This was originally published 11/29/16 on Paige Westberg's blog
A Year Later
Written By: Paige Westberg
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
How do I even begin to declare the praises of the Lord? How do I even begin to recount all that He has done in this year?
Last year, I was devastated when my relationship with my boyfriend ended. I don't know if I can express the depth of how crushed I was. I truly didn't understand how time could still go on or if there was anything in the world to do but cry and try to fix it. I had felt truly, prayerfully that Ben was to be my husband. Those were the facts. So, no matter what we were fighting about or going through, I knew at the end of the day that I loved him and he loved me and that it would all work out. I went into every thing with such hope that it would all work out. My obstinate optimism blinded me in many ways and I can tell you now that recounting all that could have been done differently is not beneficial suffice to say, the break-up hit me like a ton of bricks and I couldn't make sense of it. Even now, I don't know that I can make sense of it, but it happened against all my reasoning, defenses, wishes, and prayers. It happened according to the perfect will of God.
And I didn't die. Life went on, one miserable day after another. The pain in my heart kept me up every night and haunted my thoughts through every day. Time plodded on. My prayers were desperate, constant, and bathed in tears. Often I would just sit before the Lord and weep and moan.
I have never been so disappointed, confused, hurt in all my life. For those of you who are familiar with all that I have been through since I was child might find that hard to believe, but truly: nothing had ever broken me like this.
So a year ago, that's where I was. Unbelievably broken. I will say here, I do not say anything of this to Ben's shame and it is my prayer that this wouldn't bring guilt to Ben, but rather, I want to rejoice in what the Lord has done over the last year. He never left me. He was faithful to care for my soul every day. He was faithful to use this break-up to reveal sin in me, and to call me deeper still into His grace.
Through every broken circumstance I have encountered, I have had one thing to cling to: God is good. That truth has supported every difficulty I have ever faced. That truth cannot, will not, and has not ceased. Even in the midst of my brokenness, I knew this to be true, but every fiber of my being was crying out, "Please. Please. In your goodness fix this broken relationship. Make it new. But even if you do not, you are still good." And as I prayed that, I had to preach it to myself. Oh how my soul ached and was satisfied only in Christ. Apart from Him there is no rest for our souls.
Today, I woke up and it was a normal day. I got ready, came to staff meeting, laughed with my wonderful co-workers. I have joy, hope, life, and love in Christ. A year ago, this day felt impossible.
By the power of His Spirit, I have sought after Christ day by day. I have wept with brothers and sisters. I pressed into my Christian community and was open with my pain, and honest with my feelings and errant thoughts. I sought to know God more and more through His word, from Genesis to Revelation. I pursued Him in prayer. Through all these things, He showed up time and time again. He brought people to love me, hear me, hold me. He reminded me that He is all that I need. He was faithful to mend my broken heart. He has not only sustained me, but blessed me in abundance.
Even in my brokenness, the Lord was revealing sin in me. Even though I was broken and hurt, His work of making me holy and new had not stopped. He did not wait until He had healed my heart to then reveal my sin. No, in the midst of my heart being crushed, He uncovered my sin. He did not want my healing apart from His holiness. It is through the fire of affliction that we see our sins laid bare and see that truly all we have in this world is Christ.
Through this time, the Lord has taught lessons to my heart and soul that I could have learned no other way. He revealed sin in me that I have to continually lay down at His feet. He created in me a deeper longing for His return.
For even this, I am thankful.
For every sleepless night that has taught me to rest in Christ.
For every tear that has reminded me that He will wipe away ever tear from our eyes.
For every heartache, that taught me to satisfy my heart in Christ.
For every pain that allows me to identify with the brokenhearted and lead them to healing in Christ.
For every sin laid bare that I was able to see and repent of.
I thank God for the deep love He has given me for Ben. I love him even still, but not in the same way. I don't love him as the man I hope to marry, I cannot. I love him as my brother in Christ. I have forgiven him and he has forgiven me in the ways we sinned against one another. We have both looked to Christ and our hope is in Him.
The journey is not over. There are still hard days, and those too must be submitted to Christ. There are a million lessons learned that I cannot share here, but what I will say:
Wherever you are. If you are crying out in the darkness and wondering if life will go on. If your heart is crushed by a burden too great to bear. You are not alone. Cling to Christ. Hope in Him. You are not alone. You are not the only one to ever feel this pain. I know it feels so lonely and unique. But the Lord knows every facet and inch of your pain. He knows the whole of you in excruciating detail. He will not leave you there. Cling to Him. Day by day look to Christ. He will heal you in starts and stops, faithfully onward and upward.
He is good. He is faithful. For His glory and your good, He will carry you through every day.
I pray that by sharing this, you would be encouraged at the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. For those who are brokenhearted, may God draw near to you. May He comfort you and give you hope in Him. Even when He does not answer our questions of "Why?" may you find satisfaction in knowing that He is good, and will never leave you or forsake you. May you study His character with fervor and satisfy your soul in the goodness of the Lord, His faithfulness, truth, glory, grace, mercy, love, knowledge, power, justice, hope, patience, peace, rest. I pray that you would do this day by day. I could not see today a year ago, it was too far. But day by day, the Lord brought me here. He has satisfied my soul in Him and will be by satisfaction for all my days.
Love-Rest in God, A Prayer from The Valley of Vision
MY DEAR LORD,
I depend wholly upon thee,
wean me from all other dependences.
Thou art my all, thou dost overrule all
and delight in me.
Thou art the foundation of goodness,
how can I distrust thee?
how be anxious about what happens to me?
In the light of thy preciousness
the world and all its enjoyments are infinitely poor:
I value the favour of men no more than pebbles.
Amid the blessings I receive from thee
may I never lose the heart of a stranger.
May I love thee, my Benefactor, in all my benefits,
not forgetting that my great danger
arises from my advantages.
Produce in me self-despair that will
make Jesus precious to me,
delightful in all his offices,
pleasurable in all his ways,
and may I love his commands
as well as his promises.
Help me to discern between true and false love,
the one consisting of supreme love to thee,
the other not,
the former uniting thy glory and man's happiness
that they may become one common interest,
the latter disjointing and separating them both,
seeking the latter with neglect of the former.
Teach me that genuine love is different in kind
from that wrought by rational self-interest,
that such love is a pleasing passion affording
joy to the mind where it is.
Grant me grace to distinguish
between the genuine and the false,
and to rest in thee who art all love.
Paige Westberg is a photographer, writer, and disciple-maker working at Bull Street Baptist Church in Savannah, GA.