Today I joined my friend Aji for the first online prayer group of her new ministry, The Life Atelier. She shared a word that jumped out at me as soon as I heard it and touched me so much that I knew that I just had to write about it today, that word is Recovery. Her scripture of emphasis was Psalm 90:15:
Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good.Psalm 90:15 (NLT)
One of the reasons why I have withdrawn from social media and have become quieter and less active of late is because I am going through a transition period, maybe I didn’t consciously know that this transition period was linked to recovery but today’s prayer session brought me into this awareness.
So often when we think of words such as recovery, restoration and recompense a series of reactions can happen. We think of the things we have lost which can make us feel ashamed or move us into desperation, this can be followed by feelings of regret and despondency or vowing to take action resulting in frenzied bouts of striving to get it all back.
Taking this time out has given me plenty of opportunities to think, reflect and assess myself, my areas of strengths and weaknesses and for me, this has been priceless. This year I will be 40 and in my life, there have been many things that I have lost and many years of misery and evil. I have made decisions which have resulted in the loss of health, opportunities, finances and relationships, in addition, I have been aware of a loss of connection to self, who I really am which was replaced by a “safer” version of myself.
But as I reflected on this today, I wasn’t filled with regret or sorrow, I was filled with gratitude and gladness. There have been times previously and yes even in this quiet period where I’ve felt the pressure and the pull of desperation to “make up” for lost time. My heart has ached at times when I’ve thought about where I am now and where I would like to be but during those times I’ve learnt to do the opposite to what my flesh would want me to do – strive.
In the process of trying to “fix it” and “make it right”, I’ve realised that we often mess it up and make it wrong – we react when instead we should be quietening down and listening, waiting for promptings and instruction from inside and above. Part of my gratitude this morning came from a realisation that this is something that I have been learning to do and put into practice during this season. I am more carefully weighing my decisions and leaving space and time before action, I am reflecting on the reasons and motives behind my thoughts, feelings and behaviours, I am being still when everything and maybe everyone around me screams “race forward”.
As we spent 30 minutes in reflection, prayer and quietness in God’s presence, a song that came to mind was, “God is Here“, especially these lines:
There is a sweet anointing in this sanctuary
There is a stillness in the atmosphere;
Come and lay down the burdens you have carried
For in the sanctuary, God is here
Whilst part of my gratitude comes from bourgeoning awareness, another part of my gratitude comes from knowing that God is God and ultimately He is the God of Recovery. Yes, there are things that the years have taken away from me, actions and decisions that I have taken which have resulted in sorrow and loss but all of that is OK because I already know that God is recovering it all and nothing is truly ever lost.
And when I say recovery, partly I mean yes I am seeing visible fruit – a huge example of this for me is that I got married last year after being in a 16-year relationship that I thought would last forever. I didn’t believe that I could recover from that loss but I have and I love my husband so much, sometimes I’m surprised at how I was able to find and choose him out of all the men that I could have ended up with. I’m not saying that everything is perfect (perfection is a lie that has cost me dearly and that I have had to learn to let go of – and honestly still am learning) but what I’m saying is that with him my experience of relationship is very different and I can definitely see myself experiencing years of gladness in proportion to those of misery that had come before. There are other things too, but that’s for another day, I just wanted to provide one concrete example.
But recovery to me means something deeper. I am recovering myself for one but even if that wasn’t enough I feel the internal shifts, growth and transformation within that speaks of true recovery. What I mean by this is that true recovery isn’t by might and it’s not by works, recovery is of the Spirit and it is by Grace. This understanding requires something of me, something that I do speak about every now and again, surrender and creating space.
I’ve mentioned about creating space, not so much using these words, but I’ve spoken about the importance of quietness and stillness. There are people who rush into the next thing all in the name of recovering something that they have lost without taking the time to be still and know, to create space for healing, growth and surrender.
My biggest area of gratitude I think is the awareness that I have chosen to take the often painful and longer path of waiting on God and surrender. I have been more mindful and given myself time to process and reflect so that my decisions are more in alignment with that which bears fruit for recovery. I have allowed myself time to grow and be pruned so that I may bear good fruit.
There are times when I have questioned and doubted my decisions, especially during times when what I experience is less than my ideal vision and dream of life but then I remember to trust not in my effort and works but in God’s goodness and grace and the transformational work He has done in me – to believe that my decisions are a by-product of the process of inner transformation I am going through and that it will be OK and so far this line of wisdom has worked for me.
This reminds me of one of the beautiful things that Aji said today that I agree with, the importance of alignment. We can pray a prayer and ask God to recover the years etc but are our hearts and actions in alignment with that prayer? Aji reminded me about the concept of an atelier, an artist’s studio where they create their works – everything in the studio is at different stages of creation, whilst it may look messy to the untrained eye, to the artist it is all part of work in progress on its journey to becoming something of great beauty and value.
I am often reminded by scripture and life of how God sees us, and the example of an artist at work is just one illustration of this. As an artist takes his time to put his creation together with care, consideration and love, God takes His time to skillfully weave the story of our lives, ultimately that is why I know that I do not need to strive but continue to abide if I truly want to see recovery in my life.
So thank you Aji, for your faithfulness in creating space today and helping me process these wonderful gems.
If you would like to join Aji at The Life Atelier, every Wednesday at 5 am UK time please reach out to me and I’ll forward her details to you.