I have returned to the place where I got stuck, and God is working to set me free…
Last year in February I was in a car accident. I was reared by a car that had been rear ended by another vehicle. Because of the accident, I had trouble sitting upright and I spent a lot of time on my back trying to avoid pain. As I would lay in my bed, I saw previews for movies that I wanted to see once I was finally able to sit up for more than 10 minutes at a time. After a few months, I was finally able to venture to the theater; excitedly, I purchased one ticket to see The Shack.
As I sat, albeit uncomfortably, in the theater watching Octavia Spencer play God in this wonderful adaptation, I couldn’t help but pay particular attention to one line of the movie, “this is where you got stuck.” The main character, Mack (played by Sam Worthington), was going through a difficult period in his life where he was questioning God, and, in the movie, he was brought back to the point where his doubt arose and forced to confront it.
That is where I find myself today; back in the place where I got stuck so many years ago.
Let me explain…
I am currently an employee of my county’s public school system and I work at a local middle school as an instructional assistant. The pay is not great, but the moral rewards are amazing! I love waking up every day knowing that I am going to help students learn and grow throughout the course of the day. I recently became the biggest advocate of meeting people “where they are at” and working in a middle school environment is the perfect way to do that. Hormones are kicking in and children are beginning to learn who they are, in addition to facing real life problems and situations. What students learn in middle school- knowingly or unknowingly- goes with them for the rest of their lives. This is where habits are made and maturity begins… and I love working with this population!
But little did I know that God brought me back to this age group because this is the very age where I got stuck.
Due to PTSD, my elementary school years are a complete blur, but I remember middle school…and those memories aren’t good. The issue wasn’t the school and it wasn’t the teachers or students- it was me. I was lost and dealing with an influx of hormones, with no one to explain it all to me. I remember vividly getting my cycle one day at school [heavily] and doing nothing about it because I wanted to ignore what was happening to my body. Yes, I walked around that entire day Aunt Flowing and did nothing about it, thinking that if I ignored it, it would go away. Obviously, that was a poor decision, but at the time I was numb and raw- I didn’t care about much. I was battling so many emotional issues that the thought of confronting a physical or tangible issue seemed almost asinine.
Middle school was also when I learned fear and flight responses. As a joke, someone placed a garden snake in my desk in 6th grade and, to this day, I am TERRIFIED of snakes (just typing the word makes my skin crawl). From that day on, even throughout high school, I rarely used a desk and I developed anxiety whenever I walked into a science classroom. My fear of snakes has prevented me from attending many social events throughout my life…and almost stopped me from attending church yesterday morning. I don’t know if I ever knew fear before middle school, but I definitely knew it after 6th grade.
A lot happened to me during those three years and it wasn’t until two weeks ago that I realized God had placed me in my stuck place so that He could set me free.
In The Shack, when Mack returned to the place where he had become stuck, God was able to meet him there and help him overcome everything that had previously caused him to shut down. God met with him in a personal, three-on-one (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) way so that Mack could be set free from the emotional and mental chains that had him bound. By the end of the movie, Mack was in a better place and ready to fully recommit his life to God.
That is where I desire to be.
Every day as I walk the school’s halls or sit in a classroom, my mind goes back to my years in middle school and I go into action. My eyes spot the girl who continuously drifts into isolation and I befriend her. Or I speak to the boy who sits alone at lunch to read his book instead of actually eating lunch. I greet every student that I pass and I say a silent prayer as they go by. I work on ways to make the kids laugh with my silly, adult humor. I try to be someone they can trust and someone they can come to when they need help. I am real and honest [to a fault] with them because I know they need both. I do what I can to be what I can to those students.
Because that’s what I needed when I was their age.
So today as I work, I realize that God has placed me here, at this particular school and grade level, so that I can help others. He has divinely brought me back to where I got stuck, so that in helping others, I may be set free.
Beloved, I don’t know if you can relate to my story or the fictional story of Mack, but I do know that we have all experienced a moment in our lives that made us change from the person that we used to be. That moment could have been positive, with a positive outcome, or it could have been negative, with an adverse outcome. If the latter is true for you, it is time to venture with God to that stuck place and let Him set you free. Say this prayer with me:
Lord, I thank You for being a God who is able to hear my faintest cry and answer me. I thank You for walking with me for all of these years, even if I didn’t always want to walk with You- I thank You for never leaving me. Lord, I recognize that there was a moment in my life where I got stuck and started to venture away from You. I pray, God, that You would bring me back to that place and release me from that pain. God, I humbly ask that You would break the chains and strongholds in my life that began at that moment and allow me to be set free in You. Your word says in John 8:36 “so if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” and I believe that I am free in You. Lord, I thank You for setting me free. In Your Son’s name I do pray, Amen.