hoa, sounds bleak, doesn’t it? It was. Events and circumstances in the early years of my life hit me hard with emotional pain that had taken hold and festered for years. I was a big-time daddy’s girl, so I was devastated when my father left our family when I was almost six. My parents divorced, our family was split up for a while as my mother regrouped, and we began life as a single-parent family, a rarity in those days. Enter disappointment, fear, rejection, abandonment, guilt (yes, children blame themselves for their parents’ divorce) and a life lived out of that broken identity. I saw my father again only two times before he died when I was 16, adding that sorrow to all the pain I had stuffed deep down in my soul. I thought I had dealt with it quite effectively – I was an honor student, cheerleader, college graduate, summer missionary – a classic overachiever. Ignore the pain, replace it with achievement and it’ll go away, right? Wrong! But, praise God, the explosion of pain that surfaced at age 22 was the force that drove me to seek the Lord like never before.
In the midst of my emotional breakdown, my husband and I knew the answers I needed were in the Word. But, since there’s no listing in the concordance for “young wife falls apart,” we prayed, crying out to the Lord for help. And He heard, He answered, He healed. Hallelujah! Then why, a few years later, was I still struggling with the fallout from my childhood experiences? The emotional pain had been healed, I was learning to live out of my true identity in Christ, but I was exhausted in my efforts to reach what I thought should be my goal – being a ‘godly woman.’ I was fairly sure about what I was supposed to be, but I had no idea what that really meant or how to get started on that quest. So again, I cried out to the Lord for help. I prayed and began to listen earnestly for His answer. My prayers were neither eloquent nor artful, but desperate cries from a burdened heart. “HELP!” is a prayer God delights to answer. Slowly, steadily, I realized God was shining His light into the depths of my being, drawing me to Himself and beginning a new work in me, what I called the ‘godly woman thing.’
I began combing the pages of Scripture for any reference to godliness or womanhood. But my initial attempts at becoming godly were misguided because I was attempting to conform myself to a pattern of godly behavior without giving over control of my mind, my heart, my attitudes and my emotions to the Holy Spirit. I was a well-intentioned, frustrated mess because I was trying to accomplish my goal in my own way in my own strength. I was miserable – and of course, I was tempted to blame my frustration and unhappiness on my husband (and quite often did just that). Bad idea. I was tired – no one ever told me ‘a woman’s work is never done’ is not just a trite saying; it’s true! Physical fatigue (I had a new baby, remember?) has a way of making everything seem more difficult, depressing and hopeless than it really is. And I was desperate – the harder I tried to order things in my life to achieve my worthy goal, the more frustrated I became. But by the grace of God, when I could neither express nor begin to understand the heart of my struggle, I was very teachable.
Again, I rededicated myself to prayer, really hoping God would wave His golden scepter over me and with one “Poof!” miraculously and immediately turn me into a godly woman. I had no idea how far-reaching this ‘godly woman thing’ would be or how magnificent the grace of God would prove in the process. As a faithful Father, God began to teach me what I needed to know, beginning with the hard truth that I needed a major overhaul at the core of my belief system. I began to understand that I had allowed my life experiences, as well as the faulty philosophies of the world around me, to color my thoughts and attitudes. I came to see clearly the root of my problems – me. My self-willed approach to figuring out life had paid its natural dividends: error, emptiness and exhaustion. Who wants to admit that?
The real first step to this godly woman transformation process was to face the truth about myself and decide to pursue God, His truth and His design for my life. I had been a Christian since I was a little girl, but I had to admit that I most often had been doing things my way while asking God to bless me in my efforts. Sound familiar? It was this realization that opened the door of my heart to the progression of truth in John 14:15-26. It came alive to me as I read it with a renewed commitment to studying the Word for transformation rather than for information alone. Jesus says if we love Him, we will obey Him and He will give us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, as our Helper. As we love and obey Him, He loves us and discloses Himself to us (reveals Himself to us so we know Him more fully), and the Trinity – God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – will abide with us (take up residence in us!). Then, the Helper, the Holy Spirit, “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (verse 26). Wow! What a promise! I did love Him and sought to obey Him. And I was sure I needed His help, so I prayed aloud, “Okay, God, You say right here that the Holy Spirit will teach me all things. I want to know about this godly woman thing. Please give me a picture that I can understand. Ready, set, go!” This was the initial step in what would be an almost three and one-half year journey into the heart, mind and Word of God as He taught me about Himself and myself.
That sincere request began the transformation process in me that continues today. Growing in godliness is an exciting journey, but growth does not come without a price. Immediately upon embarking on this quest, and regularly along the way, I encountered rebellious resistance in my own spirit. I had been independent, trying to control my own life for so long, and I often doubted if I really wanted to or could become what God had designed for me to be. I realized I was afraid to find out the truth because of what it might cost me – myself. And I was right.
Do you identify with the frustration and fruitlessness of doing life your own way? Have you been hurt and maybe hardened by events or circumstances in your life? Is the pain of past or present devastations and disappointments keeping you from emotional health now? Are you exhausted by the demands of your life? Are you arguing with me right now that becoming a godly woman is the right goal? Are you arguing with me that giving over control of your life to God is the right answer? Receive this truth, Friend – He loves you with an everlasting love and is drawing you to Himself with His lovingkindness. Let yourself cry, and then cry out to God. He will hear, He will answer, He will heal your broken heart, He will teach you His ways.
In the next few Monday blogs, I’ll tell you about the picture God showed me in Scripture and the practical application of the truths I learned in my godly woman quest. Get your heart ready to hear. I’m praying for you!