What to even say.
Over the weekend, several friends came down to visit. While I was not dreading their visit, exactly, I was utterly dreading a big reason for their visit – leading worship at church on Sunday. As the date drew closer, the more I began to freak and dismantle.
I don’t want to make this massively long, so I shall try to summarize:
~I felt obligated to do music, like we couldn’t back out, like people would be mad at me. (Which is just as bad as being “in trouble.”)
~I felt pressure to make the music/service powerful because I felt like everyone was expecting that from us.
~In the same vein, I felt like I had to make God show up, to show himself to the non-Christians I knew were planning to come. I felt like it was on me to reveal him, to show them that he is real, that he is loving, that he wants a relationship with them. I feared them walking out the doors not having felt God at all.
~I felt disappointed because I finally had musicians that I knew could do the songs I wanted to do, but I didn’t feel like anyone really wanted to do them.
~I felt strained and distant from Husband in general. I often feel like I have to walk on eggshells around him, like I can’t be honest and share my heart, and I was dreading a weekend of trying to pretend like there are no issues with our marriage at all. (Because I didn’t want it to be awkward for people, didn’t want them to feel like there was a distance between him and me.)
~I felt like I was wilting, desperately needing his words, his affection, and his delight. And I was feeling guilty for having needs, and condemned for not being able to express them. And not feeling like I should, since he is dealing with so much already; how cruel of me is it to add more to the weight he already carries? I often feel like a burden, like my stuff is too much to handle. So I keep silent and try to just suck it up, for that is, of course, the better option than being honest with my husband. (That is sarcasm, but it is how I think. Ugh.)
~I felt guilty that the guys were coming period, even though I had barely been involved in the making of the coming-to-visit plans. Husband was dreading it, and I in turn felt like it was my fault, on me to fix it, and I couldn’t fix it. So he was unhappy, and it was my fault.
~I feel like it is my fault that Husband is unhappy in general; he hasn’t been happy for a long time. And while I try to trust God and sometimes do, my natural reaction is to cruelly blame myself. What exactly I think I have done to cause his unhappiness, I have no clue, but he is unhappy, and so I must be to blame. (This is also how I think.)
~I felt ashamed, guilty, and like everything hinged on me in every way. It was up to me to make the weekend good; if I failed, it would be horrible for everyone and people would probably never talk to each other again or something. And I was quite sure that I was going to fail.
~I felt condemned because I could tell that most, if not all, of my feelings were spiritual attack, but I couldn’t help but feel them. Once again, I had seen the attack coming and fallen under it. Or so I felt and believed.
My one prayer for the weekend was that God would redeem it, make something good come from it.
And through all of this, God has re-shown me several things:
1. I AM NOT IN CONTROL
The weight I was carrying, feeling like everything was on me, was not my weight to bear. Nothing truly hinges on me – except my attitude, my willingness to surrender to God’s leading/plan, and my availability to him for his purposes. I cannot control other people, and it is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict and counsel and change people, not mine. Yes, I have a responsibility to accurately represent Jesus in my life, but it is not my job to get people to want a relationship with God. That is HIS job, which he may use me for, or he may not. It is up to him, not me. He holds things together; I do not.
2. I CAN TRUST GOD
God knows my heart. As I said, my one prayer was that the weekend would be redeemed, that he would make it good, because I could only see all of the ways it was surely going to fall apart. And he did redeem it. He held it together. He had a plan, and while I was part of it, it was HIS plan. And he was more than able to make it happen, with or without my input or help. I resisted at times, panicked at times; other times, I surrendered. But the bottom line is that this weekend is further evidence that I can trust his plan, because his plan is good. He is good. His heart is for redemption, and when something is surrendered to him – like a dreaded weekend, or people – he brings something beautiful to life. Maybe not exactly as I think he will, but in the way he knows is best.
3. I CAN TRUST OTHERS
This one is tricky to explain, because ultimately no one is perfectly trustworthy besides God. I am not advocating blindly trusting people. What I am saying is that I saw a willingness in myself to relinquish control among men I trusted (both as people, and musicians). In relinquishing control to God, I allowed myself to trust these guys and relinquish control to them, because I knew God was leading them.
In my natural, controlling state, I would have fought to make the songs the way I wanted them to be. I would have figured out the order of songs myself, and not let anyone else have an opinion. I would have fought for things to go exactly as I thought they should. I wouldn’t have let anyone else sing any of the songs, and I especially would have fought to be the one to sing one of my favorite songs ever. (Ugly, ugly, ugly.)
As I struggled to fully relinquish things to God (which was a continual thing throughout the weekend), I found myself not caring at all. Not in a flippant or resigned way, but more in an at-peace way. I didn’t fight for songs to be the way I wanted (which is something I have previously struggled with a lot). As I said above, we played one of my favorite songs EVER, and to be honest, we didn’t play it as I would have done it. I was fine with it. I had absolutely nothing to do with the order of songs. I almost said something at one point, but I held my tongue and chose to trust someone else’s idea instead of pushing for mine. I didn’t fight to sing all of the songs. It wasn’t about me trying to be in the spotlight; who was I to say that someone else couldn’t sing a song that they wanted to sing? Someone from church told me last night that he wished I’d sung more on Sunday, that they (the band) should have let me sing more, and I didn’t really know what to say. It hadn’t crossed my mind at all. I was happy with the way things turned out, and I was fine with singing backup on several of the songs. (One of which was the favorite one.)
This may seem minor, or even confusing, but it is a realization for me. I have struggled for years to trust people. But when I know someone is following God, it is easy to trust them. Does that make sense? I trusted these guys because I knew God was leading them, and to me, that speaks far more of my instinctive trust in God than it speaks about my trust in people. I may say that I struggle to trust God, or even don’t trust him, but in this whole thing, I saw an aspect of my heart’s true trust in him. I don’t know how else to explain it, so if you don’t understand, I apologize. I tried.
4. MY HUSBAND TRULY LOVES ME
After everyone had left, Husband and I talked for a couple of hours. I explained some of how I was feeling, and was very open about some stuff I’ve been wanting to tell him. Regardless of the distance, negative feelings (like the guilt and stuff), and struggles, he really is on my side. He really does love me; and while I have never really forgotten this, it was just nice to be reassured. He is not my enemy, and I am not his. And again, it is not up to me. My role is not to save him, change him, fix him, or make him have a good relationship with God. That is the Holy Spirit’s role. My role is to love him, encourage him, support him, respect him, trust him, pray for him, and surrender him. And let God do what he is doing.
Because just like he showed me with this weekend, when I relinquish control to him, he redeems things. He makes good come from things that seem like they will not be good at all. He builds up, he restores, he encourages, and he brings beauty.
My husband needs to be redeemed. He needs to be rescued. He needs to be infused with a purpose straight from God. He needs to be overcome by passion and hope and love. He needs Jesus to change him, heal him, and free him.
Me getting my hands in there, trying to fight God for control, trying make things happen the way I (in my very shortsightedness) think they should or on my timetable, will not make things go any faster. In fact, it will only hinder (or at least delay) God’s work in him.
But trusting God? Surrendering my illusion of control, surrendering my husband? Laying him down at the feet of the only one who can help him and pull him through what he’s going through? Making myself available to God for whatever he wants to do through me? Allowing God to do what he is doing without questioning him, without fighting him, without freaking out? Trusting that God’s way of bringing redemption is infinitely better than my attempt at it? Trusting that he knows my husband intimately, and loves him more than I can ever dream of loving him? Trusting that he is good, that he is utterly for my husband, and that his plan for my husband’s life is one of LIFE to the full?
That will yield fruit. THAT will lead to change – change in me, first; and eventually change in him, because God will be free to get a hold of his heart. And that is what needs to happen here.
And when – WHEN – God breaks open the skies to save the day, WHEN he recaptures my husband’s heart and shows him who is in Christ, I’ll just be there to watch. I will see my husband rise from the ashes – a new man, with a new focus, and a healed heart.
And it won’t have had anything to do with me.