[Guest Post by Jennie Goutet – Have you ever wanted to share your story, but it’s taken you months to put pen to paper only to realize it’s more difficult than you thought? I’m so glad Jennie didn’t give up and after a few months of asking if she could share, she put herself out there and shared from the heart. If you’re struggling with being accepted as you already are — be encouraged today!]
Twenty years ago, I was living in Taiwan when my younger brother committed suicide.
I did not yet follow God, although I had already been invited to church in Hawaii and in Manhattan, and would later be invited to church in Paris, and again in New York (sister churches of the same body) before getting baptized into Christ.
In my memoir, I wrote about the return to Taiwan following the funeral, my trip into the mountains to go litchi picking with a friend, and how it was all colored by early grief:
I loved riding the motorbike. I felt so free, whipping past the people and the sights at an exhilarating pace. Helmets were not required and I didn’t care whether or not I survived a fall, so I let the wind tug at my hair freely, and brace against my body. I wanted the wind to rip the pain out of the clutches of my chest.
At first we drove and saw the familiar busy streets, loud vendors pushing their wares at every turn. We stopped at the lights, lost in an army of motorbikes, the thick white clouds of exhaust reaching up to the first story of the buildings nearby. And then the roadways opened up and became larger as we saw more and more of the countryside. We rode on for over an hour like that and then, there in the distance — the mountain.
We drove onto the path that would bring us there, the straight, wide road that crossed the rice paddies on either side, and that eventually led to the base of the mountain before going up.
Later, with our bags of litchis in hand, we came upon the mountain stream winding its way down.
Smaller rounded rocks formed a pathway in the current, and we were able to hop across them to reach the middle. There we sat talking and watching our empty litchi shells float downstream. We stayed there until the sun started to set, until we started to feel the chill in the early evening air. And then the fading light finally shook us out of our reverie, and we stood up to get our balance before hopping back across the stones, and collecting our things to go home.
I’ll never forget that day on the mountain, the day when the sights and feelings were so foreign it was like someone else’s life momentarily juxtaposed mine — the day I tried to outrun my pain.
I remember how we turned towards the mountain, coasting freely over the crisscross of yellowed roads with their large grids of golden rice waving in the glaring sun almost as far as the eye could see. And the image of that hot sun, blue sky, the golden rice, the green and brown set of mountains ahead, and me, flying, flying across it all.
I think this scene will flood my vision with its brilliant colors in my last days.
Although I couldn’t see it that day in my grief, emptiness, and sorrow, God had a vision for me — a beautiful vision that would include salvation, the love of a worthy man, children, more sorrow — yes — but with it, a peace that surpasses understanding. I didn’t know this on that day long ago when I didn’t care whether or not I survived a fall.
Romans 4:17 says “. . . even God, who quickeneth the dead and calleth those things which are not, as though they were.”
I love this New King James Version because it includes a wording unlike other versions: “He calls things which are not as though they were.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m an “are not.”
It doesn’t matter that I tried to write an elegant blog about life in France, with “Lady Jennie” as my moniker. I’m fearful, depressed, a recovered addict, an emotional eater — which is to say — I wear my weakness publicly so that everyone can see what I struggle with.
But even before I was redeemed, God called me as though I were. He called into existence traits, strengths, glory, discipline, goodness, holiness as if they were already in my possession. Even now that I’m redeemed, he doesn’t stay focused on my failings, he sees ahead to what I will become. He calls this “am-not” as though I were. It’s not because of who I am, but because of who He is.
Friend, if you are struggling right now — empty, broken, discouraged — you must believe that this is the vision he has for you.
He sees you as though you already are.
Jennie Goutet is the author of the memoir A Lady in France about travel, love, grief and faith. She is also a contributing author to Sunshine After the Storm – a survival guide for the grieving mom. Jennie blogs at A Lady in France and was a BlogHer Voice of the Year pick two years running. Her writing has appeared in Huffington Post and Queen Latifah’s website, among other places. She lives just outside of Paris with her husband and three children. Connect with Jennie at ALadyinFrance.com.
*Excerpt is from her latest book, A Lady in France. To purchase on Amazon, please click here.