The other day, I received an invitation for an event and there it was, the RSVP. For most people, if anxiety hits you when you get invited to anything it's probably a social thing. A few people in my family are extremely introverted and I've seen and heard the excuses on how to deal with the fears or social anxieties when accepting or declining invitations. For me, anxiety hits because there is an entirely different closet full of ghosts I have to deal with. I'm in that 20'somethings stage of life where most of the time the RSVP is for a baby shower or wedding. As a divorcee, these can be the hardest things to receive, especially when you're still hurting.
A couple of years ago, two of my cousins got married in the same year. I received both invitations and sent both of my RSVP cards back with boxes checked marking me as "attending." There was a lot of joy surrounding both ceremonies but as the first one drew closer and closer, crippling anxiety attacked. I vividly remember sitting in the furthest pew as my absolutely stunning cousin gracefully recited her vows. All of a sudden, so much pain and sorrow flooded in to where it felt like a million pound weight on my chest. Then, I felt my father grabbed my hand, hold it tight and whisper "Jesus' love will heal your heart buddy, and you'll get a someday." Tears trickled (who am i kidding, streamed) down my face and I did my best to gather myself together from the pieces I felt had scattered around the pew, the rest of the event was still to come.
Skip ahead to the reception as emotions were at an all time high still. There was typical banter of a single girl with the "He's cute and single" lines and inquisition of people just wondering "Are you dating anyone, yet?" The thing that kept me stable through most of it was having my son right there with me and being able to just focus on him; however, halfway through the reception, my diversion was taken away as his dad came to pick him up.
There's nothing like being at a place where you're reminded of the hardest season of your life with the people who walked with you into it. As my son (who was 3 at the time) so timingly decided to make this one of the exchanges where he didn't go peacefully was whisked away, I watched as my former groom drove away. It took a few minutes again to sit and process what I was living through. The choices I had made previously brought me to this point and there was no going back, only moving forward. But I didn't RSVP to an event to focus on me, this was my cousin's day so I went back in, danced with my family, and did my best to mask what was going on inside until my 2 hour drive home alone.
This event was so tough to go through that I found myself declining RSVPs, and I couldn't even attend my second cousin's wedding. A few of my family members knew how I had felt at the first and I couldn't bare having another breakdown or feeling like I was distracting from the special day. The same thing happens with baby showers. I haven't attended one since my divorce.
Back to the RSVP I received the other day. It was for a small event, but for some reason it stood out to me and I couldn't get the acronym off of my mind. Finally I broke down, pulled out my phone and googled the term. "Please respond." I sat frozen as the words hit deep down to my soul. Suddenly, it was almost as if in that moment I felt the Lord grab my heart and whisper "I promise to heal your hurt in full, please respond."
There are so many promises in God's word for those who love Him. One of my personal favorites is His promise to work in ALL THINGS for the GOOD of THOSE WHO LOVE HIM:
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Where we often fail is we look at that promise and we see it as a bandaid, but its a calling. When God calls hear the invitation, His love calling for you to "please respond." What do I mean by we see it as a bandaid? Simply this, we cover our problems with this verse. We say, "God is going to work all things for good" and we go on about our lives as if its just a promise for the future, a bit of hope to take away some of the sting for now. His working in all things for the good isn't where the statement ends. Oh no, it continues and says "of those who LOVE Him" and then ", who have been called according to His purpose."
How do you RSVP to God's calling? Love God. How do you Love God?
John 14:15-18, 21(NLT) states:
What are His commandments?
Mark 12:29-31(NLT) explains:
Receive Invitation. Be humble. Pray. Repent. Love God. Love others. Repeat.
God's invitation that He sends out, is an invitation to receive His love (John 3:16). It's an invitation to walk in purpose and light (1 John 1:7). It's a cleansing and purifying from sin (1 Corinthians 6:11). It's an invitation to repent (Acts 2:38).
So many times I hear people say, "I believed in Jesus and nothing happened." It breaks my heart. The truth is many people "believe" in Jesus. Ironically there are two forms of the word. Google it and you'll get the two definitions:
1. accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of.
2. hold (something) as an opinion; think or suppose.
What I want to propose is that many people who believe in God may hold the opinion that He is real? That they think or suppose He must be God? Because if they not only felt sure of the truth of Jesus but actually accepted Jesus as truth, then they themselves would be changed. Someone who believes in Jesus hears his invitation loud and clear and RSVPs.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)
He waits for people to stop thinking or supposing. He waits for those who accept Him at His word, absolute truth. If you are still hurting, at the same depth, can I be so bold as to state that possibly it's because you are refusing to hand in your RSVP back to God? Have you checked "accept" or "attending"? Or maybe you have responded to the invitation, but haven't attended? By daily receiving God's word (which would require you to read actually read it), praying (actually staying in conversation with the Lord), loving God (actively seeking relationship with Him), loving others (living sacrificially instead of selfishly), repenting (turning from the things that don't glorify God) - This is how we attend God's invitation to life abundantly, life full of love. Through living humbly, and waiting on the Lord, this is how we receive not only blessing but healing.
Sometimes we receive God's invitation and we respond and start claiming His promises but forget to wait on Him. His timing is perfect. When we become impatient, we begin to compare, or even live in the pains of our past. By doing this we show up to life as if it were a masquerade in full costume. Life in Christ is much more simple. It's a beautiful exchange of grace and a walk in mercy.
Truth is when I went to my cousin's wedding I showed up wearing an invisible mask. The mask of "I'm ok." I was still so very broken, and that was ok. Truth is God used that night to show me that He wasn't done working on me. Looking back I see how ignorant I was in my belief of who God was calling me to be. When you fight for healing on your own, you become so weak and tired unless your at the end of yourself, and sometimes you'll fight until you hit that point. I did just that. Without relying on God to be my strength, the only thing I was claiming of him was my salvation. I was asking for His salvation but not receiving a key component (Ephesians 2:8-9) grace. We can't be sanctified, healed, cleansed, purposed if we don't accept the entire invitation. To accept God's invitation in full, we must accept what He designed love to be in its entirety.
Ironically, at weddings one of the most quoted passages of scripture is 1 Corinthians 13. To end this lengthy blog post, I want to leave you with its powerful truths. It's a passage I've been praying through lately. All of the verses I've shared have been instrumental in the healing process from my divorce, but this one specifically when it says, "keeps no record of wrongs" has challenged me to step forward and respond to God in an even more authentic way. With my divorce, for so long I held the weight of the failure on my own shoulders. I carried my sin like baggage and allowed it to define me. My past caused me to not respond in full to all that God was calling me to. My hope in sharing this is that you too may receive all that God has for you. That you would experience His love to the fullest when He calls out "please respond."