This Sunday I was sitting in an office at the counseling center where Aaron works while I waited for him to finish counseling. I nestled into a couch in one of the offices. My plan was to make a dent in some reading I needed to get done. I pulled out my kindle and while my eyes read through my book, my mind was elsewhere.
My soul has been on high alert lately. My heart and my mind are constantly on guard because they are frequently being attacked in this season of my life. I know why; I’m working hard and diligently at writing my book. I’m using our infertility, something the devil intended to use as harm, for something as a ministry. Because of this determination, I’ve felt the past few months as though I’m tucking my head down and pushing through a massive mental hail storm. But instead of hail, it’s a ‘hell storm.’ This day was no exception on the attacks.
(Photo by Aledanda)
As my eyes grazed over the lines of the book, I realized I had read several pages and couldn’t even remember what I had read. I closed my book to take a break, and tossed my head back into a pillow. I stared at the ceiling for a moment, then rolled my head to the left. I faced a wall that held the above photo of a silouhetted, singular tree. It instantly caught my attention.
I sat there staring at the photo in a trance when the thought came to my head. “Man, do I relate to that tree. It’s all alone just like me.”
Alone. Isolated. Rejected. Forgotten. Not really by God, but by people. I’ve been hurt, forgotten, rejected, and taken advantage of by people. Haven’t we all? But in this season, the enemy knows that these areas are my weak spots, so he magnifies them. He feeds me the lie that this is how I should identify myself.
And to be even more vulnerable with you right now…while I’m writing a book and whole-heartedly believe in God’s goodness and grace during our waiting, my arms still desperately ache to hold my children. And the most difficult aspect of our waiting is my relationships and friendships are changing because everyone is having babies and we’re not. It’s such a lonely place to be, left behind, when that’s what you so desperately want. We’re in different seasons of life. I feel alone. Left out. Isolated. And that’s what’s been eating at my mind this season. The changing of relationships has been very hard on me. It’s just a part of life, when your friends have kids and relationships change. But in this season, when I know God is really using me in another way than he is my friends, that has been magnified and the enemy is using that as arsenal.
I know these are lies and that the truth is what God says about me in His Word. At times it seriously feels like I’m just trying to keep my emotional head above water to keep from drowning in the lies. Those lies hurt. But I know where they come from.
As these familiar emotions were sweeping over me like they frequently do, my pity party was about to be under way when the Holy Spirit, in his infinite grace and kindness, whispered to my heart, “Hannah, this tree isn’t alone. It’s flourishing in unexpected places.”
Oh man. I’m going to say that again…
This tree is flourishing in unexpected places.
I’M flourishing in unexpected places.
God used a simple photograph in an office to speak so tenderly to my heart such a message that I so desperately needed to hear in this season. It brought me to tears. It was a hug from The Lord saying, “You’re not alone. I’m here. I care. And I’m bringing you to a place where you are going to flourish out of circumstances that the Devil intended for harm.”
I stared at the photo with renewed eyes. It was no longer a sad, lonely tree. The tree was strong, paving its way through land considered treacherous, barren, and unfruitful. A tree determined to change its territory in order to bring beauty to a land that had no hope for life. The tree is a leader, forging a way when there seems to be no way, encouraging others to follow its stead to show God’s incredible glory.
I began to see myself like my renewed vision of the tree. I began to see myself the way God sees me – flourishing. Strong. Confident. Beautiful. Unwavering. Taking authority. Standing strong in the face of heart ache and adversity. Choosing to grow in places considered barren. Choosing to use for God’s glory, what the enemy intended for ruin.
I’m not able to do those things without Him, but he was so quick to remind me that when I let Him, he will allow me to flourish in the unexpected places.
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good. Psalms 52:8-9
As hot tears ran down my face, I was overwhelmed by His gentle love for me. In that moment I was consumed with thankfulness for his goodness, His grace, His unconditionl love, His unfailing friendship, and His kindness to whisper the sweet words to me that my heart needed to hear.
So friend, If you feel especially attacked right now, just know that God’s using you and has a great destiny for you to fulfill and the enemy is trying to stop it. Take the authority you have through Christ, and use that to combat the devil’s lies. It’s like this lyric I love from Florence and the Machine…
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake it off.
So here I am, whispering to you…
Shake off those lies because YOU are flourishing in unexpected places.
And it’s beautiful.