It’s funny how in a second your day can turn completely around. A couple weeks ago my sons were on spring break and my husband and I had taken them out for a family day full of hiking, beautiful weather, and Chic-fil-a. I mean, come on, what more could you ask for??? We were driving back home when we passed the Vienna exit. Now, to most of you, the passing of thatexit is probably insignificant except for perhaps if you live there. If there’s anything wonderful to do in Vienna, I haven’t been made aware of it. I think for most people it’s just one of those drive by exits. For me however, it holds a lot of pain and sad memories. You see, as a child I had to take that exit hundreds of times, but not for anything that was fun and exciting, I took that exit to go visit my dad in a prison, the one thing that is in Vienna.
I’ve passed the exit probably thousands of times since my dad’s release, but like I said, sometimes your day turns around in a second, and this particular time the passing just hit me extremely hard and in an instant my perfect day turned heavy. I honestly didn’t acknowledge it much in the moment, after all, we’d just had this wonderful time as a family and I didn’t want to be the Debbie Downer to start bringing up sad memories onsuch a delightful day. So instead, I kind of just held it all in andvery quietly said to my husband “I wonder what it would be like to go back there again?” After that, there was no more talk of it and we just moved on. However, while there may have been no more talk of it, it was all that filled my thoughts.
That evening we went to a prayer night with some friends and still I felt it, heaviness. The next day we spent time together as a family and helped some friends with renovation projects and still, heaviness. The next morning was Sunday and we entered into worship and even still while simultaneously in the presence of God I could still feel it, heaviness. For whatever reason, no amount of family time, work, or even worship could quite shake the heavy burden within my soul. I had passed thatexit a thousand times and NEVER had I felt this way. I know that God has redeemed that part of my life. I know that I’m not a “daughter of a prisoner” but a beloved child of the King of Kings, but man, for all that I knew I just couldn’t shake off the heaviness. I knew that God would have to come in and reveal to me why I was hurting. I felt so ashamed that something as insignificant as the passing of an interstate exit could throw me into such a downward spiral.
So here I was, sitting in worship, hurting, and asking God, begging him, “God why? Why do I feel this way? Why am I struggling to rest in your truth?” and just as clear as day I heard Him speak to my heart “Brittney, because you claim those years as the years of abandonment.” In an instant God revealed to me the source of why I was hurting. I’d been telling myself for years that those were the years of abandonment, not only for me but for my family.
What’s amazing, is that as quickly as he revealed the hurt, he began to heal it. He showed me how he had NEVER abandoned me or my family and reminded me of all the places he was during that time. He was in the time that my mom and I got to spend together because she let me be her bed partner during the time my dad couldn’t. He was in my dad telling me that when he returned home, we would celebrate with a pizza as big as our car. He was in the small things like the vending machines inside the prison. I don’t know if you remember, but as a kid ages 5-7, vending machines bring joy and I loved picking snacks from them. He was in the church services that my dad, uncle, and grandpa lead while incarcerated, and he was in a million other little things. He never, ever abandoned me though the enemy would like me to believe that.
In Romans 8:38-39 Paul says “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So, I want to encourage you today friend that no matter what season you are in or what season you have been through, that absolutely nothing separates you from his deep love. Our God is an omnipresent God, and he is with you always. Not for a moment has he left you or forsaken you. He’s the God of the valley and of the mountains and you are never alone.