There comes a point when you are just done. You hit a wall and can go no further. For me, it was this weekend – I came to a place where I was just over myself. I think my flesh has been having a field day with me, and the bitterness, cynicism and doubts that I have allowed to fester have been contributing to its takeover of my heart and life. I have been trying to fit the world into my theology, wanting things to be different than they actually are. I was fighting what I knew at the outset was a losing battle: wrestling with God about things I didn’t like or didn’t want. Or that I was angry about or thought were oh so unfair.
I felt the walls closing in, and I wanted out. But “out” felt even more oppressive than being “in”, and I hit rock bottom on Friday night. None of my outrage was creating anything positive, and it certainly was not leading toward anything resembling a solution. As hot tears ran down my face, I cried out to God, and asked what shall I do? The answer was so simple, I almost laugh at the absurdity of it all.
As the untwisting of the pretzel that had become my soul began, I realized that all I needed to do was return.
Return to the Lord. Return to His Word. Return to grace.
I wonder if you can relate to my story. I share it so that, if by chance you can, you may find hope and a reminder that God has not forgotten you.
To speak (or write) about it now, seems so abrupt, so clean. Like it all happened in a span of two weeks and now all is well. But nothing could be further from the truth. This has been a long time coming – years in the making. I simply could not name it, could not put words to it. Hence, the silence that haunted my blog. The desert in which I resided saw no relief – or so it seemed – and my most cherished outlet was cut off completely. There were no words to write, no prayers to utter that could touch it. I was swallowed up by my doubt, my anger, my frustration and cynicism. And it shut up my heart, my mind and my mouth, leaving me literally speechless.
Outwardly, I looked absolutely normal. I have this whole Christian thing down – I know the language, the moves, the right moments in worship to raise my hands. There were moments where I could sense it, where a small glimpse of light would invade and the inward matched my outward expression. But it was few and far between. Partly because of pride – I have to save face after all – and partly because I didn’t know what else to do, I pressed forward. Each brick wall would harden me further, but to what end? I didn’t understand it.
My prayers would either bounce back to me or rise up into the air, seemingly going nowhere, received by no one, achieving nothing. All the normal Christian answers felt fake, lifeless; I became completely disaffected by any of them. But that fake plastic smile never left my lips. Who could know of what I was really going through? No one; I had to keep it to myself.
I can’t point to one particular thing that has brought me here. Wallowing in the mud seems to have brought me to a place of epiphany, or more bluntly, a “duh” moment. If I had a Nerf bat, I’d knock myself in the head with it…it was all seemed so completely and absurdly unnecessary.
Every December I write out a prayer for the new year, usually consisting of goals I’d like to achieve or prayers I’d like answered. This year was very different. Instead of goals and specific prayers, a phrase keep turning over in my mind as I thought about 2015: No more pretending. It occurred to me this weekend that God might actually be taking that seriously. Shocking, huh? You know that cliché, “be careful what you wish for…”? I’m living that right now…in spades! When the masks come off, and you see what’s really underneath, it is not pretty. I wanted to run, but there was no escape from it. To use a familiar phrase, you come to the end of yourself and recognize that all the things that you used to prop yourself up were worthless, fleeting, and useless to help you find the meaning and purpose you were looking for.
But as the masks fall off and I come face to face with what resides in my heart, I feel a sense of relief. Keeping so many balls in the air at once is exhausting. But beyond that, I found the one thing that I had taken for granted all these years is actually breathing life into me afresh.
Grace. How utterly simple.
My previous post was a list of all the things that I have been using to try to define myself, to give worth and purpose to my life. All of them have left me empty and parched, desperate for even a drop of cool water on my tongue. But only grace – grace poured out from a loving Father who knows all that is hidden deep within but still loves me – can give worth and purpose to me, can define and shape me to truly live as I was meant to live. And although I will spend the rest of my life working out the beautiful reality of this salvation I have found in love of my Father poured out in the blood of His Son and my Lord, I can rest in today this really is enough.
He is enough for me…always…