I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:1-3a (NIV)
This week, I spent a couple of hours catching up with a school friend I haven't seen in over twenty years. It was fun laughing at the "remember whens" and hearing about what's happened in her life over the years. I even saw a few old photos she has of us. As I looked at those photos, I was surprised to see myself smiling in every one of them. I remember that time as being dark, dismal, and despairing. I was a child dealing with abuse. The resulting depression was a devouring emptiness encased in the uncertainties and insecurities of teenage life. Yet, to look at those pictures, you'd never know the hurt I hid inside. A very good reminder that we can't see into a person's heart the way God can. The world saw my smile, God saw my pain and he refused to leave me drowning in it.
I don't look back on that part of my life often because it can still sometimes be very painful, but when I do, gratitude swells in my heart. I am so thankful to the Lord for bringing me through it and for the woman he has created me to be out of the ashes of my past. When I look at the difference of who I was and who I am now, I can't help but have confidence in the Lord that he will bring me through all the challenges and valleys that are ahead of me. When I'm disappointed in myself for what I believe are my failings and inadequacies, I look back at all the Lord has done in my life and remind myself that maybe those victories and qualities I lack today are on his list of things to mold into me tomorrow. Taking a short glance back always affords me the joy of celebrating what God has done in my life and inspires hope for what he will accomplish in me in the future.
About the Pictures
River: Niagara Falls 2007
Sky: Parkwood Pres. Church, Allison Park, PA