God’s faithfulness isn’t always as clearly seen as we expect. His faithfulness shapes us slowly and consistently, over time. That was my big ah ha when I sat down to read an entire year of journal entries and written prayers. God kept answering my prayers by laying truth upon truth until I could see it. It certainly wasn’t obvious; gosh I am grateful for the Lord’s persistence. My prayers were relentless and repetitive all year; all the while I was blind to the answers He was putting right before my eyes. One time I started an entry like this: Good morning God, it’s me and I’m back again about the same issue that I’ve been praying about all year. Tonality suggests that I was evidently irritated. Ahem… I’m not going away until I get an answer. I’m laughing out loud as I tell you what I wrote because when I re-read my journal I can see how God was answering my prayer all year long. I didn’t have eyes to see it because I was looking for the bottom line, the end result, the ta da! Meanwhile, God was slowly and deliberately transforming me from the inside out. It’s like when we see the fall leaves transform over a few weeks until they turn beautiful colors and fall to the ground. We don’t see the hour by hour change, yet we know it’s happening. As I kept going back and begging for a break through, my busy day carried on with worldly distractions. God was still at work seeing my transformation through to the end. Even when I was frustrated, snarky, and blind; God didn’t divert from answering my prayer. He is faithful.
So, I bet you are wondering what the transformation issues were all about. Well… I decided it was time to prioritize good self-care. Instead of making another New Year’s resolution that would predictably fail, been there and done that; I decided to give up and give it to God. I had lots of practice of failing and experienced endless defeat. The only thing I could resolve was that my desire for an extra serving at dinner and chocolate cake were bigger than my self-control. I was determined to find out why it was so difficult to practice good self-care. I thought self-care meant weight loss, but once I involved God, I couldn’t have imagined what was about to unfold next. God would do something far greater than help me to lose weight. Believe me, it was a riveting re-read through those journal entries. It gave me perspective. The answer was not spelled out in a simple linear agenda and task list. When I gave God permission, He went into the unexpected crevices of my heart and started to dig out poison that was sabotaging my health.
God began to show me all the areas of gridlock that I was living in and prompted me to remove toxic relationships from my life. There were some people who actually enjoyed pouring salt in old wounds of rejection that caused me to live in constant emotional upheaval. There were other toxic relationships that I couldn’t just close the door on; instead I had to learn good boundaries. I learned that I can change my environment, create emotional stability simply by how I respond to toxic people. God was showing me all of that and I still couldn’t connect the dots to self-care. So, I continued to pray.
Next, God showed me that forgiving myself didn’t make the list of people that I had forgiven, in the world. Wow this was typical; I hardly ever make the priority list. I was living with the heavy burden of being in a shame cycle by trying harder, failing and self-condemnation. I had made careless decisions at one point in my life and I just kept trying to earn my value and worth in spite of it because I didn’t want to address the mistakes. It was time to admit, surrender and confess. Here’s the deal, I found God’s incredible measure of unrelenting and unconditional love in the midst of that. Why are we so afraid to admit our mistakes? God is loving and full of mercy. This little journey through forgiveness restored my value and worthiness.
Self-care. Those are a couple of core values that God was changing in me this past year as I focused on prayer, asking, seeking, knocking, memorized scriptures, and persistence. Some of the insights I journaled about, I didn’t even remember until I re-read the entrees. I was blown away by the Holy wisdom that I forgot was even shared with me. I began to see God’s patience and consistency that was transforming. He was shaping me from the inside out. Still I didn’t see the connection to self-care. My physical weight had not changed. My work-outs were still non-existent. I wasn’t drinking more water or getting more sleep. However, my spirit definitely felt lighter than ever before!
Finally, I began to think about the victory stories I had heard other women talk about. There were women within my reach who overcame poor self-care and currently live in freedom! With some trepidation I reached out to them. Nail biting for sure. I don’t really know them- I just knew they loved Jesus and we shared some common friends. I didn’t expect them to celebrate their victory with me to the level they did! WOW. They told me about their pathway to conquering self-condemnation. Told me how God gave them an understanding for self-acceptance and how a healthy mindset was the key to freedom. Low and behold these were the same keys He gave me. Uncanny, I finally made the connection to self-care thanks to my new friends who were able to confirm all the good things God showed me through-out the year. All of it was an answer to my persistent prayers! When we pray, God answers. He is faithful. I am absolutely certain of that.
Sheri Page has been married to her husband for 10 years and cherishes their blended family of 6 adult children and 9 grandchildren. She has worked in and alongside ministries for over 30 years. She has served many roles with in the walls of a church including, a Women’s Ministry director and assistant to a Care Pastor where she served people who were walking through Baptism, Celebrate Recovery, Divorce Care and benevolence. Sheri loves to share her curiosity and unique understanding of life with Jesus by her side. She is a 5 year breast cancer survivor and considers that experience to be the one of the greatest gifts God has given her. More writings from Sheri can be found on her blog: https://thelordsdwellingplace.com/