This is the tenth post of Wendy and Anna’s joint blog series: Breaking Light, a series filled with stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness through the deepest of valleys. It is linked up to Carolina Cisneros’ Open Mic Monday.
Today, we’ve invited Julia Putzke to the table to share of God’s gentle, pursuant love through her deepest valleys. Julia lives in Georgia in the United States. Her view on life may be sideways to some, quiet and contemplative even, but it may have something to do with staring at the sky for long periods of time. She also loves life talks and Chai tea. She blogs at Crippled at Your Table, has written a book of poetry entitled He Bled, My End and can be found on instagram at jspar002.
Anna: Welcome, Julia. Thank you so much for your willingness to step in at short notice for this interview and for being willing to share openly with us.
Of all the characters in the Bible, who do you most relate to and why?
Julia: I think I definitely most relate to Moses. Running from God has been a reaction for all my life so far. I have grown up with this mindset I’ve done something wrong and God is angry, wanting to punish me. I doubt how God can use me when I don’t have a good grasp on who He is, that He loves me. In this valley, I’ve asked like Moses for God to show me His glory, expecting it to be some huge gesture of His love for me. Often, it has been small, personal ways, like the opportunity to pray for someone or a letter that has shown me His glory even in the smallest ways.
Anna: Oh Julia, how I empathize with this fear. I’m so glad God has been pursuing you gently through this fear.
What is one of your favorite Scriptures and why does it mean so much to you?
Julia: Isaiah 41:10 has been one of my favorite Scriptures for quite a few months.
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (NIV)
I struggle with fear almost every day. Fear of the future, other people, and myself. This Scripture is a constant reminder that God has me, is with me, and will get the victory regardless if I think I’ve failed miserably. He will not give up on me.
Anna: Isn’t that a beautiful and reassuring truth?!
What events, circumstances or struggles in your life have been and/or continue to be your deepest valleys?
Julia: Trust and loneliness have been the struggles in the valley. I struggle trusting that God has a plan, still loves me when nothing seems to be happening, to me. I struggle with loneliness even with people around. All of my friendships are long-distance, but there is depth that isn’t there with those that live close to me. It’s a daily struggle feeling I’m at fault because I’m more open when I write than speak. I rush for fear of being cut off or time running out, but I feel God is beginning to change it.
Anna: Social anxiety can be so crippling, can’t it? Our guest from Tuesday also shares of this struggle and how God has been working through it. In what ways have you experienced God’s nearness in these valleys?
Julia: I’ve experienced God’s nearness in the way loneliness has drawn me more into speaking with Him more than with others, letting Him listen to my pain. I’ve had to trust that even though I’d like time with these long distance friends or even one that’s closer, He must come first.
After my parents’ divorce and then my grandma passing, I have struggled with loneliness and fear of trusting, not only people but God. I wrote a little about what God has taught me since in my latest post, Letting Be.
You will find your contentment when you are empty. In me.
I will pull you from your brokenness. I will say your name with love in my eyes. I will wipe your tears with a paper towel. I will give you nourishment. I will hold you up. I will make you laugh just to see you smile.
I will cover you always with my love. And you are free to lean in and receive me. Forever.
Anna: Often, people apologize to us for these deep valleys: for the loss, the grief or the hard of our journey, wishing they could take it all away. What would you like to say to people whose hearts ache reading of your valley?
Julia: I’ve wanted people to save me from this valley, be the answer, give the answer. But I’ve realized they can’t. What I’ve needed most is for someone to listen and to be with me as is. I also need to continue to learn to receive whatever I’m given without pushing away.
Anna: It’s so hard not to put up walls when fear comes into play isn’t it? I’m so glad God is teaching you to lean in, rather than push away. He knows us so intimately, and is patient and kind in growing us.
In what ways have you seen God minister to others through your deep valleys?
Julia: I’ve been thanked on my blog for my honesty with the struggle of seeing God in my life. I’ve watched Him remind people He is there.
Anna: It’s so wonderful how God uses our struggles to not only grow us, but also bless others. Thank you for choosing to be vulnerable to the Glory of God.
How have you seen God build community through your deepest valleys?
Julia: I’ve watched Him build community through my blog and Instagram. He has formed friendships with older women I never thought would happen. This has led me to communities of people who have a love of writing, like Five Minute Friday and launch teams for books that interest me. It has caused me to reach out in ways I wouldn’t in my life and watch how God weaves. It’s a constant reminder of heaven to me.
Anna: I’m so glad God has brought you community. Perhaps not how you’d envisioned it, but still there to support and encourage.
What obstacles have stood in the way of the ministry God has called you to through the hard?
And how have you responded to these obstacles?
Julia: Doubt from myself and others. I’ve cried and tried to push harder to prove writing is what I’m supposed to be doing. Fear has also played in making me believe nothing will come from writing regardless of how much I love it. I have continued to journal and take opportunities outside of poetry to grow in it.
Anna: What has worked against community from forming or being built up through the hard? How have you and others responded to these obstacles?
Julia: Fear I won’t be enough for them, too much for them. This has stopped from me trusting God knows what’s best for me, experiencing a new level of intimacy with Him beyond what’s comfortable. I have expressed my fear to God about how I am afraid to talk on the phone/in person because of being too much, and picked up the phone this past Monday when a friend wanted to talk. Friends have continued offering to talk on the phone even though it scares me.
Anna: That’s wonderful you chose to pick up the phone. I think God often purposely encourages us to step into our biggest fears to show us that He’s bigger than them. Perfect Love does indeed drive out all fear. But there’s always that choice you’re given to step into the fear in trust, or to retreat. It’s so encouraging to hear how you’re taking steps forward. God is in this with you.
What one piece of advice or kernel of wisdom would you like to leave with our readers from your journey through your hard thus far?
Julia: Longings make you beg for clarity, but ask you to trust you are being guided faithfully when you can’t see.
Fear. Shame. Heartbreak. Loss. Hiding. Hesitation. Love. Jesus. He is found in these 7 poems. From human love, food, and conversation showing His lovingkindness for me each day. These are small offerings of my heart. My thank you. My endings where He began.