Finding Gratitude from Joshua – Her Voice

12 stone memorial kairn

Shawna Meek one of Hope Redefined’s coaches, shared a story of how she has found encouragement through the Bible character, Joshua.

A lot happened in the 20-hours of therapy in Texas. Yes, 20 whole hours. For the first time, I was perfectly content not speaking but a few words to Kevin as we flew home. We spoke without speaking. We were utterly exhausted.  I knew that I would be all right with or without Kevin close to me. Whether a moment, a day, a year, or a lifetime, I knew I had a choice to not accept harmful behavior when I had the choice to walk away and take care of myself.

What I took away that day was that I can believe some new truths, not truths about myself received by others. I learned I can stand and withstand what life brings. Keeping my reality in balance was imperative. Kevin was beginning to determine his inherent worth in those days, and that I could continue to pray for. Intimacy Anorexia was still seen in the deflecting of responsibility, and I didn’t have to accept it in a harmful way. I could be cherished in a new and different way now. It was a good time away.

I began to cherish myself differently – not allowing, and I mean truly for the first time not allowing, another person’s moods or comments to sting like they had before. Taking my responsibility for the joy in each of my days. I was beginning to see the care God had for me and how that care was tended to by my husband. I felt like a delicate Christmas ornament at times, something to be protected from being damaged. Something to care for tenderly.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Shortly after being home, I had decided that along with the work we were doing together, I was going to continue my plan to read through the Bible, cover to cover, for the first time. I had attempted this before on a few occasions but never made it too far. I came home reading in the book of Joshua. Chapter four reads:

When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua,“Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’”

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”

So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there.

Joshua also set up another pile of twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, at the place where the priests who carried the Ark of the Covenant were standing. And they are there to this day.

I had come home wanting to focus on gratitude and appreciation despite my circumstances. That’s who I wanted to be. And to meet my deepest desire and fulfillment, God met me right where I was at. As I read Joshua 4, I felt the gratitude of the unfathomable intimacy that God showed me that morning. This is what I wrote in my journal that day, with tears streaming. A story I had read a good bit of times before. But today it was different.

As I remain in hope that God can and will bring recovery and healing, I keep my desire to be cherished and adored by Kevin. I must die to the dream of what that will look like. The desire is built within me, but the unfolding will come from God as he shows me all the small stones, the miracles, as reminders of His love.

Joshua speaks of the Israelites wandering for forty years in the wilderness, yet God was faithful in their disobedience. Our story has been many years of uncertainty and confusion and fighting to be cherished. A wilderness of our own, yet God has been faithful in our disobedience.

God’s promise was to lead them to a land more fruitful than their hopes, richer than their dreams. Our story was God’s promise of a marriage far more than we could ever ask for or imagine. God came to show His love to us.

The pivotal moment for the Israelites was when they were ready to enter the Promised Land only to find the Jordan at flood levels, fast and dangerous. It was impassible, its crossing impossible. Our story had come to the flood waters when we realized the depths of the intimacy and attachment issues as we entered into the intensive counseling. To find raging waters moving fast upon us. Nearly impossible to get past the triggers and all the history.

Then God rolled back the waters in the Jordan with the chaos raging and instructed Joshua to take 12 stones from the dry riverbed. Our story was God bringing further acceptance of the dry land. Asking me to take the stones from the dry middle of the road of our healing. God had made a way.

God calmed the waters. Rages stopped flowing in the living presence of God so they could do their part of picking up the stones. Our story was the Holy Spirit’s presence in this parallel, weaving into our hearts and minds that God can calm any raging flood at any moment.

In obedience, Joshua picked up the stones and built an altar. Symbolic to help God’s people identify with a work of God on their behalf. Our story was for me to go and cherish those moments of connection each day. Taking a stone and placing it in a clear fragile vase, at our place of rest, as a reminder of what He has done.

Remembering the Promised Land was a place of battle. A place of trust. Challenges got bigger and so did the blessings. Our story was our place of battle. Remembering our battle had not been won yet, but to remember God’s faithfulness. The challenges did get bigger but the blessing would be great.

Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and He kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”

That vase still sits on my bookcase, next to my bed at our place of rest, for our children and future generations to see. Each stone I placed as a reminder of God’s faithful for a hug, a kiss, a kind word, an apology, a prayer, a show of compassion, a sweet gesture, an encouragement and the list is long. Not just the big things that I saw or didn’t see, but for those small things. Those small miracles that have added up to hundreds of miracles that show the powerful hand of God and the One to be in reverent awe of His unfailing love.

And a small, yet significant side note, was the journal that I picked up to write in that day had been sitting in my bookcase for some time and was titled Be Filled with Joy“Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” Nehemiah 8:10 NLT. Truly His joy is far beyond the sheer happiness of big things. But finding joy is the simple, small things are what has truly opened my eyes.

Here’s a glimpse into my journal as I was picking up the small miracles:

Oh, what a week it has been. It had been 2 1/2 months since we went to our intensive in Texas. Progress has been made, and I’m learning to listen to my body. Helping get it regulated sooner with the boundaries I have set. The breathing, making lots of calls, and going to my place often it’s “easy to find joy”. I have been focusing on my compass points. Calm and emotionally secure within God and myself first and then shifting my thinking to gratitude and joy. Honoring myself and learning to listen to what is right for me. Allowing myself to grieve when I need to. I still have the desire within me to be pursued. I always will. God built that in me. Dying to the dream of how and when I will be cherished and what that looks like. Truly it’s God’s timing for me, if on this earth, and Kevin’s choice and obedience to true healing.

  • Such a place of deep sorrow yet acceptance and surrender of what it can be.
  • Choosing to watch and see the small miracle of Kevin’s pursuit of me.
  • Writing a gratitude list each day of the ways I am pursued.
  • Putting a stone in my tall and fragile vase next to the place I sleep.
  • Writing it out in my “filled with joy” journal.

I’ve lost my fight to be pushing for pursuit of me. I cannot lead this marriage. I am finally learning to follow despite being led yet. Kevin is trying to move into intimacy though often being pulled back with fear and resistance. My focus for now is to take good care of me, especially focusing on my health concerns. It’s been hard to put self-protection and anger down. I have felt much of the deprivation and trauma wounds fully now.

No matter what, I want to be fully present with myself. Remembering what I really need from this moment. Keeping my heart open and not resisting when Kevin does move close. Lord, may I walk in Your ways in reality and may we have a marriage built on a foundation of love and truth. 

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