We celebrated the one year anniversary of our discipleship relationship and spent part of the evening talking about God's sovereignty as we reflected on the past year.
How He brought us together, the work He has done, the hard moments, the exciting moments, and the truth that neither of us are the same women we were the first time we met on February 2, 2014. Praise God for such a truth!
I remember the details so clearly. (que dream sequence)
One Sunday morning I was talking to a friend at church, and just happened to ask about his dating relationship. He gave me a brief description of their current state of dating, and unknowingly shared some very insightful details about the young woman. When he finished I said, "Wow! You just described my entire life! I feel like I need to reach out to her to show her that healing really is possible." He looked at me with an odd expression and asked, "Are you serious? Because if you are, I will give you her information right now."
He wrote her e-mail address on my church bulletin, and we parted ways.
I stared at that address for the next week. Praying. Thinking. Wondering how in the world to make a "cold call" to a broken and hurting stranger.
I asked the Lord to burden my heart with such intensity that I could think of nothing else if it was HIS desire for us to connect, rather than my own. (I have a long history of chasing people who do not want me, or assuming that hurting people want to be helped (by me). Painful lessons and broken relationships have shifted my thinking and deepened my conviction to wait on the Lord. It is hard sometimes, but absolutely worth it!)
The Lord DID burden my heart, so I sent one of the strangest e-mails I have ever written, sharing a little about my own past and offering to meet if she felt a desire or need to do the same. When I hit "send" I said out loud, "I don't know if I would respond to me!"
She did respond two weeks later and agreed to meet with me.
We set a date, time, and place, and the morning of our date I sat in the corner of my couch praying, "Lord? What are You doing? I do not even know this girl or how to minster to her. Only You know her heart and what she needs, so please show me!"
I sat quietly, feeling butterflies flutter about in my belly as if I was about to speak in front of a crowd of a thousand people.
And then, He whispered, "She needs you."
"Discipleship? Discipleship is what You have planned for us? Whoa. I did not see that coming!"
And I was at peace.
We met, I fell in love with her instantly, and when I shared my story about praying for her and asking what in the world the Lord was doing (and hesitatingly mentioned the "she needs you" part) she looked at me with big eyes, and began to weep.
We agreed to take the next week to pray about a discipleship relationship and what that would look like, and two weeks later - she was sitting on my couch.
(end dream sequence)
One year together.
Tens of thousands of words exchanged.
Humility learned, and practiced.
And lots and lots of prayer.
She is a 'runner', just like I used to be, and she has tried to leave me a few times.
But every time she ran, she looked back (like all runners do), and saw that I was still standing there, hands stretched out - waiting.
Most people are walking away when she looks back, and some have already disappeared, so my presence confuses her. Scares her.
Is she real? Does she really mean it when she says, "I am not going anywhere?" Can I trust her? Others have promised the same thing, and broken that promise. Is she worth it? Is she worth the risk of me being vulnerable and stating to trust?
It took me well over six months to make it onto her "safe list" and even now my name is still written in pencil. (Our joke is that one day it will be written with a Sharpie pen!) But you know what? It's okay! I spent the better part of two decades not believing one promise a person made because I had collected too many broken ones. I know she does not fully trust me. I know she is afraid to do so. I know she doesn't believe me when I tell her, "I am IN this. To hell and back. As long as it takes."
But I will KEEP telling her, as long as it takes, until she knows without the tiniest shadow of doubt that my Yes is truth, and my promise is sure.
Because she is my past.
Every hurt she shares, I remember my own.
Every rejection she endures, I remember my own.
Every fear, every set back, every sorrow - I remember my own.
I did not believe the promises and affection and declarations of others.
Including the Lord.
I read the Word, I knew the promises.
But I did not believe.
Oh, how gracious He was to save me from myself by drawing me in close to show me that He cannot lie. His words are real. And they mean something. His Yes is YES. He never fails. He never disappears.
I can trust Him.
This is why He said she needed me!
Not because I had anything to offer, but because He has EVERYTHING to offer, and she needed someone to help her find her way back to the only One who can promise, and deliver, true mercy and healing.
She is my past.
I am her future.
Together we encourage one another and spur one another to love and good deeds because,Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. II Corinthians 1:4
How GOOD He is to love us in such a way!