To Live As the Redeemed

What does it it mean for us to live as the redeemed?
What does it mean to be redeemed?

For me, I am learning each year and day of my life how this looks. How moments, days, and times can be be apart of the redeeming process for our very lives.

There is a starkly deep beauty to the very concept of redemption. Creating new out of the old. Wiping away someones dirt and making them new. Maybe this dirt is their shame, their regret, their abandonment, their pain, their rejection, their addiction, their abuse, whatever it is that marks our souls with a darkness. Christ came to make us all new. This is why I am hard pressed to believe that there is always hope. Because with God, there is. Because he can make things new. Because in him, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

There is Always Hope.
One of my most favorite pieces of art. By Banksy.

For me, my darkness is of a life that was not enriched with love, but instead, with violence in words and action. Then in my choices that I made in this darkness, where I did not seek out the will of God, but instead, my own. I always wonder what makes each person as they are. I always wonder what sort of things happen in a persons life to cause their darkness or their light. I sort of touched upon that here: /rebbylives/2013/04/he-heals-brokenhearted-and-binds-up.html.

 Yesterday at church, Pastor Steve gave the analogy of a sea anemone, and how when it is poked, it will close up. Later on, it will reopen again and happily move its tentacles, swaying with the ocean water. But the more it is poked, the more it closes, until it just doesn't open again for the rest of the day. This analogy was given to illustrate how words can damage the relationships of people. Likewise, it is an illustration which shows how big and small acts that are not made out of love, tarnish the souls of people. We close up and we reopen again, trusting the world and people around us. Sometimes, for people like me, we are damaged again and again and again, until we just close up for good with the date of reopen, uncertain. Some people close up completely. Others, just parts. In some instances, people look to fill these voids in their lives and start doing drugs or having reckless sex, partying, drinking, self sabotaging through relationships or self inflicted pain, only to feel again. Only to belong, experience, and live. These experiences can an expression of pain, numbness, or a death within. I never had any desire to do drugs or resort to alcoholism, I didn't hurt myself physically and was never into partying. I simply closed up whole, like the sea anemones. I stopped feeling alive and real.

I don't mean to overgeneralize these behaviors and say that in every instance, this internal struggle is what certain behaviors indicates. Each person is vastly different from the next, and I want to be careful not to judge anyone for how they live. That is truly the last thing I would ever want. Lots of times, people just want new experiences or to experiment. These are just some of my personal thoughts and observations.

For me, this closing up and this wall that I built for myself, kept me "okay". I still had friends, I still laughed and loved a whole variety of people. But I was also depressed and felt no life within. I existed day to day in this survival mode until eventually, my friend Amanda took me to her church. Amy, the youth group leader, took an interest in me. She would show up and  my house and retrieve me, drive me places with her and the youth and slowly breathed a little life into me. Sometimes when people are swallowed up whole, this is what you need to do. Be present over a period of time. Take them outside. Speak words of love and truth into their beings. Breath life into them in this way. Eventually, during the summer after my Junior year of high school, I moved out with Amy and her 2 other roommates, where I began to defrost into a normal home for the first time in my life.

I was still stuck in this survival mode. I didn't know how to break out of it. I was too good at it. I still am. I can handle any bad situation with ease. Car wreck? I'll deal with it. 6 months pregnant and alone? I'll deal with it. Basically, I am good at figuring shit out. I am good at dealing with anything bad, no matter what. Because that is what I have done my whole life. What I am not good at? Learning to live. Thrive. Learning to be intentional with myself. Forcing myself to go to a church and learning to socialize with these people. These have been hard areas for me. And yet, here I am, doing better each year as I am being redeemed by the saving and patient grace of God. Still learning what living as a redeemed child of God is about. Still figuring it out. And yes, I actually do have a church where on occasion...I might talk to someone. Haha. It took me at least a year to say "my church". But that is another story.

I have always wanted to thrive. And I have been so tired of surviving. The answer all along, has been to give it to God. Let him carry me. But I couldn't do it. I had myself to take care of me. And I couldn't count on anyone else. I didn't need to. I had my people, and that was it. But I have learned and have been humbled into accepting help. And I have seen the beauty that is there within communities who offer this help. 

I am learning to live as a woman redeemed. I am learning what it is, to choose life. Choose God. And choose to thrive, right here, right now.