Tuesday, September 3, 2013

If you could soldier on, headstrong into the storm

So, I kind of dropped off the face of the planet for a while. Sorry. Some of it was work-related. Most of it was not feeling like writing anything. Things have been hard. Since writing the “I will not give up until I see the sun” blog, I’ve just struggled. Struggled to stay focused, to hold on to that determination, that hope. To see the coming redemption through the darkness of the present circumstance. I always want to write something inspiring, something powerful, and honestly, sometimes I just don’t feel like I have anything to say.

A long time ago, I heard/read/was told that marriage is like a mirror – it shows you the real you. It reveals the condition of your heart. When you are close to someone else, you see yourself closely.

My husband and I are similar in a lot of ways. I mean, in some big ways, we are extremely different (I’m talking personality, not the fact that he is a man and I am a woman!), but we also have some deep similarities.

But I think I’ve learned more about myself than him through our relationship.
And what I’ve learned, what I’ve seen of myself – most of it is really ugly.

The things I thought I was over, issues and insecurities and fears that I believed I’d long since left behind me, are still oh so present in my heart.

The lies that I’ve believed for years are still so very influential in me, still so very “true.”

The wounds that never fully healed still fester in me – affecting how I relate to everyone, but especially my husband.

I’m not going to list off everything I am. Everything I struggle to stop believing about myself, about God.

Because that is the bottom line – it all goes back to God. Believe what you want about God, but the truth of the matter is that my marriage will never be what it could be until Jesus is the center, the foundation, the source, our everything.

And that will never happen in my marriage until he is those things for me, individually. (And my husband individually too.)

I am almost twenty-six. I have struggled to trust God as far back as I can remember. Some of the things I struggle with – heck, most of the things I struggle with – are admittedly incongruent to my life’s story. I truly don’t know why I am the way I am. I don’t know why I look at God the way I do. I don’t know why I believe what I believe about myself.

My struggles have never really been visible. My wounds didn’t come through definable actions (like abuse or something like that). It’s always been subtle with me. But just because something is covert instead of overt doesn’t make it any less real. It just makes it harder to identify and easier to overlook.

When I said, a few posts back, that I stepped into a warzone when I gave my life to God, I am not exaggerating. I do not remember ever feeling the “typical” “I am saved and I am so happy!” feeling. I’m not sure I ever had that.

But I remember struggle. Pain. Attacks – immediate, constant, and vicious. Aimed directly at my heart. And easily piercing their target.

And I was not prepared. I had no armor. I had no weapons or defense. I had no idea. I just didn’t want to go to hell.

You may laugh at me or mock my struggles because they aren’t “real struggles” like some people deal with, but I have been fighting to stay on my feet for half my life. My enemy is not drugs, or alcohol, or something else tangible – it is my mind. Good luck reining that in. Seems the more I try, the more I can’t.

I still feel the ramifications of those first days of war. I still feel the sting of lies many years old, still struggle to get rid of mindsets that I cannot determine the source of.

And all of this takes center stage in my marriage.
All of my fears play out before us, all of the lies get the spotlight on them, all of the wounds rise up just when I think I’m finally done with them.

Maybe I do think too much. Maybe I do complicate things. Maybe I am a drama addict, and so I create all of this stuff in my head to make my life seem more interesting than it is. Maybe I truly can’t handle a life without struggle, so I keep inventing things to struggle with.

I am trying so hard to be who God wants me to be. I am trying so hard to be a good wife.

And I feel like I just keep failing.

And I am not good with failure. I am not one of those people who look at failure as an opportunity to learn. That is honestly one of the most foreign things in the world to me; even as I wrote it, I wanted to laugh at how ridiculous it seems. Whether it is wound-related or personality-related, I am a perfectionist. I want to get everything right the first time, and if I mess up, it’s pretty much the end of the world. Seriously. The idea of a second chance or any number of subsequent chances is like it doesn’t make sense in my head.

And so when it comes to God, I’m just a mess. I cannot begin to count how many times he has told me to hold on, to keep going to trust him; how many promises and reminders he has given me. How many times he has met me right where I am and given me what I needed to hear/see – a verse, a song, a sign. And how many times I have held on, for a moment and then lost my grip. And then I feel like I’ve failed.

I literally feel like I am being battered from every side, and there is a shield around me. A shield I am holding up, a shield I have created. But my strength keeps faltering, and so the shield keeps weakening, dropping ever so slightly. And then everything slamming against the shield slams into me. There is no release. There is no reprieve. There is no pause in the battle, no moment where I can catch my breath.

I don’t know how to stop striving and just wait and just rest in God’s presence. And just let him fight for me. I don’t know how to let anyone fight for me. I don’t know how to stop fighting for myself, and I’m scared to.

In the past, any time I’ve tried to stop, I just get hammered. Because no one seems to be there. I drop the shield just long enough to peer around me, to see if there is anyone to helpand I find myself alone. And in my heart, though I have so many people who do love me on this battlefield, I feel so, so alone. I ache for someone to charge into the fray and stand between me and the onslaught, to come to my defense, and honestly, no one has ever really seemed to do that. Even God. And while I know he has his reasons, know he’s doing something in me I can’t yet see, it doesn’t do much to counter the lie that says I have to fight for myself because no one else will.

And this is where it comes down to trust. Because what I need to do is stop fighting. I need to drop the shield completely and trust that God will be there when I do. But I am afraid. Because in times past, when I have let the shield shift slightly, I have gotten hurt. Drop the shield completely, and stand there against my enemy with absolutely NO defense? Um, yeah, about that…

This is why I haven’t written in a while. I am frustrated. I am hurt. I am discouraged. I am disillusioned. I am tired. I am so tired. And how can I help my husband through what he is dealing with when I am struggling so much myself? And how can he help me when he is struggling?

Yet God is there, whispering, “Don’t give up. Just hold on. I’m coming. Trust me. Just trust me. I will fix this. I will restore everything. I will make this beautiful. I will be glorified. I will heal what is so broken. I will redeem what is so devastated. I will do it. I’ve got it. Don’t give up. I will make a garden spring up where there is nothing but weeds and ruins. I will do it. You don’t have to. Stop striving, and trust me.”

And my role is this is what it has always been: Surrender.

Laying down my illusion of control and trusting God’s actual control.
Surrendering my plans, my hopes, my fears, my reservations, my struggles, in exchange for HIS plan. Whatever it is, wherever it takes me, whatever blows I sustain.
Choosing to trust his heart and letting him heal mine.

I want to be different. I don’t want to live from my wounds, from the lies, from this fabricated personality. I want to be the real me. The free me. I want to be able to help my husband, to encourage him, to stand in the gap for him.

God, change me. Please, please change me. Make me the woman you want me to be.

Only you can save us, Jesus.
Only you can heal us, Jesus.
Only you can fix this, Jesus.
Only you, Jesus.

Make this “city” alive in you.

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