Sunday, January 10, 2016

Breathe. Overcome.

Overcome, overcame, overcomer... this is a trio of words that two friends consistently call me, or refer to as my words.  I hear them say this, I feel where they're coming from, but I don't always see it or feel it as truth.  

Here's a little story of the last 18 hours or so, and how I went from feeling defeated and overwhelmed to realizing that I really am an overcomer.  I apologize in advance if at the end it really was hard to follow or see the point.  But, I just need to type.
I never really chose these words as "mine" but they keep coming back again and again.  Now, yes, I have a relationship with God, but as many, I often have times hearing what he's trying to say to me.

I wrote recently about doorways, and how I'm closing one door from the manipulative marriage I was in, and moving forward to whatever is beyond the next door.   I have been through fires and trials, and somehow, I'm still able, most days, to laugh, smile, and relish in the many joys that God bestows upon me.  

Some days, though, I still falter.  I grapple with negative thoughts, fears, and worries.

This past week was a week filled with the grappling.  I've stayed up late mulling over the what-ifs and fearing what may or may not come in the future.  It's been EXHAUSTING.  I had a beautiful reprieve yesterday when I was able to spend a few hours with some long-time friends, allowing my children to play with theirs, and to voice some of these issues and talk through them without children in ear shot.

But for some reason, when I left their house last night and my children fell asleep in the van, they came flooding back, more intense than before.  Fears like... "if I were to die on a weekend, how long would it be before someone was wondering where I was, and how long would my children remain scared, hungry, tired, and alone."   

Now, this fear has plagued me since I first had a baby, and my husband worked overnights.  It would fall into the background from time to time, but it's always been there.  

When I finally returned home, the children were all still asleep, and I had a text from one of my friends who speaks "overcome" to me.  She was asking how I was, and my fingers flew across the keypad on my phone as I emptied my heart to her again.

I had been only half-clinging to God throughout the week, and more clinging to myself, my mind, my strength, my fears.  I knew it even if I couldn't say it.  But, then God reached out and grabbed me, and brought me back to Him.

She called, I didn't answer the first time, but she called again, and I laid down my pride and I answered.  She talked with me, let me cry, and prayed with me.  When she was done, a song I cling to that comes to me often at the perfect time, started on the van radio.  It was the first song I think I heard the entire drive home.  

"Lord, I need you.  Every hour I need you.  My one defense- my righteousness..."  It hit me, as it always does, like he was calling out to me to call out to Him.

She suggested I listen to one specific song when I got home.  I never got to it, unfortunately, because the three children all woke up very upset, and I went through and extensive bedtime routine before getting them to sleep.  At that point, I opened my Bible, which I have admittedly neglected this week, and began reading where I left off.

I laughed to myself as I realized God was showing me what just happened in the van, (as it has many times before) and how it's been His plan for me all along to have that sort of thing happen when I need it most.  As my friend says frequently, I'm not meant to go at it alone, after all.  It happens when I start feeling like I'm crumbling, I find a friend or two that build me up.   I sat there, amazed, though I shouldn't have been, I'm sure, by the verse.  I prayed then that I could be that person for someone else who may need it.  I still pray that.  I've always prayed that, actually.

I digress.  I then began apologizing to God for not trusting Him through the week and worrying so much about things I can't control, that He has under control, and things I can't begin to work on yet while I'm still before the next door in my journey.  I felt a sense of relief, and started sobbing. 

God often speaks to me through music, and right before my friend text me to check on me, I started humming a melody.  It took me only a few moments before I realized what song I was singing.  It's an old favorite called "Breathe on Me" by Jennifer Knapp.

The key lyrics that came to my mind were:

No temptation seize a man that he can't overcome.
Who am I to be fallen?
Crack your back on a slab of wood
come freedom, nail it down, I come crawling
I come crawling.

Come trickle down and save the world
two hands that I can't see
come breathe, come breathe, come breathe on me.
Split rib water, blood and bone,
come now, come Calvary.
Come breathe, come breathe on me.

Testimony come now quickly, whisper in my ear
Peace at last not far away, 
empty sheet, a borrowed grave
Come freedom come.

Exhausted, I fell asleep on the couch.

This morning, when I woke up to Norah in my bed, stealing my covers, I realized she had slept better last night, than she had in weeks.  She only woke up once (yes, she still sleeps like a newborn).   I went to church, excited as I am every Sunday for that last 8 or so months.

Two songs brought me to tears.  The first was the song that my friend suggested I listen to last night but never did, "Great Are you Lord," by All Sons and Daughters.

She even quoted it to me last night, "It's Your breath in my lungs."  Another breath related word.  Breathe is another message I find myself getting often because I really forget to breathe in the right air sometimes.  

The second song, talked was "No Longer Slaves" by Bethel Music.

You unravel me with a melody,
you surround me with a song
of deliverance from my enemies
til all my fears are gone.

I'm no longer a slave to fear,
I am a child of God.

As I mentioned, I have been dwelling on fears.  Last night, when we prayed, we prayed that be broken.  And here it was, again.  That, and the first line... that's totally me.  I already mentioned that also, God speaks to me through song quite often.  I find he speaks to me through song, through a few close friends especially, and through the Bible readings when I get over myself and my need to do other things with my time and sit down and read it.  I'm working on it.

Today, the message was about overcoming offenses.  I immediately flashed back to a book, "The Bait of Satan" that I had borrowed from my friend and read a few months ago. When I read that book, I felt such a release.  I forgave and moved on from offenses I had been holding onto at the time.  It was such a blessing.

I had said to my friend last night that I wasn't sure what else was burdening me, and we prayed I would see it so I could release it.

Well, there it was.  As soon as I saw the title of the sermon I knew.  I had latched on to new offenses since then, and I needed to overcome them.  A fresh freedom is what I needed.

So, I listened, reflected on the book and the message.  And when the pastor prayed, I released again.  I still need to work, I will admit, because some offenses run deeply. But, I truthfully don't want to hold onto them.  So, I'm working and praying on it in the days ahead.

He mentioned this verse:

This verse, for a few months, has been the screen lock on my phone.  "I have overcome the world."  I see it daily.  Today, I realized I have been seeing it, but I haven't been really reading it.

After church, my other friend said to me again, something along the lines of "how'd you like that?  It was your word again."

It was. 

I sit here, this afternoon, my children with their aunt and uncle a few hours so I can clear some of the clutter from our apartment, and I feel much lighter, not totally.  I still need to figure out what else is burdening my heart and work through it.  But, I'm sitting here with clearer mind, again, seeing my words.

Overcome.  Breathe.

I can do both.  I have done both.  God's done the overcoming for me and He's the air I breathe. 

And my weary heart is going to be okay.

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