Ya know that pit experience I shared about last time and all those treasures I found there – I don’t want you to get the wrong impression that I am some kind of superhero, awesome turn into the wind, take the high road, overcomer anamoly that you think you wish you could be like.

I am not that girl! I wasn’t interested in those treasures for a good long while, I couldn’t give a flip about them at first. I, maybe like you, found myself at the bottom of the pit and I was pissed off about it, I was a big baby about it, I whined and complained and had a major full out temper tantrum about it. If you have been reading my blog and journeying with me, you know this but for those of who just tuned in – please, please, please know I was an epic failure in my own pit.

Isn’t that how we categorize it, after all, success or failure?!

We are such creatures of extremes and labels…everything fits into a nice, neat box – if only life would stay in that damn box! But it doesn’t, it’s messy and unruly and bigger than the box. God didn’t design life that way, He didn’t design you that way — newsflash — you don’t fit in a box!  And neither do any of your experiences!

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Honestly, I don’t believe that anything that happened in that pit God views with disdain or disappointment. He gave me a safe place to shake my fists at the world, to cry out in my pain and dissatisfaction, to blame others, to blame Him, to wrestle with my identity and expectations, to be lost and hopeless, to despair, to feel the numb nothingness, to climb the walls only to fall flat back on my ass over and over until I was done clawing at this life and all I expected it should be, that it should offer.

It was a process, just like everything else we experience.

When we “process” through the good stuff this life has to offer we don’t judge ourselves — planning a wedding, having a baby, starting a new job — all of these things are experiences that require processing and moving forward. The “negative” things in this life are no different — grieving the loss of a loved one, losing a job, working our way out of a pit —  processing and moving forward is required as well.

On the other side of all of life’s experiences we learn to live in a “new normal”

– positive or negative –

it’s a process as we embrace the change it offers.

So yes, I “failed” over and over again in the pit, I was not excited to be there at first, I did not want to look for any stupid treasures, I was not interested in lessons and change and anything else that place had to offer…but He kept me there long enough for my heart to to soften and become curious.

He knows what He is doing.

At the end of myself I found His good gifts buried there in that pit.

It was all a process– a big messy mess–

mess_corrected_WEBkicking and screaming,

refusing to talk to Him,

numbing,

breaking,

emptying myself out,

laying it all before Him,

being openly, painfully honest,

looking out, looking up, and then looking in,

I stripped, in His presence, into naked intimacy, bearing my soul. 

And He carefully picked it up and held it close to His heart. And I felt Him sing over me, over every part of the process, the ugly, seemingly epic failing parts and the beautiful, surrendering into new normal parts.

Psalm 40:1-3 “I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

 I am His delight, all my parts, no boxes, no judgment, He sees me and says, “It is very good!”

Genesis 1:31 “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

So my friend, please stop judging yourself and where you find yourself today. You are in process and all parts of it are good, not neccesarily fun, but they are good! Each part is essential, a requirement, for the changes being made in you. He is working all things for your good. Trust the process and keep taking baby steps forward to your new normal!

boxAnd when you are ready, there is no rush,

look down and find your own buried treasures in your pit!

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A friend of mine is in the process of creating a new blog entitled “Treasures from the Pit” – I will definitely let ya’ll know when it’s up and ready for viewing and post the link for you to find, it is going to be so rich and a must to read, so stay tuned.

I first heard this term from her while I was in my own pit and it helped me to refocus in that dark, lonely place. I definitely don’t want to steal her thunder so I asked her permission to share with you what this means to me and how it has changed my own pit experience.

So many of my pit moments I find I focus on trying to get out, clawing my way up the walls, scatching to be free of the depth I fear in my soul. I see up and want to be there.

In reflecting on that pit place, I recently told my husband, “I was where I needed to be and now I am where I need to be,” and both are necessary, good places. Now, I wasn’t saying that in the pit…I just wanted out, but it was a bittersweet place – full of lessons, full of shedding, full of healing, full of pain, full of treasures, but we can’t find the treaures always looking up, focused on getting out, because the treasures, in that place, are at our feet!

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We must look down and choose to pick up the treasure God has hidden for us in that trove.

As I have been reflecting on the last 9 months I have felt the need to chronicle, for myself, the treasures God has given me deep from within the pit, these are not in any particular order, some are bigger revelations than others, but each was life changing and a part of the healing God provided for me deep within the pit.

So here goes:

Treasure #1 – my voice. I have always been a writer. My mom saved some of my creative writing papers from a class I took at UL when I was a little girl in their summer program. I gold musicthink I was in 3rd grade maybe. Silly stories about animals in trees, my favorite snowcone, and two little birds on a hill. The devotional, Unpack Your Heart, is another example as God asked me to open my journals and share the intimate stories Jesus and I walked through during the most broken years of my life, but this writing has been different. The devotional was written from a place of victory, after the pain, but the blogging over the last several months has been in the middle of the painreal, raw, risky! It has been scary sometimes to press that publish button and put my heart out there but it has also been one of the most freeing things I have ever done, giving voice to the wrestling moments, censored enough to not offend but bearing my heart unguarded as I pressed in and through those dark days. Giving voice to the real issues in real time has been a real gift!

Treasure #2 – clear vision. By nature I typically turn in and look at myself – sometimes from a dysfunctional place where I own too much of the situation and other times from a healthy gold4place as God has taught me to turn the spotlight in and take my own inventory. These last 9 months have been an opportunity to see me with a clearer, fog-free vision – I have been judgmental, critical, a victim, fearful, a wallflower, inconsistent, less than, lacking, blaming, not enough AND honest, real, teachable, repentant, humble, broken, willing to change, wanting the “more” of God, searching for me and who I really am. Everytime I thought it was about someone else, something else, God was faithful to show me the only thing I could effectively change – ME!  Making peace with what I can not change and choosing to change what I can.

Treasure #3 – living without expectation. I went into the pit with tons of expectations and tons of disappointment because of unmet, disappointing expectations. Promises made, gold5words spoken and nothing happened! I thought things would be different…and at the end of the day it wasn’t…nothing changed. My head stayed in the clouds looking for the “next” and in that cloudy chaos I stayed disconnected, looking past today for tomorrow. I left expectation in the pit. Jill Briscoe reminded me that my “ministry” at any given time is the space between my two feet and that message has helped to pull me out of the clouds and ground me in the now. I choose to live enjoying today, not looking ahead at what “might” come but living with the hope of what each day offers.

Treasure #4 – discovering myself. I have learned new things about myself in, what I fondly refer to as, my midlife renovation. I love these things: I adore books, I am inconsistent, I am goldbraver than I thought, I don’t want to be on a pedastool, it’s too high and scary up there – I don’t like that place at all, I crave real, I have carried way more than I am responsible for, so I’ve returned those bags, that belong to others, back to them, rang the doorbells and left them on their front porches, I have been holding my breath and as I exhaled very deeply, I learned to breathe again with freedom and ease, I am pretty great just the way God wired me and He has work for me to do.

Treasure #5 – the one. The Lord has been speaking to me about this issue a long time now…sometimes it takes a long time to get a message to drop from our heads to our hearts and really get it! A long time! Most of the work I am privileged to do is one-on-one. gold3Occasionally, I have been blessed to speak on stages for 100s, even 1000s sometimes and it is quite a rush and I have gotten caught up in the “more” that happens in that arena. The message inside me to meet our flesh bearing Savior feels huge – I want everyone to know that they can know Him in an intimate, personal way, that they can close their eyes, invite Him and the Creator of the universe will stop everything, step down from His heavenly throne and come and join them in a meadow, on a mountaintop, near ocean waves, in a hammock. It’s a big message! It’s an important message! But at the end of the day I am still at my own kitchen table doing long division with my 9 year old…what the heck?!?! And then the Lord whispers, “it’s about the one!” I have shaken my fists, stomped my feet and not liked the seeming “smallness” of what He has called me to do. In the bottom of the pit I was reminded of Luke 15:10, “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” Sssssooooooo…If all of heaven rejoices over “the one” who am I not to rejoice over the one God sends me. I got it!! Finally I got it! I get to touch One, one at a time, and my God rejoices! 

Treasure #6 – friendships. Friendship is a slippery slope, we must be so careful with each pinkyother’s hearts. As God called me to Him, I felt Him hemming me in, shedding relationships that were not meant for me, asking me to identify and examine the reasons I busied myself with people and their interests. Carefully guarding my heart as He did deep work, I felt my circles shrinking shallow and tight. He was so faithful to open the doors for me to walk through for hard conversations to happen, healing confrontation, and pressing into truth in those relationships He had for me. He positioned girls at the top of the pit to wait for me, no rush, just wait and pray, as I wrestled in the dark below. My friendships are so much healthier, have so much more depth, are so life giving. One of God’s greatest treasures to me. There’s nothing between me and “her”, our hearts washed with truth and humility on both ends, I never thought it could be so sweet!

Treasure #7 – scattered scatterer. At the bottom of the pit, I felt lost. What is my prupose Lord? Why did you create me? For what? So exhausted and weary. God sent a friend to remind me. She reminded me all of the different things I’ve done over the years and ways I’ve done His work. She could see why maybe all of that contributed to a scattered feeling.  That I couldn’t see or feel one true path, one true thing. And then she spoke with Holy Spirit clarity to my heart, “But maybe you’re supposed to do a bunch of things.  Maybe you’re supposed to do a lot of smaller, different things?  I got the image of you scattering seeds.  In a lot of different places… in a lot of different ways.  I met you in 2008 or 2009 for Inner Healing.  As helpful as those 16 weeks were to my life in general, there was one instance that changed my world.  When you talked about real forgiveness—being able to pray for the one who wronged us.  That never left me… you planted that seed one day and then it grew. crownI’m sure that you are more versed in the Bible than me but go back and read in Revelation about the jewels we receive in our crown.  Maybe all of these seeds (small as they may be) will end up being jewels in YOUR crown.  Maybe you are supposed to be scatterED…because you’re doing a lot of scatterING.”

Treasure #8 – breathing love. – My word for 2017 is “Love” and loving others has been on my terms in many ways. Bearing and sharing my heart has been calculated and controlled and as long as I am in control, in my space, inviting others in –love is easy. But when I walk into a birthday party, into the lobby at gold6church, a friend’s baby shower, anywhere I am not in control, I noticed that I guard my heart and hold my breath. Literally — I feel like I don’t breathe in these settings. Love didn’t flow with ease from me, nothing flowed with ease, not even air. Many hurts, many disappointments, many things have created within me a need to guard and self-protect, unable to bring my authentic self. I have been stifled! In the pit God loved me to wholeness! In all my mess, He loved me. In all my tantrums, He loved me. In all my anger, He loved me. In all my blaming, He loved me. In all my brokenness, He loved me. In all my isolation, He loved me. In all my despair, He loved me. In all of it, HE LOVED ME! And through His unfailing, unfiltered, forgiving, forging love I found love for myself and others…and I started breathing, deeply breathing again! The ease of love, joy, and breath flowing…in and out…flowing uncontrolled and effortlessly. Deep cleansing breath that frees the heart to love others well.

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There are many, many more treasures I discovered deep within myself, from the deep well of God. Little treasures with a lovely, bigger-than-expected, impact that have shifted me, changed me, better”ed” me! It was an unexpected, seemingly undesirable experience – I mean who expects to find anything good at the bottom of a deep, dark pit?! I would have missed it all if I hadn’t listened to that faithful friend share her own pit-prompting treasures (thank you friend). I would have missed it all if I hadn’t listened to that still small voice beckoning me, “Look down, Look down!” 

I would have missed it all! I am so thankful I didn’t miss it!!

So outside, atop my own pit, I offer encouragement down to all of you who find yourself in a pit today. Sweet friend, look down! There are treasures to be picked up, rich, life changing treasures, that God has hidden for you there. Look down friend, divert your eyes and heart from the ache to get out too quickly and linger awhile, God has treasures deep in the trove that He has designed specifically for the repair and restoration of your heart! Let Him do His deep work in the dark and I promise on the other side of your pit experience, YOU WILL BE DIFFERENT!

I feel an ease within my soul – a lighter, deep breathing peace that feels easier to carry around today. Things had been heavy, crushing really – the air squeezed out of me, sucked up with nothing left in the room for lungs to breathe. I have been holding my breath. I am not really sure why, I think I have been doing this for a very long time. It’s funny how you don’t notice things until they are no longer the same. I have been this way a long time and it had become my normal and it wasn’t until I took a deep breath and started breathing again that I noticed how long I have been holding my breath.

I sat with a friend the other day, laughing, enjoying the moment. I noticed how comfortable I felt in what used to be a seemingly uncomfortable situation – breathing…breathing…breathing.

Free to breathe no matter where I find myself.

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I received a text soon after our visit:

“Guess what I noticed today?

Your spontaneous smile, laughter and joy are back!!!

Glad you’re back.”

It was nice to hear,

it was nice someone who loves me, who has been praying for me noticed,

it was nice she pointed it out so that I would notice!

Big deep breath…I’m so thankful for lung expanding, full chest, deep breaths!

Happy to notice that I am not holding my breath anymore!

I have missed the ease of joy!

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