Leaving Egypt behind

In the fall, our community studied the story of scripture through a dramatized retelling of the story. It was an overview, tracing themes from Genesis to Revelation, giving a big picture story of God’s story and our story. I remember being really impacted by a line that said something like God wanted to get ‘Egypt’ out of the hearts of His people.

I’ve often identified with the Exodus story. During the time I left home, my Bible study was studying Exodus. I have often looked at the abuse I endured as being in a kind of slavery and that day I left home was my ‘exodus’ into freedom. I remember shortly after I left home, I longed to go back, forgetting how awful it was to live in fear and dread of the moments when my Dad would touch me inappropriately. I became like the Israelites who told God that it was better in ‘Egypt’. I have wrestled with a belief that I cannot be happy, cannot be whole, without my family which has led me often into deep depression.

Then the Israelites were wandering the deserts so that God could heal them and woo them back to Him and that ultimately the Israelites could leave Egypt completely in their hearts and minds, not just physically. I think this is the journey that I have been on these past eight years. The abuse, the memories, the pain, and the longing for my family have occupied so much time and energy and impacted my life and the lives of those who care about me so much.

But lately I have felt like I have crossed over to the Promised Land, entering a new phase in my life where the shackles that have kept me in mental and emotional ‘slavery’ have been unlocked and I am free. I can’t even put into words the intense sense of freedom and joy that I feel right now and all the beauty I see in my life and in my future. This is new for me. And the longing to be with my family has changed. Yes, it is what I want and pray for daily – how I long for reconciliation. But, I have discovered that my life can be full and rich even if my family chooses not to face truth and reconciliation. I want to work towards reconciliation and do all I can to promote this happening. But, I cannot do this by myself. More than that though – I no longer feel held back in life because of this desire to reconcile. I no longer feel like everything I dream is put on hold because of my family. God has released me from these chains.

I think I had to wander the desert first though. I needed healing. There may be deserts ahead as ‘Egypt’ may still have a grip on me in ways I am not aware. But for now, I give thanks that I have entered this new and exciting phase of my life where I can for the first time in my life say with all my heart that life is GOOD and I am thankful that I am alive, and that I can see a great year ahead of me. These are words I’ve never been able to think let alone say or write – how cool is it that I can now declare this without any doubt or fear?!

I haven’t quoted a Steve Bell song in awhile and, what will not come as a shock to many people, today I’ve been impacted and inspired once again by his lyrics.

Burning ember, I remember, Love’s first light in me. I was cold and like a stone when I saw your flickering. Oh what beauty you drew near me, I could scarcely speak. Somehow I knew, I would be made whole in your burning.

These past 8 years have been filled with struggle and pain. I have found hope many times in the image of refining fire – that I would be made whole in the burning. And moving forward, I think of these words that come later in the song:

Yet a flower can endure the course of a storm by bowing to the tempest’s rage.

There is such strength and beauty in a little, delicate flower that surrenders instead of fighting the storm. May I surrender to the work of God in my life through this joyous time and in the deserts ahead.

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