I had one of those “bang-your-head-against-the-wall-repeatedly” moments tonight.
At church, of all places.
Allow me to set the scene.
So this weekend, I have been holding down the fort in Ohio all by my lonesome.
My entire family is up in Wisconsin at our family reunion — the one I wrote last week’s post about. And I am stuck here, after my commercial shoot had to extend through the weekend, to Monday.
I promise I’m not complaining. I am positively grateful for the work, it just means that I’m going to be “fashionably late” to vacation.
One of the repercussions of my solo weekend, is that I had to go to Mass alone.
And believe me, it wasn’t lost on me that I was the youngest by 30 years in the 1/3-full church.
But after mass, as I was walking out, an old face from my past came up to me. I hadn’t seen this man – my parents’ age – for several years. He had seen me since high school…when I was severely anorexic and 78 pounds…but it had been awhile.
Well, he comes up to me — sweet as can be — and clasps my hands and says, “Oh you look so healthy. I’m so happy for you.”
Of course, I graciously smile, and ask about his family, but inside, my spirit was just deflating like a sorry helium balloon after 2 days on the mailbox.
And not only did he say it once, but he repeated it before he left. Just to drive it home, and unknowingly twist the knife.
My gut reaction in the moment, was of course, a bit of hurt, mixed with anger, a touch of frustration and a big old dash of are you kidding me?!
But as I got back to the car, I literally felt my spirit have a massive change of heart.
You see, for the last month or so, I’ve really been trying to work on my relationship with God. And you may be scratching your head, thinking…”Uhhh, I thought you had a strong relationship with Him?…” But the fact is, relationships take work, and to be honest, I felt pretty spiritually distant. I realized that I needed to be more intentional with how I talk and pray to Jesus. — A “check the box” prayer as I’m falling asleep just wasn’t cutting it.
So for the last month, I’ve been beginning every day with just five minutes of time with Jesus, reading the Bible. I’ve been doing it on my podcast, Oh What a Beautiful Morning!, and a big reason is as an accountability thing.
But here’s the thing — in just those five minutes a day, I have seen such a huge change in my life. It’s insane. I just feel so much more in tune with Jesus throughout the day. My thoughts are more positive and focused on Him. I am literally taking more thought about my actions and trying to serve Him and serve the people I love.
It is just so clear that when we give Jesus an inch — nay, a centimeter…a MILLIMETER, even — He gives us a mile. I mean, all we have to do is open up the door a crack – a sliver – and He whooshes in and changes our lives. It is amazing. Amazing! Five minutes.
If we make the effort, He rewards us 5,000 fold. It’s because He’s always calling our name. And when we show even the slightest hint of seeking Him also, He just envelopes us in grace.
But anyways. Back to my run-in at Mass.
I got in the car. It was stifling hot. Ninety-something degrees outside in a black truck with black leather seats. I felt like the oppressively hot interior of the car matched how my spirit felt inside my body after that encounter.
But as I turned on the AC, and the air started blowing in my face, I just felt the Holy Spirit blowing on my face too. Which sounds super crazy, but I attest it to my newly strengthened relationship with Jesus.
In that moment I realized that I need to just let it go. Jesus was softening my heart, and urging me to reframe that encounter. The fact is, that man was just trying to be kind. And meant only to encourage me, and express his love for me, as a part of his church family.
My mind wandered back to a podcast I listened to earlier that weekend. One by Ben Higgins of all people. But this peace just came over me. I’m going to take my past with me wherever I go. Sure, maybe it’s more well known — an urban legend of sorts — here in my hometown than other places. But my past — the anorexia I battled (and beat, praise God) — I carry that with me. It is part of me.
And I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Because that was my brokenness.
And God uses our brokenness as His access point.
God transforms us in our brokenness. He meets us. Loves us. Heals us. Makes us new when we have absolutely nowhere else to turn.
That period of my life — yes, it was full of immense suffering and shame — but God used it. It was my chance to experience a small taste of the suffering that Jesus endured on the Cross for me. And my life will never be the same as a result.
This encounter at Mass would have gone a lot differently had I not been in tune with Jesus and working on our friendship over the last month.
I thank God that Jesus gave me the grace to get through that difficult moment.
It’s amazing what He can do with just five minutes a day.
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