I was the good little girl growing up. I had this big brother who, while he wasn’t horrible, he challenged my parents in pretty much everything. By the time I realized that my actions brought about a reaction in my parents (as did his) I made the choice to please them. I didn’t want my actions or choices to bring about the reaction that he got from them.
Fast forward to high school when two things happened: I was a teenager (which naturally brings about a desire to separate from your parents) and I became a Christian (something that my parents were not). These two things drove me mad. If you have seen the movie Tangled, there is a scene when she jumps out of the tower and she is this crazy mess between extreme freedom and excitement and desperate depression because of how her leaving the tower would make her mother feel, but yet how free she finally felt; she was finally doing the thing that her heart had longed for. That was me. I was torn between being who I was learning I was in Christ (and what that meant) and not upsetting my parents (like my brother was doing). In his book, Changes that Heal, Henry Cloud writes:
We are separate people with separate identity, and we must not be conformed into someone else’s wishes that may conflict with what God has designed for us. We must own what is our true self, and develop it with God’s grace and truth. Peter says it like this, “Each one of us should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (I Peter 4:10)
I am learning now, that this choice I made to not separate from others wishes has left me with an inability to make choices. When you are someone who always feels responsible for others and you are faced with a choice or decision, that decision is already made for you. Not based on what you think or feel or what your desires are, but rather on what the other person might think. This lack of my own control in my life led me straight into an eating disorder. I now know that my history with anorexia was straight from a desire to control something in my life. At that time, it was the one thing that I had 100% control over. I could eat or not and that was my choice.
At 35 years old, I am just now awakening to this part of my story. I think the reason why I feel so muddled and lost right now is because I truly can do whatever I want. Granted I have a family to think of, but how I spend my day in my house with my husband and my children is 100% me. The problem is that I have no idea what that means. I’m struggling with what I desire. I am awakening to the fact that I am not in control of what others think of me or how they react to my choices. As Cloud states: “I am only responsible for what happens in my yard.”
But what do I desire? I asked myself that question this morning and I couldn’t answer it. So this is where I am today. I am sitting with the reality I must admit “my desires so that God can work with me to meet them, delay them, encourage me to give them up or whatever would be helpful…and I must own up to my desires before he can do something with them….God is at work in my desires and I need to bring them into relationship with him.” (H. Cloud)
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)
What amazes me most as the Lord begins to reveal this story to me, is the reality of how he has pursued me from the beginning. When I look back and how he has weaved people and experiences into my life, I can truly see His hand holding me, covering me and moving me to a new place. That, my friends, is grace.