It’s funny how one memory can spark a fury of emotion. I use an app on my phone that goes back in time and shows what photos I took and other things posted on social media over the years. This morning a photo came up and the wave of emotion which washed over me took me by surprise.
This photo was captured initially because I thought it was cool to be able to take a photo of my own footprints in the wet sand without being able to see the ones walking away from it. Today, I look back and see a moment where the ocean was about to wash away those footprints…. and my goodness did they ever.
That moment in time was surrounded by confusion, feelings of being lost, unloved, scared and willing to be tossed about in the waters that were so quickly rising above my head. It was a time where I was letting the world define who I was and where I wanted to go.
How often do we in life look back at moments like this and cast them aside as a “oh that happened….” thought? I nearly did that this morning. I nearly let that moment pass. Looking back I very clearly remember standing on that beach gazing out over the ocean waters and saying these words “Lord, please make it clear to me what to do next. If it is to be, make it clear, if not, then help me let it go.”
Less than 3 weeks later it was clear as day what direction I was to go. I remember it being excruciatingly painful. I recall hours of tears and pain beyond what I thought I could bear. Although today as I look back and remember the prayer that came from my mouth, I am full of joy knowing what I thought I couldn’t bear to take on, I now know was exactly what I never knew I needed to conquer.
In life we have moments which we can either chose to let define us or refine us.
Define – def: To mark out boundary or limits of
Refine – def: Improve by making small changes
4 years ago I was willing to let it define me but looking back I am so thankful I let it refine me. As those ocean waves washed up and pulled my footprints back to sea the refinement process began. To be refined wasn’t about simply overcoming the situation at hand. I couldn’t see past my pain for a long time. I had boundaries and limits on what I could see and handle. My problem wasn’t what was going on it was who I was letting define me. As soon as I changed my focus from everyone else to God everything changed from a defining moment to a refining moment.
I don’t know what your summer looked like but for me it was dotted of moments of frustration, pain, tears, hurt, confusion, misunderstandings and I could go on….. but something I am learning is in those seasons of life we have an opportunity to make a decision. Be defined or be refined. So as you look back on the summer, don’t let the painful moments simply pass by for the sake of not wanting to feel the ugly feels again. When we do, we run the risk of not being able to see the refinement that is beginning.