matters of the heart

Meant To Be!

“I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun, not because I can see it, but by it I can see everyone else.”
-C.S. Lewis

 

I’ve always known who God was.

I wish I remembered the first time He was introduced to me, the very moment that someone told me that somewhere in the sky, lived someone so infinite and great that He created the very sky that He held, that He would send His perfect son to Earth to die on a cross to save us from our sins. That His love was so unconditional and so perfect it illuminated life on everything that it touched, kissed, or sought. That by loving God and accepting Him into your heart, you would spend eternity with Him in Heaven. I wish I was remembered what that felt like. I wonder if I felt a fire ignite in my soul or if I pondered eternity or just thought, “Huh!” and continued on with my day.

I’ll never really know.

All I knew was that God was there, omnipresent, but still so unbelievably far away. And because He was so distant, I blatantly ignored His gentle knocks on my heart time and time again. I had grown up going to Catholic masses every Sunday. Spirituality was not a thing, routine was. If you stood for the reading of the Gospel, took communion, and blessed yourself with Holy Water on the way out, you had done your part. I remember so innocently learning about the Ten Commandments, the disciples, and even who Jesus was, but the connection fell through every time without fail.

So, instead of experiencing God’s unending love and understanding, I just put Him in a box. I labeled it “Who I Should Be,” and threw it in the corner. Then, I just continued to unpack the piled up, dusty cases that would portray who I thought I was. If I opened up that box, the Jesus one, I would have to put on an entirely new suit. God had too many rules. I wanted to have premarital sex and party on the weekends with my friends and have passionate, righteous opinions about intellectual topics that I knew nothing about. I didn’t want to be different. And because I strived for lack of individuality, camouflage was the fruit I produced.

I became the same girl who went to the same parties, who had the same boyfriend, who had the same sex, who had the same panic attack every month, who made the same mistake of placing her identity in another human being, who went through the same break-up, who searched for the same validation in all of the same ugly places, who cried out to the same God who she believed looked down on her with shame and disappointment. The same girl who had disposed of, used up, and torn through every single same box that told her who she thought she was.

Until nothing was left but the One labeled “Who I Should Be” in the corner. The one that told her not who she should be, but who she was meant to be.

I slipped that robe on in desperation. I put it on because I had nothing left. And even still, my whole world changed.

For a long time, I wish God had not been my last resort. I wish I had pursued Him first and found His truth amongst the mess. I wish I had had some magical encounter with Him in the midst of my haze. But I didn’t. I took every possible route, fully well knowing that they were wrong turns, convinced that there was no way a God with rules was a God who loved the girl who broke them, before finally turning around to meet Him face to face on the same road that I thought lead me so very far away. His feet as dirty as mine from the muddy path. He was still always there. Waiting patiently. Pursuing me the entire time.

For the very first time, God was not just this being who existed and created the Universe, but a Heavenly Father, still the Creator who spoke light into the world, who shook oceans at the sound of his voice, but the Father who sent a son who died to save me from the very sins I commit. It was this God, the Author and Perfecter, the Alpha and Omega, this same God that created and loved and chose me. Me. Regardless of everything I had done, despite the mess that my life had become.

And because I had nothing left, I found this God with my eyes wide open.

When I could finally see God for who He was and not the obscure idea I told myself was truth- about Him, myself, and the rest of the world-everything changed.

I am endlessly loved. I am unremittingly sought. I am undeniably, irrevocably, and forever devotedly His.

 

-Maeghan DiMaggio
2/15/18

The One Topic Christians Don’t Talk About!

There is a “hush” word in the Christian arena and it is called Depression.

There are approximately nine symptoms of Major Depression and I experience every one of them. I accepted Jesus when I was 13 years old and I, very much believe in God’s redemptive power to wipe out any addiction, disease or anything that stands contrary to His Word. Yet, I struggle with symptoms that sometimes take me to a very dark place that seems to cover me like a heavy, weighted blanket.

It does not ask my permission, it just comes.

Three years ago, on February 1st my strong, spirited Father lost his battle with cancer and now both of my parents are gone from the same disease. I was there at the very last breathe for one and left 3 hours before the other slipped into eternity. I never saw my parents age and I miss them terribly, especially now. The next year my husband of almost 9 years decided he did not desire to be married any longer and our divorce was final July 3rd, 2017. He started his life with his new wife, July 29th, 2017. Their new baby arrived September 2017 and his life moved on quite swiftly.

The clock still ticks but my life has stayed still.

I’ve always been joyful, full of life and what some have called me,” refreshingly annoying,” as I am a quite a morning person and a night owl! I really did not allow much to ruffle my feathers and was a very even-keeled type individual. I am loud, passionate, enjoy laughter and I love people.

Most days it is a struggle to get out of bed, clean my house, I overeat and sometimes I cannot come out and face people, family and close friends. My personality has changed and I am still very much in grief over the loss of my life as I knew it. Grief is a complex place to be in, you cannot pray it away, yet prayer will very much ground me and light my way. Grief and depression go hand in hand and it is something I have committed myself to going through and not around.

As I have entered into 2018, I have found a new appreciation for this place I am in. It is lush, green and the scent in the air is of “The Valley.” The Psalm 23 kind of valley along with the shadow of death. The following are the ways I found helps me through this place.

  • My condition does not define me so I refer to symptoms of Depression and Grief, I am not Depression!
    My future self is not part of this Depression as God already is in my future and He says, I am restored, healed and I am running the race with perseverance.
  • I coach myself daily and have sit down sessions with The Wonderful Counselor, Jesus.
  • Confess I am God’s workmanship, co-worker, child & He knit me in my mother’s womb (Eph 2:10, 1 Corth 3:9, 1 John 3:1, Psalm 139:13).
  • Use God’s word as my life manual and my confessions are my medicine to my soul.
  • Renounce lies as they don’t prosper even though they may form.

I try my hardest not to call myself depressed because I am not defined by my circumstances. I confess I have symptoms of grief and depression but I am not what it says I am, nor will my future be determined as so. I have begun to adjust my thinking and daily I fight for normalcy. I coach myself through these dark places and allow myself time with God for daily sit down sessions with what the Bible calls” The Wonderful Counselor, Jesus.” God’s Word is my life’s manual and my confessions are medicine for my soul. I remind myself that I am God’s workmanship, His co-worker and His beautiful daughter that He knit together in my mother womb (Eph 2:10, 1 Corth 3:9, 1 John 3:1, Psalm 139:13).

I confess I have a voice, a purpose, a great group of people that surround me and a beautiful 8 year old son who needs me to get healthy.

There have been times I did not think I needed to be here but that is a lie that I will not let prosper (Isaiah 54:17). I am fighting for those who share this same place with me, we can get out of this together. I am fighting so when the people who I personally know go through a season of loss, I can wrap my arms around them and say, “I’ve been there, you will come out of this too.” I am fighting for those women I meet who I can immediately see are where I once was and stand with them through it. God sees into our futures, He is already there, that is why He can say to me, you are restored, you are healed and run the race with perseverance. He sits with me on my worst days and He rejoices with me on my best ones, but I am the same in both stances because He says,” I am free and nothing can separate me from His love.” That is my hope and my prayer every day. I am bound to come out of this more insightful, more mature and ready for God’s best for my life and He is not finished with me yet! My victory song is:

“By Your Spirit I will rise from the ashes of defeat, The resurrected King is resurrecting me. In Your name I come alive to declare Your victory, The resurrected King is resurrecting me.” – By Elevation Worship 


-Rita Stanford
1/3/18