by Kim Nielsen, oneLifemaps Facilitator
Waking up to a God-kissed day on Raspberry Mountain filled my heart with joy! Much of what is life-giving to me could be found on this day: being in the majestic mountains, walking in the wildflower valleys, receiving my breath of the Spirit from the cool morning air as God affirmed my life this day, spending extended time with Him on retreat and sharing it with other women seeking God. It was going to be a marvelous day even though I felt some anxiety about working with the Valley Experiences Map later on.
As Cheri Hudspith, our retreat leader, was prepping us for our time with the Valley map, she shared another angle that unexpectedly brought tears to my eyes. Cheri posed the question, "Are you mad at God? Do you need to spend time talking to him about it?" All I could think was, "What are these tears about?" I knew God was inviting me to pay attention. As I settled in a tree swing outside, I began to write a letter to God. I had already expressed on the Valley map an experience that took place a year and a half earlier.
After serving eleven years on a church staff, I was suddenly and unexpectedly let go in a five-minute meeting. There was no explanation. Had I done something or not done something? With no clarity and only a few words, my calling would not be fulfilled there. I was devastated and stunned, to say the least. In shock, I stood up and walked out never to return. Through one person's decision, I lost my church, church community, job, income, relationships, resources, and a place to serve that I loved and believed would be my church for the rest of my life. This was a Valley I was grieving.
As I began to verbalize my hurt, anger, and pain to God regarding this incident and my whole life story as well, a stream of tears rolled down my face. I wanted to know why. "Why did I have to experience so much shame growing up? Why did I not have an experience with God when I was young to know He was real? Why did I have to make so many poor and painful choices before I found Him? Why send me to a church where I had been for fourteen years only to have it taken away? WHY did this Valley experience with my church have to be so horrible and final?" As I finished, I felt a small burden lift and I felt drained. I assumed I wouldn't get any answers to the "why's" and finished up with gratitude for God's goodness to me through the Valley.
A few weeks later while attending a retreat with The Transforming Center, God surprised me with an answer to my final question that day on Raspberry Mountain. Another participant was sharing about how her life had changed in every area over the last five months because she realized she had not been living who God created her to be, her True Self. The retreat leader responded by saying how nice it was to have a "clean slate" to live into your True Self. In that moment, I knew God was speaking to me! My "horrible and final" became my "clean slate" to live into my True Self. No more false identities, no more false securities, no more false sense of community. I was given a new start, freedom from the false-self attachments that kept me from living the life God created me to live. Halleluiah!
This is one of the amazing values of the Valley map. God reframes the Valley to show us His perspective and give us more of that which will bring us LIFE!
Questions To Ponder:
- What Valley experience might you be willing to allow God to reframe for you?
- Are you sharing your pain, anger, hurt, disillusionment with God, like David did in the Psalms? He already knows and feels it with you.
- Have you given yourself permission to grieve with God whenever, however, as long as you need? There is no time limit. Don’t let others define it for you. God can understand and heal those wounds.
- Ask God to reframe your Valley.
- What does it look like to wait on God to reveal how He has and is reframing your Valley experience.
- “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the (valley) slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and (reframed my experience) gave me a firm place to stand (a clean slate to live into my True Self.) He put a new song in my mouth and a hymn of praise to our God.” Psalm 40: 1-3 (my added translation)
Abba Father, our God of the mountains and the valleys, grant us the courage to bring all our sorrow, pain, anger and emotions to you through the valley grieving seasons. Remind us of your goodness, not just for us in general, but for each person individually. Let us come to you in our weakness in order for you to reveal your strength. Grant us patience to wait on you to reframe our valley’s until you give us a new song and a hymn of praise to you our God! Amen
Praying Our Goodbyes
by Joyce Rupp.