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« That Man is Blessed | Main | The baggage we bring »
Saturday
Aug122017

Being whittled away

Okay, we'll try this again. Yesterday, I posted this with the word "stripped" in the title. Bad idea. After blocking a few accounts on Twitter who wanted me to look at their "pictures," and having to moderate some interesting comments, I put it back into draft to save myself the headache. When I told my husband, he laughed and said he could have told me that was a bad idea. I guess I'm naive, and I guess I'm okay with that with regard to this. So, let's try this again.

One of the songs my church sings is "All is Well." We sing "It is Well With My Soul," on occasion (not often enough, in my opinon), but this one is more contemporary, so it gets sung more. I do like it. I had it playing as I cooked dinner recently, and I really stopped and thought about these lines: "He clothes us, then he strips us."

Christ clothes us in his righteousness when we come to him in faith. We are told to put off the old and put on the new of his righteousness, but he will take things from us. He won't remove our righteousness, but he will remove things: He allows us to lose people from our lives; to suffer health issues; to watch children rebel; to struggle in our marriage; to lose friends. Sometimes, he simply removes things from us, and at other times, makes it very clear that it's time to walk away. I have two close friends who are walking hard roads whereby they have been stripped. 

The song "All is Well" opens with the lines "He lowers us to raise us/So we might sing his praises." Have you ever felt lowered? When we have things taken from us, we feel low. When we feel that way, we don't feel like we have it all together; like we have the world by the tail. We feel like all we can do it reach up a trembling hand and ask God to pick us up.

God's purpose for trials is so that we will praise him; even in the littlest ones. He wants us to cling to him tightly in the storm so that we can see that he is able to sustain us. There are times when in a trial, we take matters into our own hands; we fight what is happening. We rob ourselves of seeing how God will sustain us. We may need another trial if we don't learn the first time; or the second, or the third. How low will he make us go? As low as is necessary. But it doesn't matter how low that is, because he will be with us there.

I'm not going to go into details, and my purpose is not to generate sympathy (I'm learning that sharing too many details online is not really fair to our families, even when they say it's okay), but right now, I'm in one of those seasons when I feel like I'm being stripped. It isn't nearly as bad as my friend who grieves daily for the son she lost this past year or the friend with chronic health issues. It's more of a slow process, little by little, whittling things away, one by one. It isn't suffering; more discouragement than anything.

After years of resistance, I have to learn to put things in a box, close the lid, and stop thinking about them. I may allow myself a few minutes to look into that box when I'm unable to keep its lid closed, but at some point, I have to simply leave it with God and focus on something else. That is not an easy thing for me. I tend to see life experiences and our reactions to things as being more like a big pile of spaghetti where things get mixed together; not the plate where not one scrap of food touches the other. But I have to learn to think differently.

The last time I went through something like this, I had a very bad bout of anxiety. I don't like that prospect. But lately there are moments when that familiar feeling comes back. This time around, I think it would be much better for me if I simply accept that is going to remove what needs removing. I know that what he leaves me with, chiefly himself, will be enough. It isn't easy, but it's enough.

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Reader Comments (2)

Thanks for this post. It was encouraging to read and there were several points you made that I have written in my journal to remember. My husband passed away this year and other trials with family since his death that has been difficult and distressing. Thank you for writing about putting some things in a box and learning to stop thinking about them and focus on something else. It is HARD I agree. I pray that His grace will continue to be your strength ~Sharon

August 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

Sharon, I am so sorry for your loss. That is a very hard trial. I'm sure you must miss him very much. I pray God's peace for you, and that you will feel his presence very near to you as you grieve.

August 15, 2017 | Registered CommenterKim

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