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Beauty from the Ashes

To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:3

I LOVE October! The crisp air, the anticipation of the holidays that are right around the corner, and the vibrant colors of the foliage all around…I’m not kidding when I say some of my dreams are just me walking around in awe of the trees and their magnificent hues! Just call me Anne of Green Gables! But October has become a very difficult month for me within the past few years as well. Those feelings I expressed earlier upon the arrival of this magical month act as triggers from a time when I was blissfully in denial of the fragility of my own life. My youngest daughter was born on the 29th three years ago, and upon her arrival it was discovered that I had an undiagnosed complication that caused a multitude of problems for the next couple of months and, to be honest, I still carry some with me now. PTSD is real and ugly. I don’t share often about it because I know it’s difficult to understand even though I’m sure, if we’re honest, there are so many of us that struggle with it to a degree from a myriad of harrowing life experiences. But I’m not here to wallow. I strive to declare the goodness of God in the midst of distress. Some days are easier than others, and that’s ok. You can be not ok, too.

The questions we ask in the midst of these draining moments of anxiety and fear, pain and grief, shame and doubt, are not ones we should shy away from. What if we embraced these occasions of rapid and haunting emotions with prayers that rivaled for their place in our hearts? I am an emotional gal to the core, but I was far into adulthood before I fully spilled my guts in exasperation to my Savior. And you know what I found out? He can handle it. Not only can he handle it, but he is safe and has proven time and time again that he is worthy of all praise for being the very definition of love in his response toward me. You see God doesn’t strive to empathize with us. He doesn’t roll his eyes every time I cry out with the same struggle for three years. God is love and we see in 1corinthians 13:4-7 how safe we are when we abide in that because it is love in perfection. Jesus took on the full measure of what it means to be human when he came to earth and became” a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”(Isaiah 53:3). If there is a safe place to unburden my heart, it is found in the one who has overcome.

So let’s declare freedom from our fears and anxieties in the name of Jesus even when the shackles of our emotions feel almost tangible, find rest for our weary hearts in the shelter of our Savior who endured shame and pain for our benefit and deliverance, and, just like the splendor that God has granted the leaves in October, allow changes in our hearts as our redeemer makes beauty from the ashes.

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