(September 23, 2017, Self Portrait)
I’ve been on a “people suck” kick lately.
I’ve been annoyed, angry, frustrated, impatient…
Recently, I’ve entered into a new season; one that is very different and hard to navigate. I have gone through so many emotional highs and lows. I’ve been joyful, I’ve been full of sorrow, I’ve been grateful, and I’ve been furious.
But most of all, I’ve been hurt.
It has seemed that everywhere I turn there is an unkind word or a painful memory or someone who seems not to care.
The other day I hit such a low point and broke down; believing every lie that has ever been spoken about me.
Maybe other people aren’t the problem. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I really am selfish and bitter and weak. Maybe I really have resorted to hurting other people without even knowing it because that’s how toxic I am. Maybe me feeling like no one is proud of me is actually true because maybe there’s nothing to be proud of. Maybe the worst parts of me are all that are left. I have tried to speak life, stay positive, and be a light but I feel like everything I touch dies.
That’s a dangerous place to be:
Sitting on my bedroom floor. Crying so hard that it felt like my chest was going to cave in from heaving. Looking up and telling God:
“Nothing has ever hurt this much. Why does it hurt so much? Make it go away. I feel like I could die.”
After being in a good place, feeling like God was growing me and taking me higher, I crashed.
But that’s the thing about God; He doesn’t just take you higher, He takes you deeper.
To the darkest parts of yourself.
He didn’t speak to me in that moment if that’s the part you’re waiting for. And to be honest, I don’t really know why He didn’t.
Maybe because I expected it.
Because it is not His job to give me what I expect.
Or maybe He didn’t speak to me because He was waiting.
My best friend said one Sunday during a worship set:
“If you’re wondering and have asked God: Why can’t I feel You? Why haven’t You delivered me?…Maybe it’s because He’s waiting for us to draw the line and say no more.”
Maybe in what felt like rock bottom, God was saying: “I’m waiting. Waiting for you to wake up. Waiting for you to realize who you are and who you belong to. You’ve had your moment, now it’s time to get up. It’s time to say no to all the hurt, all the lies, all the bitterness.”
One of my favorite moments in the Bible is when Joshua and his men are standing before the Lord; beside themselves with loss, tearing their clothes, falling on their faces, and weeping.
“Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side! Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies? For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?” But the Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up.”
(Joshua 7:7-10 NLT)
Why didn’t God speak comforting words over Joshua?
Because Joshua knew who he was. Joshua already knew who God had called him to be. In that moment God was saying to Joshua:
“Stand up! You already know who you are and you know who I am. Have I not spoken to you of my promises? Have I not been faithful? I don’t need to remind you of all that I’ve done for you because you already know.”
And I believe that’s what God was saying to me in my moment of distress.
Encourage yourself in the Lord, remember?
It’s so funny that even after I wrote Yourself; the letter about leading and encouraging yourself in Christ, I still have to remind myself to do the same.
Pastor Heath Adamson once said:
“Could it be that the world is just waiting for us to realize who we are?”
The truth is, God does and will remind you of who you are and who He is, but more often we have to remind ourselves.
Some days are hard.
Some days it’s hard to get out of bed…and some days I don’t.
It’s hard to put a smile on my face and love people.
Some days it’s hard to look at myself in the mirror.
It’s hard to not think about all the mistakes I’ve made and the wrong I’ve done. It’s hard to remember I’m beautiful.
Some days it’s hard to forgive.
It’s hard to remember that I’m healed. That I’m free.
But today, I remember.
I remember that I’m loved, cherished, and adored by my Father in Heaven and by my family and friends.
I remember all that God has done for me and what He has promised He’ll do.
I remember that I’m whole because when Jesus was pierced by nails and holes were left in His body, that meant that He chose to become incomplete so I wouldn’t have to be.
I remember that even when I can’t see a way out, there still is one because He made a way where there was none.
This past Sunday I was reminded of the moment Jesus had in Gethsemane in Mark 14.
“Jesus told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
(Mark 14:34-35 NLT)
Jesus Christ. The Son of God. The King of kings and the Lord of lords. My Savior…
In all His perfection, cried out to God and said:
“There must be another way. Please. It hurts too much.”
I sometimes forget that Jesus was human, which sounds silly because that was the whole point of His sacrifice, but it’s true. I think we all forget sometimes. We forget that He had the same emotions we do.
Jesus was angry when he flipped tables in the temple.
He felt betrayed when Judas sold Him out.
He was heartbroken when He told God in Gethsemane:
“Take this pain away from me.”
And as I read Mark 14 again, I found myself weeping.
I realized all over again how He understands what I feel and what I go through because He went through it too; He became me because He loved me. (Melissa Helser)
And I found myself falling in love with him all over again.
Maybe in those moments: moments of crying out in sorrow and weakness, but also moments of growth and becoming closer to the heart of God, just maybe
He falls in love with me too.
I know who I am. I know who He is.
Even on days that are hard. Even though I have to remind myself sometimes.
And that is my comfort; that is why I’ll keep going.
(P.S. “Trouble and anguish have come upon me, but your commandments are my delight.”
Psalm 119:143 NKJV)