Author: Fiona Botha
When we step back and give God room to move in our lives, He will start unraveling you. But, along with unraveling comes discomfort and uncertainty and, as I have recently realised, unraveling is merely the beginning.
I feel like I have done a lot of unraveling over a very short space of time. I had given over to God the ‘ball of wool’ I held on to so tightly and so dearly, but that wasn’t the toughest part. Surrendering a part of our lives fully into God’s hands can be difficult, but in hindsight it only kick started the challenging process that was to come.
Standing amongst the heaps of unraveled pieces of my life, holding onto the end of the ball of wool, I am plagued by the uncertainty of how God is going to bring this ‘mess’ together for good. Being surrounded by such chaos, my perfectionist tendencies kick in and I start to feel overwhelmed, like I am drowning in a sea of wool.
And the first thing I want to do is dig myself out.
Luckily, God doesn’t leave us unraveled and drowning. Instead, He reaches down to pull us up out of it. I think of Him reaching down to pull Peter up out of the waves when Peter had the faith to step out of the boat. Like Peter, we have to start by taking a step of faith, believing we can walk on water. By taking that risk and trusting God completely, we automatically give Him permission to start unraveling us. But, we are like Peter, because when we look up and see we are caught up in the midst of chaos, a state of progress that we don’t have much control over, we panic, we feel overwhelmed, we take our eyes off of what God is doing in our lives and we start to sink.
Unraveling, especially rapid unraveling, can leave you feeling like you have been stretched out too far and have now lost your elasticity. Fortunately, God promises us that he will restore us (Psalm 51:12). All those heaps of unraveled wool lying around us will not trip us up if we are moving in His will because He promises to guide our footsteps (Proverbs 16:19).
Therefore we must hold onto His promises when these feelings of uncertainty arise. The key thing here is endurance. We need to endure through the difficulty of unraveling and the uncertainty that surrounds it in order to reap the rewards of seeing a change in our lives and a building of character (Romans 5:3-5).
The thing about unraveling is that God cares so much for us that He does not want to leave us burdened, broken, and imperfect. So, He uses this unraveling process in stages through our lives to deal with our burdens, brokenness, and imperfections. Through this process, He brings to light the root causes of our problems and He starts bringing the healing or change – all of this is done incrementally.
Like most teenagers, I also went through the process of finding and establishing my identity, parts of which God has been unraveling. During high school, I was very artistic and creatively inclined. Through my journey and walk with the Lord this identity has been challenged multiple times, on multiple levels, each time going a little deeper. God does this because He wants me to find my identity in Him, but I was only partially finding my identity in Him.
My creativity is a core aspect I draw my identity from. During my graphic design studies at the University of Pretoria, God started challenging me in this area, exposing that my sense of worth lay in being able to be creative. Every time I had creative block and was unable to come up with creative ideas, I would feel lost, uncertain and like a failure. But, God was nudging me back to my identity in Him, the ultimate Creator of the universe. These little failures helped me remove my identity and self-worth from being routed in my ability to be creative.
Lukewarm is not good enough for God; it’s either all or nothing. This is why I was recently challenged with this same issue of identity. This time God went deeper. It served as a reminder that, once again, my identity should not be reliant on the level or amount of creative work I perceive myself to be producing at work.
It was a difficult reminder.
But, because I have been through this before and know what the root cause is, I trust in my own abilities and strengths to draw my creativity from. I find that each time God journeys deeper into the issue and faster through it.
He has taught us the basic principles and then gives us a recap of the wisdom He has already imparted, adding pieces of knowledge and building onto those base principles. It doesn’t help if we have the head knowledge of ‘trust in the Lord… and lean not on your own understanding’ (Proverbs 3:5), but we aren’t actively practicing it in our daily lives. God helps us turn our head knowledge, what we know to be true, into heart knowledge. Knowing then becomes believing and believing translates into our daily actions. This transformation is brought about through the uncomfortable situations God brings across our paths.
You do not unravel for your own personal and spiritual wellbeing, but in order for you to bring glory to God through your life and your unique story. The areas in your life God has unraveled are because He wants to use it to help build up others around you. He empowered you through your unraveling journey in order for you to empower those unraveling around you. Unraveling helps us – we have more empathy for those going through similar journeys and, as a result, we are also able to encourage, support, and provide them with wisdom.
I want to encourage you to step out and speak up about how God is unraveling you, because in the process you will gain opportunities to encourage others.
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