Thursday, September 26, 2013

So if you’re feeling like it’s falling apart

I really don’t even know what to say.

My heart is heavy. My mind is filled with all kinds of stuff. My stomach churns and won’t stop. I keep vacillating between the godly response, and the way my natural self wants to respond. I want to stand up for myself; I want to give ultimatums; I want to do something that will change something. I want to be the reason that things change.

And, out of fear of being that demanding, controlling woman, I go the opposite way – and become the needy one, the clingy one, the manipulative one.

UGH.

I am frustrated, hurt, discouraged, and weary. I am so, so weary. I don’t know how to fix the things I am dealing with. And I know I can’t fix it – which makes it harder to deal with, because I want to fix it.

And I know – I KNOW – I have to surrender to God. When I start feeling this way, getting bogged down by all of this crap, by lies and fear and frustration and doubt, the only “cure” is surrender.

I just get tired of surrendering. You know?

I am tired of having to be the one to make the first move.
I am tired of feeling like everything hinges on me.
I am justtired. I’m tired. I’m sad. I’m broken.

I want to be rescued. I justwant to be rescued. Without me having to – in my mind – manipulate that rescue.

I just want God to come and save me. And fix this.

I ache.

I ache for redemption, for fulfilled promises, for beauty. For life. For morning to shatter the darkness. For flowers to burst forth through the ruins. To see things made new.

And I wait.
And I wait.
And I wait.

And I wait.

And little things keep pricking holes in my hope, keep whispering, “Are you really sureare you sure that’s what God said?”

So it’s that age-old thing – “Did God really say?”

And I don’t know how to answer.
Because I, as sure as I want to be, I am so afraid of myself.

Maybe I give myself more credit than I should.
But I know my tendencies. I know how I manipulate things. I know how good I am at seeing what I want to see.

And with this, I don’t want to do that. I want to see what God is actually showing me. Nothing else.

I just don’t know how to let go of the past.

Several years ago, God gave me some promises. And I took them and applied them to my very limited view of the situation. And I was POSITIVE that God was going to come through as I imagined because I was POSITIVE that HE had given me those ideas. That he had shown me what he was going to do. So I trusted, because I believed.

And then, what I thought would happen – what I thought GOD had told me would happen – didn’t happen.

And I rolled with it, I did. I stumbled a little at first, but I kept seeking God. I forced myself to believe that he had something else in mind. But I still trusted him, still believed that he would come through right away. And, as far as I could tell, he didn’t. He (seemingly) did the very thing I said he wouldn’t do – let us drop.

And I fell. I fell hard.

Looking back, I can see that it was not because he lied, but because I saw what I wanted to see and assumed it was from him, since I saw it. I took my eyes from him, and placed them on my own ideas, my own manufactured plans. And my plans – NOT his – fell apart.

Yet, it FELT like he promised me something, then changed his mind at the last second without telling me. And watched, vindictively, while I lost my footing. And shook his head at my stupidity.

I truly, truly felt like he had betrayed me. Like he had lied to me. Like he had purposefully deceived me. And while I know that that is not true, those feelings, to a point, still linger. I can tell myself truth, but the truth is, I still believe some of the lies.

I am still hurt. It still brings tears to my eyes. I am still afraid. I am shyer now, hesitant to step out like I did then. I feel like I got burned, and I’m not as willing to reach into the fire again.

I have come through it a lot.
But I have not fully recovered.

It still haunts me.

Haunts me every time I think about reading the Bible.

Haunts me every time I hear or see or read something that seems to confirm what God seems to have said.

Haunts me and makes me question what I’ve heard, question what I, in my heart, believe to be true.

And I don’t know how to stop listening to it. To stop being haunted. To stop clinging to the past. I don’t know how to let go. I am not trying to hold on; it’s like it is holding me, inside of me, and I can’t access it. I can’t rid myself of it. And I am so afraid of doing that again, of feeling those things again, of going through that struggle again. I don’t feel like I would be any better at it this time. I don’t feel like I would respond differently. I don’t feel like I’ve learned anything. I am terrified, traumatized, paralyzed.

And I can say that I’m not. I can say all the right things. I know all the right answers. I know the Bible, and where to find the things I want to read to encourage me in my possible self-delusion. I know how to see only what I want to see. I know how to manipulate things to fit into the plan I have authored.

But I don’t want to manipulate. I wish I didn’t even have that tendency. I so wish that was not part of me. It is disgusting, and it is destructive.

All I want – in my life, my marriage, in everything – is to do what God wants, to be who he wants, to fulfill the purpose for which he created me.

And I am so afraid of missing it. I am so afraid. I’m so afraid.

God, help me.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The great unknown

My husband and I are starting to seriously contemplate moving to Nashville, TN.

There are a bazillion things to think of with all of this, of course. But really, if he could find a job there that pays relatively well, and if we could find a place to live, then what is stopping us?

I would miss my family. I would miss working with my mom, and walking with her. I would miss church and the friends I have made there. I would miss the familiarity of this area, the only area I’ve really ever known.

It is sort of terrifying to think about. We know people who know people in Nashville, and I myself know a tiny handful. But that’s it.

The place is all but unknown.

Yet, something about that is exciting to me.

My biggest concern, in all of this is to be where God wants us. To go where he leads.
And right now, I truly do not know where that is.

I’ve thought for a while that this place, where we live now, is where we are meant to be.

But maybe it’s not.

Maybe there is a reason my husband has never really made friends here, never really felt happy here, never really put down any roots here, never really connected to anyone at church.

Maybe God has been whispering to us in our discontent. In our aching to live in the country and in our inability to find a house that is affordable, accessible, and in a place even remotely country.

Part of me says that wanting to live in a different environment is a silly reason to move. “You want to live in the country but don’t? Uh, get over it. You live here; make the most of it. And stop complaining about needing trees, ya weirdo.”

The other part is like, “Well, if you want to live in the country so bad, then do it! There ARE other places to live, and people live there too. This is not the only place in the world. And there are other places that might fit you much better than this place. Just because you’ve always lived here doesn’t mean you always have to live here.”

Honestly, pretty much all that holds us here is our families and his job. And while that is nothing to scoff at, there is something so appealing to the idea of just leaving and starting over. Making a new life where the only people we really have to rely on (at least at the beginning) is each other and God.

It feels so wild. Uncertain. Unpredictable. Kind of crazy. And while there is fear associated with that, there is also a longing.

Two of my favorite, unrelated songs, use the same term: “The great unknown.”
It’s not the most original thought, but still.

The great unknown.

“You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown, where feet may fail.”

“If you never leave home, never let go, you’ll never make it to the great unknown.”

God is God in Ohio.
God is God in Tennessee.

And if he is calling us to go, I want to go.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Left my fear by the side of the road

That title is from the Hillsong song, “All I Need.” It was one of the first songs my phone shuffled to this morning.

I paused as the song began and winced, as I usually do, as they sang that line.

“Left my fear by the side of the road.”

Left it there, by the side of the road.
Like road kill, like trash.

LEFT it.

Hillsong songs often challenge me with their declarations, and this is one of those songs that does that to me.

Fear.

Fear rules so much of my life.
More than I even know.
Sometimes it is little things (like my very irrational, and borderline comical, fear of bees); sometimes it is bigger (like my fear of releasing control to God).  

My fear is inconsistent. My fear is frustrating.
My fear is, in many ways, me.

I have talked about this before, via several different outlets, but basically, something God is showing me is just how much of my personality is built on fear.

I have, for so long, thought my personality was me. Been confined by who I believe myself to be. Done the whole, “This is how I am, and I can’t change it. This is just who I am.”

Yeah, no. No, it’s not. This is who I am because of fear. Not who I am because of Jesus. That girl, that redeemed girl – she is so different from the person I usually am that I am not even sure who she is.

Every day, I live in fear.
And I live out of fear.

Fear of rejection.
Fear of abandonment.
Fear of not being good enough (even if in only my eyes).
Fear of not being loved/being seen as unlovable.
Fear of messing up, making mistakes, failing in any way.
Fear of being seen as less than perfect.
Fear of being seen as better, or worse, than I am.
Fear of being seen as inauthentic and fake.
Fear of being seen as prideful and vain.
Fear of not being in control.
Among others.

Fear is one of the greatest enemies to the life I desire. To the life God has for me. To the person I was created to be.

Pride manifests itself in many ways within my heart, but one of the biggest ways, if not the biggest is fear.

Because fear, at the core, is pride. (Maybe not fear of bees, but ;) )

Sorry if that offends you. Hear me out.

Ultimately, fear is rooted in a distrust (or even ignorance) of God’s character/heart. Fear whispers, “God can’t be trusted, God won’t do it right, God will let you down, God doesn’t care, and God isn’t there. You can’t trust him. You can only trust yourself.”

Um, I’m sorry, but when did I become the most reliable person to place my trust in?
Even I am not on my side most of the time.

I am tired of being ruled by fear.
I read that I am no longer a slave to fear (Romans 8:15); yet I don’t begin to live like it.

But I want to.
I want to be free of fear, to live passionately, to live valiantly. (Ah, that is a beautiful word: “valiant.” So Medieval-ish.)

The key to freedom from fear, I believe, is found in the next line of the song: “Hear you speak, and won’t let go.”

Hearing God speak.
Knowing his voice.
Really listening – and not letting go of him, of what he says, of who he is.

Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Dismantles it. Reveals it as the lie, as the farce, that it is.

Perfect.
Love.

R doesn’t cast out fear.
Striving doesn’t cast out fear.
Positive thinking doesn’t cast out fear.

Only Love does.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Take back your former throne, and turn the tide

I stayed up this morning when my husband left for work. I usually don’t. I, uh, I don’t want to say when I usually get up, because it is embarrassing, but today, today, I was awake by a little after 5, and I didnt go back to sleep.

Go.
Me.

So I was jogging at around 7:30. The sun was just coming up; I could see hints of pink in the clouds, whispering of the growing light.

And it sort of became a game with me – a game of looking for the sun between the houses, wondering when exactly I’d see it, with the full expectation that I would see it.

And as I did this, I breathed aloud, firmly, “I will NOT give up until I see the sun.”

Struggles have marked my relationship with my husband nearly from the beginning. I have gone through periods of hope and disillusionment while he has just kind of spiraled down further and further. To be quite honest, if God were not in the picture, I don’t know if we’d still be together. I might have left or be in the process of leaving. Not at ALL because I don’t love him, or because he doesn’t love me, or because I want someone else (ew), but because I would not have any hope. I would be so discouraged, and hurt, and frustrated, and just at a loss. I wouldn’t know why I act the way I do, wouldn’t have compassion toward him for being the way he is, and there would be only dysfunction.

But I do have hope. Whether I hold to it well is another issue, but the fact of the matter is that hope is available. Hope is real. Hope is alive.

Hope says that we are not too far gone. That we are not too broken. That we are not too disconnected. That we are not too different. That our issues are not irreconcilable.

That we can be saved. Healed. Restored.
And that we will be.

God has given me soooo many promises; I can’t even begin to recount them all. (Though I should try.) Songs, verses, messages, visions, dreams – confirmation after confirmation after confirmation. And just when I start thinking that I have nothing left, that I can’t do this anymore, that nothing can fix any of the issues we have: another confirmation.

God has not changed his mind about us.

That just came to mind, accompanied by tears.

God has not changed his mind about us. God has NOT changed his mind about us. No matter the struggles, no matter the frustration, no matter the stubbornness, he chose us. And he hasn’t gone back on his choice. He doesn’t regret it. Nothing has changed in how God sees us.

He brought us together.
He brought us together for a purpose.

His plan, his purpose, the purpose for which he united our lives and hearts, has stood. Is standing. Just as he promised it would.

Circumstances and issues haven’t changed it, haven’t shaken him from his throne. None of our struggles have come as a surprise to him. He is not confused by us, or unsure how to fix us. He has not allowed things because he is cruel or detached but because he sees how powerful it will be when it is redeemed.

The last few years have not sidelined his plan, or detracted from it – they are part of it.

When I look at us, honestly, I see only us. Us, and maybe a few people that we impact, a couple people we inspire, another handful that we help to deliver from darkness. Good stuff, but so insanely (and ridiculously) shortsighted.

But God sees something else. Something bigger.
Something much, much bigger.
He sees how we will impact not only people, but generations.
He sees how we fit into his Kingdom, how eternity will be affected because of us.

For so long, the thought of God’s plan for my life has terrified me.
I want that to change.
I want to be excited. Eager. Delighted.

I want to be expectant.

There was no question in my mind over whether I would see the sun this morning.

That is how I want to be when it comes to God.
That certain, that convinced, that full of faith.
That confident that I will see what I hope to see.

So much of the struggle stems from me. My stubbornness. My faithlessness. My vacillation. My woundedness. My distrust. My refusal to release my decaying piece of nasty pride, to take hold of everything he has for us. My inability – or unwillingness – to hold onto his promises when the waves start to rise and the boat starts to rock.

In this, I am beginning to see just how horrifically deep my pride goes. How wretchedly far I have fallen from original glory. How insidiously deceiving the satanic spell has been.

And in this, I not only have the chance to lay down more of my pride, but I have the chance to let him change me. And to see how patient he truly is with me. How very patient. And persistent. And faithful.

No matter how faithless I am, no matter how much I doubt, he just keeps reaffirming everything. And poking little holes in the darkness. I’ll flip on the radio and hear the song I need to hear. I’ll open my Bible, and the first thing I see is the exact verse I needed to read. I’ll have a dream where I fall over a hundred feet (I am quite scared of heights), and his hand rests beneath me, slowing my descent to almost nothing, and then setting me gently onto my feet on solid ground.

I can’t make the sun rise. I can’t make the dawn break. Not in the physical world and not in our marriage, either. God has already decided the timing of things. And now, we are waiting.

Back when my husband first started really struggling (that I saw, at least), I had this thought: “I wonder if this is for me just as much as – if not more than – him.”

Time has proven me far more correct than I would have imagined when I thought that thought.

This is for me. This has been for me. God is using my husband’s struggles to not only draw him back to him (which they eventually will), but to save me. To heal me. To change me.

It isn’t about making things happen.
It isn’t about striving.
It isn’t about manipulating or controlling. (Disgusting personality traits in me, by the way. Ugh.)

It is about continuing on the path before me, and waiting for God to call the sun forth.
It is about keeping my eyes open, and delighting in every tiny half-glimpse of brilliant orange that I see.
It is about trusting the one who IS faithful.

Because soon, the hurt will lead to healing. Soon, the dark will break into morning.
Soon, everything that hasn’t made sense, will bring me to my knees in awe.

I will surely forget these troubles, recalling them only as water gone by.
And life will be brighter than noonday.

This WILL turn out for our deliverance.

Oh, the sun is coming. It’s coming.
God, help me hold on.