Wednesday, August 10, 2011


© 2011, Chantelle Henderson

One year, three months, one week, and four days.  That’s how long it’s been since I moved from Georgia to Florida.  The majority of that time has been spent alone; in solitude, and at times, frankly, isolation.  I’ve been taking inventory of my life and 2007 seems to be THE year.  That’s the year that everything I thought I knew about my life, the beliefs I held in the highest standards, the relationships I thought to be lifelong, and the way I thought my life was meant to be shifted.  It didn’t happen all at once.  One day.  One week.  One month.  And then finally, one year at a time until present day.

The word “shifted” in the dictionary is defined as, “to move from one place or direction to another; change from one place or direction to another.”

Everything as I knew it would be no more as a result of shifting.  Some of it was great.  Some of it I would not have wished on my worst enemy.  But all of it…..all of it was necessary.  It was necessary because it has forced me these past four years to remove blinders and barriers so I could get unstuck.  I didn’t even think I was stuck to begin with.  It’s an odd thing to be stuck with the knowledge and the power to be free to move about yet choose to remain stuck; choose to remain stagnant and stale, depressed, oppressed, and every other kind of “pressed”.  It’s a prisoner standing in a jail cell with the papers to be released and possess the legal right to walk out of prison as a free citizen.  Yet, they choose not only to stay in their cell, but just for added comfort, they close the cell doors and ensure that they are securely locked so they cannot get out.  More importantly, so that no one else can get in.

It has taken me nearly five years of going in and out of my own self- imposed prison.  Sure, I would leave from time to time when it felt safe, but any time I felt threatened in any way; physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, or socially, I would run back to my cell of deceptive comfort and familiarity.  It was the one place I knew I couldn’t leave once I made the decision to shut the door and no one could get in.

One of the enemy’s, the devil, greatest lies is that the way things are is the way they are always going to be-that nothing will ever change.  He is the father of lies.  I’ve struggled with shame as a Christian who bought into and even built a wall around his lies.   It was during one of my “breaks” from my “prison” cell that I began to see scripture after scripture in the word of God that as Christians we can be sure of one thing, CHANGE.  From Genesis to Revelation God is creating, adjusting, transforming, and SHIFTING. Intertwined in this knowledge is the truth that it does not come without pain, judgment, affliction and suffering.  We can also be assured that out of the pain and suffering some of our greatest joys and victories are birthed.  They are those glorious moments on this side of eternity which we never could have experienced unless we had drank from the cup of suffering or felt the kiss of a Judas.  We reach higher heights and deeper seas despite the enemy wanting to use it all to destroy us. Above all, we never walk through any of it without that which we need more than anything else, and that is His Love. 

Between 2007 and now I had a breakdown which landed me in a mental hospital where I was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder, we lost our dream house, cars, and most of our material possessions because of filing bankruptcy.  My teenage son left home at 15 and became a prodigal.  Close family relationships fell apart amidst a sea of misunderstandings.  I quit any involvement in various ministries I was in.  I became physically ill to the point that I could not legally drive.  I was having fainting spells, tremors, and severe panic attacks.  My husband’s job relocated us to Florida from Georgia, the only place I’d ever known, and friends I’d known for most of my life bailed.  There you have it.  My life since 2007 in a few sentences.  I am happy to report that the majority of it was closer to 2007 than 2011.  But that doesn’t matter.  The fact still remains that through some of it, I walked about freely, but for the most part, I spent it in the comfort of this prison I’d created for myself where no one could get to me and I didn’t have to face the outside world that existed beyond the prison walls.  I allowed the enemy’s lies to convince me to just exist.  Don’t do anything for myself and definitely don’t try to help other people.  What position was I in to be of use?

Suffice it to say that God’s grace is indescribable.  His relentless pursuit of me and His everlasting love for me penetrated every single protective barrier I tried to erect.  He would not let me go.  There were times I remember begging Him to leave me alone but He didn’t.  I belonged to Him.  On the days I felt strong he gently reminded me that any ounce of strength I had was only because I had it in Him.  On the days I felt like I couldn’t make it, He would remind me that I had no excuse to give up and quit because I did have His strength available to me.  I’ll be honest with you.  I would get so frustrated because no matter what excuse I tried to use to avoid the shifting and the shaking God Almighty was right there full of love, compassion, and truth.  In prison, let’s just say that I learned there are NO excuses.  If you are a child of God there is an answer for every argument to give up to be found in His word; The Bible.  Our daily bread.  Open up and say, “Aaaaahhhhh”.

Just in case you are wondering I am a free woman even though the shifting is still going strong.  Some days are filled with laughter and my wholehearted belief that anything is possible for me to do that He’s assigned for me to do.  Then there are others where I honestly have no desire to get out of bed and take my next breath.  I have resolved, however, that because I am a free woman-a free child of God I don’t have the right to decide for myself to go back to a cell.  The world doesn’t stop just because I wake up with an attitude and decide I don’t want to live life.  Time is short and my job is not to approve of or disapprove of the things that are constantly changing about my life.  My job is to simply say, “Daddy.  Here I am.  What do you want me to do today?” and for me to be obedient.  Many times I don’t get it and it’s probably for the best.  If I did know the why’s and what’s I’d probably throw the prison keys away so I could stay locked away forever.  But there is no life in existing like that.  I’ve gained a new perspective and revelation that I now live by.  My need to be obedient exceeds my need to understand.  I just need to do what He asks of me and if understanding why is part of the deal, it will have to come when and if He allows. 

People and relationships are still shifting.  Places and finances are still shifting.  My life is still shifting as a whole.  The difference though is that in my freedom, beyond the walls of my old prison cell, I get to experience the joy and the pain, the laughter and the tears, the fear and the faith, but mostly the LOVE that sustains me through it all. 

Ecclesiastes 3

 1TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:

    2A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,

    3A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,

    4A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

    5A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

    6A time to get and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to cast away,

    7A time to rend and a time to sew, a time to keep silence and a time to speak,

    8A time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
    9What profit remains for the worker from his toil?

    10I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves.

    11He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy], yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.