The Real You

The air was drunk with moisture. And every time sun’s rays pierced through, steam would rise from my son’s canvas. I was perched on my front steps, Bible opened to Luke, as I watched my boy practice his lowercase with green chalk.

Gusts of wind found their voice. Wisps of hair escaped from view as the page rippled in time to nature’s symphony. And that’s when I saw it. Not an entire verse, just part of one. One that appeared highlighted just for me:

“What good would it do to get everything you want
and lose you, the real you?”  *

And just like that the breeze whisked my breath away. For I knew He was answering the question I had posed the night before.

Friends, I’ve had this thing. Burden if you will. Something I’ve asked for/wanting for a long time. He’s asked me to let go of it repeatedly. And I’ve asked Him why. Pleaded with Him to show me how this couldn’t benefit the bigger picture. Begged Him to either take the desire from me all together or honor it. I’ve even had the nerve to remind Him of life’s time-table. Clarify the circumstances as I see them.

Don’t worry — I’m embarrassed, too. I know better.

But I just want it that bad.

I blink hard and breathe in deep as I begin Luke 9 again. What is He trying to say? That I’m losing myself?

It doesn’t take long to see the rest of the message intended for me:

“Self-sacrifice is the way, My way, to finding your true self.” *

My son has moved to uppercase now as I close the Book of Luke and reach for my journal. You all know this by now. I’m a list-maker.

There have been a number of instances where things haven’t gone my way. Where I clearly didn’t get what I want. And with the gift of hindsight, I’m now able to see why.

So on this day I set aside to give thanks each week, do you mind if I share with you some events that didn’t go my way? Because I see now how these circumstances helped define my true self.

I turn my journal to a new page and write “Hard Thanks” in the margin.

  • My parents’ near-divorce. I was about the age my oldest is now and still remember the pain. I’ll never forget how my dad found Christ. And so did I.
  • The loss of loved ones too soon. I list them all individually, but I see each one made me cling tighter to my Redeemer and live more purposefully.
  • It took nine years after my wedding day to add the title of Mother to my name. Not all of those waiting years were easy for me. And yet I see now how He was preparing me for the mother He intended me to be. Thank You, Father…
  • Receiving an abnormal newborn screening with my firstborn. It started my parenting on the right path — relying on Him through my everydays. Sacrificing myself for the betterment of my child. What a gift! (and friends, He healed my boy from this a year later-Praise God!)
  • The loss of my second son to stillborn. There’s no other way to describe it other than Christ carried me through. Although I miss Elijah every day, I see how my faith was sharpened while placing my child in the arms of my Savior.
  • Blowing out my knee, placing me on a form of bedrest for 6+ weeks. Then recovery. With a toddler. This event required me to be at the mercy of others. And literally forced me to stop and listen to Him. Why, it’s when He first asked me to start a blog.

The lump in my throat rises while I write down my one thing now. This thing I want so badly to be different. Because I see it right there on paper. The common thread between them:

When I don’t get what I want, I cling.
I draw closer to Him.
And as a result, I find my true self.
The one He crafted me to be.

Oh how He pursues me.
What grace. What love. What a gift!

My son finishes ‘Z’ and looks to see if I’m impressed. He skips over and touches my cheek.

“Mom, we better go inside now. The rain is coming–
I see raindrops on your cheeks!”

How about you, friend? Can you think of instances where you didn’t get what you wanted? Do you see how they shaped and molded you? How they allowed you to find your true self? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me.

Simply striving,

Nikki

* NOTE: These passages were found while reading Luke 9:19-34 in The Message.

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69 thoughts on “The Real You

  1. hey there neighbor:) oh yes…through those times of suffering…denial…is when we grow the most…I can look back and say…I do not want to walk there again…but oh I would not trade the jewels formed in those fires…and as I have learned how much He loves me…really loves me…I have been able to trust that love and now I can walk through life with a more opened hand…not perfectly…but much more opened now…blessings to you as you yield your Isaac on the alter of Grace and Mercy…God’s answers are alway just and good.

  2. Oh sweet friend – my heart aches and rejoices with you. He refines us and sharpens us with the struggles and the fruit is SO good when we are blessed. I firmly believe that without the struggles I would not be so filled with joy at the simple blessings I have now.

    • Ya know, a few chapters before this I had read “If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal” (Luke 7 in the MSG so around verses 40-44) anyway, it got me thinking about how bending lower allows us to see higher. So friend, yes….I’m striving to see.

      Thank you for sharing with me friend. You’re always such an encouragement!

  3. Your heart writing resonates with my spirit. I can so understand what you’ve written and been through. It’s a reason I changed my blog name to Gracious Goodness…because even through the things I didn’t want to have happen, He blessed me in the midst of them all with His blessed grace and changed my “Goodness gracious!” exclamation to focusing on his gracious goodness in all things.

    • Love your blog name, Amy, love it! Thank you for sharing your perspective on this. I’m loving the new outlook you’ve given me–thank you!!

      I’ve already told you, but I’m so thrilled to have met you this week. Let’s visit again soon!

  4. What a beautifully written post. Thank you for sharing from your heart the intricacies of your life-long journey with Christ. I understand several of the scenarios you’ve presented and my heart goes out to you. We serve a Glorious God and His provision and love are unfailing. Let us trust in Him and rejoice in Him always, regardless of what happens to us. His Grace IS sufficient. Blessings to you. I’m visiting from Life in Bloom.

    • I’ve been saying that word over and over, Gisela….Regardless. Because you are so right. Regardless, God is good. All the time. God loves me. no matter what. and my favorite–the one you highlighted: God’s grace is sufficient. I’ll be clinging to that. Thank you!

      So thrilled you stopped by. Thank you so much!

  5. This was really beautiful. I tried to reply back through the email subscription, but it was no-reply. You can set it up to receive replies to your email if you want. For me, sometimes it’s a lot easier to share my thoughts about a post that way. I also get very sweet emails that way from subscribers.

    This one of yours was so beautifully written. I hear your surrendered heart in your words. I know God is pleased with your obedience.

    By the way — how do I join your community on the side-bar there?

    I loved this post…

  6. I loved this post. And I appreciate your honesty. So I’m going to be too…right now I don’t know what I want. Is that odd? I want to be successful in writing but I don’t want to feel pressured to write. Keep the blog or ditch it? Stay on social media or leave? I have a nasty bunch of bad habits and it’s a struggle to shake them off. And when I’m in doubt, I flounder. I have a couple of journals but they remain blank. One of these days, I’ll figure out where He wants me to be. Until then, I soak in others’ experiences – like yours – and learn! Thank you!

    • I can tell we are kindred, Carrie. I go through many, many seasons of not knowing what I want. Literally. I was nodding my head in agreement as I read all of what you shared with me here (which I’m so blessed you did by the way–thank you so much). and for the record? My journaling is sporadic at best… {{SIGH}}
      Maybe you’re finding this, too, but don’t you think it requires we cling to Him during those seasons, too? Because if we wouldn’t, it becomes sooo easy to get lost…

      You made my day that you’d take the time to share with me, Carrie. Thank you so much. May you feel His loving arms this weekend…Oh how He pursues you…

  7. I have learned to be amazed at how God works those times in my life when I didn’t get what I wanted or when the experience was just so incredibly hard. Looking back and seeing what good He brought out of that pain helps me walk closer to Him today.

    • Becca, I’ve only “known” you a short time and have seen how God works in your life when things don’t go anyone’s way. God is so good. All the time. Which is why this post was SOOO hard to write. . . praying it brought Him glory. the honesty of it all and am striving to see beyond it — focus on His face. Thanks for sharing with me, Becca!

  8. This is absolutely true. Thank you for putting your heart on this page. I have shared some of those moments with you and even though they are rough I wouldn’t change them, for the reasons you state. Easier said in hindsight, but so much harder in the midst. A very good friend of mine pointed out to me once when I was in a struggle a truth I just love. He told me he was going to start praising God for me right then. He then explained how he was so excited for the day when he would hear an amazing testimony of what our Lord did through it. It was so encouraging. I cling to it still. Reading this was a blessing to my heart. Thank you!!

  9. This is beautiful Nikki! I’m always finding I’m just as thankful for the things I wanted but didn’t get as I am for the things that I never dreamed and were much better! 🙂

  10. Beautiful, Nikki. I hate that He has to humble us to get our attention, but sometimes it’s the only way to get us in the proper position before Him.

    I continue to pray that you’ll be able to walk away from the thing you’re wrestling with. Actually, I’m asking Him to take away your desire for it and replace it with something that fills your heart with joy 🙂

    Hugs from sunny VA 🙂

    • I appreciate your prayers more than you know, Susan. Thank you so much. It’s the best gift anyone can give me. 🙂

      Yes–striving to bend lower so I can see greater…

      Hugs right back from this cool wave. Low tonight is supposed to be 50 and I am loving it! 🙂

  11. Oh yes my friend. I could write a list as well. Love that is not refined through fire is not enduring love. It’s through hard love, in the bumping and colliding, where He purifies us. My accountability group is reading The Pressure’s Off right now. Have you read it? It’s about this very topic.

  12. Visiting from Thought Provoking Thursday – I appreciated reading your thoughts. And you are so right – it is through the hard things that we are drawn closer to His heart. And yes, that is when we find our true selves. Beautifully written – thanks!

  13. Oh, my friend, it is raining here on my cheeks, as well! Your posts are so beautiful and speak to my heart and soul. You are so right– through our trials and the tough times, we draw closer to Our Lord. I will pray and ask Him that you find peace and joy. May we all be made more beautiful in His sight through our trials and struggles. Many blessings to you!

    • Thank you so much for your prayers, friend. They mean more to me than you know! I will be praying right along side for you… Hugs to you! Would love to hear how you’re doing. I need to get my prayer journal updated!

  14. Such eloquent writing, Nikki! The beauty in your soul shines through. Thank you, dear friend for sharing “the real you.”

  15. *sniff sniff*

    a heart laid bare is a beautiful thing.

    thank you for your courage to share, dear cousin.

    praying His peace and guidance over your one thing…

  16. Nikki, you are such a blessing to me and so many others. I find such encouragement in the things you write and your posts seem to speak to my heart and always bless me. Many times I have not received the answer I thought I wanted to my prayers, but looking back I see that God always had something better in mind and so I too have learned to trust Him more and more. I join you in this journey of not giving up our requests, but surrendering to His will, knowing His love for us is unfailing.
    Joy

    • Thank you so much, Joy. I know you have something that’s been pressing on your heart, too, and are in the season of waiting. I think this is me simply getting restless. Striving to savor this moment of refinement…starting with the hard thanks. It seemed to be the best place to start.

      Your encouragement means more to me than you know. Always appreciate sharing with you here. thank you!

    • I’ve missed you, too, Mary Beth! Going through 5MF withdrawals I think…
      So thrilled you stopped by and read my heart. I was bummed I didn’t get this up in time to link up to your beautiful site and figured I’d do it next week unless next week found me in a different place….which I’m trusting it does. Hugs to you!

  17. Reading these posts today has been incredible. You have no idea the message I am getting as I read through them. God is really trying to teach me something.

    My uncle-with whom I am close- is very ill. Another family member, who is never around, never makes an effort, no one has a relationship with is the person in charge of the will and they are taking over things and making decisions and I have been really angry about that–who are they to march in at the eleventh hour and take over when they have not been around all these years. After all the time I spent with my uncle, we are so close and I felt betrayed. I felt hurt. I have been thinking that I would have been better off just being like this person that everyone obviously – in my mind – loves and trusts more than me and just not bothering, not calling, not going to see them, not being available or around. I should have just lived my life and done whatever I wanted and not worried about my relationships with my family. Because by being that way, everyone seems to respect this person, they clamor for the crumbs this person doles out when they feel like it every few years. but if I were like that, I would lose me. thank you for helping me see that.

    • Theresa, my heart hurts for you. You know I’ve been praying for you and your two ill family members, but I had missed this aspect of it. so hard. so very hard. and yet you rise above. What an example you are setting for your children, Theresa. To God be the glory.
      Still holding you in prayer, friend. Hugs to you as you strive to be who He has made you to be.

      and thank you so much for taking the time to share with me.
      Love your link up…

    • Hindsight truly is a gift. To see Him with such clarity after the fact astounds me. May I use that knowledge in my daily walk… Thanks for stopping by, Shelly. Trust you’re getting yourself unpacked ; )

  18. I too have raindrops on my cheeks. 🙂 Thank you, Nikki, for saying it so perfectly. The hard that makes us cling to an almighty Savior. His love which allows us to see the blessings even in the hard. Big hugs to you!

    • Thank you, Laurie. I’m going to accept your cyber hug here 😉 What a gift it is to see how He worked in and through me during the hard. Striving to use that knowledge to my advantage as I go through it again. Hugs right back to you, friend!

  19. Nikki, I know this longing in the womb. I only had to wait four years to hold a baby in my arms, but it felt like forever. It has been over eleven years since my womb held that baby. Things never did go my way again, but for the grace of God. There are two more blessings sleeping in my home tonight because of it. I said, “NO” to a specific need and God said, “YES.” I sometimes ask why he chose us to raise children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. It is hard and I am so inadequate. In this is the answer. I could not do it without God.

    • Thank you for allowing His love to extend to your children, Tereasa. What would we do without Him… Rejoicing with you in the way He answered your submission and praying I can share redemption’s story on the other side of this — like you. Hugs to you, friend!

  20. Nikki, I will pray for you to place on the altar whatever it is you are holding on to. Email me if I can pray specifically.

  21. Misty Edwards has a song, and part of it goes,
    “Take me through the fire, take me through the rain
    take me through the testing, I’ll do anything,
    Test me, try me, prove me, refine me like the gold,
    like the gold.”

    The refining and pruning is painful at times. But so necessary for us to come into alignment with His purpose for us. I remember when we lost our home, what a huge disappointment that was. I was trying to “hold on” while all the while God said to “let go”. I realized then I lacked faith and trust.

    Praying for you my friend!

    • You, Barbie, are now the third person to introduce me to Misty Edwards in this week alone! I’m thinking I better look into her concert near me in September…those lyrics are truly my heart’s cry, even when it hurts. Still it’s hard. And yet I bend low and humbly thank Him for thinking I’m worth the effort of this refinement…

      Thank you for your prayers — hugs to you, friend!

  22. Nikki, you brought the raindrops to my face this morning! These words were written straight from a heart filled with pain, loss, and yes, hard gifts. Oh, how precious each of these on your list must be to you, but most especially the closeness you have reached with Him. That is what makes reading your words so soothing, healing, refreshing . . . you allow Him to speak through you! Blessings on you, dear one — you are chosen to write His message.

  23. Thanks for sharing your hard thanks.. it’s true how they shape and grow us. Shifting my own perspective for gratitude this week. Blessings from Uganda

  24. Sister of my heart, I adore you.
    Honestly and truly.
    Cling to Him, sweet friend.
    He will carry you–
    And in the meantime, read 1 Peter 5:7 in the Amplified version.
    *hugs*

    • “…once and for all..” that’s the part I need to linger on and act upon.
      What a gift you’ve given me today, friend. Thank you.
      I must confess, I’ve casted this care time and time again….and always manage to reel it back in. But this time….this time…I’m going to let Him help me. Once and for all.

      {{Squeezing your neck}}

  25. So much on your list could be on my list. Hard Thanks – there’s something I’ve wanted since I was 6 – and sacrificing that to Him has allowed me to find more of me than I realized was there. It’s hard – isn’t it! I”ve spent a life time trying to be the real me – so many pressure not to be! There is so much of this post that mean so much to me! beautiful. real. straight to the heart!

    • Oh how you warm my heart. Thank you so much for sharing with me today, Mary Leigh. Since you were 6…oh you’re right. It’s so hard! But so worth it. Oh what God can do through us when we let Him…
      Hugs to you, friend!

  26. Beautifully written…hard eucharisteos are definitely blessings indeed but sometimes take years to accept them as such! Thanks for stopping by Our Adventure with Boys. Your writing is such a blessing!
    jenna

  27. I’ve been reordering priorities, rearranging my home spaces, decluttering, etc. out of necessity to prepare for what may come. In that vein, I thought perhaps I should eliminate some of the blogs I follow – but not Simply Striving. There is still so much I must learn through you. He’s been testing me for a while now. It seems I have more work to do. Thank you for helping me to see this more clearly. God bless.

    • Monica, your comment touched me so. Thank you for reaching out and sharing that with me. I’ve been going through a process, too, and am honored to have you along for my journey. I would love to know what other blogs you’ve decided not to cut out as I’m certain I could learn from them, too! Thank you for letting me know how I can pray for you more specifically. Hugs to you!

  28. Oh Sweet Nikki. I missed this post because for whatever reason WordPress will not allow me to subscribe to ANY of my favorite wordpress bloggers.

    But really, what I wanted to say was how breathtakingly increadible this post is–how it has plunged a lump in my throat and in my heart as I consider both your story and the story he writes in all of us if we’re willing…. my friend, what tremendous thanks you have learned to give in the fires of refinement… I am just sitting here covered in goosebumps…. you bless me, my friend. over and over and over… Love you.

  29. Pingback: Ready and Willing {Accepting It’s Not About Me} « simplystriving

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