The saying "Hindsight is always 20/20" may not be true if we don't take the time to look back for the lessons the past can teach us.
I admit there are things in my past I do not enjoy looking back to. I have needed to look back at past pain to heal my damaged emotions and self-concept. The exercise is not pleasant, yet it is necessary and may be necessary again in the coming months so I can see more clearly.
I have tried looking only at good memories, or fun stories my siblings have told, yet I cannot help but see the painful memories that bookend those times. These dark moments are part of my life and part of what has molded who I am today. However, the light of God's presence is also part of my life and who I am. Of course, this truth I didn't see at the time, but as I look back, I can see more clearly now.
As a little girl, I was afraid of the shadows that came out at night when the house went silent. The comfort of a small bookmark with a shining cross pinned to my wall, I can see now, was letting me know that even though what I feared still approached, God was hiding my face in His chest. God was present in my darkness, connecting with me. (This is the inspiration for my blog, Phosphorescent.)
A few years later at Bible camp, God revealed Himself to me in a new way. I understood what was happening in my dysfunctional Christian home may continue, but God would be with me if I wanted Him to be. I said, "Yes, please," and invited Jesus into my heart. God was connecting to me amid life’s confusion.
As a teen, I was making plans to run away from home. Before I could run, my parents took my younger brother and me from BC to Ontario to visit some of my brothers. I took the opportunity to get a job and stay in Ontario, sharing an apartment with my brothers while I finished high school. The unwritten rule of the apartment was that if I was not at school or work, I was at church. I joined in youth events that included memorizing Scripture and writing for contests. God was directing my path, connecting with me.
As a young married lady, I learned to drink coffee - and liquor. We played slow-pitch with a partying group of friends and went to the bar to drink and dance. It seemed that every time we were at a party the song "Spirit in the Sky" would be played. This song is not about God, yet never failed to remind me that the Spirit, God, was in the bar, disappointed but not judgmental, just letting me know He was with me. Even in drunkenness, God connected with me.
Eventually, God caught my attention more fully, and then that of my husband. In many ways, God directed our paths as we healed in one town, grew in faith in another town, and finally went to train at Bible School in a city. The whole story is too long to go into here, but God changed our focus from Chaplaincy to Pastoring. God led us to our small church in northern British Columbia where we had desired to live even in our partying days. We were unaware of the church until God introduced us to it through non-believing friends! God continued to connect with me in unique ways He knew would reach my heart.
I see more clearly now when God connects with me. For example, God used my husband's favourite song, "It is Well with My Soul" to assure me in a frightful situation that it was well with my soul because God was with me.
In 2013 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had surgery and radiation, and was prescribed Tamoxifen for the next 5 years. Over the next 2 years, I had more surgeries for cancer concerns that turned out to be benign. In 2016 when another cancer concern came up I chose to have a bilateral mastectomy to put an end to surgery.
During those years I had also developed Seasonal Affective Disorder;
I began experiencing symptoms of secondary Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from my job, which was compounded with the resumption of PTSD triggered by my childhood;
I felt medications I was taking, especially the Tamoxifen, were contributing to my depression and anxiety;
During my mastectomy, my husband found out he was quite ill and months later was diagnosed with lymphoma so needed chemo - before and during his treatments complications brought him close to death several times;
As a Federal employee throughout all this, I was caught up in the "Phoenix fiasco" that continues to affect the pay of thousands of government workers.
Wally is presently doing well, and physically I am as also. I still struggle with mental health issues though and continue to reach out for help. I can see (more) clearly now, some of the ways God has connected with me through this dark time - and they are amazing! I will write about them all at some point, but this post is already longer than it should be.
Have you taken the time to look back, no matter how difficult, to see when God has connected with you? Perhaps as believers, we see this more clearly, but unbelievers can also become aware of God's presence in their past and present. He is never far away. Seeing God gives hope for the future. God reveals Himself in ways that are uniquely meaningful to each one of us.
God wants to connect with you.
*photos compliments of CCO license, Pexels.com and Pixabay.com
Marnie writes to show God is present, and that makes all the difference.
You can connect with Marnie at Phosphorescent.