This New Year’s Eve, I decided to take on a project. There were just a few pieces of furniture left in my home that needed refreshing, and this was the perfect opportunity to get it done. I began taking note of all the things I would have to do—remove the furniture from my home, sand it all down, and wipe off the dust before finally repainting it. I then realized this is a great metaphor for what God does with His people. I love metaphors.
Before God can do anything with you, He must first remove you from your environment—your “home”, if you will. He needs to isolate you a little bit, so He can have your full attention. He needs to remove some people from your life that no longer need to be there. He needs to push you to leave behind the people and situations that no longer serve you.
He must “sand down”, strip you of your pride and ego, your fears, your past, all the things you hide behind, even your own “identity”. He must strip you of your story. Your story is that little thing you carry around with you to justify your actions and even justify sin. It’s the thing you attach to that gives you a sense of self as well. God says “Let it go.” Your story should be used as a tool for teaching and for self growth, not an excuse or an identity.
God then wipes away the dust—the tears, the pain, the trauma, the sin, and he “repaints” you.
Before the process begins to unfold, you must come to a certain point—a point of realization of a need for change. I didn’t decide to repaint my furniture because I was already content with it the way it was. Spiritual change is a little more complicated, however. Spiritual change isn’t always as simple as looking at yourself the way you would a piece of furniture and then making the decision to change it. No, often times this desire for change comes at your most vulnerable—your rock bottom.
The gift and the beauty of vulnerability lies in the freedom and peace that follows; it’s the place where God meets you.
I thought about ending my blog post right there, but something wouldn’t let me. I don’t want to just teach and help my readers; I want to connect. Connection comes through vulnerability, so I’m going to be vulnerable and share my rock bottom.
Rock bottom, for me, like everyone else, wasn’t simply a singular event but a series of events which led me to that point.
When I was just 15 years old, I met a boy. It was the first boy I ever loved, whatever that even meant. He was everything to me. Little by little, he began to show his true colors, and by 16 years old, I found myself in a situation I desperately wanted out of. Unfortunately, by then, it was too late. This person did things to me that I, to this day, refuse to talk about, but I do feel it’s a necessary component to my “rock bottom”. I was 18 years old when I finally got away from him. I kept the abuse a secret for nearly two years because he threatened to kill me and my family if I ever tried to leave him, and one night, he almost did. The only good thing that came out of the trauma was the fact that it distracted me from the pain I would have otherwise felt from losing the only boy I had ever loved. This was the first time life taught me about loss.
When I was 18 years old, I met another boy. This boy became a friend, and a few years later, he became my best friend. Eventually, I fell in love with him too. The relationship was destined for failure because I was Christian, and he was agnostic. We couldn’t shake our feelings for each other, though. I spent so much time trying to convince him of God’s existence, but it was useless, or so I thought. You see, everything happens for a reason. All this time I spent ministering to him, God was preparing me for my true purpose, ministering to others.
When I was 28 years old, my father passed away, and that was the second time life taught me about loss. One month later, my best friend and “love of my life” moved to Nashville. The two men that meant the most to me in my life—gone within a month, forever. I’ll never forget that pain. I’ll never forget the deep sadness, the emptiness I felt. It wasn’t just the people that left; it was the realization that I didn’t know who I was. That was the loss that drove me into temporary insanity.
I used to have beautiful, waist length hair. My dad used to always tell me—the longer a woman’s hair, the more beautiful. I really took that to heart. Every guy I ever had a romantic relationship with loved my long hair as well, and any time I ever thought about cutting it, they would quickly talk me out of it.
I remember like it was yesterday. It was just weeks after he moved to Nashville, and I had been robotically going through the motions of the day. I was numb, and there was no more joy nor pain nor tears left in me. When I got off work, I came home; I picked up some scissors and sat down at my vanity. I began to cut my beautiful, waist length hair, my pride and protection, because I knew it couldn’t protect me anymore. I cut and cut until I had almost none left. When I was done, I began to cry. As I looked at my reflection, the only words I could get out of my mouth—and they were barely even words at all, but more like a whisper— “Why, God?”
“Never again will I allow myself to hurt like this. Never again.” I told myself, and I really meant that.
For the next couple of years, I went into a sort of hibernation. This is where God stripped me of everything, even my beauty—my vanity. I had no more hair, and I gained a bunch of weight. For the first time, no one noticed me. No one. That in itself was freeing in a way, too.
It wasn’t until I allowed myself to be vulnerable before God, surrender, and relinquish control, that He was able to show me who He is and who I am— and that is the true gift of vulnerability.