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My Dance with Death and the Hope that Set Me Free




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I thought I’d die. My soul was shriveled and my body exhausted with effort. School acquaintances had committed suicide, and I wondered what it would be like to be next. Death seemed like a reasonable escape, but it was the anger that drove me to stay alive. That, and an unexplainable, tenacious hope in God. How do anger and hope reside side by side? The same way the flesh and the spirit reside in a single heart. The old man strives for his way and the new man surrenders to the Spirit’s leading.

I knew God, but I didn’t understand Him and in the misunderstanding I questioned His heart. My heart was so desperate for love that hate filled it when love would not. I desperately wanted out of my circumstances, but a child has no say in his or her future, and I wasn’t bold enough to fight. I did what I had to in order to survive. I hunkered down, became what they expected of me, and watched my soul shrivel. I knew I needed an out and since I couldn’t, or wouldn’t run away, death became the next best option.

But hope held me back from taking my life. It held me and provided brief respite. Escape came fleetingly in memories of lilacs, shining waters, and raspberries. It visited me in remembered smiles and stained glass windows and baked caramel corn. These memories sustained me as reality assaulted me. When I finally spread my wings and left the house I couldn’t call home, I may have found relief in new faces and experiences, but my soul took much longer to revive.

My heart was so twisted and shriveled by rejection that I doubted healing would come. I worried that I would be so affected by my heart wounds that I wouldn’t be able to love others. Insecurity and doubt dogged my adulthood. Rejection drove my response to people.

I may have been free, but fear held my heart captive. Fear that if my heart trusted again it would be rejected, and if I wasn’t what someone expected, I would be deemed unloveable. I’ve struggled accepting the good things the good, good Father says to me about me. That song of deliverance the Bible talks about? Some days I can’t hear it. But I know it’s there.

The hope that carried me through the times when death beckoned, called me to faithfulness and revealed the power in turning my face to the Lord. You see, pain drives us to hide. Heart wounds send us into hiding and defensive modes of operation. We cannot function the way God intended for us to function when we’re hiding our truest selves from each other.

Each of us have wounds that drive our responses. For some it might be rejection, for others it might be shame over choices made two years ago or two minutes past. Fear drives us to make foolish choices, and drives us away from God. But if we can learn to separate our circumstances from God’s character, hope takes flight.

Psalms 34:4-5 states, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me, He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant and their faces will never be covered with shame.”

Even in my struggle with wanting death, I sought the Lord. In His time, He has delivered me from my fears. He has redeemed rejection in my heart. I look to Him and not man for approval and when I do, I’m radiant.

What do you wrestle? Do you long for escape from your circumstance? Do you feel your heart is too wounded to feel hope? Let me be a beacon of hope for you. You are loved with an everlasting love. God overflows with wonder towards you. He sings a song of deliverance that says, “Look to me, fix your eyes on me and watch me with wonder.” Last night’s sunset? Treat it as a love gift created just for you. Enjoy it. Delight in God. His gifts are all around you.

He demonstrates His love to you even when you’re in the depths of despair. He reaches down and draws you out of the miry pit. He is your rock and refuge, and can bring you hope to carry you through. The death that makes a way of escape is through Jesus. It was Jesus who died and rose so that you might know Him as your hope. Hide yourself in Him.

He can give you the courage to turn your face towards Him even when your world is crashing around you like tsunami waves. He is your hope. Look to Him and be radiant.

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