I have been back for about a month now.
Yet it seems like just yesterday I was sitting on the beach in Australia, the wind gently tossing the water to and fro as the sound of the waves constantly crashed into the shore.
I can just as easily remember in Myanmar, tiptoeing out of my room at 5:30 am, using my flashlight to avoid crunching any snails underneath my feet as I made my way to the small outdoor kitchen. Sitting there, the sun slowly rising in front of me, the stray dog occasionally walking by to say hello, as I talked to God and poured my thoughts out into my journal. It is one of my favorite memories.
I have been intentional lately to reflect on the past six months, because I don’t want to loose sight of the freedom I found, the friends that became family and the beautiful and challenging times that intertwined to transform not only me, but those around me as well.
So here is just a small piece of my life the last six months and the way that God moved in and through me.
Before boarding that plane last July, I spent time asking God for His intentions with sending me half way across the world. To be honest, I was quite terrified. Leaving all familiarity to live in a whole new world for six months… I figured the least God could do was send me off with something to hold onto when I would undoubtedly have rough days.
The words he gave me…
Learn to Love yourself.
Learn to love me.
Learn to love people.
Learn to love life.
Learn to love the journey.
Learn to love the process.
He promised to teach me, and to help me to learn to love always.
Sometimes though in order to let love bloom, you have to be willing to dig deep and uproot the lies, hatred, fear and confusion that have for so long kept your heart from fully thriving and living.
As I walked through twelve weeks of learning about Gods love and character, I learned that this can be a very painful and slow process. A lot of times in order to truly dig something up with the intent of getting rid of it, you have to face memories you’ve hidden deep as well as examining your life and the past experiences that have shaped you.
It didn’t take me long to realize that my many insecurities, shortcomings, flaws and fears were very deeply rooted.
You see, when I arrived in Australia my heart was to put it simply, surrounded by a castle of glass. Now let me explain what that analogy means.
I love being open and transparent; I am not one for being fake or overdramatic.
I love people; I love observing them and life. Yet I am terrified of actually living life. Scared that if I let people in they wont appreciate my heart and will simply use me and then leave. Afraid of love, because if I truly let people see me, it means risking the fact that they wont love me back and in the end I will be the one with a shattered and broken heart. All my observations in life had helped me to discover that people cant be trusted, and your heart is fragile and needs to be protected.
So naturally, I created a world where I could see the beauty in people and let them see me without risking getting hurt.
Yet their came a point when I could no longer live under this castle of glass, because my heart craved fresh air. I became lonely living inside this castle, because happiness and love was always close, but yet unreachable. The very sight of it caused my heart to ache, and I wanted so badly to experience it, yet every time I would retreat inside my castle where I was safe and everything was familiar.
Yet the beauty of Jesus is that unlike most people who stopped right outside the glass to wait for me, He doesn’t do that.
His love is stronger then any walls I can put up. He pursues me even when I run in fear, and He most certainly is not going to let me stop him from getting to my heart.
You see the thing is… He can’t live without my love. The creator of all of heaven and earth cannot live without my love.
That statement right there is what wrecked me, bringing me to tears in awe of a love that I cannot even begin to explain. A love that would forever change my life.
You see, Jesus pursued me, rescued me and even took me half way across the world just so that He could shatter that very protective glass that I had spent my lifetime building.
Love always wins.
After shattering the glass, and shatter it He did, came the process of healing.
Learning to breath, learning to live, learning how to love.
In those twelve weeks, Jesus slowly and patiently took my heart and helped me to weed out all the hurt, lies, insecurities and fears that had for so long grown in my heart.
He walked me through insecurities, showing me that I am his daughter, precious, loved and unique in every way. He began to give me new dreams, visions and a heart for loving people. He began to show me the beauty I bring to the world by simply being myself and letting Him shine through me.
He taught me to trust again, restoring past relationships and giving me new ones. I began the process of learning to love as well as letting people truly love me. What better way to learn that then to be surrounded by some of the most incredible, patient and kind people I know, who were in Australia to love and grow towards Jesus.
He showed me that His perfect love cast out all fear, and He cried with me through the painful times. Fear has always been something I struggle with. Whether it is fear of not being good enough, fear of not fitting in or fear of never truly finding love. Yet Jesus is greater then any fear I could ever face, and He is committed to me living life no longer a slave to fear.
He walked me through healing, and never once lost His temper with me. There was times when I pushed Him away, because it was overwhelming and I didn’t want to walk through the things He asked me to. This didn’t stop Him, if anything he pursued me even more, until I would finally come to a point of surrender.
After the old weeds were uprooted, He ever so gently helped remove any glass shards that remained. He tilted my chin up, looked me in the eye as He wiped the tears off my face and whispered to me in His loving and kind voice…
Now begins the process of making you new, planting new flowers and watering them with freedom and boldness. You are made new in me, and I love you. I want to do life with you; I want to teach you how to love. I want to take you to new heights, restoring all that was broken and breathing new life into your soul. I am with you through it all, the good and bad. I am committed to you and I promise to never leave you.
And so it began, I truly started living, because I could finally breathe.
Everyday I felt more refreshed, and excited about life. I began to fall even more in love with Jesus, finding more joy then I ever knew was possible.
I began the process of growing a new garden of flowers in my heart.
I found life, freedom and healing in the hands of a loving father who is committed to his beloved daughter.
And the best part, it was only the beginning.
To love always is a lifelong pursuit.