Three and a half years ago my life fell apart.
In one emotionally draining [understatement] week, I lost it all.
My best friend.
My church home.
My peace of mind.
My understanding of where life was going and what the next day/month/year would even look like.
Something died that week.
Do you know that feeling? I think we all do at some level, right?
The realization that, in a moment, so many things housed in the TRUTH category can be ripped out and put in the THAT'S WHAT YOU THOUGHT category.
Painful. To date, the most painful experience I have ever known.
And though details would make this a juicy story and a real tear-jerker, I've never written about it and I won't.
But. What I will tell you about is how God used that experience to change my entire life.
As Bible teacher and author Beth Moore says, "God allows wounding in your life so that He can bring healing."
And that statement, my friends, can have permanent residence in the TRUTH part of your heart.
In the few months after the total destruction of the life I knew, God began to speak to me of His love. At first, my reply was, "Uh. Yeah. Are You serious right now? Cause hello! You just allowed my life to FALL-A-PART. I'm supposed to label that as LOVE?!?"
[Cause sometimes a sarcastic tone is all I can muster. Forgive me.]
I went to a new Bible study during this LOVE season. My heart was broken and in all honesty, I felt a bit lost in my own skin. So anytime someone invited me to something involving God, I went.
The leader passed out a drawing, a tree with a girl standing in front of the trunk, to each of us. The goal, she said, was to add leaves to the tree with words representing all the ways God is using you in the world, yadda yadda blah blah blah. I stopped listening.
I stared down at my tree. And it looked just like me. Bare. Empty. Dead.
My eyes began to focus and see something coming out of the limbs. I grabbed my Raspberry Crayola marker and began to color.
There, in the empty, in the death, in the absolute absence of life, was L-O-V-E.
Can you see it?
When everything was pruned away, there I was, standing under the tree of His love.
Today, if life seems to have thrown you more curve balls than you can even fathom, if all that was true yesterday is suddenly false, if you are broken in the deepest of places,
I'm asking God to draw near to you.
Because somewhere in your bare branches, He is writing His love to you.Leave a Comment
Thanks Annie. I needed that. ((hugs))
Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms says
Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this! I love the picture that this statement creates: “Because somewhere in your bare branches, He is writing His love to you.” It makes me see why we sometimes feel His nearness more acutely in times of crisis…there isn’t all that foliage in between.
This has blessed me tremendously today. Have a great week!
Southern Gal says
I commented on your blog before coming here. All I can say is “Wow”.
sarah (GenMom) says
Oh, Annie. Wow is right. That was powerful. Thank you for sharing your journey to recovery. You are such a sweet person and blessing to those around you. I totally agree that “woundings” can make the realization of the love of Christ that much sharper. It can hurt but in the end you are that much stronger for it.
I had an experience this last weekend that sounds minor compared to this but I realized I wasn’t invited to something – when everyone there tweeted about seeing each other. When I looked down the Twitter stream, I felt like I had been slapped but in the end, I realized that God had me right where he wanted and needed me – in my home doing dishes and laundry for the family who needs me to be there fully as mom and wife. I had no business running off to a blogging event and God knew it. Sometimes it takes time to see His hand in it all but Praise God – He is there the whole time.
Hope that wasn’t too much of a bunny trail.
Take care and God Bless,
Seriously…that was good! REALLY good!
Annie, thank you for this. I stand under a tree with bare branches, life seeming dead and hopeless, and frightening. After twenty years of marriage and twelve years of home schooling, my husband left me and my three teens last November and is fighting for custody, his goal to prove I am an unfit mother. He is determined and even ruthless, so I am afraid. My children love their home here with me and have no desire to be with him. I am under so much stress. I am so in need of a strong the faith and trust in God, and the strength to persevere. Please, please do pray for us. Thank you so much. May God bless you!
Ann Voskamp@Holy Experience says
This, like you, is beautiful….
Oh Annie, what a great post! And don’t take this the wrong way, but sometimes it’s slow at work, and so I started reading from the beginning with your blog, and I made it through your post with the ‘love’ branches sometime late last week and that post spoke to me then, but yet, God chose to use your post to remind me of His truth AGAIN this morning. So…thanks! I know that sounds trite, but I really do mean it!
“Because somewhere in the bare branches, He is writing His love to you.” AH! Love it. So true, I’ve seen Him do it! Thanks!
Yes indeed. Somewhere in the bare branches…..
Our SIGHT is so limited and it is hard to hold on until we SEE.
Thank you for sharing a piece of your pain and the redemption that came from it. I know something of the pain you describe, and I’m sorry that your life and heart was blown apart by it. The bare tree is a stunning image of what it feels like to be in that place. As raw as a naked tree is it is also a symbol of hope (at least to me). Love and hope are so intertwined as a gift from God, and they can wrap us with their healing and helping power if we can open ourselves to recognizing their presence. Blessings on your journey.
Mary @ Passionate Perseverance says
Beautiful picture. What a clear visualization that even in the barren seasons when all seems lost, God is still present protecting us and covering us with his love.
Blessings and Grace…
What a wonderful post for today! Something I know I needed…. =)
Thanks for sharing!
Wow! That was/is my story … actually His story in my life, in our life. What He has allowed, He so very much has and continues to redeem. A testimony to His great love for His children.
I LOVE the photo. Just precious! Thank you for sharing.
Okay, seriously? That was AWESOME. I have had a time where what I thought was true wasn’t…and this is beautiful. And, if it’s OK, I’m going to borrow that description when I want to share about that time in my life–because the details can’t be shared. But that gets at the heart of my feelings during that time, and then I can share how God restored my broken heart.
Linda Stoll says
It’s in those bare branch seasons, when all that we love and depend on is pruned away, that we are forced to be honest with God and ourselves about what is most true about us.
And out of those painful times can come a slow, steady re-birth of our faith and trust in the One who loves us so much that He sees the need to cut away all that would keep from loving Him best of all.
Been there. Done that.
He truly does restore the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2).
Beautiful words Annie. I have been in that place. And it’s only in the last 6 months or so that I’m grasping this Love that didn’t quite make sense after all the loss and sorrow.
This was kind of a challenging weekend. Reading this on Monday morning was a good way for me to get my head and heart in the right place today. Thanks!
Kandice Penny says
All I can say is WOW. period. For once I’m thankful for the lack of juicy details and the real presence of your honesty and His truth. Thank you.
I’m feeling like you with your bare tree. It feels like it couldn’t get worse, but it could. The details don’t even matter. The fact is that I have to look for the love in my tree. Right now I just can’t see it. It’s becoming more of a struggle for me to see the light at the end of my tunnel. Thanks for giving me some hope that things can be better again.
What a beautifully written post! The details and the who, what, when, why and how are not important in the big scheme of things, but the LOVE of God is! Thank you for sharing and being “bare” with us.
Oh Annie – He bore His own bare tree, didn’t He? For us. For you. For me. And it’s branches spelled love.
Thank you for this wonderful reminder.
Wow! Thank you. I so needed this post right now in my life.
pamela ponder says
thank you for sharing this beautiful post something I really need to hear I know of this kind of pain, (how in one moment you can lose everything), all to well and have seen God work in my life to bring good from all that bad, thanks for sharing this God Bless
Wow! That image and your words, Annie, reached deep into my soul. I had to work to see the LOVE in that picture, and I have to work to see it in my bare branches soul right now. Thank you Thank you for this. I think that the willingness to look is faith.
Annie, this is stunning! Thank you for being so real!
Melissa Brotherton says
Thank you for not sharing all the juicy details. As curious as I am to hear what you went through I think it would have distracted from what the point of what you were writing was. I need to remember in the future in my writing that not everything needs to be shared. I really was able to apply what you said to things I’m going through right now. Thank you.
Oh, Annie how beautiful are the words God has written through you. You have deeply touched me through those words. Simply beautiful. (and where can I get a pic like that?!)
I see it – I see it!!
Paula Jean says
Annie, this speaks volumes to me. I can relate to this truth.
I love that you literally found LOVE in the exercise with the drawing of the tree when the analogy of the tree is also so perfect to illustrate the truth you shared.
thanks, i’ve been through and am going through that. But I thank God, I had no idea who I was prior to my Paul like experience. He is showing me His love even after He took love or what I thought was love away. but in this life it will be continuing brokenness I only hope that while I’m here I can take as many with me.
That is so BEAUTIFUL. It’s such a nice reminder that even in the darkest places, He’s showing us all we need.
Annie, Annie, Annie…such beautiful truth, my friend. Thank you for sharing. I have been/am there, too…and my “moment” was devastating. I’m still healing. But He’s there, right in the midst of the pain and emptiness..He’s there. Thanks for the powerful reminder.
What a beautiful post..Thanks for sharing it. 🙂
logan a. smith says
Ok, so I thought about it, and I still believe what I wrote, but I regret posting that comment. I was convicted, as I should have been honestly. I’m sorry I wrote it. I would delete it, but I can’t so you or someone can, if you deem it right. I even signed up for typepad thinking maybe I could that way, but it still wouldn’t let me. Really Annie, I’m sorry. Not for what I said, but how and where and why I said it.
What a wonderful and talented daughter you are. I could not be more proud. Love, Dad
mmmm… so so beautiful…
i’m looking for His love in the barest of my branches. sometimes i get glimpses, but most of the time i ache because it feels alone. i want to see/feel/hear Him more.
Kelly Langner Sauer says
*grin* It’s like you’ve been reading my story… That picture is beautiful. Just beautiful. Thanks for your real. So glad you shared. So affirming to me of what He is doing in my own life…
That is so beautiful. I love how even in our darkest, loneliest times, God is near writing His love to us.
Leah T. says
I love this post, in a way that I cannot even find the words to express.
Thank you, Annie! I’m so glad I came by here today. I’m still not used to my “new normal” after my life fell apart — and it’s been a hard week. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.
I see the “My’s” in my life and that is my major problem…its NOT mine…its ALL HIS!!!
Angela Nazworth says
Oh beautiful, beautiful Annie..this was so lovely. Thank you.
thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. i so desperately needed these words of encouragement today.
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