Friday, September 7, 2018

Guest Blog Post by The Woman With The God-Shaped Void . . .

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Guest Blog Post by the Woman with the God-Shaped Void

       Everyone is born with a God-shaped void and what we do to try to fill that void is where our journey begins.  For me, I was baptized when I was nine years old, but did not continue to walk in the light my entire journey (1 John 1:5-7).  I am so thankful for our God who seals us and out of His grace, love and mercy, calls us His own the moment we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  Even when I wasn’t giving God my best, He was always there, waiting for my repentance. (Right:  artwork and copyright permission by Christal Ann Rice Cooper for this CRC Blog Post Only)
  In middle school, I had some friends who convinced me that self-harm was the way to take pain from your heart and put it elsewhere.  I fell for this lie that satan wanted me, and several other classmates, to believe.  My intention was not ever to kill myself, but I tried it because that is what I thought would help any pain in my childish heart.  Thankfully, I quickly grew out of it, but this is where I began to notice the voids my heart longed to fill. (Left:  Art work and copyright permission by Christal Ann Rice Cooper for this CRC Blog Post Only)
       Throughout high school and college, the feelings of these voids intensified.  As most others, I tried to fill it with boys, friends, hobbies, jobs, and new adventures.  I searched and searched and searched.  The beautiful thing is that, although I was unaware, God went with me in all of my searching.  The days where I could hardly breath because I cried so hard in disappointment, the days where I partied way too hard and felt miserable, and the days where I obsessed over the thrills of attention from others:  He was there. (Right:  Artwork and copyright by Christal Ann Rice Cooper for this CRC Blog Post Only) 
After jumping around to four different schools, I basically decided to stop searching for fulfillment in schooling and careers.  My boyfriend of three year proposed and off we went on new adventures in marriage.  After high school, we had a lot of relationship issues as we settled into the college life.  We shrugged it off as ‘normal’ and went on thinking that marriage would just fix it all. 
We thought that surely, it would fill our voids.  It did not.  So, we decided to get pregnant and thought that would again, fix us.  Four months into having a newborn we hit rock bottom.  I’m talking storming-around-the-house-yelling-and-hating-each-other kind of rock bottom.  I pictured ‘For Sale’ signs going up in our front yard as we talked about getting a divorce.  I wanted out and I wanted the grass that appeared greener on the other side.  My parents told me differently, which became our saving grace.  When I packed up myself and our newborn to go stay with my parents, they told me I needed to go home and fix it.  So, for some reason, I went back home.
We started counseling and then God really started softening our hearts.  This was a point in our lives where God put us on our faces.  It was at the lowest point that God got us to realize that we needed to turn over and look at HIM and HIM ALONE to fill our voids.  He was the only thing that could fix us.
       My mom gave me some advice: put on the local Christian radio station and never turn it off.  So, I took her advice, yet again.  As I faced dark day after miserable day, I started to notice a song that was always playing when I got into my car.  The title was “Strong Enough” by Matthew West.

To say I was completely annoyed at how many times this song was on, is an understatement.  There is a day, however, when the song fulfilled its purpose and I will never forget it.  I got into my car and, of course, it was on the radio.  I went to smack my radio and violently changed the station when it was as if there was a glass wall that stopped me.  God grabbed my attention.  The lyrics of the song “I know I’m not strong enough to be everything that I’m supposed to be.  I give up.  I’m not strong enough” finally hit me.

       Days after this encounter both my husband and I went to a small group at our church.  And because God is just so cool and works miracles, the lesson that day happened to be on depending on God for your strength!  Just like He had grabbed my attention a few days earlier, that morning He specifically called me back to Him.  I remember Him blocking out all of the other voices in our room and He spoke directly to me.  He said, “I love you.  I have not forsaken you.  I have been right here the whole time.  You don’t have to keep running.  I am your strength.”  I burst into tears and the rest of the morning was spent weeping with Christ as we were both flipped upward and saw God right before us.  Together, we realized that God was the answer to everything and in Him we could be whole.
Although it has taken several years to heal from the hard times we went through, we know God isn’t done yet.  He purposefully gives us rainy and dry seasons (James 1:2-3) to draw us closer to Him, learn to be more like Him, and give Him glory through it all.  
        In my heart and soul, I no longer feel the longing for something more because God is the only One who can and has truly satisfied all of my hopes, dreams and desires.  I know that life will not always be easy, but He has filled me with a peace that surpasses all understanding
(Philippians 4:7) and a strength where nothing is impossible with Him (Philippians 4:13).  I am so thankful for the people who prayed us through our journey and all glory be to God for loving us more than we will ever be able to grasp.

God is magnificent; He can never be praised enough.
There are no boundaries to his greatness.
Psalm 145:3

So do not fear, for I am with you;
     Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
   I will uphold you with My righteous right hand
Isaiah 41:10

I will be with you
When you pass through the waters
And when you pass through the rivers,
They will not overwhelm you.
You will not be scorched
When you walk through the fire,
And the flame will not burn you.
Isaiah 43:2

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