Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Recycled Christian

With Earth Day coming up in just a little over a week, it got me thinking about recycling. Merriam-Webster defines recycle as, "to make something new from (something that has been used before)."
God recycles. 

God has taken something old, broken, and used, and turned it into something new... me. 
I am a Recycled Christian. 

When accepting Christ, the Son of God, we are made into a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" 
What wonderful news for us. We are no longer bound to our old destructive broken sinful selves. God has taken us and remolded us. 

I often like to say that I am barely even a reflection of my old self. Yes, I still have the same bright red hair and the same smile but other than my physical appearance I am in no way the same person I was even ten years ago. 

Ten years ago to this day I was a lost and immature girl. I lashed out and hurt my friends, family, and myself. I couldn't go a single minute without thinking suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self harm. I would go out and try to self medicate with alcohol. My language was almost as foul as my attitude. My daughter who was only one at the time, lived in filth. I was constantly sabotaging my marriage and trying to push my husband away. I almost lost him when I made the selfish choice of turning to another man out of anger. I acted happy often for those who weren't close to me but it was a very superficial mask that I wore to keep people at arms length. I knew of God from being raised in a Christian home but I had not given Christ the authority over my life to be my Lord. I was willing to have Him as savior as long as I didn't have to change my ways. I had severe mood swings and would often go without sleep. I had no interest in learning or growing as a person because I didn't even think I would be around for long enough to do anything, and if I had tried I was sure I would have failed. I was institutionalized so many times I had lost count. I was on and off so many medications I felt like I lived in a fog of numbness, so I would go off them and be thrown into an out of control state. My family feared that I wouldn't survive through the year. I was old, broken, and used. I lived in a state of trying to survive the day, hour, minute, even moment. This was me at my lowest. It was the moment when I cried out to God. 

While the only words I could mutter were, "God, I can't. You have to." those words embodied all of my anguish. God, I can't be the mother Abbie deserves, you have to help me. God, I can't be the wife my husband needs, you have to change me. God I can't stop thinking about ways to kill myself, You have to take them from me and give me strength. God, I can't do this on my own, You have to carry me. God I am so scared because I can't even trust myself, You have to teach me to trust you. Those words were from the depths of my soul. I cried out from the deep pit of depression and loneliness, praying that He could pull me out of it. 

That is when God recycled me. It wasn't all immediate. I struggled with my thoughts for months, but each thought I turned over to God. Even as God began to take away the thoughts of suicide and self harm, I still questioned every thought in my head. I would constantly wonder was this me, was it my bipolar, or was it God? Even simple things such as small purchases, because before I was extremely impulsive. I found support in the very person I caused so much pain and heartache, my mom. She became my sounding board for years, as I would ask her when things came up. 

As I came closer to the Lord and was becoming this new creation, I became further from my spouse. The sins of my past had left deep scars in him and he had to face God in his own way. I prayed for years for him and often lost faith in God's ability, although God showed me over and over that He was in control. Several years later my love had been changed by the hand of God. I was blessed to see God do great things in his life and how God mended our marriage making it stronger than ever before. God not only recycled us as individuals, but also our marriage. 

I often like to say that I am barely even a reflection of my old self. None of it was through my own power or ability. It was all through God's mercy, power, and love. I am so thankful for the person He has created me to be, and I know that I am no where near done. I look forward to seeing the transformations He does in the next ten years. 

If God had not saved me I would be in the landfill. Instead He recycled me. 

Would you rather be recycled or end up in a landfill? 
How has God recycled you? 

Monday, April 6, 2015

The boxes around us

I don't fit in the box you place me in. For a long time I placed myself in the very same boxes and even in other boxes, but I have broken out of them.

I don't fit in the box you place me in. I am not just a statistic or a generalized definition of any of my characteristics or quirks.

I don't fit in the box you place me in. The boxes are beginning to feel to constrictive and sometimes they even cause me pain.

I don't fit in the box you place me in.

This last weekend I saw the boxes my husband gets placed into. His response made me so proud.

When we were at the bank signing up for a joint savings account the woman helping us was very kind. She applauded our parenting and the good behavior of our three daughters, at the same time she was shocked that we were married. We have the same last name, are at the same address, have our three children with us, and had wedding rings on. She asked us our marriage status, which would be general protocol. Her completely shocked and amazed reaction was not protocol. When she heard that we have been married for almost eleven years she was even more shocked. My husband and I just let it roll off as we do so many other times.

When we left the bank we went to Target. In the checkout lanes an employee walked right past my hubby to me to tell me what a great job I did teaching the children to be well behaved.

Lady: "Good job, mom. You did a great job teaching them manners."
My hubby responded by saying, "Excuse me. I had as much to do with it as she did."
Lady : "Sure you did. Everyone knows that the mom is the one who do all that."
Hubby: "No, we both do. I am there for them and teach them also."
Lady sarcastically: "Well congratulations on being an involved black man."

When leaving the store she apologized to him and he graciously accepted.
When we left I was so proud of him. He not only defended himself but also all black men.
I also felt a broken for him.

There are more boxes than there are people. For a long time I tried to fit in boxes: teen pregnancy, mental illness, dyslexic, overweight, and so many others. The boxes became so constricting until God broke the boxes open and showed me that his plans for me are too big for the boxes. When I go back to placing myself in a box I also end up placing God in a box, because that means I am not trusting Him and His plans.

So often we place ourselves, others, and God into false boxes. What boxes are you confined to? How did it feel to break free of a box.