Yesterday’s Trails


“It’s more fun walking down yesterday’s trails than taking this very real one.”

Do you ever find yourself dreaming about the past?
Yesterday’s trails…life before… 

It felt good. 
It felt right. 
It felt real.

We had twenty very good years. We were young and excited about living for the Lord. Our family was set-apart for God. We had the privilege of watching our children grow to love Him. We dedicated our lives separately, and our life together, to Him.

It was ordered as we saw fit, as we understood God’s will for us.  Our daily plans were fulfilled and we progressed through the years learning and growing and teaching and giving. We set our sites for the future and hoped our choices were what He would have. We didn’t think anything we had chosen was not for His good pleasure. We did not intentionally go wrong…but something very wrong was happening.

How does one sort out the good intentions from the reality…the fall-out?

I’ve spent the last three years in counseling trying to do that very thing. 
Sort it out.

And I’ve spent the last year in Celebrate Recovery to further get my head around the shame from abuse and a legalistic upbringing.

This very real trail I’m walking down today is beyond painful.  To unravel the ball of yarn of my life…to peel back the oh-so-thin layers of the onion…whatever analogy works best for you…well, it hurts.  It’s necessary.  But, it hurts.

And that’s the place from which I’ve written this blog: a place of pain.  And y’all, my readers, only really know this aspect of my life.  I’ve shared it hoping to bring light to darkness, maybe healing salve for wounded people. 

But, I hope this point hasn’t escaped your notice: although I am perplexed and hurting, I am not despairing.  He holds me up through it all.  His power is working in my weakness.  I’ve had days of deep pain, not able to do much more than stare at the wall, wondering when I’ll feel “normal” again.  Months of sessions with my counselor weeping from the insights God began revealing.  But…

I am not forsaken. 
I am not despairing.
I know in Whom I trust. 

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing…

Yesterday’s trails were beautiful.  Today’s still hurt.  But tomorrow’s…

…only He knows…

I know,
He is good.



17 responses »

  1. This post is, um, a triple-“WOW!”, Michelle… How right you are: It is SO easy to head for the “recliner-life” (i.e., living in the past of what now seems like near-perfect memories), rather than extracting ourselves from the “recliner” (of “comfy” memories), putting on our “walkin’ shoes” (or perhaps “runnin’ shoes”, for some), and forging a new trail…

    The onion analogy’s perfect — with every layer removed comes a yet more tear-inducing effect. I grieve the added pain for every one of us who has so painfully peeled away yet *another* layer, only to discover others stepping far, far away from us — and loftily holding their noses!

    Cross that frees us, love of Jesus,
    “Come apart”, He says to me,
    “Mark your selfish way of living,
    Mark MY Cross upon your giving…”

    Oh, for grace to love others as Jesus has loved us, minus our selfishness of not wanting to “smell the onions”! You are so dear, such a treasure to Him, and to all of us…

  2. It’s so easy to choose the recliner, Grace. To “veg out” to whatever comes across the tube, or whatever can be found online…. I’m most happy when my body moves well enough for me to get outside and work in the yard. At least, then, my mind is engaged in conversation with God. But yes, to actively choose to do the hard work of finding a good counselor, or walking through a step-by-step program, opening yourself up to scrutiny…that’s tough stuff…but soooooo worth the pain.

    Those who choose to “loftily hold their noses” as they walk far, far away…well, I do continue to pray for them…and me…to know how to respond in love. And grace.

    Thanks for your support…I’m feeling it! 😉

  3. Michelle, just popped over for a quick visit and…my eyes must be playing tricks on me! Looks like that great quotation from 2Cor on “earthen vessels” (or “peanut butter jars”, as I heard one person say… at my place, “pasta sauce jars” would also work!) changed colors from blue to green! But…I’m partially color-blind, so maybe never actually saw the green yesterday!

    This will be really anti-culture to admit, but I, um, have no TV anywhere near my recliner! I was only thinking “recliner-life” in the sense of escaping ~ whether by thought, or books, etc. (I actually was last of my siblings to purchase a TV…& no, we’re not Amish, either! 😆 My parents dispensed with our TVs when I was 2, so… Guess they wanted to be sure our creativity wasn’t stifled… 🙄 )

    Someone keeps zinging your name to mind… wonder Who that might be? Talking to Him about you quite a lot. Feel free to e-m if you’re so inclined (or “re-clined”)… May the love of JESUS overwhelm you, bringing with it God’s comfort, renewed hope, and unexpected encouragement — “jit” (“just-in-time”) for when you need it! THANKS for blessing my life yet again, Michelle!

  4. Twenty years represents a lot of layers to unravel, Michelle. Pain is unavoidable. You are right it is faith that makes the pain bearable, and gives us the will to keep moving forward.

    As perplexing as life will be at times, we will never have all the answers. When we can’t find our way it’s faith that leads us in the right direction.

    It’s good to read that you have found the faith that keeps you from despair. It won’t stop the pain. It will make it bearable.

  5. I like your anti-culture ways, Grace! Time in front of the TV is wasted…in my opinion. I do it. But I have to have something else to keep my hands busy…can’t just sit and watch. I’m so thankful God is zinging my name into your mind. I need all the prayer support you want to give. Obviously, or He wouldn’t be prompting you. Thank you, especially for these words: May the love of JESUS overwhelm you, bringing with it God’s comfort, renewed hope, and unexpected encouragement — “jit” … I hope and pray the same for you!

    Hey, Ed. Twenty years is a lot, and those were the “easy” years…we’ll celebrate 27 this year. WOW. Hard to believe. But yeah, I’m THAT old!

    Faith has certainly made this life bearable. I am sure I would not be here if it weren’t for the Lord. The troubles in life have been so great, I would have given up if God had not carried me through. Thank you for the encouraging words. You always bring a smile to my face. 🙂 <<<see there!

  6. Just dropping by… Today as you came to mind, so did the words of this old song:

    He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater;
    He addeth more strength when the labors increase.
    To added affliction He addeth His mercies:
    To multiplied trials* His multiplied peace.

    His love has no limit; His grace has no measure!
    His pow’r has no boundaries known unto men,
    For out of His infinite riches in JESUS
    He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

    When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
    When our strength has failed, ‘ere the day is half done,
    When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
    Our Father’s full giving has **only** begun!

    May these beautiful words written by Annie Johnson Flint bless your socks off! (second thought… you may need those socks if it’s at all cold over by you!) *these words always “get” me… **and so does this “only” ~ the outrageous dimensions of God’s grace, and to me… usually lift me when my body’s weak, my spirit’s in the pits, or…both! Forgive all my hijacking on your blog!

  7. I love that hymn, Grace! I’ve read through it a few times today and I remember singing it years ago. And yes, that last verse…I think it was written for me! Thank you for reminding me and I will NOT forgive you for all your visiting. Your presence has been dear to me. Truly. 🙂

  8. Uh-oh. Now I’m in trouble! Causing another person to become un-forgiving! Seriously, though (since we never get serious over here), as I was reflecting on those words myself after writing them, I could not help but recall another set of words (also from Annie Johnson Flint, whose body was twisted from arthritis, but whose spirit danced – yes! – in the GRACE that God gives):

    “God hath not promised sun without rain,
    Joy without trial, peace without pain.

    “He hath not promised we shall not bear
    Many a trial, many a care.

    “But God HATH promised strength for the day,
    Rest for the labor, light for the way.

    “GRACE for the trials, help from above,
    Unfailing sympathy, undying love.” (c. 1919)

    I’m missing a few sections, I think, but just wanted to send these words of encouragement along… that He will strengthen you, provide rest for your spirit, and light, even hope, for your path, Michelle. More than anyone else, He promises, and does indeed keep those promises (it’s that *chesed* thing!); may this new week you sense a fresh “installment” of His grace, His help, His sympathy, and of His ‘undying love’!

  9. Heidi, He IS good! (but often it doesn’t feel ‘good’ in any sense of the word.) I’m sure Michelle already has this among her “favorites”, but when reading that phrase you wrote, this came to mind: “The LORD is good; a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He KNOWS those who trust in Him.” (Nahum 1:7) [Sorry for the caps, but I don’t know how to do italics in comments yet;-).]

  10. Hey, Grace! I’m not sure what happened with me here…I saw this and meant to comment further…sorry about that.

    The poem by Ms. Flint reminded me of an old song, well, it came out in the 70’s…

    He never said you’d only see sunshine;
    And He never said there’d be no rain.
    He only promised a heart full of singing
    About the very things that once brought pain.

    Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus
    Shattered dreams, wounded hearts and broken toys.
    Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus
    And He will turn your sorrows into joy.

    Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows?
    Are you tired of spinnin’ round and round?
    Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life;
    And at the feet of Jesus lay them down.

    It’s a simple, beautiful truth…

    Hey, Heidi!!! It’s the only thing that keeps me okay with my life…I know He is good…and this too…in His way…is good.

    Perfect scripture, Grace!

    (if you’ll type before the word and then after the word, you’ll get what you want…of course, be sure to take out the spaces.) 🙂 Well, shoot! That didn’t work. It took the spaces out.

    Let me see…

    before the words you want italicized then

    after the words…

    hahaha…it just looks like I’m showing off!!! I don’t know how to show you without making it happen…

    Use the greater than sign. Then type the letters em. Last use the less than sign.

    Now…type the words you want italicized and then…

    Use the greater than sign. And the forward slash / . Then the letters em. And close the command with the less than sign.

    Let’s see if that works!

    I hope that made sense, Grace. 😳

  11. Michelle, you now have me LOL over here! What a teacher you are! Know what? I’m going to try this when writing a reply to one of my own posts, then will take a quick look, then… if all is well, great! If not… then I’ll go back in & delete my “test”! Thanks for all of the help! (Ha! That’s another of your GRACE-gifts! Yes! Cool!) Thanking God for you & His gifts you’re putting to good use! May I e-mail you?

  12. No, it sure doesn’t always “feel” good, for sure. One of those things that we’ll understand so much better from the other side I’m sure. 🙂

    Now, I think I understand the greater than less than thing, but we’ll see, Michelle. It took me awhile to get the whole emotion faces thing down, so who knows. 😯 haha

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