“Let me give you a hug,” said the 82-year-old Maery, as she bustled out from behind the sales counter. Then, wrapping me in a hug bigger than expected from such a tiny lady, she proclaimed for all to hear, ” I LOVE you!”
More later . . .
Welcome to FREEDOM FRIDAY – A new devotional, emotional, spiritual and sometimes hysterical series that I will be sharing on occasional Fridays, in addition to my regular Old Things New posts.
Today is my birthday and I’m bursting at the seams with excitement! No, I’m not really excited to be 59, hanging on the precipice of 60!!! I’ve not really minded the change from one decade to another before, but this one seems more intimidating. Maybe that’s because there have been so many changes in my life this year and I’m feeling a little less secure. I’m still standing on The Rock though so I’ll wait to see how I feel next year!
What I AM excited about is a birthday present I received this year. It was an early present that I’ve been just dying (slight exaggeration) to share with you.
He knows well the deep meaning Blue Herons hold for me.
Let’s go back to a day, not so many years ago, when I was struggling with depression and despair. Though I was active in a good church and doing all of the things that good Christians do, I felt as if I wasn’t enough. I didn’t measure up to all of the “beautiful” Christians around me.
It wasn’t their fault that I felt this way. It was something inside me that was broken . . . a deep sense of shame and feelings of unworthiness. I had spent a lot of time attempting to build my life into something impressive so I would be deemed worthy of love. I tried really hard to be “Perfect Patti” and I looked pretty good to others . . . on the outside . . . while on the inside I still believed words of condemnation I’d received early in life and had accepted into the depths of my being. These words defined me. Sinner, failure, not enough, reject . . . the list goes on.
So back to that day, not so many years ago, when I was at the beginning of my healing journey, surrounded by people who saw the pain within me and began showing me the way to freedom and healing. I was taking a Bible study by Beth Moore. I don’t remember exactly which one but in her video message she talked about recognizing the way God smiles at us in little ways throughout our days. I wanted to experience that! I wanted to know God in a deeper, more intimate way and hear Him speak to me. I wanted to recognize the smiles He sent my way. So that is what I prayed, sitting on my couch, in the living room of our lake house. After praying I stood up and went to the window. Looking out at the lake and down at our dock below I saw a Great Blue Heron standing there. We saw them occasionally in that house and it was always a treat, but never moreso than this particular day.
The Great Blue Heron stood on the dock while in the water near the shore a flock of ducks swam circles around each other, quacking excitedly, diving beneath the water and popping up again with seeming glee. Not to anthropomorphize little duckies but that is what it seemed like to me. They brought to mind all of the “beautiful” Christian women I knew, energetic, friendly and full of joy.
God spoke to my heart that day and He gave me more than just a smile . . .
I saw that he was a bit awkward compared to the others and from past experience I knew that he was terribly shy, sometimes flying away as soon as one came to stand near the window. He was very awkward when he walked, with his funny knocked-knees (something I share in common with him by the way). Though pretty in color (a nice dresser) he didn’t exhibit a lot of grace standing all alone on my dock. Then, that Great Blue Heron began to move, taking one slow step after another down the length of the dock. And in an instant, his wings came up, his feet pushed off and he was in the air, soaring with great grace and beauty. When he stopped walking and used his wings to rise up and soar . . . he became a magnificent sight to behold!
Yes, God smiled at me through the antics of the duckies and the magnificence of the Great Blue Heron that day. It was as if He spoke to my heart personally and said, “You are a Great Blue Heron. You may feel awkward but you were meant to soar!”
Do you think it odd that I would say that God spoke to me that day? It wasn’t an audible voice and it wasn’t in the usual way He gets my attention, through Scripture or another person speaking to me, or even that still, small voice. This was a different type of experience and one I’ve only had a few times in my life. It was an experience never to be forgotten that began a big shift in my life.
It wasn’t much longer after that, that we began teaching Freedom Session, to share with others the healing we’d received ourselves. Then, a couple of years into Freedom Session, another amazing thing happened on a regular old day while I was mopping the floor. I was suddenly filled with great joy as the thought came into my head,
“I’m not the same person I once was but I’ve become the person God created me to be!”
It was a sudden recognition of how dramatically I’d changed on the inside and the difference it made on the outside.
Through my healing journey and through our own teaching of Freedom Session, old labels were removed and new ones put in place, my cloak of shame was replaced with a robe of righteousness, my fear was replaced with confidence that God would work through me . . . even when I was weak . . . especially when I was weak. I realized in that moment the extent of the transformation that had taken place within me.
Becoming a Christ follower doesn’t mean that everything suddenly becomes perfect. Some of us have more wounds than others but we all have them and we all need to learn to offer them up to the one who died to take them from us. He bore in His body all of our sin, our hurts, wounds, abuses, and heartbreaks. This post today isn’t meant to give you all the answers for how to do that (I wish you could all find a Freedom Session near you, or teach one yourselves!) but it is meant to offer you hope in knowing that with God change is possible. God has delivered me, he is delivering me and he will deliver me. It is a process, this working out of our salvation, this being transformed from glory to glory.
I wonder, does it seem prideful of me, to claim to be like a Great Blue Heron as opposed to a cute little duck? I don’t mean to give the impression that God was saying I was better than others, just different. And we are all different. We are all uniquely endowed with individual gifts and talents. YOU are special! Are you acting like it? Are you using the gifts God has blessed you with or are you hiding behind old labels or words that others spoke into your life? Words that have inhibited you from doing what you should be doing? If you feel a little tugging at your heart here, that’s God! Life is so much better when you can stop walking awkward and lift your wings. Let Him take you soaring. Let Him take you into the places where you’ve been afraid to journey and allow Him to be your strength . . . because you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
So back to little Maery, who owned the store of “pretties”, where we found The Great Blue Heron. She is a woman interested in others and she questioned me about my excitement over the Heron. So I shared, and as I did it became obvious to me that in hearing my story she was moved with some emotion of her own. She then shared a bit of her story, a story of loss and the pain of being a refugee from her home country. Her story had the happy ending of God’s provision, restoration and a life well lived. Isn’t God amazing? He used my story that day to bless Maery and He used Maery to bless me by lavishing her (and His) love back on me. This makes me think we should all be sharing our stories a bit more.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, We know that you formed us in our mother’s wombs. You’ve numbered every hair on our heads. You know our beginning and our end. You created each of us and you have a path for each of us to follow. Lord, show us your path and then be our strength to walk it out. Show us how to lean into Your strength and draw from You what we need to push off, to lift up and to soar to new heights. Not to be great ourselves but to make Your name great with a testimony of Your transforming power. Please Lord, show everyone who reads this, and feels like they don’t measure up, that there is so much more for them. Show each one the way to become the person that you created them to be. Amen.
I have been know to link to the following Inspirational Parties: