This is a story about obedience, and how painful following Christ can be. A lot of Christians don’t tell these stories. But, the reality of following God can be crushing – and isn’t it amazing how He is so good – even when He’s cutting you off at the knees.
I honestly can not believe I’m writing about this. I’m not sure why God is calling me to put this out there, but He is, and out of all the hard posts I’ve had to write – I already know this will be the hardest – by far. Actually, part of me feels somewhat betrayed that He would ask me to share this, because it feels so personal to me, but I know my story isn’t personal. I know my story really isn’t even about me, I know it’s for the glory of God. And holy crap – that’s the only kind of glory in this story, and it’s radiant.
Many people don’t know this story, and I was really hoping to keep it that way, but it is absolutely undeniably God’s greatest moment in my life so far. It’s the moment where literally everything about my relationship with Him changed. It’s the moment when He totally shattered the entire life I had built for myself. It’s the moment when He called me back to Him in the hardest way possible, and it all started with a single whisper – walk away.
Over a year ago I was living life in Toronto with a boyfriend who I loved deeply – and who loved me deeply in return. I was living the city life dream that I always wanted, and that included the cutest puppy literally ever – I’m sure some of you remember her from my Facebook – I still get people messaging me asking me about her (it hurts – so, stop lol). I had just started making some good friends, I loved my job, and life was good – really good. I was happy – really happy. I had completely strayed from my faith. I was living with my non-christian boyfriend – living a life where God was no where in the picture. I would watch Elevation Church podcasts every now and then – but God didn’t have a place in my heart, and He certainly did not tell me what to do.
And then one day, for no particular reason I remember praying (which was an anomaly in those days), and I remember just saying – God, I think I want your best. I’m not sure, but I think that’s what I want, and I would really like that to be my current life – so bless it. Faith of a mustard seed.
It was after that day that everything started shifting. I kept praying that prayer. Only it got more definite – like, Yes, God, I know I want your best. As soon as it got to that point – God started talking back. And the only words I could hear were – Walk away, go home. I obviously ignored those words for a while because I knew that wasn’t what I wanted. Those words made no sense, why would I walk away from this life? I had built this life and it was perfect. I was so happy, it was everything I had ever wanted. When those words were the only thing going through my head for like a week – I knew that my life just wasn’t about what I wanted anymore.
I remember getting in my car to drive home for a weekend, and a podcast just randomly started playing through the bluetooth in my car. Which didn’t make sense, because my podcast app never worked in Canada without wifi (Canadian cellphone companies can be a whole other post – what a treat), and I didn’t even turn on my like “media” outlet thing for it to even be connected. It was an Elevation podcast from 2015. I won’t go into all the details, but it spoke directly into my situation. It even started with Furtick talking about his little girl and how she makes him go through a laundry list of prayers at night to ease her anxiety. He started going through them…and they were the exact same things I used to make my dad pray with me when I was a little girl every night before bed. I pray for no robbers, or ghosts, or monsters, or kidnappers, or scary thoughts…I was a very anxious little girl. He then went on to tell the story of some guy in the bible who had left his home Country and was being called back to it from God. This man had a lot of fears about going back, and was very upset he had to go. Literally – my exact situation. He then even said something along the lines of, “This isn’t in my notes, and I’m not sure who this is for, but that boyfriend you’re staying with – it’s time to leave him”. The next four hours of this drive home were filled with very hard truths that God was revealing to me – and A LOT of tears. I knew what I had to do.
That Monday after I got back from being home for the weekend I sat my boyfriend down, and told him that once my contract with my job was up (in three months) – I would be leaving and going back home, and that we would have to break up. Obviously – this made no sense to him, and why on earth would it? It hardly made sense to me. I didn’t really have a lot of answers for this man that I loved – and a part of me still hurts because of that. It didn’t really seem fair to him – and it really wasn’t. It didn’t really make sense to anyone. It’s hard to explain the very real voice of God to someone who doesn’t even believe in God. It’s almost impossible to explain to anyone why you would leave a happy, loving relationship – just because God said so. It’s hard to explain that you can be living one way for so long, and then one day God changes everything – that makes no earthly sense. It’s hard to explain something that even you don’t understand.
So the next three months were interesting, and very very painful. We continued living together – because rent in Toronto is outrageous and it would’ve put us both in a really bad spot financially if one of us left. But if I’m being honest, I’m sure neither one of us wanted to admit the looming reality. Looking back – these three months were possibly some of the hardest months of my life. Only to be trumped by the three months after these three months…
And then came the day it was time for me to leave. I can’t even believe I drove away. That’s the first time I remember feeling the Holy Spirit – because there was no way I had the strength on my own to actually leave. I remember the image of him and my puppy in the rearview mirror. I remember being absolutely paralyzed, just sobbing, and then I don’t remember much. Seriously – I think I kind of blacked out. I remember crossing the bridge with a car full of stuff – I looked like hell, and the guy at the bridge literally was just like – “woah, I’m not even going to ask, have a nice night”. But, then I was home.
I went from having it all – everything I had built for myself – everything I wanted in life, to having none of it. I knowingly and (somewhat) willingly went from happiness to complete devastation. I moved home to my parent’s basement, with no job, no man to love me, no man to love back, no puppy to smother me, and just an absolute demolished heart. I can’t even accurately describe how broken I felt. I didn’t even feel like myself. I remember looking at my parents with tears running down my face after a pretty bad panic attack saying, “This doesn’t even feel like my life”. I remember looking at my things – and they didn’t even feel like my things. I slipped into a pretty deep depression for a couple months. Obedience will not be easy. Walk away anyway.
I was always taught that you fight for what you love, and that you don’t walk away from people who love you. I was always sure that love and relationships were going to be hard work, which I was ready for, and I was going to be the one who always stayed. As I get older I know that the abundant life can’t sustain this, because sometimes, God wants you to lay down the things you love and walk away. Not only is walking away a reality in life, I believe it’s necessary. Life is all about how you lose things – yourself, relationships, people, experiences, job promotions – and it’s about what you pick up instead. One of my favorite girl crush authors Shauna Niequist said it best,
“Nothing good comes easily. You have to lose things you thought you loved, give up things you thought you needed. You have to get over yourself, beyond your past, out from under the weight of your future. The good stuff never comes when things are easy.”
And isn’t that the truth – many months have passed since I drove away from the perfect life I had built, and I realize now that God had to demolish anything about my life that I had built for myself. It had to be this way – this is the journey I had to take – because any other way wouldn’t have submitted this stubborn heart to Christ. Any other way would’ve had me holding on to my own ability. Any other way would’ve given me the tiniest sense that I can do it all on my own. A favorite of mine – Judah Smith said, “God doesn’t make a good accessory.” And He doesn’t – He wants to be the whole wardrobe. And until this – God was a handbag to me.
Now, I want to reassure you that deep healing has happened over the last many months. It hasn’t always been easy, but God has lead me from scarcity to abundance, from performance to acceptance, from loneliness to love. I am living an abundant, joyful, loving life…regardless of the season.
I have experienced God in ways I thought other people were only lying about. And at this point – there’s just no way I’m going back.
I urge you to look at the areas of your life that you’ve built yourself, and let God demolish them. Let God shatter you, and then let Him put it all back together. Because for me and my shattered life – letting Him piece me back together has been my greatest journey.
And P.S. – I’m really excited for the day when God does let me stay.