By: Danielle Calhoun
One breath at a time, it’s a long game. This is the constant whispered prayer in my soul. The paradox of life is that it feels so long to ‘arrive’ and yet you’re never actually quite ‘there’ yet. Just when the current mental mile marker is set and reached inside my heart, it instantaneously moves forward to the next stretching frontier of new growth. What a place to constantly find myself – trying to remain hyper-aware of the work being done towards sanctification, refinement, and growth. The reality is the ever shifting tides of growth inside me were both finished at the cross and are always a work in progress at the same time. They are ever evolving and expanding with each new day I’m given.
At what point in your adult life has a peer said to you, “You should stop growing now, you’ve learned enough, you’re ‘blooming’ too far.”? I’m pretty sure the answer is never. We were created to be divinely stretched and expand together, but it’s a very personal, intimate journey that can’t be rushed by anyone else's stopwatch. We can have people support us on our journeys, but nothing/no one will speed up the process faster than our willingness to move forward. Your healing story can only be lived in the timing God’s granted for it.
‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint.’ Who’s heard that one before? As cliche and overused as it may be, it holds so much timeless truth.
Try and slow down as often as you can; life is already short enough. Take in each ever-present moment to love the person in front of you like it’s your last. Thankfully, eternity is on the horizon. Every single inhaled breath is borrowed and leads us back to God’s unfathomable glory and peace. So, let’s use this short life well and explore and accept the process of God’s ‘long game’ of grace and growth. Never settle into thinking you have nothing left to learn or discover or grow from. Each instance of vulnerability is one step closer to healing and wholeness. The ongoing work we do in this life can only further impact and support the generations that come long after we are gone.
In order to make any multi-generational impact, we have to do the painful, exploratory, inner, prayerful work to flip our hearts from ‘survive’ mode to ‘thrive’ mode. The Bible calls us to grow through each season with the fruit of the Spirit as our intimate indicators towards success.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV
I was 29 years old when I could safely find space to reflect on the first 28+ years of my life with a professional therapist. Everything I was chasing (attention, recognition, clout) was pointed in the wrong direction, externally, at flawed, imperfect people, to fill the void in my soul. It wasn’t until that season where I could articulate heavy conversations without fear and find freedom in letting my inner lies, secrets, wounds, and hidden trauma come to light. The shame and secrets I carried in my body, mind, heart, and spirit had me trapped inside myself, and I never expected to share my burdens and pain with anyone (besides Jesus) until that heaviness manifested itself into an ugly, tangible mess in my broken marriage. My relationships were crumbling under my feet, and I was tired of living in a shallow, wounded, cyclical charade. I desperately wanted healing, not just for my marriage, but most importantly, for my weary spirit.
God bless therapy!
The moment we committed to going to therapy, separately, it was like a domino effect of healing pivots in my spiritual, emotional, relational, and physical life. If it wasn’t for the counselor equipping me with the tools, resources, and strategies to safely express and explore the most painful parts of my soul, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It was the first step to taking reflective inventory on my heart, my wounds, my trauma, my secrets, my shame, my lies, my ulterior motives, my triggers, etc. Once I could present and purge the decades-old layers of survival mechanisms, I could begin to replace those unhealthy pieces with grace and truth and love and God’s promises. It is still, to this day, an active, ongoing prayerful process with literally no earthly end in sight. This is why we are called to walk in God’s grace and love.
“So rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, since you have tasted that the Lord is good.”
1 Peter 2:1-3 NIV
Something I couldn’t realize in the midst of my initial journey was my relationship with God couldn’t be truly healthy until I was healthy. He paved the way, I just had to walk it out. I had to get incredibly vulnerable and willing to do the work to release myself of everything, literally everything, that held me back from walking in the freedom of true, proper, lived GRACE.
Now, I understand the real work was finished a long time ago – on the cross. Jesus’ sacrifice is the literal bridge that brought me to today. And it is because of His message that I desire to pursue a life of longing daily renewal and self examination.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4:15-16 NIV
God, with His gracious omnipresence, had all the time in the universe to wait for me to come to that messy place of surrender. He knew the exact details, struggles, and pain that would lead me to the first steps of genuine healing and restoration (not repression). Just like He knows the exact struggles, details, pain, and hidden wounds inside of you. He is always waiting and ready for me (and you) and whatever comes next in each new season of our lives. That’s the glorious part about this life we get to live – there’s always something new to learn and grow from on the horizon if we’re willing to be open to what’s ahead in the unknown.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 1:6 NKJV