to be the "perfect" wife, mother, and friend while holding down a successful career. Let's just say the journey has been long, hard, and humbling. While I haven't messed up entirely I have messed up a lot along the way. Before I fall into the pit of despair taking you with me let me share the beauty of God's love, grace, forgiveness, and redemption.
God has a plan I still can not fully see. He has taken all of those weaknesses, strengths, times of getting it right, and times of sin and failure and weaved them into what Doug and I affectionately call a "Beautiful Mess!"
Through sickness and life's messes God carried me. He gave me a husband who while walking in his own pain gently loved me and walked with me when I wasn't sure I could put one foot in front of the other physically, emotionally, or spiritually. God was fully present with me when I could not form words to pray or even express my needs. When I became fearful of humans and their judgement God used the most unlikely of people along the way to drag me out of that fear and into His presence. I wish I could say the fear is completely gone, but occasionally it rears its ugly head. Yes, ugly. Fear is not of GOD. God wants us to trust Him.
If you asked me at any point in my life I would have always said, "I trust God" and on some level I have always trusted God, but never before like I do today. My trust in God is ever growing. He is stretching me and yes, being stretched scares me.
I'm not doing what I thought I would be doing. The life I live is no where near the plan I had for my life. I don't have a title for what I do. By the worlds standards there is no monetary reason to do what I do. And, when questioned I continue to stumble as to explain how I spend my days or what value I give to this world.
While once bothered by what others thought or perceived about this allusive and strangely unique career God has given me I'm becoming more comfortable. I am becoming me and I actually sort of like me. You heard me. I like the person I am becoming. Yes, I still get scared of all the unknowns and when in a room full of my friends who are highly intelligent professionals I can sometimes feel myself drift toward insecurity and the feeling of "not being good enough." There is instantly what I call a check in my spirit. God grabbing a hold of me saying, "NO MAM....Do NOT go there, Andrea. You know that is a bad and unhealthy place that has absolutely NO value." Yes, God raises His glorious voice to me in my head. The cool thing is I am finally learning to listen to Almighty God and after forty eight years of running through this life, I'm a little closer to being secure in becoming who God created me to be.
"139 O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. 2 You know when I sit or stand. When far away you know my every thought. 3 You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. 4 You know what I am going to say before I even say it. 5 You both precede and follow me and place your hand of blessing on my head.6 This is too glorious, too wonderful to believe! 7 I can never be lost to your Spirit! I can never get away from my God! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. 9 If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your strength will support me. 11 If I try to hide in the darkness, the night becomes light around me. 12 For even darkness cannot hide from God; to you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. 15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!
17-18 How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me.[a] And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!
19 Surely you will slay the wicked, Lord! Away, bloodthirsty men! Begone! 20 They blaspheme your name and stand in arrogance against you—how silly can they be? 21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you? Shouldn’t I be grieved with them? 22 Yes, I hate them, for your enemies are my enemies too.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. 24 Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life."
I am now finding "joy" in becoming who God called me to be whether it makes sense to me or anyone else. I often go back to Psalm 139 and read it out loud. It's a little like going back to my roots or revisiting where I came from or those places in life that were a part of what makes me who I am. God made me with a plan and gave me the freedom to find my way to that plan. He loves me when I get it right and He loves me when I stumble in the wrong direction. He is "always" there.
So, as I continue to make peace with where I am and find joy in the presence of Almighty God while standing in the muck of life I pray the same for you. We may not be able to change where we are standing, but we can change our attitude about the situation. We can peacefully and joyfully cling to all that is good within us and that is God's spirit!
Freedom comes while standing in the muck as you rejoice in the Lord!
By His mercy and in the grip of His grace,
Andrea Bowling Perdue