When I was in 2nd grade, I wrote a story about a little girl, Carol-Anne, who hated to clean her room. She shoved anything and everything under her bed, so it looked clean.
One day, she heard something under her bed. With nervous fingers, she lifted the bed skirt and discovered a grand imaginary land where her shoved items were being held captive by an evil queen. She had to enter the world and release each item, returning it to its original beauty and role in her world.
Spoiler alert. She won the battle.
God reminded me of Carol-Anne when He presented my 2021 word: Imagine.
I realized that Carol-Anne won her battle, but in my adult life, I’d walked off the battlefield. I stopped imagining the myriad ways to save the world. At some point I’d shoved my gifts and talents under a metaphorical bed. And, sadly, I’d shoved God under there too.
I searched my mind, desperate to find the moment my shovingand forgetting began. Life shoots many arrows at ourimagination: cruel words, laughs, losses, judgment, God’s “no” or “not yet.” The accumulation of war wounds leaves us weak, and unable or unwilling to attend to our imagination.
For me, one such wound occurred when I was in graduate school for my Ph.D. in Psychology.
One day, I sat in my OBGYN’s exam room, awaiting test results. When she returned, I listened.
Since I was a child, one of my dreams was to be a mother. A mother three times over. Two by birth. One adopted. And in that office on that day, she shot an arrow at that imagined future as she told me there was a high probability that I would need a hysterectomy in the future.
Her words stung, but I ignored the depth of the wound. In my mind, children were a heart desire, and God gave you the desires of your heart. Right?
I chose a treatment option, left her office and called my mom on the way to my car. My mom remained silent. That should have been an alarm.
The next day, my mom called and asked how the news about a possible hysterectomy hit me. I said it didn’t. She sighed long and heavy, and then she shared our family history.
Sentence by sentence, I saw my aunts, just my aunts. No children. Great aunts, some childless, some with one child. I always thought this was a choice, not the result of a body that was unable.
The day before that arrow felt like a sting, now it was an obvious wound.
For six years the medications didn’t work. I remained chronically single, but I still had hope.
I underwent surgery to remove fibroids, buying me some more time to find my special someone. Three years later, I was still single and my hope had dwindled. I had a hysterectomy.
For nine years, I prepared my heart, but I never gave the full weight of my disappointment, grief, confusion, anger, insecurity, betrayal, or depression to God. This made it easy for me to enter a relationship out of character for me.
The person had a child, and I was determined to get my imagined life. Regardless of how it looked. Regardless of my psychological health. Regardless of my spiritual health.
Three years later the relationship ended.
I tried to adopt.
Two years nothing.
Nothing I did could bring to life my imagined future.
Sermons would encourage me to “Ask God for anything.”
I would get mad. “What’s the point?” I’d think.
I told myself, what I wanted was irrelevant. I told myself, I didn’t want to be disappointed. I told myself I didn’t want to be mad with God. I told myself I would just mess up whatever God gave me. I told myself, what I had was more than enough, more than I’d imagined.
The truth? I was scared.
Pastor Craig Groeschel says, “Fear reveals where you trust God the least.”
The truth was, sometimes I didn’t trust that God’s “no,” really was the best answer to my prayer. The truth was, I didn’t trust Him to continue to love me after I mucked up the plan. The truth is, I know God, His words and promises, but I don’t always believe they apply to me. It never occurred to me to ask Him to help me with my unbelief. I never asked, “What do you have for me if not this? What do I do with this . . . disappointment . . . this pain . . . this confusion . . . this insecurity . . . this anger . . .?”
I didn’t want to be angry with God. But I was. He knew it. And until I gave it to him, my imagination for my future stayed hidden under that metaphorical bed, guarded by the evil queen and all her lies.
One night, after another relationship heartbreak, I broke down. A kind of soul-wrenching break, flooded with ugly-cry tears that feels like you’re being split open. And I was. Because until we are open, God can’t poor into us.
He poured in Isaiah 54:1-2:
“Rejoice childless one, who did not give birth: burst into songand shout, you who have not been in labor!” For the children of the desolate one will be more that the children of the married woman.” Says the Lord. “Enlarge the site of your tent, and let your tent curtains be stretched out, do not hold back: lengthen your ropes, and drive your pegs deep.” (CSB)
Isaiah spoke these words to Israel to encourage them to release the pain and failures and mistakes of their past, and step into the promise of God. He had plans for them. He made a promise. He was honoring both. And he wanted them to shift their focus to who He was, is, and will be.
God expands our tents in many ways. We give him our imagination and trust He will honor that imagination in a way that reveals our design, refines our gifts, and grows our faith in Him.
Disappointments are arrow wounds, meant to lead us to the healer. They are meant to reveal the limitless possibilities within us. They are meant to reveal the limitlessness of God’s grace.“God can do anything, far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams. He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit, deeply, gently within us.” Ephes 3:20 (MSG)
I believe God can exceed whatever I imagine. It won’t look like what I imagined, because my imagination is bound to what I know, what I can see. And it’s not happening on my timeline. But it will be great. It has been great. I have incredible friends. I am honored to walk with people on their healing journey. I create videos that reach people in places I have never traveled. Life is good!
What are you facing today? Your wound may feel fatal but It’s not. Go to God. I do. Get back on your battlefield. I am. The one True King is on the battlefield with you. Receive His grace. Restore your imagination. Believe again. I do.
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