Pursuing progress not perfection
I would love to say once I finally sought healing that God just transformed me over night. I would love to say that I woke up without any old habits trying to hold me hostage. The sin side effects still lingered. I’ve learned that when you desire long-lasting change there isn’t a quick fix. Imagine putting a spare tire on your car. It is designed to get you to the nearest tire shop to repair your car. It’s not meant to handle 5,000 additional miles. Driving on the spare for an extended amount of time will result in a blowout. How many of us our bracing for blowouts instead of reaching for a repair? If you put a Band-Aid on a wound that needs stitches you will soon realize that the healing you have is temporary. The Band-Aids we put on our emotional wounds aren’t meant do the job that only stitches can do. It might cover up the wound temporarily or provide out-of-sight out-of-mind relief. That’s often the mindset I had. For complete healing you have to be patient and prepare yourself for delayed gratification. I began Regeneration wanting to be instantly healed. I waited years to seek healing, so I didn’t understand why God couldn’t heal me immediately as soon as I began working towards complete healing. (Side note: God can heal someone over night if He desires because He is all-powerful). But just like with a broken bone, spiritual healing usually doesn’t happen over night. Now, it’s also important you don’t put a “deadline” on your healing either. You get out of your healing what you put in. It’s an investment. The best one I ever made. At this time in my life, I was head-over heels in love with healing and the one providing that healing. My growth was exponential and I saw myself taking leaps and bounds, because I made the decision to make seeking God and His healing for my life my main priority. Everything else was on the back burner as I began to discover not only who I am, but also who I am in Christ. You can’t rush something you want to last forever.
Tiffany’s Transitional Transformation Timeline
Because of some journals I wrote in over the past couple of years I could go back and see the ways God tugged at my heart. I accepted Christ in sixth grade, but there was no depth to that acceptance. There wasn’t a follow-up or next steps after that and I never really learned how to mature beyond the stage of accepting Christ. What was next after that? I had no clue. I think this is more common than even I would like to admit. That’s probably a blog post for a later day though. In high school, I don’t really remember what my relationship with God looked like. I did go to church, but it was more to hang out with cute boys than to hang out with my heavenly father. At this point in my life hormones > Heaven. In college God presented himself to me in BIG ways. Sometimes I look back and think to myself “Tiffany what took you so long to lose your life so you could follow Jesus?” He was THAT blatant with me. Freshman year in college, I landed on some rough times. After one bad experience in my life, I was sitting at a bus station either waiting to go to Illinois or come back from Illinois. As I was sitting on the bench in the bus station I saw an extremely SMALL pink piece of material on the ground. It was no bigger than an inch, but I felt compelled to go grab it from the ground. At a bus station. Not exactly the most hygienic area, I know. As I
picked up this pink piece of fabric I turned it over in my hand and this is what I saw.
Later in 2009, again tough times came into my life. This is actually the first time in a long time I remember opening my bible and actually seeking God. I was desperate for a life preserver. I needed some hope to hang on to. I remember one day sitting in a booth in the cafeteria at college talking to a dear friend of mine when I saw something metallic on the ground. Again, I felt compelled to go pick this item up even though it was tucked under the foot of one of the tables. Of course, forgetting about the hygienic rules of items on floors I went to investigate. Sometimes I think that’s exactly where we find God. When we are on our hands and knees on the floor seeking Him. That’s when He can actually pick us up and lift us out of the pit. Anyway, once I picked up this item and turned it over in my hand I noticed I held a cross in the palm of my hand. The picture below is all I have left of this cross because I have kept in on my keychain since 2009 to remind me that God has never abandoned me. In my times of despair he was calling out to me, but I still refused to fully surrender to him. I’m a slow learner.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7
6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
Let’s skip a couple years to 2011. I started going to a church in Denton, TX. I actually enjoyed this church. Honestly, what hooked me was the pastor always gave me a hug after each service. I needed a hug. Each time I felt like Jesus was squeezing me tight. My heart was more receptive to God’s word. I remember the first message I heard at this church was about joy. I yearned for that joy so bad it hurt. I craved healing and joy that could only be found in Christ. The messages began to pull at my heart strings in a big way. I’ll share with you a couple of excerpts from my journal writing in 2011.
Although, I mentioned in 2011 I wish I were going to Regeneration, a 12 step biblical healing ministry offered at Watermark church, it would be two years before I would walk through the doors of Regen. My heart knew what I needed to do, but my head got the better of me. I felt like I was stuck. Again, I postponed my healing. Jesus kept knocking at my door, but I wouldn’t let him in. When I reflect on that time in my life it reminds me of a passage in Revelation “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” He will never force his was into your heart. It is a choice. A choice I wasn’t ready to make yet. I heard his voice, but I was afraid to open that door. I wasn’t ready to stop running from God. I wasn’t ready to stop “hiding” from God. I wasn’t ready to let God’s love in. So, my transitional transformation continued.
Let’s skip to 2013, I finally fully realized and accepted my life had become unmanageable and I needed a healer that couldn’t be found in the bottom of a bottle or in superficial or toxic relationships. I was looking for love in all the wrong places and kept coming up empty. I came to Regeneration broken, hopeless and to be honest hating myself. It was like the Tiffany Tornado had torn through life and left a path of wreckage. The old Tiffany had no identity and no identity in Christ. I didn’t know Jesus in the knowledge way and I definitely didn’t know my Jesus intimately. I let what everybody else tell me form who I thought Jesus was. I ran to men for acceptance and depended on them to love me when I should have ran to God. I couldn’t think on my own. I was weak and had an even weaker faith. I was bitter and resentful for the things that happened to be in the past. I was depressed, anxious, and worried about anything and everything. I had low self-worth. I was consumed by shame and guilt. I had no hope. In short, I was miserable. So, I began regen and for at least two months I didn’t say a single word in group. Nada. Zilch. Zero. I let shame silence me. Once I got into a closed group, I openly told those girls that I didn’t trust them, but I knew I needed to share to heal. I began sharing everything. The ugly, messy contents of my heart were on display to openly dissect. I didn’t care at this point in my life if they judged me. I felt sick on the inside and the only way to find relief was to purge myself of my past. Every single Monday I cried. I grieved. God took my heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. I began to feel and most importantly heal. Part of the regeneration process is a detailed spiritual inventory of your life that you share with a mentor, accountability partners and community. My inventory was 22 pages long. If you think this blog is long just imagine 22 pages of chaos to read. I did not want to leave any stone unturned. I wanted to bring my sin into the light. The more you share the more the devil loses power of your past. Over the course of this yearlong journey, I began to speak in front of church. I began to pray out loud with others. I began to share the gospel with complete strangers. At the end of Regen, we have a celebration night. They give people in Regen an opportunity to talk about how God has redeemed their lives. Imagine this, just twelve months earlier I couldn’t even fathom uttering a word about my past to a single soul, but God strengthened me to stand up in front of a crowd of around 35 strangers and share the story of redemption and grace he had written in my life and with JOY instead of DESPAIR. But there were a lot of steps in that journey that lead to that moment and it’s in those steps that I learned the most about persevering through the pain and remaining tenacious in the trials. I continue to learn as I grow.
Well, this blog post did not go in the direction I planned for it to go AT ALL. I guess that just shows I can plan all I want, but in the end God directs my steps….or fingers. I was going to talk about how transitions are disorienting and can shake your sense of identity. I was going to talk about the expectations some put on you, or you put on yourself, to start walking before you’ve even had a chance to crawl. You can’t build a roof on a house when there’s only a foundation. There’s an order to transformation. There are critical steps you have to take to reach the intended results. I was going to talk about the extreme weight loss shows I’ve been watching lately and how that kind of transition takes dedication and self-discipline every day. You don’t just wake up one morning to discover you’re half your body weight. That might be your end goal, but there are always multiple steps you must take to reach that goal. Often the big things people see are a result of the little steps nobody is willing to take or cares to notice. Maybe that would have made for a better blog, but this is a result of allowing Jesus to take the wheel. Or the keyboard more like it. I don’t know where you are spiritually in your life, but I do know God loves you. God sent his son to die a death he didn’t deserve, so you could spend eternity with him in heaven. God is knocking. God is calling to you right now. God is ready to take you on a journey of a lifetime. You just have to let him in and hold on tight.