According to my annual tradition, I chose a word of the year in January of 2017. I felt God whisper the word "Safe" to my heart. I knew it was from Him, but I had no idea how that would play out.
The catalyst for this word choice was my frustration at watching my pattern of enabling and trying to save unsafe people rear its ugly head again. I asked God for a word to help me heal from the pain of again letting an unsafe someone use my compassion to manipulate me and people I loved.
So Begins The Worst Year of My Life
God told me the word SAFE in early January 2017, and by the last week of that month, my husband and I began a year filled with more loss and fear than I thought possible. I had never felt more unsafe.
In the first week of February I had a severe health crisis that debilitated me for nearly three months, with effects I still deal with today . My loss of health led to a loss of my ability to engage in my life, my ability to parent, and my ability to homeschool for a season.
The health issues led to severe & odd food allergies. This meant a loss all my comfort foods and countless opportunities to share a meal with loved ones.
As I began to recover from the health crisis, that summer in just a 2 month period, we lost several of our most intimate friends/support system to relocation of their jobs. One of those relocated families was our Founding Pastor's family, which led my home church into unprecedented transition and loss.
We didn't think it could get worse, but we were wrong. As we began to get our feet back under us, in the fall came the worst loss of all, the unexpected passing of my husband's 36 year old beloved older brother, father of 4 young children. My big brother of 16 years, who I deeply loved. The big brother that my husband looked up to and had loved with his whole heart all his life. The eldest son of my beloved mother and father and law.
In the year I wanted to be safe, I felt more fear and pain than I had ever known in my life.
God kept me safe, not comfortable, in the battle
When I chose the word "safe: as my word of the year, I had envisioned the safety I associate with comfort; holding my babies to my chest while keeping them warm and loved. That was not what I was given. God used 2017 to teach me a new meaning to "safe". Through all the pain and loss, I now see it had been a year of safety, but not the feeling of safety I had expected.
The safety God provides is the safety found in a battlefield; the protection of a shield that shelters you as blow after blow beats you down to your knees.
The shield keeps the blades and arrows from piercing your heart, but you are exhausted as your think the metal will inevitably bends around you, molding to the shape of your batter body.
Everyone is in the battle, but only we have The Shield.
Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Psalm 61: 1-3
As my heart grew faint, as the battle waged on, I held up my shield to protect me and I ran toward my strong tower, my shelter.
The safety that year I felt was the same David experienced in the caves as Saul sought to destroy him. The protection of a hard rocky surface at your back, and an enemy at your front. No comfortable feather bed and freshly laundered sheets. A safe shelter can also be a hard place that feels scary and foreboding, but in actuality is keeping you sheltered from the enemy that is seeking to destroy you.
The enemy was sometimes physical pain, many times the enemy whispering lies to me, and almost always my own weaknesses as a fallen human. God's word and promises, the ones I had hidden deep in my heart for preparation for such a times as this, were my constant shield against these enemies.
God does not promise us comfort, He promises to be our safe shelter in the storm. Shelters are not always comfortable, but they are strong.
If you are in a battle right now, know that as a child of God, you are safe. You may have a hard rock at your back, and a heavy shield in front of you, but both are protecting you. Your arm is tired of holding the shield of God's Promises, as the arrows just seem to never end. The rock feels hard and all you want to do it lay down to sleep on something soft and comfortable.
I had so many moments of despair, wanting to put down my shield and just go to sleep, but remember that no enemy can break the metal of that shield.
No enemy can break apart The Rock that is protecting your back. You are safe.