I have been struggling. Immensely. I feel like I am in the most intense battle I’ve ever experienced. Maybe I am. All of the stuff I’ve written on this blog – I feel like it’s been fake. I mean, it’s not; it is my true heart. But in this moment, I am holding onto a grand total of none of it. I feel utterly hopeless; I am terrified. I ultimately know that I am being sifted, I am being purified; so all of the crap in me is rising to the surface.
And I do NOT like what I see.
Anger. Manipulation. Terror. Bitterness. Unforgiveness. Extreme distrust.
The very word sickens me.
Me, rebellious. Rebelling against God.
Shaking my fist in his face and refusing to surrender, to obey.
I have only ever wanted to be good.
Only ever wanted to please God, honor him; do what he wants me to do, be who he wants me to be. (And never mess up at it.)
The Hillsong line, “The cry of my heart is to bring you praise,” makes me weep because it is the deepest truth in me.
And I have been trying all my life to be good enough.
Striving to please a God that I don’t feel I ever please.
I used to think that I viewed God as a controlling, demanding father-type, ready to dole out punishment for any slight misstep.
That is there, definitely. It is part of the fuel behind my perfectionism (as it relates to spiritual things).
But there is more.
Something else, something deeper; something that maybe once was very small, but now it has exploded.
I see God as abusive. Vindictive. Manipulative. Cruel. Malicious. Not merely demanding and hard to please – but impossible to please (while still demanding I do all of these things to please him). Impossible to predict. Not simply doling out too-harsh punishment for mistakes, but attacking for no reason at all. Playing with me. Taunting me. Deceiving me and then laughing about it. Taking away what I want and giving me something awful instead; dangling my desires in front of me, and then snatching them away at the last second. (And I know, I KNOW – I am describing Satan, not God. How I put every aspect of Satan’s personality onto God, I do not know.)
I am fully aware that many people grew up with that kind of influence, and by extension, likely view God in a somewhat similar way. (On the whole.)
I am also aware that that was NOT my upbringing. My father was not perfect, and our relationship (or lack thereof) has definitely impacted how I view God.
But he was not abusive.
In fact, I have never encountered ANYONE in my life – authority figure or not – who is abusive in really any way at all.
So why do I look at God that way?
I truly have no idea.
The greatest lie Satan ever told me is this: “You are not worth fighting for. No one will fight for you; you have to fight for yourself.”
Truth says that God will break open the skies to save me, that he is moved by my prayers, that he will rescue me from the pit. That he will answer whenever I call, that he will fight on my behalf.
Fear whispers, “But what if he doesn’t?” – and then goes and tries to prepare for what it feels is inevitable.
And so I am in this constant state of vacillation – jumping between relying on myself (who I know cannot do anything) and relying on God (who I feel won’t care enough to listen).
I love God.
I am terrified of God.
I cling to control not because I really want it – but because I feel trapped and see no other option.
And so, out of desperation, out of what I feel is necessity, I take control.
I fight for myself.
I keep my guard up, and keep everyone (including God) slightly away from me.
I expect to be disappointed, to be abandoned.
I make up scenarios of the worst things I can imagine happening and steel myself against them, so if it doesn’t happen, I am pleasantly surprised, and if it does, I have already resigned myself to it.
Ultimately, I rely on myself, and myself alone.
For me, my quest for control seems not to be rooted in an actual desire for it but in a deep mistrust of God’s heart, character, and affection. I take the reins reluctantly, and hold onto them out of fear.
Maybe I’m wrong.
Maybe there is more pride involved; maybe I am deluding myself. Maybe I truly DO want to be in control. Maybe I actually think I can do a better job than God.
But here is the thing.
Surrender does not feel hard for me.
And in that, I see something.
See, I WANT to give everything over to God. I feel desperate to surrender; I don’t want these things in my hands, I don’t want to feign control. I don’t want to play God in my own life. I know it’s not right, and I don’t want it.
So what holds me back? What keeps me encaged? What keeps control tight in my chest?
All of this seems to come down to one thing.
As it always has, always does:
I. Do. Not. Actually. Believe. That. God. LOVES. Me.
And so I do not trust his heart toward me.
I know the Bible. I was raised in church. I was raised to follow God. I want to follow him. I know that life exists nowhere else. I know his way is the right way, the best way; and I want that. I want nothing other than to live for him. I know the voice of God, and I know the voice of Satan. I know it all. There is very little in the way of spiritual truths anyone could tell me that I haven’t thought of, read, or heard before.
And I know what I need. Not more head knowledge, not more things to do.
I need a revelation, from God and only God; something that is clearly him. Something that I cannot wonder if I’ve manipulated, twisted, or if I’m just hearing what I want to hear. I don’t want to hear from me and so deceive myself. I want to hear from HIM, and KNOW without a doubt it is him.
I need to KNOW in the depths of my soul that he passionately loves me.
Until then, nothing will change. Nothing will heal.
To end on a slightly more positive note, I refer you to the title of this blog post.
It is from the song “Oceans,” by Hillsong. (Of course Hillsong.)
Since the first time I heard it, I have prayed it every time I hear it.
The bridge is this:
“Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders;
let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,
and my faith would be made stronger
in the presence of my Savior.”
Whatever else is happening in me right now, God IS still working. He is doing something. He is answering that prayer, that plea of my heart. He is taking the tiny amount of trust I have right now and addressing it. He is leading me into places where my trust will become without borders; he is calling me out into the unknown, where my feet may fail – but I will see that he does not.
This WILL make my faith stronger.
It’s just that, right now, in the midst of the struggle, I am not feeling very strong. Or trusting. I don’t know how to hold onto truths that God has shown me over the last few years, months, weeks.
Maybe I need to not hold to those truths so much as just hold to him.
Push everything else aside, and ask him to show me who he IS.
And who I am to him.