The Muck and the Glory: a recap of my one word 2012

I started this blog as a ministry to others. To share my stories and develop community here. I wanted to have a place to share what God was doing in my life. I wanted this to be a place where I was fearless. Where I could push past platitudes and be  real and transparent.

I had no idea this blog would minister to me more than to others. 

Last year at my blogging début, I chose one word for 2012. Stripped.

When this word came to me, stuck in my mind and wouldn’t relent, I pictured it as something that would be gentle, the peeling back of layers, exposing treasure. The good things in me under all of that junk. What I found instead is that there is no good in me. Not one thing of worth.

Stripped.

It keeps coming back.
Splayed open, bare, released from any covering,
It’s what He’s speaking to me.
Stripped of my self-reliance, trying to build my tower to the heavens.
Stripped of my scars like Naaman plunged deep into Jordan’s cleansing water.
Stripped of my doubt and unbelief like Peter sinking in the waves.
Stripped of the things that entangle and are not mine to carry, like David’s armor, when all he needed was some stones and a sling.
Stripped so I can be clothed in Him. A new covering.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:63 ESV

If I had known then how much that word would cost, I might have picked something else entirely. Something with which I had more control. Something that allowed me wiggle room and the semblance of choice, like intentional. I could then choose where I wanted my intent to be focused. I’d be more intentional about quiet times, about motherhood, about my marriage, or service, or friendships. I’d fix my gaze and by golly, I’d get it done.

But isn’t that always the way with me? Haven’t I struggled with bootstrap Christianity for so long? In places I don’t want to admit, don’t I often think I am enough? Don’t I often feel that God owes me? That I deserve more? 

bootstrap chrisitanity

But this word, I had no control of. This is something that was happening to me, the stripping done by hands other than mine. A transitive verb acted upon with no will of my own.

If you bring anything to the table when coming to Christ, you cannot be saved. Because that is not grace, that is only religion. And religion has its place, but not in salvation.

Everything I have to offer is filthy rags. I have nothing of worth. I am poor in spirit and power.

It’s only when I think I am not that my faith fails me.

And so in looking back on this year, I can say without any doubt in my mind that God made good on this word. It was like those prayers for patience that you don’t really mean because you want the character but not the process with which it takes to get there.

You don’t realize that God will stall you, load your back with burdens to endure, tease out the tiniest fleshly irritants and prolong them. That your prayer will be answered in ways you never really wanted. In ways, you never even imagined.

I didn’t realize that my self-reliance would be tested to the brink when my mind and health failed me. When depression hit with the hardest of blows. That my weakness would manifest how much I trust in myself. My own abilities and skills. How much I say I want his glory but really wrestle with my own.

2012-12-23 21.30.51

I didn’t realize that my scars would be opened. That my insecurities would rise from depths I thought long healed and come out at blog conferences, with my stats on google analytics, in the church where I can’t seem to fit, or the dressing rooms where the strain of zippers and buttons betray where I find my value.

I didn’t realize that after all these years, I still doubt His promises. Still reel with unbelief when capsized into storms and the dark thunder that accompany trials. That I would sink under pressures, sink under worry, sink under grief. That instead of reaching for Him, I would swim harder, gasping and raging hard against the waves, the dangerous flailing of a drowning man, pulling those near down along with him.

I didn’t realize that I would struggle so much with God’s will. I didn’t realize that I would wrestle this hard with my place, my purpose, my voice.

I didn’t realize that the tension with which God’s children must exist is what leads us to The Holy Spirit, because there is so much that must be prayed out, sought along the road to maturity. So much that can’t be answered with lists and black and white and tidy boxes.

I didn’t realize how cynical I truly am and how much damage and distance that cynicism created my life. I didn’t realize that in indicting the church, culture, and the world in which we live, I would have to count myself in that verdict. I didn’t realize that I am the problem. Me.

I didn’t realize that under it all, when stripped, I am nothing.

I didn’t realize that it would hurt so much.

I didn’t realize that obedience would cost me. I didn’t realize that in losing my covering, I would feel naked and alone. I would feel vulnerable and I would get hurt and I would get healed. 

I didn’t realize that my misery would be my ministry.

I didn’t realize how poor we must become to be blessed. To be ransomed. 

I didn’t realize that naked, exposed, emptied out, I would raise my broken hallelujah, and it would be enough. It would be beautiful.

 

I have been thinking of my word for 2013 and will post that later this week. Have you ever had a word you felt resonated throughout the year? How has God made good on his promises to you? Looking forward to a new year with all of you. Thank you, dear friends for sharing this past year with me in the muck and glory. I love you all. 

Comments

  1. says

    I love how genuinely and openly you share what’s on your heart….I’ve been blessed in reading your words this year and looking forward to continuing to following along in 2013! Blessings to you!

  2. says

    I relate on so many levels. I’m taking on fearlessness this year. I took it on last year too and it laid me right open. Side swiped me with how much I depend on me and my ability to control. I am blessed to be walking this sanctifying (painful and difficult as it is) road with you friend. Keep writing. It is a blessing to so many. See you in 2013!

    • Alia Joy says

      Oh girl, that’s a scary word to pick for a whole year let alone two. I loved to see what God was doing in your 31 days series on fear. The same 31 days I swore I would never do. lol. Technically I haven’t even gotten to 31 days but I hope to finish it sometime in the next few months… Thankful for a travel buddy on this road as well. Love you, friend.

  3. Ruth Hagenbach says

    Alia, the beauty within that God is continuing to shape is awesome!!! Love how you share so openly….Many blessings on your writing in the year to come. I know for me somtimes I have had to work on just being a Child of God… truely learning to lean, to trust , to enjoy his care, his creation, his everlasting love and forgiveness. Just as our kids… especially the young ones who rest in the knowlege that Dad and Mom are there and will always take care of them. Looking forward to His clear leading for your Word for 2012.
    Love you

    • Alia Joy says

      Yes, funny that learning to trust our Father is something that can take so much time. I’m looking forward to 2013 as a new year where God will continue to do a work in me. Love you, Ruth.

  4. says

    Alia,
    I could not help but think of this quote while reading your words:

    “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.” -Vance Havner

    Your brokenness? Not only is it enough, it is what will open you up to what’s next. And just like the seed that is planted into the cold, broken dirt, I believe that it will bring forth life.
    Thank you for so beautifully laying it all out on the table, every.single.bit.
    You help make all of us better people.

    • Alia Joy says

      I read your comment on my iphone and burst into tears yesterday. I had to take a bit and come back to it. Thank you so much for your grace spoken in and through me. Love to you, Holly.

  5. Kathryn S. East says

    I’m so sorry you, too, have this frustrating, debilitating illness. Thank you for sharing your soul. It helps others, who can relate, to know they are understood and not alone.
    Praying for a better New Year for all of us.

    • Alia Joy says

      Yes, a new year with new things springing forth. That is my prayer too. I’m sorry that you know this place but thank you for sharing here. Every one of us united makes that one feel less alone. Blessings to you.

  6. says

    I love what Holly said, and could not agree more.
    My word came to me Saturday night and was confirmed for me on Sunday when the pastor kept repeating it over and over.I’m going to share it later this week as well.

    Can’t wait to see you Thursday.

    • Alia Joy says

      Don’t you just love when you know that you know. Unless the word is something like endure, then you kind of grimace and hope you heard wrong. Anyhow, I can’t wait to read what has come about and I can’t wait to get out of this house on Thursday. See ya then, friend.

  7. says

    I love you! Thank you for your honesty, your transparency, for allowing God to use your pain to minister to others. So thankful that this process has brought you healing. Praying this is indeed a year of wholeness for you. Happy New Year!

  8. says

    Oh my heart friend. I am always so thankful for your words…your honest and heartbreaking and encouraging words. You always make me feel so much less alone in my mess and give me hope that He is there through it all. I just love you much friend. Blessings.

  9. says

    This is such a beautiful post! Last year was the year I realized that God woos us to Himself by denying us what we want, by giving us what we don’t want, but being every faithful. He can break and bruise and crush our spirits, and yet we fall more in love with Him. Thank you, Lord!

    • Alia Joy says

      Thank you Amanda, only the Kingdom of God would have such an upside down-inside out way of doing things. All things perfect in His time, in His hands. I’ve read about some of your struggles and heartbroken real places on your blog and it’s grace to be able to still say Thank you, Lord. Blessings friend.

  10. says

    as i read this post i felt like you were looking into my heart…i wish we could sit and have coffee and talk…i wish we could be friends…i’m just glad i’m not alone and that there is someone else out there that has gone though the same thing.

    • Alia Joy says

      Monique, we can be friends and I’m all about the coffee and talking close to the heart. And I’m glad I’m not alone either and that people like you share your heart here with me as well. Looking forward to getting to know you more, friend. Thanks.

  11. says

    “And so in looking back on this year, I can say without any doubt in my mind that God made good on this word. It was like those prayers for patience that you don’t really mean because you want the character but not the process with which it takes to get there….That your prayer will be answered in ways you never really wanted. In ways, you never even imagined.” Wow. Resonating with this and standing on my tip toes in wait for your next word of the year and all He will do through it.

    • says

      Thanks Darcy, I have a post on my word for 2013 in the works but I am praying for wisdom about some of the things I’m sharing so hopefully I’ll have that sorted soon. Can’t wait to see what this year brings and for the continuation of all God has been doing so far.

  12. says

    Happy Blogoversary! I can’t believe you’ve only been doing it for one year! I think we must have started at around the same time (my first Blogoversary is jan 6th!) . I’m feeling the bond between us! I love your naked, stripped writing. There is so much power in unadorned words and emotions, and you pack some dynamite in your writing. Keep doing your thing. Much love x

    • says

      Yes, I was on the 4th so we’re like twins. Thank you so much for being a faithful reader and for always encouraging and supporting me in my mess. Love you, friend.

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by Genevieve! I love so much of your writing but I’m always reading on my phone which is near impossible to comment so I am often a lurker. Just wanted to let people know what they mean to me both in their words and in their actions.

  13. says

    Oh my, God! Not in the profane way of saying that but in the crying out to Him way when you have nothing else. This so speaks to me and where I am – I so understand everything you are saying and feel all the pain and anguish of what this journey has been for you. Wow!

    “I didn’t realize that naked, exposed, emptied out, I would raise my broken hallelujah, and it would be enough. It would be beautiful.”

    My favorite thought out of all of them. Yes, indeed, it is beautiful.

    Carol

    • Alia Joy says

      Thank you Carol. Yes, this past year has been one of my hardest for so many reasons but I’m beginning to see so much beauty in it. So very much. I’m sorry you’ve been there but then again, where else would we want to be if we truly want to be like Him? Love to you, Carol. Thanks for taking the time to comment and encourage here.

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