Hello again, blogosphere. It’s been a while. I tend to get silent when things get hard–when, honestly, I’m depressed. And there was a lot of that since the last time I wrote. And shame. Shame that hung around me like a cloak. Shame over weakness, shame over never being “good enough.” And how could I write from that place–that place of grappling and struggling and not-put-togetherness? I fought the lie once again that I had to have it all together, that I had to wait out the storm until I could write from a place of conquer and wisdom on the other side, not from the hurt and the questions in the midst.
I’m in a better place now, mentally, spiritually. But it’s not because I’m on the other side of a storm. In fact, I’d say I’m in the midst of one. And it took going deeper into the storm, or perhaps rather the onset of a new one, to bring me to that better place–going lower to get higher.
I found this draft (below) saved from a few months ago. I’m not sure why I never hit “publish.” But I find it fitting and timely for the season I’m currently in: a flare-up of a neurological condition and possible autoimmune disorder that’s sidelined me from work, and most of life, for a few weeks. A sort of “wreckage,” a breaking down to be built back up again. It’s a season that’s afforded me a lot of clarity, peace, and assurance of God’s love for me and sovereign control and care over every facet of my life. And I can honestly say that I’m thankful. Not just for the good that’s come out of this whole situation: my amazing friends and family supporting, caring for, and praying for me; a great team of medical professionals; an understanding employer. But for the trial itself. For the wreckage. For the being humbled. For finally learning what it means to rejoice in my weakness because that’s where Christ’s strength is made perfect and found to be totally sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9-10), rather than thinking I have to be strong on my own and resenting my weakness.
I think that’s what I was getting at when I wrote this–that it’s good to be reminded of our need of God. That the things He allows to get our attention are meant for good–not just for our own good, but for the good of others as well. So they can hear His strength, His love, His glory, through the megaphones of our storms, if only we’ll let Him speak through them.
It’s just like God to completely wreck me in the best way possible–and to use Facebook of all things to do it.
Things have been good lately. But God has a funny way of interrupting your life and reminding you that there can be great. And that “good” really isn’t good at all if you’re leaving Him out of it for the most part–if you’re content to cross your Bible reading off a list at the end of a day.
He did just that for me the other day–and I’m thankful.
I was gearing up for a quiet night of treating myself after a long day. Some chocolate while I Netflix and chill. (read: legit watch Netflix and chill in my bed. By myself.) But before I got to that, I sat in the kitchen and scrolled through Facebook as I ate said chocolate, mindlessly wasting time, with no clue that God was about to get my attention.
I came upon an article that a friend shared, a poignant reminder of a specific suffering that I endured earlier this year. It’s still a little too fresh to share with you all specifically what that suffering was, but suffice it to say that the article spoke directly to what I experienced, and brought up the pain afresh. That wound is healing, but still a little tender to the touch–and one of such a nature that it probably always will be, no matter how much time has passed. But that’s not a bad thing. That’s not the result of not properly grieving. That’s a result of living in a fallen world where we mourn the pain of loss–where mamas don’t quite get over the grief of burying a baby. Where little girls lose daddies to the battlefields of wars on terror. Where sickness strikes and turns a household on its head. Where people live with all kinds of pain that you just don’t completely move past–it may just not sting as much all the time.
This is where we live. It’s messy and painful.
But I know this: it is also beautiful.
It’s strange to say that, but I believe it to be true.
I believe pain is where God meets us.
In the garden where the pain of shame cuts deep and causes us to hide: He comes for us.
In the streets where we drown in the crowds–but dare to hope for healing by the hem of a garment: He turns to seek us out in the sea of faces.
In the darkness of loss of health and home and family: He comes down and questions if we were there when He made the world. He reminds us who we are, puts us in our place, and comforts us as the children of the Creator of the Universe, all at once.
If we let it, pain pushes us toward Him–and pulls Him toward us.
I cry to Him my hurt. But I do so within the comfort of His hand holding me. I tell Him how I know He hears–and how I’m thankful for that. How I’m thankful for the unexpected interruption that shook me out of my complacency–not that there’s anything wrong with eating chocolate and watching Netflix. But I was completely content to continue my evening without even a hint of communion with Him. And He wanted more. He came for me. He reminded me of my pain, but He did it to heal me deeper–fuller–as I entered into the grief of my loss once again.
I tell Him how I know others have suffered far worse than I have–and yet He hears me still and heals. He doesn’t invalidate my pain. He instead uses it to awaken me. Awaken me once again to His healing hand. To the pain of those around me, of those all over the world. To those who’ve suffered at the hands of injustice–or perhaps their own choices. Regardless, they hurt. And they need hope. And I am awakened once again to a greater reality than chocolate and Netflix. And how I don’t want to waste my days away with ears shut and eyes closed to the cries and suffering of countless souls. How I don’t want to have only lived for my own comfort, with only ever a fleeting thought here and there to the plight of the world and what I might do to help. I sit on the edge of my bed and cry, and pray. And I keep my laptop open, but now it’s to write, not Netflix. I must get it out. Writing is part of the process of not staying the same, not staying complacent–of getting out on paper, or computer screen, this dissatisfaction with living comfortably.
But then eventually the fire fades. It can take as little as a few days. I’m back to mindlessly scrolling through Facebook when He does it again: lets my eyes come upon an article that makes me say, “Whoa,” and I know it’s another wake-up call. While the first one dredged up some old hurt, which reminded me of how others hurt and thus spurred me, albeit temporarily, out of complacency, this one was more a specific call to action: speaking up. It reminded me that actually living a life that is not comfortable and complacent starts with taking some action. It means standing up and speaking up when everyone else is sitting and silent. It means being willing to take a few hits. It means caring less about your reputation, and more about God’s glory, and the eternal fate of the souls surrounding you. It means being bold enough to expose evil, even when it doesn’t feel “nice.” I am called to be kind, and to love–not to be nice. And I’m not being very kind or loving if I’m being nice at the expense of the truth.
Ouch. For a people-pleaser like me, that’s not easy. I want to be nice. I want to make everyone around me comfortable and happy. But I have been wrecked once again by a God who loved me enough to not just be nice to me, and let me be comfortable in my sin that separated me from Him. And I have not been wrecked to now sit comfortably in my Christianity. I have been wrecked to be built up again, to bring the message of hope to those who need it, too. To the hurting, yes. But also to those who think they have no need of God. Who stand for what is wrong in the face of their Creator, and call themselves brave in the process. What’s really brave is telling them they’re wrong when they are, and pointing them to the Remedy, Truth Himself.
In the wreckage, I am awakened once again to all that’s really real. Hurt and evil and mess, and even beauty–yes, beauty. Because a God so big that He created the Universe, can bring beauty out of broken places. And there’s beauty in being brave. In running to the rescue of refugees. In fighting for the rights of the unborn. In exposing evil, abusive individuals.
This is how I’m choosing this brave, beautiful life, how I’m not letting getting wrecked be a waste:
I’m writing. I’m sharing my story. I’m not letting fear or shame hold me back any longer. I’m telling the tale of depression and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (in the weeks to come) to shed light on these very real issues, and help point those who may be walking those dark paths to the light of Hope.
And I’m praying. Because I believe the bravest and biggest battles can be won on our knees, not because of the words we recite, but because of the One who hears them and acts on our behalf. I’m pleading with Him to open my eyes to the needs of those around me, and to guide me to the opportunities He lays out before me.
And then there’s all of you. The compassionate, the hungry for more than the American Dream, for more than self-sufficiency, for more than your own comfort. For a life that’s wrecked to be built up again for a greater purpose. And this is how you live it: when you hurt, cry to Him. Trust He hears. And then let your heart identify with every other hurting heart in this world. Remember the Hope that brings you healing, and let it usher you into the places that that Hope needs to go, where Truth needs to prevail, where evil needs to die.
Where is your battlefront?
Is it the front lines of the pro-life movement? Or is it meeting the women who’ve already chosen abortions where they’re at, helping them walk through grief and regret, and introducing them to the One who offers the forgiveness and healing they need?
Is it helping hungry children half-way across the world, by feeding their bellies–and their souls? Maybe you go. Maybe you send money. Maybe you get on your knees and plead for them. Maybe you do all three.
Is it standing up to sex trafficking? Fostering children? Combating homelessness? Helping addicts find recovery and redemption?
Maybe it’s not just one of these. And maybe it’s something entirely different. Whatever that something is, do it. Don’t fight the weight of the wreckage. Let it wreck you. Let the walls of complacency and self-protection fall. And then let yourself be rebuilt by the One who wrecks you–because He loves you. And then stand up. Be bold. Run to those who need Hope, who need Truth–because He loves them, too. And He has let the wreckage hit, and the pieces fall, for such a time as this–for such people as them.