It’s when we’re squeezed that the gunk buried deep in our heart begins to seep out.
Moving has always been incredibly difficult for me. It makes me feel insecure and unsettled. I’m pretty sure that has to do with my experience with homelessness as a teenager. Needless to say, I don’t take those, “Honey, we’re moving” conversations well.
2012 was no exception. We were living in Kansas City, MO, at the time, had gotten plugged in to a great church, had made some awesome friends, and were forming relationships with a group of close-knit neighbors. My daughter was in her freshman year at the time, had made some special friends, and was doing well. Already talking and dreaming about our golden years, my husband and I were certain we’d spend the rest of our lives right there, in Kansas City.
So when my husband called one day to tell me he’d been offered another job in Omaha, a city three hours away, and that he felt he should take it, I was not happy. Nor was my daughter. She cried and begged us to say, and in that moment, I felt forced to choose between my husband and my daughter.
Though it killed me, I knew I had to choose my husband or we’d all lose.
Then the chaos started. The house-hunting trips, packing and unpacking suitcases, packing boxes, cleaning, staying in hotels, spending way too much money eating out.
My exhaustion level increased, as did my stress.
Then one afternoon, it happened. I was at the gas station, my mind spinning of all the things I needed to get done, my heart breaking as I watched our daughter grow increasingly depressed, when I received a harsh email.
I blinked, read it again…
And then, did something I’d soon come to regret: I popped off an angry, unChrist-like retort.
The Holy Spirit within me immediately pricked my spirit, urging me to send an apology, which I did. But the damage had been done, because words, once released, can’t be taken back.
Especially when they’re sent via email. Those kinds of words can be shared all over cyberspace, which is what happened in this case. I found out the next day while eating lunch with my depressed daughter, my husband, and our realtor.
At first I was angry. Then I was mortified. And then came the shame. Because I knew better. I’m a child of grace assigned to reveal God’s grace, and my words hadn’t done that. In fact, they’d done the opposite.
That night, as the rest of my family lay sleeping in our hotel room, I cried out to God, asking Him to help me practice more self-restraint when upset. Because honestly, I felt incapable at that moment of being anything but stressed and edgy.
Not receiving much of a response, I grabbed the Bible in the bedside drawer and flipped it open, randomly, to Matthew 15:18 “8But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you.”
Immediately, an old wound I’d suppressed for years rose to the surface, and I knew. The clarity was so overwhelming, it could only have come from God. I had some deep wounds in my heart that hadn’t been dealt with, and my stressful circumstances were squeezing them to the surface, impacting everything I did and said.
With tears streaming my face, I closed my eyes and confessed my anger and bitterness, bitterness I hadn’t been aware I’d harbored, and asked God to clean my heart.
Tammy Kuhn, the heroine in Intertwined, faces a similar realization, and God uses the same verse to penetrate through her bitterness to her wounded heart beneath. So that He can bring her freedom.
Which is why He squeezes us in the first place, because without the squeezing, we might never realize our need for healing.
What about you? Has God brought you to a tough place only to use it as an opportunity to bring you freedom or emotional healing? Share your examples with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.
Here is information about Jennifer and the book she references.
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte
Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again?
, part of New Hope Publisher’s contemporary fiction line, is a great reminder of how God can turn our greatest tragedies and failures into beautiful acts of love and grace. Readers will fall in love with the realistic characters and enjoy the combination of depth, heart-felt emotion and humor that makes Jennifer’s novels so appealing. Readers will be inspired to find God in every moment and encounter in their own lives!