Editor’s Note: This is Tiffany’s first post to Wrecked as a regular contributor. I hope you’re as excited as we are to get to read her writing on a regular basis. Though she’s served in dozens of nations around the world, she’s about looking like Jesus in the every day. She strives to make her life her message, and admits that she’s still learning every day. Needless to say, we’re happy to have her.
Have you ever experienced the way sunsets and endless miles of open road have a way of serenely evoking stories we never otherwise tell?
Earlier this summer, I lived this for about a week with a near stranger through the deserts of California and Nevada. The chronicles of the life I heard then are still prodding and making their way through my own spiritual digestive tract, stirring up an old me I had long let go of.
As we turned onto the highway after a long day of hiking in extreme heat, he began telling me about an ex-girlfriend he had recently run into at home. In the way his own year has been unfolding, he stopped her and asked forgiveness for his role in her past.
But she said no.
By uttering one word, she refused to release him…
With the evening sun blinding us over the horizon, I remember being unable to see him, but still vocalizing my empathy for her pain. She had lost the man she thought would be in her life forever—the one who had taken so much of her heart space and calendar space.
Years later, all she has left of him is her pain, her own unforgiveness, her own sense of being wronged. If she let go of that, then he would be completely gone from her life, from her story. The places he has held would be an empty void once forgiveness was handed over. She would have nothing familiar to hold onto, falling with no sight of solid ground underneath her.
I was trying to trust you
Christians do a lot of emotional worshiping of the Lord. We make countless declarations through sobs and shouts and deep guttural groans. For over two and a half years, I have grown accustomed to crying through the words, “I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open… There is nothing I hold onto”.
It seems each time these words leave my lips, I am giving up something new. Each surrender says, “I trust you with this more than I trust me.” I confess, “Here’s the newest idol I have built that is disappointing me. Once again, you were right and I was wrong.”
While the inventory of things left at the altar is lengthy, the hardest thing I have handed over is my right to let my past hold me. I had spent my entire Christian life circling conversations around to the pain of years of drinking, of perfectionism, of ugly relationships, and of despising religion.
It only took small triggers to bring me back to those places—to let my mood (and the entire atmosphere) be permeated by the stronghold of my pernicious past. I felt entitled to be hurt, to guard myself, to build walls, and to behave unexpectedly erratically at the expense of others.
It sounds draining, right? It was. For me and for everyone around me.
I was trying to hand it over
For so long, I felt the Lord asking me to hand it over. The song would begin and He would nudge, “sweet child, there is something so much better on the other side of brokenness.” I couldn’t believe Him. Who would I be if I didn’t have those stories, opinions, soap boxes? Who would I be left with if I let go of the past? After all, isn’t our past what defines us?
One night in worship, the weight was too heavy. I was tired of living cloaked in people that were never coming back and stories that I could never bring back to life. I was tired of living on self-imposed eggshells, and I was tired of demanding people to sidestep my landmines.
So I opened my hands. “Nothing I hold onto” was a past I could not resurrect and that I was exhausted of gripping. The burden of my own brokenness was scarier than the unknown of who I would become without it.
It was an act of faith.
A true step into the unknown to give up something so abstract. In tangible words, I was giving the Lord the right to my thought life, to let truth shine on all the stories I had spun through my broken lenses. I was giving him the right to uproot poison and decay. To change the way I think about everything. To change the way I see people, the world, and God Himself. I was giving him the right to make me whole.
It didn’t feel like a journey to wholeness. It felt like stripping naked of all the clothes I had worn over the years and being asked to hand them over. One lie at a time. With each lie, I released, I felt like I was losing a piece of the Tiffany I had so precariously constructed.
Surrender wasn’t a one-time thing.
Initially, I had to open my hands every couple of minutes. For months afterwards my stories still crept in, drenched with disdain and hurt. But slowly, I noticed my thoughts were changing, I was loving people more freely, I was happier, my mood was stabilizing. I was being made whole by a continual act of faith.
It’s been over a year and a half since that bitter, weeping girl said, “I don’t love who I am because of who I was. I need to believe I am who you say I am.” I sincerely, deeply feel healed.I wake up and feel whole. I walk my entire day joyfully. Conversations that allude to the past rarely faze me. Disappointments don’t feel like total defeat anymore because I have let my mind, my heart, my spirit be saturated in truth.
I genuinely believe He wants to move each of us from glory to glory, but we have to let Him. And I know that I know that I know that on the other side of being wrecked is a freedom and a wholeness that can only be attained by saying “there’s nothing I hold onto.”