After a busy morning I finally plopped down in my comfy chair, with a piping hot cup of tea by my side, and started to think about my next post. I began as I often do, with a big sigh to let go of as much of the world as I am able, and then asking God the questions I like to ponder before I write. What do You want me to share today? What are You saying to me? What’s going on with my lovely Blog Friends?
I haven’t posted in a while and I was hoping to update you all on where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to. We’ve been to a retreat centre that’s so far off the grid that it was a thirty minute drive to find a single cell phone service bar, we’ve visited other churches and found God moving in mighty ways, and we’ve laughed and cried through counseling sessions that would make Oprah proud.
Despite all that we’ve done, and all that we’ve learned, I couldn’t figure out what God wanted me to share with you? Which bit of my story would speak to your story?
Stumped, staring at a blank page and trying to battling the urge to give up and lose myself in Facebook, I gazed outside hoping for inspiration. It appeared that the forecasted rain that had arrived with a rather pathetic drizzle. Despite its apparent gentleness, the misty rain was still managing to fill up our empty rubbish bin that had been languishing in the gutter, open and ignored, since the bin guys had sped through earlier today.
Happy for the distraction and hoping to get the bin closed and up the drive before it filled up much further, I jumped up, threw on my rain jacket and jogged down the drive to the curb. Just as I flipped the bin lid closed a gust of wind hit me from behind and the heavens opened. Sheets of horizontal rain pelted me from every side and within seconds I was drenched with water soaking through my new Christmas slippers. Yes, despite having the foresight to throw on a rain jacket, I obviously hadn’t had the IQ to switch out my slippers for wellies!
By the time I had raced back up to the house with the bin dragging behind me carving an impressive wake through the river of run off flowing down the drive, I was drenched to the bone. My jeans, socks, slippers, t-shirt and sweater were all sodden, and I have to confess that even my big, comfy, granny sized, “I’m at home all day and don’t need a fancy pair” undies, hadn’t escaped the soaking. I was a sad and sorry sight. A bedraggled mess, leaving a pond-sized puddle on the floor, as I stepped into the safety of the dry kitchen.
I had no choice but to strip down to my birthday suit and change out of absolutely everything I had been wearing. Once I had towelled off and was pulling on a fresh sweater I heard Him.
“That took you by surprise didn’t it?
I know you’ve felt swept away by all that’s been going on recently, but the storm had to be a downpour. I knew you could protect yourself from the drizzle and you’d never have been willing to strip off all your old, frayed and worn out clothes if you weren’t soaked to the core, and I wanted to give you new, fresh clothes for this next season.”
Wow, that stopped me in my tracks.
Was He saying that He had to let me be drenched by the storm and swept out to sea by the riptide, otherwise I wouldn’t have been willing or able to see that I was wearing clothes that were not just ill-fitting, ugly and a fashion disaster, but actually harmful to me?
I’ve often found that if God lands a doozy on me like this, He’s gentleman enough to leave a breadcrumb trail that I can trace back and see that He’s been preparing me to hear this word for a while. So I raced downstairs to read through my journal and pick up the breadcrumbs before they were lost. And there they were …
Repeated invitations to take off the fear, shame and beliefs I’d been wearing since I was a kid. At the retreat centre and in counseling here, I’ve begun to identify false beliefs I have about myself. These false beliefs act as filters through which I view the world and what it throws at me. Filters that distort reality and these filters are the clothes that God had been inviting me to strip off over the last months. Clothes that I’ve been wearing for as long as I can remember that say;
“I don’t fit in”
“I’m not acceptable”
“I’m not good enough”
It’s not until the storm has soaked us through to our undies that we are willing to strip off and shed the beliefs, fears and shame that we innocently hope will protect us from the rain.
Over the last three months I’ve been drenched by the storm, but I’ve also been loved well by our church, friends and family who have provided a warm dry kitchen where I’ve felt safe enough to begin the process of stripping off these beliefs and getting used to the new clothes that God has given me. Ones that say that I am enough, because He is enough.
I must admit, I like buying new clothes, but I do find they take a bit of wearing in before they are truly comfortable and become the first thing I reach for in the morning.
So I’m in my settling in phase with these new clothes and beliefs. They still feel a little stiff and awkward, but I’m going to try to keep them on, as I’m convinced that God knows my size and shape better than me since He was the one that made me in the first place. He also knows what the weather’s going to be like in this next season and the exact clothes I’ll need for the journey ahead.
If you’re anything like me you have a go-to set of clothes you wear everyday, and you don’t really stop to think about whether you, the world, or God gave them to you. So I’m inviting you to join me and ask yourself what filters you might have picked up along the journey of your life. What false self beliefs are you wearing that aren’t just a fashion faux pas but a down right lie? Do you need to strip off right now, right where you are? I promise I wont look. I know it can feel horribly vulnerable and frightening to shed all that’s familiar, so to minimize the time when you’re standing alone and naked, stripped of your old self beliefs, here are some new clothes to put on right now. If you like, you can print this off and pin it to your mirror so you can say it each day. It takes time but as the commercial says, you’re worth it!