Saturday, June 23, 2012

Exposed

Not too long ago I started working at a financial planning and investments company, and as an employee working in the wealth management industry, I was required to go through a somewhat extensive background search.  I was fingerprinted, credit checked, and intimately examined, at least from a "who are you, who have you been, and who will you become," perspective.  What followed was an interrogation, passed judgment, and a verdict of unacceptable by the brokerage firm through whom my boss does her clearing, and when I was asked to provide detailed information for each credit report ding, I felt embarrassed, rejected, and absolutely naked.  To make it worse, my new boss, whom I'd barely known 24 hours, was unable to conceal her utter shock and horror at what she saw through the doors of my past.  There was absolutely nothing in my personal life, neither past nor present, that was hidden from her and I was absolutely humiliated when the worst parts of my history resurfaced.  "God, what are You doing? What is it I'm meant to learn?  Why am I here!?" I asked through choked sobs after my boss not so tactfully informed me she'd never seen anything so bad.  For my first two days on the job I did little more than cry, clean my face, and then cry some more.  I went home feeling numb, confused, and completely exposed, but it was through that raw and painful exposure that I learned a new level of trusting God to work everything out for my good (Romans 8:28).

After undergoing a two day anesthesia free emotional operation performed by a boss I barely knew, I decided that the worst had to be over.  I had been completely exposed for the irresponsible money manager, among other things, that I had been and it was time to do something about it.  It was time to rebuild the credit my husband and I had so carelessly neglected in the first few years of our marriage, and with that decision I got to work.  The only problem was that I was absolutely miserable doing it, at least for the first month or so as I adjusted to conflicting personalities and unfamiliar job requirements.  So I prayed.  A lot. And it was through this prayer that I was drawn not only closer to God, but also to the very boss whom I initially found offensive, irreconcilably different, and judgmental.  (Andi, if you're reading this, keep reading.)  As it turns out, I've been there 114 days longer than I anticipated after I left that first day...and it's something about which I couldn't be happier.  As it also turns out, the light that shined down to expose my every worst attribute and flaw is the very same light that has united me with one of  the most unique and beautiful sisters in Christ that I've ever had.

What started out as a seeming path of humiliation, pain, and confusion has since turned into a journey of self-improvement through the daily stretching of my faith and continual expectation for the miraculous.  I honestly don't know at what point on the road God changed my heart, but I suspect it was the place where I sat sobbing on my knees saying "Your will be done." I didn't just do it once, though; I did it over and over and over again, and at the moments I most wanted to give up and do anything but His will.  I surrendered daily to a will I didn't understand, didn't like, and didn't want, but as I continued to ask the Lord to make His desires, His visions, and His plans my own, I gradually began to want what I already knew He wanted. And it has been life changing.  I stopped praying for God to take me out of the situation that left me open, raw, and exposed, and began praying for Him to give me the strength to be changed by it. "Let's go through this then God," I began to say.  "Let's draw me closer to You and change me for Your glory," I finally mustered the courage to pray.  I've come to a place in my walk with God where I know His plans are better, His vision clearer, and His heart purer, and I know that when He puts or allows me in a circumstance that hurts me, it's ultimately to bless me.  I've learned the truth behind James 1:12 when he says "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him," because through my every trial, I have been blessed when I remain steadfast in Christ. 

When you find yourself exposed in the fire of God's refinery, don't run when it gets hot; the heat isn't being turned up to hurt you, but to purify you, to strengthen you, and to change you.  I've been through many trials in my life and while I may not be able to relate to all the trials specific to your own life, I know what it means to be exposed before both God and man, and I know it hurts.  I understand the temptation to run in the opposite direction.  I can relate to the reflex action to jump out from the smelting pot. I can empathize with the pain of brokenness, shame of sin, and guilt from condemnation, and I get the moments when you cry so hard you can't breathe.  However, I also understand the sacrifice of not only praising God when the fire is the hottest, but also thanking Him for the very iron pot that sets fire to my body, soul, spirit, and mind.  I've never been more joyous, more victorious, and more glorifying to God than when I'm in that utterly sacrificial moment of thanks and praise. Again and again, He has transformed my pain into an increasingly solid foundation of thriving faith, illuminating beauty, and miraculous change.  Don't run from exposure; immerse yourself in it, praise God for it, and be changed for the better by it. You'll come out shining brighter than ever before, and remember - if God has you in a smelting pot right now, it's because He is trying to bless you, not to hurt you.   

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These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold -- and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." (NLT) - 1 Peter 1:7
  







                

4 comments:

  1. Heather, I just read several of your posts and enjoyed them all. Thanks for sharing. In response to your question about a new name for your blog, I think you should incorporate something about growing, changing, or walking on a journey since that is what your discuss in your posts: your personal "God" journey. I'd love to know what title you choose!

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  2. Nancy, thank you for the feedback! I'm so glad you've enjoyed what you've read, and I will keep your insight in mind as I figure out a new title! Thanks again for the blessing of your comment! I don't get comments too often so when I do, it's an exciting thing! You've made my morning! May He bless you richly today and everyday!

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  3. THANKS HEATHER I NEEDED THAT! HOPE YOU CONTINUE WHAT YOU ARE DOING WITH THIS BLOG! KAREN

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  4. Thanks, Karen! The gaps between my posts have been getting bigger in recent months, but I'm hoping for a change in schedule soon, so we'll see if that doesn't close it some. Thank YOU for taking the time to read through them and leave feedback!

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