May 15, 2009

Calluses of the Heart

The dictionary defines a callus as an especially toughened area of skin which has become relatively thick and hard in response to repeated friction, pressure or other irritation. I have actually had several of these come about on my fingers and feet through the years, but they eventually go away. However the ones that you can't see, the ones on my heart, are taking a while to heal.

Have you ever had a best friend move? I never quite understood why some of the best friends God gives me are for such a short time? When I think about 3 girls in particular that God literally snatched hundreds, even thousands of miles away from me, just when we were at that comfortable call each other every day stage, it makes me wonder if God didn't want me to focus less on them for my growth and enjoyment, and instead bring my focus back to Him.

Have you ever left a church? I hear the "Uh huhs" coming through the blogosphere now. I know because some of you have shared on your blogs the heartache, the hurts and the experiences that were almost unbearable. Why is it that church is more like a family than family sometimes? I know the answer, but just asking your opinion. It is because the church is family to us. When I look back just 4 years ago, most of the friends I saw and shared life with on a daily basis are not my gals now. Sure we still chat on the surface and pray when a need arises for one another, but the bond was broken because of a choice where to serve (or in my case, where my husband followed God to serve). I think the part that hurts the most when you choose to leave is that the bond between the other girls is still stronger than ever, just you are no longer a part of it.

A third callus causer is really hard to share because it is the callus that develops because of me. I have only severed a few close friendships in my life. The reasons vary from they hurt me continually with their words, I couldn't deal with their personal decisions, and honestly the last one is the friendship literally wore me out emotionally. Looking back on these three are the hardest because I did have a choice. I had a choice to keep the friendship and just love the person through it all, but I didn't. Thankfully out of these 3, there is one I am once again working on. Building trust and healing a wound that lasted over 3 years is hard, but when the girl was your best friend since your Barbie playing days, there is something that's definitely worth fighting for in the end.

Just a few days ago I read a blog post of a friend. She was calling out her friends by name and thanking them for being so supportive to her through the last few years. It's funny because I almost expected to see my name. I haven't shared life with all of them in a couple of years and I somehow momentarily forgot that I wasn't in "the group". I actually started crying and feeling sorry for myself. "Why God?" I asked. "Why do I care and why can't I just be grateful and happy where you have placed me today and make those new bonds with the girls who need a friend like me?" My human understanding and answer would be-Why would I ever want to love and bond so fully when I could just as easily get hurt again? I also asked God right then and there "If you really love me, can't you just give me a new start? Or can't I just have some of the old friendships back again?"

His answer came the next morning as I was reading Deuteronomy 30. Somehow I've never, ever in all my years of bible study, come across these verses. Maybe they just never stuck before, but they did this day. I'm going to write out the entire passage, but I'm highlighted where I feel God said, "Listen up child."

"Here's what will happen. While you're out among the nations where God has dispersed you and the blessings and curses come in just the way I have set them before you, and you and your children take them seriously and come back to God, your God, and obey him with your whole heart and soul according to everything that I command you today, God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he'll have compassion on you; he'll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors. God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children's hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live. God, your God, will put all these curses on your enemies who hated you and were out to get you. And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God, keeping all his commandments that I'm commanding you today. God, your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you'll have babies, get calves, grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life. Yes, God will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors. But only if you listen obediently to God, your God, and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of Revelation. Nothing halfhearted here; you must return to God, your God, totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back. This commandment that I'm commanding you today isn't too much for you, it's not out of your reach. It's not on a high mountain—you don't have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it's not across the ocean—you don't have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it! Look at what I've done for you today: I've placed in front of you Life and Good, Death and Evil. And I command you today: Love God, your God. Walk in his ways. Keep his commandments, regulations, and rules so that you will live, really live, live exuberantly, blessed by God, your God, in the land you are about to enter and possess. But I warn you: If you have a change of heart, refuse to listen obediently, and willfully go off to serve and worship other gods, you will most certainly die. You won't last long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, He is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."

I have to add that the day before God placed these verses before me, we found out that our lease tenants are leaving 2 months earlier than expected. It puts us back in our home sooner than expected with many obstacles to overcome in the next month before we move. I think it is so strange that God is bringing me back to my exact home that we could not sell, same neighborhood and same surroundings, yet he is taking all the human comforts and many of the friendships I knew there completely out of the picture. I think He truly does want to give me a "new start" here. I can't wait to see how, as the verse says above, how God, my God, will outdo Himself! Your prayers are so appreciated.


Jules said...

Thank you Susie for giving voice to this...

I think you'd be surprised how many people can identify with you on this one.

The other part of calluses are that they are actually a protection, they grow in areas of vulnerability, where we are delicate or weak... I know that there have been areas of my heart that has been "hardened" with calluses to protect me from the hurt of losing friends, ministry, trust, etc. But I also know that just as the real ones heal with time, God has been healing a lot of the ones on my heart. I pray He does the same for you!

I thank God for protecting us with calluses, but also for helping remove them so that we can start fresh!

What an inspiration you are to me!

karenward22 said...

Your words are so true!! You are an amazing writer. Thanks for sharing your heart :)

Susie said...

Thanks Karen and Julie!

Skip read this as he does all my posts, and he just doesn't understand why I have to share everything. I told him I definitely don't share everything, but when I share something God gives me specifically and it's personal, I always feel like someone needed to hear it. I have already received several personal emails (even people I don't know) that needed to hear the verses today. Our hurts have purpose.

Susan said...

Sorry you are hurting Susie. God uses many different ways to transform and mold us and the process is never comfortable. Of that I have learned and know. It is always more glorious on the other side after we make our way through it!!!

Tiffany said...

Great post, once again my friend. I'm forever blessed that you and I have remained sisters in christ over the years. I love you dearly.Your post brings up so many truths and feelings that all of women share. I can't wait to see you. Tiff

Sue said...

You have put into words feelings I have struggled with off and on for the past decade. One thing God reminds me of often is that sometimes He has to "hem me in" close to Him and push away all the other people so I'll depend more fully on Him.

Thanks for this reminder that God has something good and new up ahead!

Blessings to you as you get back into the old house with a new outlook ;-)

Julie Gillies said...

Great post, Susie. You've sure been through a lot of hurts and it's just never easy.

But I have a little bit of a different perspective here that I hope you don't mind me sharing. :)

You know, a callus forms because of lots of use. The toughening of any particular area (such as a finger or our heals) strengthens the area so that it doesn't hurt anymore. So in a way, a callus can be a good thing. It makes us stronger than we once were. I believe your heart is stronger now than it once was.

Isaiah 41:10 tells us that God will harden us to difficulties. I used to hate that verse because it implies we're going to go through HARD times. But we do! And he helps us (read the next few verses).

Just my thoughts, my friend. I believe your heart is strong, stout and enduring. You are a mighty woman of God and a wonderful friend.

Mommy of 2 and 2 said...

Thank you Susie!! I needed to read this scripture as it applies to me TODAY!!Thank you for following His leading and sharing your heart!! I have been blessed!!