2018 was a pretty rough year for me. Besides the realities of having to move 3 times, losing my car, and moments of feeling like I’d lost my mind, I was also dealt some pretty heavy blows regarding both of my parents.
The complexities that 2018 yielded left me in a constant state of… confusion and wonder.
I was sad but hopeful.
I was hurt but could literally feel my healing at times.
I was broken but could see each and every piece
that resulted from the breaks.
That was how 2018 was playing out for me.
I was left with SO many questions almost daily.
But then, between the months of August and October (my birthday month) with the weight of all that 2018 had brought upon my shoulders; with more than 2/3 of the year done, I began to find the answers I had been looking for. As I yielded to God and started to take that wonderful gift, called time, to listen and Hear what God was telling me and what He was showing me…. I began to understand the pieces. The pieces that were left after God so purposefully allowed my life, well what I had tried to make of it, to fall apart. After God methodically pulled out every single weed that existed in my life and showed them to me one-by-one… I saw what He was doing. I understood what He had done.
I remember a time during the summer while I reflected on this bamboo palm tree that I had. As I looked at it in my room. It’s leaves sparse, but growing, and it’s twin having been uprooted because of my initial ignorance and neglect… I reflected on my life. And how my life mirrored that palm…
How I too had slowly but surely neglected myself. How I had been unsure of how to feel rejuvenated. How I was confused about what I needed during my growing season and my stagnant seasons. How when things started to fall away, I saw the urgency of the matter but still remained uneasy about what steps were necessary to heal.
Did I need more water?
More soil (or of the Word)?
A different soil?
And as things started to die. I had to be brave enough to let them and pull those things out from their very root as not to harm what was left.
God did that part though. As I prayed for the ability to start over. As I prayed and wept and wrote and didn’t write… as I lamented and pushed through…
He saw me.
He saw what was hurting me.
He saw what was falling away and was wise enough to call it Good.
He saw what was dying and what could cause harm to me… and was strong enough to pull it out from it’s very root.
He was kind and gentle enough to wait until I was listening and showed me each and every weed and dying thing that was set up to cause me harm.
That was set up and planted in my life, to cause His Kingdom harm.
He showed me those things… and was Sovereign enough to call it Mercy and Grace.
So as I reflected on that small tree with so much potential… I knew what God was doing in me and I submitted to it.
It hurt y’all… so much. And as that last weed was picked and exposed…. I cried so much…. for my faith (or the lack there of).
For that child who was SO hurt and confused by life but didn’t know it. For my body that I had unknowingly taught to live a life of gluttony… and I cried for every mistake and seed of evil and sin that had ever and will ever be planted or grown in my life….
But as the year ended… and we discovered my Dad’s cancer… I felt the oddest and most necessary sense of peace.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7 ESV
Not because I knew that my Dad would be okay… but because I understood, without a single second of wavering, what I needed to do and why.
I understood that it was time to go Home.
That God had not just pulled the weeds for the sake of revealing them to me (because 2018)… but he had meticulously shown me what good had grown. That, despite the enemy’s and sin’s and, honestly, my own, best efforts…
There was GOOD.
There was righteousness.
There was Faith and Hope and Wisdom.
There was His Spirit.
Fully formed and increasingly developing within me.
Rooted and Built Up.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
Colossians 2:6-7 ESV
And that, because of what God has in store for me. That because of what He sent me to Arizona to do in the first place… it was time to take all that has grown (without the weeds) and give it back to where the first seeds were planted. It was time to give it back to MY Home.
And God, in all His beautiful Glory… whispered to me… that it was time.
“And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.”
1 Kings 19:11-12 ESV
All of this so that I could understand when it was time to move… to go… to come back Home… and so I had nothing to hold me back. No tangled roots. No people that did not understand but would desire to keep me back. No questions about this decision.
Now, in true humanly Benita fashion, I tried, a few times, to pretend like what I knew, was not, in fact, Truth. That I was to stay in Arizona for at least another season… That it was not time. I tried my best to ignore the pulling away from the place I had done so much of my growing… tried to replant my own roots… but they failed to stick.
And I didn’t even want to follow-through with the care they required… eventually I had to accept what God had revealed to me. I had to leave…
So I did. After 8 years and 7 months of living in Arizona. On March 25, 2019 I packed up my entire life into an SUV and took a road trip across the country. Traveled through 7 different states over the course of 4 days… with just me and my dog (who, to this very day I believe was created just for me and my journey) and went home.
While I’m still figuring things out… I’m mindful that there is purpose here. There is light here… there is so much beauty that I’d missed…
And although it won’t be perfect… it WILL be Good.
God WILL be glorified.
It WILL be beautiful.
“and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Isaiah 61:3 NIV
With Love Always,