I listened to my son's most recent sermon this morning.

Growing and Waiting Patiently

Several quotes resonated with me as I thought about advice I have given recently to women emotionally trapped in abusive relationships, still hoping God will somehow miraculously change their abusive husbands.

As I have said many times: 

It is a rare thing for God to make an instant change in anyone, absent their engagement and participation. That is not typically how He works. He changes us in slow, painful processes -- processes that require our cooperation. His processes require a desire to see ourselves and grow as we follow His guidelines for our lives. Even those of us who embrace the process often find growth and change to be difficult and slow-going.

Danny was obviously not talking about staying in abusive relationships while waiting for slow change to happen. He was talking about the importance of grace, and God's patience with us. But several statements reminded me of a time in my life when I was desperate and God was comfortable with my desperation. Even when I couldn't see it, He knew there would be light at the end of my tunnel and redemption for every painful experience.

These are the quotes I typed out while listening:

"God is frustratingly willing to let it get desperate."

"I wish He wasn't so comfortable with my desperation."

"He's comfortable with the story entering dark times."
"God is really, really, really, really patient. And our growth is going to not be really, really, really, really fast. It's going to be slow. And that's part of the story. There's no quick fix here. And it's going to be desperate sometimes."

These statements apply not only to my own slow growth and the frustration I often feel with myself. These statements apply to the circumstances we face in life that make us feel desperate, including interaction with people whose behavior is dark and causes us to suffer. As I heard these words, I reflected on times I felt like I couldn't hold on for another day. Yet I was frozen in fear of God's rejection if I made the wrong choice. Add to that my fear of the unknown and my paralyzing self-doubt and you have a recipe for a holding pattern that kept me emotionally battered for decades.

Those years were indeed dark. There was no quick fix. And it WAS desperate at times. Those decades are a part of my story. But they are not the whole story.

God has brought the brightest light directly from the darkest places of my life. This applies to the sins I committed as much as the sins committed against me. He has brought good from all of it. It was never fast or easy. There was suffering. There were tears. There was even the occasional, "God, do you even care what's happening to me?" But He had a purpose in the timing of every detail. And He was patient with me through it all.

His grace was present even before I could comprehend its magnitude.

Sometimes I wonder if I was "trapped" as long as I was because God was patiently waiting for me to grow; to stop being a willing victim and become a participant in my ultimate deliverance. Not only did He never wave a magic wand over my abusive husband and miraculously change his behavior; He didn't wave a magic wand over me and "bestow" courage or wisdom. He allowed me to acquire both in a slow process involving mistakes, suffering and self-examination.

I'm thankful for the process ...
not only because I grew stronger,
but because through it I discovered His grace.