I think I am finally clean

Life has a funny way of happening.

It chooses its victims and its victors, and simply happens.

In life’s toughest seasons, I have found that worship is the key to getting up and regaining strength. Worship is not only just singing to God, but also a state of being, the confidence that God is good, faithful, full of grace, and that He has your world in His hands.

I recently went through a difficult break up in my life, which was caused by many different factors, but nonetheless it hurt. I was thrown into a season that I later prolonged, causing it to last and hurt way longer than God probably wanted for me. My life suddenly became meaningless, dry, empty. The joy and passion for life I once had was no longer evident. I did not want to be around people, around anything that was stable because I was angry, at myself, at the guy, and at God. Looking back at my actions, my attitude, my perspective, I have learned a few things that would have changed the duration of my desert.

1. Embracing

The very first thing I didn’t do was accept. I refused to believe that my world had taken a drastic change. I tried to continue doing the same things I did when I was in the relationship, including hanging out with the same group that was connected to us, keeping communication with his family, eating at the same places, driving by the same streets. Literally nothing changed. Except the appearance together on social media. This made it difficult for me, and I’m sure him as well, to allow a death to happen so that healing could begin. Instead, we kept rolling around in the ashes of what was left, hoping to rebuild something that was long overdue to end.

I accepted my desert and my brokenness a year later, and everything that came with that; pain, friendships ending, new habits, new hangout places. This allowed me to accept my feelings. I was angry, mad, broken, confused, a little relieved actually. The lack of acknowledgement the year before didn’t leave room for these feelings and caused me to live in a lie, not ever dealing with the actual emptiness. After taking it in, my entire outlook of my season was transformed, and most importantly I was able to worship, to look for God, to seek help with sincerity, a new sense of clarity. I was now aware of the condition of my heart and spirit; I could care for myself better.

2. Enduring

The second important thing to do in every season is endure, hold on. After accepting and acknowledging, you have to fight to endure whatever comes your way. This may look different depending on your personality and your season, but this happens by gaining understanding, a new perspective. Some seasons require more time alone, while others require us to be surrounded by loved ones, learning to interact with other souls. Sometimes you need to study the Word, other times a lot of worship and time of prayer will help. Each season will be different but part of embracing it and not having to relearn the lessons years later, is knowing what your season is all about.

I endured my season by soaking in on His presence. Being in His presence was so important for me because I felt as though my heart was a shattered mess and I had no idea where to begin. I felt as though I had to pick up the pieces alone, buy some super glue, and put it all together alone. My identity had been placed in the relationship and when that ended, I no longer knew who Leslie was. Worship allowed me to hear the Lord’s sweet voice again, to hear life, to experience a love so sweet and not be afraid to be broken again. His presence was a safe place for me these last few months and as I embraced the brokenness and loneliness, I learned what I needed to heal and gained a sense of direction. Somedays I spent hours alone, writing, reading, thinking, crying to worship… and Adele songs (not a joke lol) and other weeks I spent all 7 days with my girls. I had to be connected to God and be constantly checking in on my heart to know exactly what I needed that day. Being in His presence didn’t make the pain go away, my friends didn’t distract me enough to forget what had died, but these two things did make the season more bearable.

I didn’t blend.

I didn’t make this brokenness my identity. I did not allow someone walking away from my life to define who I was. The season could have easily made me bitter, angry, hateful, but I chose to allow God to remind me who I was. I did not allow the pain to blend in with my deepest desires, to control my heart. We allow situations/people to intertwine themselves into our identity and we give them more rights than they deserve. Although we are shaped by our environment, we are not defined by them and this is so important to remember in seasons of growth. How careful a season is handled determines how you end it, if you pass the test, and if you have to repeat later in life.

3. Guarding

I don’t know about you, but seasons make me vulnerable. I feel like suddenly I have no idea what is going on inside of me or around me. I know now that seasons are meant to grow you. To teach you something, but in the middle of it, I tend to get overwhelmed and a little lost. I wish I could sit in class, learn all about the season, and then test over it. But most of the time, I don’t even realize it’s a test, until I am annoyed and frustrated and throwing fits to God.

And then I’m like oh SHOOT!!!! This is a test!!!

And I buckle down and try to pass it lol just like college.

One of the most important pieces to the seasons puzzle, is guarding.

Guarding your heart, mind, entire being- with everything that is within you.

When I first entered my season after the break up, I did not guard anything. I cried wherever, I spoke to many people about how I felt- and got millions of responses, some bashing the guy, some making me feel like crap, others making me miss what we had, others making me glad I was out. But none of them were actually me, no one understood because I was the one in the relationship, I dealt with the fights, with the decisions, with the memories. No one knew exactly how good or how bad it was because they weren’t us.

The opinions affected me a lot and literally had me back and forth, running in circles. Depending on who was giving their opinion that day, I was hopeful, expecting to fix the relationship, to heal what was broken, and to fight for what we had. Other days, I was angry, I hated him, I felt abandoned and betrayed, I hated him for giving up, for walking away.

I would also listen to songs, look at pictures, reread birthday cards, text messages, to remind myself of promises made and then I’d see my current state and this would send me into deep depressing days. I would be having a great day but I CHOSE to take myself to this hole every single time.

After awhile, I grew tired of hurting and fighting myself.

Instead of being my #1 protector, I was the biggest bully to my fragile and vulnerable heart.

My heart would trust me by allowing me to feel and I would take advantage and make it 10583034x worse. I stopped listening to Adele, Taylor Swift and any songs that reminded me of what was. I stopped watching romantic movies and I stopped pinning wedding things on pinterest. I stayed away from anything that would negatively affect me including people. People who had strong opinions about the breakup no longer had place in my life, and it sucked. I let go of many friendships because they were so connected to that time in my life but my heart became more important to me.

This is SO important. You are your own advocate, the best friend your heart longs for. You connect your spirit and heart to Jesus and you CHOOSE to thrive in whatever season you are in. So ultimately, it is YOUR duty to guard your season, most importantly guard your heart. You can no longer have an open door and allow songs, opinions, movies etc., around you but now your main focus should be to successfully pass this season and learn what you need to learn.

I guarded my mind so much, I would only listen to worship, read healing/life speaking books, hang out with people who had my heart as a priority.

And I don’t apologize for that.

I had spent so many years trying to submit to someone else, trying to be someone else so that I would be loved, trying to please man and be perfect. Let me tell you, the first chance I had to take care of myself and “do me” I ran and took it!

4. Growing

Like I ranted before, seasons are about taking care of yourself. About learning of you and of Him. If handled correctly, they take you to the next level in life, making the vision of your life and your creator clearer.

This is something that is to be kept in the front-line, in a place where it can be constantly looked at and remembered. These trials all are different, some last months, some years, and it can be easy to forget what the real purpose is. Although the heartbreak I endured was one of the worsts I have ever experienced, I chose to grow from it. Doing the first 3 things set me up to thrive. I did not allow the circumstance to make me a victim but instead held so close to Jesus that my identity began to change and I began to see purpose in my pain.

I love love love what 1 Peter 1:6 says:

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold- though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.”

What more do we need?! The trials cause our faith to be tested and if handled correctly, our faith will grow! If our faith grows, we will see Him in His glory, more clearly. Locking eyes with my King is more than enough for me to persevere through seasons of all kinds.

Come hell, come high water, come valleys, mountains, deserts, sunshine….

I am His and He is mine, forever.

Crazy that when the above picture was taken, a year ago, I was broken, faking my way through the pain. The pieces of my heart were too shattered and I had no idea where to begin. Thankful I fought my way through that season, and that I stand today.

Praying for you today. Whatever season you are in, CHOOSE to stay in the fight. Embrace, endure, guard, and grow from your trials.

Be truly glad friends, there is wonderful joy ahead.

From glory to glory we go,
All while dancing in His love.

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