"For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1
Several years back, I learned about the idea of permission slips. In Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she proposes this technique as a way to help us cultivate a kind response to our longings and mistakes. As a recovering perfectionist who is skillfully self-critical, I needed this. And I loved it. I painted and colored bold declarations for myself.
Six years later, some of those dreams are coming to life. And I am terrified. Or I should say, the ENEMY is terrified. A long season of stillness and healing is shifting. I hear my calling and I claim it in faith. This girl is out of hiding and ready to proclaim a life of peace, purpose, and joy. Sometimes.
The other times? I am at war. Daily, I wage battle against comparison, fear, and shame. Often, I have fallen into the pit of misery before I even understand the trap that was set for me. Spiritually, this makes perfect sense. As I step courageously into my mission, the enemy is riled up. His goal is to keep me small and he has spied on me for long enough to know just what to say to hit me where it most hurts. I have come to recognize his ugly voice– his signature style is uncreative, repetitive, and superficial. It compels me to compare my face, my hair, my body, my home décor, my status, my education, or my public following to some stranger, usually on social media. I always come up lacking. He taunts me to feel fat, stupid, and ugly. He draws attention to all the beautiful people already doing the work I want to do in shinier ways than I ever could. He is a master at breeding discouragement and sowing seeds of doubt. He usually ends with the zinger, “Plus, you are old. And it’s already too late.”
This accusation burns like truth because I say it to myself. I am turning fifty this year. My body and my face have changed. By almost every measure I am past the midpoint of my years. I never once doubted the twenty-four years I devoted to prioritizing my family and ministry…until it was time to spend my time on something other than just family and ministry. Now I feel behind. Way behind. So behind I wonder if there is even still time left to have a dream or a different purpose. It’s easy to feel foolish at middle age. It’s easy to feel scared. Easy to doubt these dreams are really God’s will at all.
Grief lives here too. I have spent the bulk of the last eleven years dealing with trauma, loss, and healing in myself and with my children. The time that grief and healing take is collateral damage to the loss itself. These thoughts bring disappointment with a sprinkling of self-pity. There is so much I missed while in all that sorrow.
I took all this ache to the chapel the other night during my hour of adoration. Alone in the stillness, I looked at the Lord and He looked at me. I breathed deeply and laid it all at His feet, the whole jumbled mess of me. I believe my prayers are always heard and that Jesus is always responding, but that night He spoke in my heart in a way that came through loud and clear.
You are right on time.
You are not late to the party. You didn’t miss out. I am not disappointed in you. I didn’t forget about you. I have a special role for you to fill. I chose to need you and I have been waiting for you. I welcome you with open arms. Every part of your story is being REDEEMED.
Redemption is my word for the year. In Hebrew, the word for redemption, ga’aal, means “to buy back justice at the price of bloodshed”. Jesus redeemed us by the price of His blood on the cross, but it doesn’t just mean the erasure of sins. It also means the establishment of justice. Redemption means that somehow, all that is wrong is going to be made right. It means that evil is going to be undone. God’s work in the present has the power to reach into the past and change the meaning of those events.
This is what God will do when He redeems you. This is what God is doing as He redeems the brokenness of divorce, abuse, and sorrow in my heart, soul, and body. Somehow, all that is sad is going to be made UNTRUE.
A season of sorrow becomes a season of peace. A season of grief births a season of healing. A season of stillness bursts into a season of purpose.
St. Thomas More said that “Earth has no sadness that Heaven will not heal.”
Never give up on God or on His redemption. Let His love free you.
Give yourself permission to dream. Permission to heal. Permission to grieve. Permission to make mistakes. Permission to not know. Permission to feel whatever you need to feel. Permission to be you.
Please, come show up with me for our bright, beautiful lives. We are not too late.
We are right on time.
Let yourself be loved, oh so loved.