“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Wow, right?
That was my thinking. Wow. I want that! For a long time, I would look for God but with very little luck. Then I remembered the story of the silversmith and purification. Here it is, just in case you haven’t heard it:
Beautiful, right? But did you see that last part about the reflection? That’s the part that is stands out to me.
Purification gives us a great opportunity to draw closer to God. I love that. Do you know what else it does? It gives us a great opportunity to find out more about ourselves, to find new strengths we didn’t know about, to discover new weaknesses, to understand our hearts and minds. We get to know God…and we get to know ourselves. Life has taught me this repeatedly.
I’m telling you now, my heart is being purified and has been for quite some time. So why couldn’t I see God? Do you know why? It’s because I wasn’t looking in the right places. Rather, I wasn’t looking in the right place.
Several years ago when the economy crashed, my Mr. Fantastic was an electrician. I was also pregnant with my Little A. Several months before she was born, my husband was laid off. His boss was a wonderful man who tried to keep him on as long as possible, but it simply couldn’t be done forever. If you’re thinking, “Oh dear” right about now, you have a much cleaner mind than I did. I was thinking things that would require a lot of this: *%^@$. No lie.
My husband was attending school full-time and needed to work as well. Naturally, no one hired him. I had my baby girl, and she was just beautiful. Mr. Fantastic still had no job. I could see the toll it was taking on him. Sure, he was collecting unemployment, but that wouldn’t last forever. He tried. Oh people…he tried to find work. He really began to doubt himself. I watched him lose the desire to eat, lose weight, and develop a myriad of health problems. I look at pictures from that time, and it still hurts me to see him with a gray pallor. He would wake up with serious heart pain, or he would just have it at random times. His lips would turn a nasty color. He couldn’t feel his hand. And he was scared. That was just ONE of the problems.
The moment he lost his job, I knew that I needed to be strong. I had to. I would pray mightily to God for help. I prayed for a job. I prayed for my husband’s health and comfort. I prayed for the care and keeping of my children. I prayed and prayed and prayed. While I prayed, sometimes I would cry because I was so tired. Yet always I was able to be good and steady for my Mr. Fantastic. There were moments when I would be carrying the laundry upstairs, and my legs would give out suddenly. I would sit on the stairs and plead for the strength to finish the day. It wasn’t physical fatigue. It was a spiritual and mental exhaustion that infected every part of me.
Every single week I fasted for my husband to be able to find a job. Every single week the answer would come clear, “Be peaceful. Trust me. I have this covered.”
That sounds great, doesn’t it? I thought so…until weeks went by…and then months. Yet every week I received the exact same answer. The thing is, I did feel peaceful when I got the answer. But by the end of Monday/beginning of Tuesday, my peace would be gone, and I would be inwardly fretting again.
A year went by with no job luck. We were finally able to get into low-income housing and give up the high rent place where we were living. I was still fasting and praying every week. I was still telling my husband everything would be OK. I was still doing my best to help him see his worth to us. Then one day on his way to school, Mr. Fantastic had a sudden thought to turn in a job application at Costco. So really quick, he pulled into the parking, went in, and filled out an application. Then he went on his merry way to school.
He was hired and working within 72 hours of filling out that application.
I don’t know if you know anything about Costco, but it’s hard to get a job there. People apply repeatedly. Why? Benefits are great. It’s a good company. It’s just a great place to work. We didn’t know that, though. We were just so thankful that he got the job! It wasn’t until he was working there that people began to comment on how unusual it was to be hired so quickly. Like…SUPER unusual.
He went from limited part-time, to part-time. We had health insurance, AT LAST!! AFFORDABLE health insurance! Before he graduated nursing school, he was full-time. To list the ways that job blessed our lives I would need a blog post dedicated to just that. Suffice it to say that we were then and are now terribly awfully thankful for that job and that company.
Slowly my husband’s health returned. He was treated for the anxiety he had developed during the year of unemployment. Life settled into a new and much more comfortable normal…because he was employed.
But the point of this is not my husband, his job loss, or the miraculous ways the Lord blessed us. The point is how well acquainted with myself I became. I didn’t feel like it at the time, but once I was out of the fire I reflected on many things. I learned so much about the Lord’s timing, as well as His love and care and mercy. But I also learned more about me.
I discovered that I am strong. People had always said that to me, but it never really penetrated. Now I can stand, look at myself in the mirror, and say, “I am so strong!” simply because it’s true. I have more strength within me than I could ever fully comprehend. I learned that I am unselfish. I learned that I love fiercely and deeply. I learned that when difficulties and trials assail me, I would not leave my God. I will stay by Him, with Him always. I learned that I could be patient. I learned that in some ways I was a lot prouder than I previously thought. I also learned that in other ways I wasn’t. I learned about me.
Still, though, I struggled to see God. I was definitely purified by that crapstorm thrown my way, but I never saw God.
Then of course there were more trials. School for my son, then homeschool. Depression. Money stressors. Social struggles (mostly for myself). Marital strife. Extended family problems. The hits never stopped coming. The purification never stopped. So…why wasn’t I seeing God?
I was always looking outward to find God. Sometimes I was sure I could see Him in my children. Other times I was pretty sure I saw the devil. 😉 But I was looking outward. And that has made the last several years more difficult than they needed to be.
Recently, however, I attended a retreat for women. These two great ladies put it on, and it’s called L-Evate. (pronounced elevate) These ladies are amazing…and they have an infinite supply of energy and fun. We are very dissimilar. 😉 At this retreat, they taught me a lot. However, it was in a moment of quiet that I had my breakthrough.
Looking outward to see God wasn’t working because I could never see Him in me. I never looked there. I’m still, shall we say, deeply flawed. Why would He be there of all places?! I’ll tell you why He would be there.
And there it was. Rather, there He was. I looked in the mirror when I got home, and I finally saw God…right there…in my eyes…shining out of me. And I wept. It was part sorrow and part joy. He had been there all along, inside of me.
The most beautiful thing about this is that I suddenly see Him everywhere. Every time I see a person, I see Him. And oh…it’s beautiful. I was so blind to it all until I learned to see rightly.
Do you know how hard it is to yell at your children when you see God in them? Do you know how hard it is to let yourself be mistreated or mistreat yourself when you see God in you? Do you have any idea how hard it is to be livid with your spouse when you see God in them? Do you have any idea how hard it is to become impatient with the guy who cuts you off in traffic, or the lady who doesn’t understand the concept of customer service, or this dude, or that gal, or anyone….when you can see God in them? I’m not saying it can’t happen (still human!!). I am saying that it is a lot more difficult.
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”
This life is meant to purify us. We can let it, or we can fight it. I hope we all let it purify. And as we are purified, I hope that we are able to see God’s light shining out of our own eyes more and more. I hope that you all don’t struggle as long as I did to see it. I hope that your individual purifying moments make it easier to know yourself, love yourself, and see yourself for who you really are. You are a child of God…and a piece of Him is in you.
Take It, and Be Thankful