~ Leaving Behind the Familiar ~
Sometimes we hold on to things that aren’t God’s best for us and we face a necessary ending. But when we let go, we can begin to lay hold of the NEW beginning God has for us. – Margaret Feinberg
Oh. My. Word.
I am not sure I could have made it through it last summer. The fact that I made it through it now (though it took several weeks of stopping and starting and processing and revisiting) without breaking down is a testament to the healing God has done in my heart over the past year.
The questions in this chapter helped me to really stop and process a lot of the things I experienced in the past year. Not that I haven’t done processing along the way, but this really helped to tie everything together and bring the purpose into focus. Because there is always purpose in everything we experience.
We all have moments in our lives when we sense God calling us to leave something behind in order to lay hold of the something NEW God has for us. – Margaret Feinberg
Over the past year I have experienced several significant changes and necessary endings, most notably in the area of relationships. Some of the endings I saw coming, and others blindsided me. None were things I wanted. All, however, were necessary despite the pain that came with each of them.
Through each ending I have found that God had a NEW beginning waiting for me. And He always will. He knew these endings were coming even if I didn’t. And the fact that I survived them – and, in fact, am thriving – means that He isn’t done with me yet.
Endings – even necessary ones we can see coming – are always affect us emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Our faith may not take a beating, but it can be stretched, and that can also be painful. Physically, each of my endings have caused stress, exhaustion from not eating and sleeping, and anxiety. Emotionally I have been all over the place. I’ve felt happy, free, joyful, and content one five minutes, and rejected, worthless, unloved, and unlovable the next. That tends to happen when you experience a bad ending that blindsides you when you least expect it. When people decide that they don’t really care about you after all, as I experienced last year. When they choose to walk away and forget all the vows and promises they made. I came to the startling realization that the relationships with which I had surrounded myself had become toxic, and it was in my best interest to let some people have (and go) their own way, and actively disconnect myself from others.
It can also happen with a necessary ending you can see coming, but don’t really want to face, as I experienced more recently. When, though it isn’t a toxic relationship and doesn’t end badly, it still ends. When they say that – even though they really like you, relate to you, and respect you – things just didn’t “click” for them and they want to go back to just being friends.
It still stings, whether you are dropped like a rock, or let down as gently and carefully as possible. Whether you are completely blindsided or see it coming. Even when you know it is for your best because it isn’t God’s best for you.
Sometimes we must let go and move on from that which is familiar in order to embrace all God has for us. One of the ways the disciples did this was by leaving behind all they knew to follow Christ. – Margaret Feinberg
In Luke 5:27-28, Jesus called Levi (Matthew) to follow Him. He responded by leaving everything – EVERYTHING – behind, getting up, and following Him. Last year I had to choose between running after my ex-husband yet again, or following God.
I chose God.
And to do that meant that I had to release my marriage and my husband. With him went his family, a lifelong friend, and the past 18 years of my life. What makes the decision worthwhile is knowing that God will never leave me or forsake me and that He has a purpose for everything I have experienced.
One of the great paradoxes or upside down principles of following Jesus is that when we choose to die to ourselves through the grace of the Holy Spirit, then we become more alive to Christ. – Margaret Feinberg
In Matthew 6:24-25, Jesus says:
No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money. This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing?
I tried for years to hold on to my marriage. I did whatever was asked of me in order to try and keep my ex-husband “happy.” I now realize that it was never my job or responsibility to do that. But I allowed trying to keep him happy determine how much I served God. I was trying to serve two masters. And it was never enough. Not for my ex and not for God. God finally allowed him to have his way, and now I have freedom to be fully obedient to God. I have so much more than I can say yes to God about. If I don’t, it’s my own fault and no one else’s.
In John 12:24-26, Jesus says:
I assure you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
I’ve always been a problem-solver. I’m a fixer. That’s just how I’m wired. I’ve always been willing to go out of my way to try and help someone in need. And this past year I have truly experienced the NEW life that comes through service. After my ex-husband left, I threw myself into serving more at my church. That increased service has given me a renewed sense of purpose and value, and has opened doors to even more involvement and opportunities to serve.
I John 3:16 says:
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
Several times over the past year, people I barely knew have gone out of their way to offer help to my son and I. It made me realize there were people out there who cared about us, and not just what I could do or had done for them. No matter how much or how little we have, there is always something we can do to let someone else know that we see them. That they aren’t invisible or insignificant.
One of the things I have learned is that I still have some emotional healing to do in order to have the kind of relationship I want and God wants for me in the future. I need to take time to learn how to have a healthy relationship before I think about dating or looking for someone to spend my life with. And the best way to spend my time while I do that is to serve God by serving others.Previous Posts on this Study:
- A Time for Everything: A Study of Changing Life Seasons by Looking at Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
- Lesson One: A Time for Everything
- Lesson Two: A Time for #New Beginnings