Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Is this really my life?

I've been quiet here for awhile, writing mostly in my private journal or just letting my thoughts turn over and over inside my mind before they come out in quiet conversation with my husband or closest friends... But I miss this space so much. Sometimes fear holds me back from sharing, from being vulnerable or honest on this type of more public platform. Fear of man... fear of being misunderstood, fear of being judged. Fear that people with no context for what I'm going through right now will make assumptions and judgments that only hurt me more. (Truly almost no one knows the scope of the multiple situations that all exist simultaneously in my life right now.) Or the biggest fear... that people will misread or misjudge my character. But when something really stirs on my heart I don't want fear to keep me back from what I'm called to. And I've seen over and over again that when I share (or when others share) from a place of vulnerability, it brings connection and hope. I see the beautiful souls of other people walking their own roads of heartbreak and pain and suffering, trauma or tragedy, but with the common thread of finding something good in the ashes. Coming together in brokenness to find healing. To find growth. To find community and freedom and to see the bigger picture that God is working in us all. Watching beauty slowly unfold itself in the midst of the mess, watching joy come in the morning. I see the souls of people who have walked these kinds of roads in the past and have come out on the other side already, standing up and cheering us on, or holding out their hands to offer hope even while we're still in the midst of the valley. And if I focus on that the fear slowly recedes, and the courage to share begins to surface. Because I don't write for my critics. I write for my comrades.

So with that said.... here I go.

Sometimes there's a wrestling match that takes place in the human heart. It's born out of a deep tenacity and pre-disposition to fight for control in a sometimes uncontrollable world. Sometimes situations and circumstances beyond anything within our power to change or predict or mold with our own two hands come into our lives, and our microscopic humanity becomes painfully visible to us. In these moments we wrestle. We ask questions. Why? What did I do to deserve this? What could I have done to prevent this? How do I move forward from here? Why can't this all just go away? It's natural to search for answers. It's natural to want to understand why something happened to you in the first place. The questions are normal. The push back to get some feeling of control over your own life is almost automatic. But it's also a place we can get stuck.

I have found myself here. Faced with decisions I'd rather not make. Faced with choices where none of them feel good. Faced with obligations I would never ever ask for. Situations that feel like lose-lose. Wrestling with God... asking Him why me? Asking Him what I did to deserve to be born into this situation. Asking Him why I can't just run away from it all, or why He can't just make it all go away. Feeling angry, broken, lost, confused... acting like my life is mine and feeling like this is all just so unfair. On my knees.... "Jesus, why have you given this to me???" Crying in the dark of night. Waves of panic attacks... Inability to control my breathing... fighting for my life to protect my heart and not let one more dagger pierce... feelings of rejection spiraling out of control... fighting not to let the walls come back up, forcing myself to stay open, to not become cynical... to just breath in, then breathe out... to calm down... to wait for the pain to subside... Can anyone relate?

It was at about this point in my desperate sad frustration and wrestling that God met me. And He asked me a question.....

"Why do you think your life is yours anyway?" 

Eyes open. Tears standing poised on the edge of my eyelids but not quite spilling over anymore. That wave of chills over taking my entire body. That fresh life breathed into my spirit. That voice. That beautiful voice of truth and clarity when all else is chaos. Why do I think my life is mine anyway? Really, why? ...... I might not be able to control the situations and circumstances that are taking place in my life. BUT I CAN CONTROL MY RESPONSES TO THEM. I might not get to choose all of the events that take place in my life. But I can walk them out in a way that builds my character, with integrity, that gives glory to Jesus. I might never have an answer for why I was born into something that I would have no choice but to face, but I can choose to become better for facing it.

Then the next question, I asked it to myself. What do I deserve anyway? ...... I am vapor, I am dust. Every single breath I take is a gift. If these situations are included in the life He gives me, so be it. I will bear them with honor. In Job's darkest days He was asking questions and wrestling too. Turns out God had some questions of His own. I can't even read this passage without the booming and thundering power of His holiness and majesty completely gripping my heart. He asks me these same questions:

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
 On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone
 while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels[a] shouted for joy?
 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
    when it burst forth from the womb,
 when I made the clouds its garment
    and wrapped it in thick darkness,
 when I fixed limits for it
    and set its doors and bars in place,
 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
    here is where your proud waves halt’?
 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
    or shown the dawn its place,
 that it might take the earth by the edges
    and shake the wicked out of it?
 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
    its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light,
    and their upraised arm is broken.
 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
    or walked in the recesses of the deep?
 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
    Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
    Tell me, if you know all this.
 “What is the way to the abode of light?
    And where does darkness reside?
 Can you take them to their places?
    Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
 Surely you know, for you were already born!
    You have lived so many years!"

An eternal perspective will change your attitude in a heart beat. God doesn't condemn my wrestling, in fact, He invites it. He invites me to step in an grab hold of the impossible, the messy, the imperfect, the broken, and to embrace it and fight with it and to find the good in it. It's when I wrestle, ask the hard questions and cry out for the reasons and the answers that my humanity is met with His holiness. It's when my finite is met with His infinite. It's when He looks at me with His head slightly tilted and a gleam in His eye, and meets my tear stained, defiant gaze and says in that soft, loving, slightly teasing way, "Do you really think you know more than me?"

And that brings us full circle... Is this really my life? Maybe. And maybe not. My life is not my own. And yet the way I walk it out is fully my own. I believe the answer is this: Even though I don't have control, I still have choice. I can run from my situation, but that will not make it go away. Or I can embrace my situation, wrestle with it even, fully walk it out and make it a part of my story. And something beautiful might grow up in my heart because of it. That's what He promises us, after all.

It's ok to be the one who wrestles with my creator all through the night, til the dawn breaks and the sun begins to rise, and who shouts at the top of my lungs, "I will not let you go, unless you bless me!" Maybe I can walk away from that fight choosing not to focus on the limp, but choosing instead to focus on the fact that I have been marked by my maker, that I have wrestled with God and with humans, and have overcome. (Genesis 32:22-31)


  1. This really ministered to me this morning. Thank you for being honest and vulnerable.