Monday, March 30, 2015

My New Normal

My New Normal
© 2015 Chantelle Henderson

We’ve all had them.  Times and moments when our rose colored glasses were shattered by a phone call, a conversation, a new lesson learned.  Maybe it was the sudden loss of a loved one, or when you thought that one person you didn’t think was capable of hurting or betraying you did just that.  Maybe it was an unfaithful spouse, a job loss, or a divorce.  One thing is for sure.  Life will never be the same as it was. It’s the kind of news that renders you speechless and it seems as if time stood still, you’re frozen in it, while everything and everyone else kept moving.  But not you.

Over the past few months, that’s been me.  I am not at liberty to go into detail right now with specifics but I’m hoping and praying this post will help many understand they are not alone.

Approximately four or five months ago I received news, news that wasn’t life-ending, but definitely life-changing.  I knew in an instant that life as I’d known it for 43 years was going to be different now and there was absolutely, positively NOTHING I could do but pray about it.  Because it involved a person, I knew the only thing I could do was love them…..unconditionally and without judgment.  What I learned that day challenged everything I thought to be true or believed on many levels; mostly spiritually.

Worse than my sexual assault or molestation; worse than the betrayal of a confidant I'd experienced or death of a loved one, this news drew me to my knees and ever since that day I have been crying out to God to know His truth.  Sure.  I know what I’ve been taught since I was 9.  I know what I’d read in the news and seen on TV, but the reality of it is in my home and I had some decisions to make.

I had to go back to square one.  In fact, let me paint this picture for you. It usually takes me 3-4 weeks to read a book.  This situation not only drove me to my knees and to God’s word.  It had me so consumed that I wanted to KNOW. I had to KNOW the truth.  Not what I’ve been hearing all these years, but THE TRUTH from the Truth-giver.  I read 4 books in two weeks and watched over 4 hours of film documentaries.  To be honest with you, I had an information overload breakdown.  You know what that is, don’t you?  It's like a computer that has too many programs going all at once and finally it crashes because it was just too much.  I was reading and doing all this research and it was different than what I’d been taught [in the church], some of it was strong opinions I’d formed myself over the years, and what I’d experienced.  One thing is for sure, it knocked down my preconceived walls of how I thought I would ever handle the situation.  One day in the midst of all my researching, praying, seeking God’s truth, reading, and watching, my husband Ry called me on his lunch break and I just broke down crying……the ugly, sobbing, wailing cry.  Before he even asked what was wrong he wanted to know if I wanted him to leave work.  I told him no.  By the time I finally calmed down I was able to tell him how overwhelmed I was with all my research through these books, documentaries, blogs, and articles.  His response?, “Chantelle.  Stop it!”  At first I was taken off guard.  What did he mean by stop it.  Doesn’t he know I have to have answers now because our lives can’t go back to the way it was and we had to discover how we were supposed to live now that we’d received the news.  He continued on, “Seriously, I’ve been waiting for you to snap over all this.  Put the books and documentaries down.  Stop eating up all this information like a starving person who hasn’t eaten for days.”  Then he said something that changed the entire trajectory of how I would view it from that day on.  “God is not going to leave or forsake you or this other person.  You’ve been going and doing and digging.  Have you thought that maybe you just need to be still and know that He is God and He knows EXACTLY what’s taking place?”  I let out a huge sigh of relief and exhaled all the confusion.  I relinquished control at that moment.  The only frustrating thing about it is that I was halfway through my fourth book and I wanted to finish it so badly, but I promised the husband I would lay it all down for at least three days.

I did learn one valuable lesson; everybody has an opinion and you can clearly separate the ones based on love verses the ones based on hatred, arrogance, and self-righteous individuals or institutions.

I wish I could say three turned into five and then a week and then a month.  But no…….On midnight of the 3rd full day, I picked up my book and started digging into all my resources again.  But this time it was different. I was not as desperate.  It was night and day.  What happened? The relief came from a scripture, one of my top 10 for sure.

Matthew 22:36-39 {Holeman Christian Standard Bible}
“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”   He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

What?  Why was He taking me to this scripture?  It became the launching pad for all my research.  I was looking at it from a selfish standpoint.  How am I going to fix this?  Is it right?  Is it wrong?  Should I encourage it?  Should I, should I, should I?  I was so consumed with finding concrete answers that I forgot that if I simply looked at it from the stand point of loving God and loving others, that my motives were pure, and my heart was clean. I could just sit at His feet to gain strength, wisdom, but most important for me, peace.

So while I know that one thing has happened in my life that for sure makes it crystal clear that I can’t go back to what was, but need to now focus on what lies ahead.  You know what I’m about to share now.  I never go wrong in this scripture when I KNOW I don’t have all the answers or all figured out.

Philippians 3:12-16 {The Message Bible}
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.  So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.

I don’t have all the answers and for certain have not arrived, but I’m striving and reaching out for Christ.  God is slowly but surely clearing the blurred lines that drove me to darn near insanity trying to figure this thing out in the beginning.

This I do know; even after the news that brings the truth that life as we knew it before the occurrence is over, we must still move forward.  Don’t get stuck and believe the lie that just because something ended, the new beginning won’t bring even more joy, and purpose and love.

So now I have a new normal.  Although, I don’t quite know if normal is the right word to use.  Because right now I still have so many questions and need so much wisdom that I’m beginning to see it may take a while and that’s okay.  That’s why I “cracked” before.  Because I thought I had to have all the answers NOW!  Well, I don’t.  I’m just taking it one day at a time, with my Bible, coffee, eyeglasses, hi-liters, and pens in hand.

I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from me on this is the near future.

If you are going through something insurmountable or earth-shattering right now that has shaken you to the core and punched you in the gut making you well aware that there is now a clear line between, “that was then”, and "because of that my life will never be the same”, be secure in the knowledge that it’s going to take time; perhaps longer than you thought it would (as is in my case).  Just make your love for Him and your love for your neighbor the foundation on which you build this new normal.

Just for extra measure, here’s one more scripture I am clinging on to that is a bullhorn for change and perhaps how we can be comforted by its words:

Isaiah 43:19 {English Standard Version}
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

He’s always doing a new thing in our lives.  With all seasons come change.  With some change, it comes with the truth that things as we knew before will never be the same again.  Keep going.  Keep moving ahead.   Don’t get paralyzed by the change; be strengthened and encouraged by it.  It may cause one of your deepest levels of pain and desperation, but out of it will surely come a much stronger, consistent, desperate seeking of His face and a hunger and thirst for righteousness that can and will only be found in His word.  This does not dismiss educating yourself with the many resources you may need on your journey in life as you know it after “it” occurred.  Just be careful not to be consumed with all of that, that you forget that your Faithful Father and Mighty King will lead and guide you into all truth.

Okay, one more scripture that’s helped.  This one is because we want to be spared pain.  We want our lives to remain in neat little packages and schedules that cannot be interrupted.  We don’t desire change because that would mean things would have to be rearranged and possibly uprooted altogether.  While on this personal journey myself right now, I remembered that there was a passage in scripture when the enemy asked Jesus to sift Peter as wheat and from what I can read The Lord didn't say no.  Rather, what he did pray was that Peter’s faith would not fail and that after he suffered the trial that he would turn back and strengthen others.  Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m thinking, “Dude, Jesus, why don’t you tell the enemy no on my behalf!!!!!!?!!!!!???”  It’s because Peter’s faith had to stand trial and be tested so PETER would know his level of faith and having endured the testing of the enemy would be able to turn around and encourage others in their faith.

I firmly believe that when we go through [especially] major changes in our lives that our faith is being tested, not for God, but for us; so that we will know that we can stand face-to-face, toe-to-toe with the devil and just by saying the name, “Jesus” we will have defeated the enemy.  It is then our job to encourage and strengthen others.

Luke 31-32 {English Standard Version}
“Simon, Simon, behold,Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.

Summing it up.  Love God.  Love others. Be still and know that He is God.  Be wise with what you allow into your ear gates and eye gates and know that none of it took Him by surprise.  He knew what was going to happen and just like seasons, when Winter 2015 ceased to exist, Spring 2015 entered.  There was an end to one and a beginning to another.  You can’t go back to winter, but you get to discover all the new and beautiful things about Spring. 

Hope this blesses even one person.  You know me.  If it’s in me, I gotta get it out.  I don’t write music or sing, so I write.  It may not be with eloquence of speech, fancy words, or proper grammar, but at least I got it out.

Love Endlessly,