For most of my life, I’ve pretended like everything was A-Okay. I pretended I had a “normal” life growing up so I could fit in with my friends and share in the experiences they were going through. I pretended my dad didn’t drink too much and my emotionally co-dependent relationship with my mom was fine. Of course, I didn’t know any different and I love my parents, so I truly thought it was normal.
After my parents were divorced, my mom married a man who was incarcerated and I didn’t see my brother much. Things were not all honkey-dory. I thought my main job and purpose in life was to be there for my mom who was hurting and needed someone. I went into hiding. I took on the role of caretaker when it wasn’t my job.
Growing up, I would spend many weekends visiting the local prison and hid this from my friends. I just wanted to be “normal” and most of the time I pretended I was: show choir, cheerleading, straight A’s and high achievement. Maybe those were the only things I could control.
I was living in a state of pretending. But the Lord in His grace and mercy has invited me into a place with Him where He is showing me who I really am. Graciously, in recent years, the Lord has allowed me to step out of the role of caretaker and into the fullness of life He has for me.
It is in the quiet, secret place with Him where He reassures me—He’s got this. In Psalm 62:8 David reminds us, “Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour your heart out before Him: God is a refuge for us”. Whenever I have wondered or wandered, God has shown himself faithful without end.
He truly does invite our fears, questions and frustrations.
As a good friend puts it: “Go to God with your ___ (fill in the blank with your “stuff”), He’s a big boy, He can handle it!” Praise God He can and He does. God is freeing me from my all-or-nothing mindset where I thought I had to have every answer for myself and others. He is freeing me from my dependence on myself to find or know the answers. I am learning it is okay not to know and to sit with Him in the questioning.
I had built my identity around taking care of others and didn’t acknowledge what was going on inside. God has reminded me I am not the answer to other people’s problems. He is building in me an identity that does not depend on what I do but who I am. I know this may sound like a cliché in the Christian community, but He truly will speak to and show each one of us individually our value and worth if we come to Him and ask.
Recently, He has been showing me a picture of who I am through the words of Jeremiah.
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they never stop producing fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:5-8 NLT
As He reveals things in me that I need not carry, the Lord graciously takes the load and carries them for me. He lightens my step and allows me to live more fully and freely as His daughter. In this picture of a tree by the water, the image of roots growing deep into refreshing waters that supply all its needs and never runs dry has soothed and watered my soul.
Through it all, He has been there. Right now, He is here and tomorrow He will be there. Our great God never changes His mind about us, never pulls back His love from us and never denies us any of His promises. The invitation for us to receive these promises is always open and He is waiting to give us our hearts’ desires. We cannot find them apart from Him. So come to the water and let your weariness and thirst be cared for. As you plant and grow your roots deeply, He will supply.