The last two weeks of my life have felt more like two months... maybe years if I really want to be dramatic. Yeah. Let's go with years. That last two weeks have pretty much lasted FOREVER.
There we go. Moving on.
"Why has it felt so long?"
Funny you should ask... Reader.
The last two weeks have been somewhat of a spiritual "funk" for me. Not necessarily bad... just not great. Still. Quiet. A little awkward honestly.
For starters, after moving into a new apartment (shout out to the folks for lending a LARGE helping hand) I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I don't know what it is about moving, transition, change, etc. that is so hard on me. I hate it. I hate going from comfortable routine, predictability, and familiarity to ... not those things. I hate quickly and suddenly losing those things because I am forced realize that I crafted a small but very secure identity in those things. To lose them is to lose myself. I don't like starting over from scratch. What then am I left with? I don't like uprooting. To dig another set of roots takes time and well… I’m busy. Perhaps more truthfully, I make myself busy because I inwardly know that where my time, energy and focus goes is not where it should.
Change just doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel natural. It's not fun.
Exhaustion for me typically turns into an “entire being” issue. Here’s what I mean. When I don’t get enough rest physically, I lose my ability to concentrate well. I lose focus easily, which then creates stress because I become overwhelming aware of my “offness” and I am just sure that everyone around me is appalled at my humanity. Then the water-works start. While I may be an emotional person, very rarely do I express it through tears. Some doubt my tear ducts even work. My mother has in fact made the statement (semi-seriously) that she thinks I’m heartless because she hasn’t seen me cry in ….*counting in my head*… a long time.
Needless to say, a few consecutive nights with little sleep typically ends in a meltdown and a blubbering call to Mom asking her to fly me home.
I didn’t quite round all the bases of this routine, but I did make it far enough to compromise my time with the Lord; I did get tired and distracted enough that I let me guard down just long enough to vulnerable.
Like clock work, I began to question everything from my performance at work to the solidity of my closest friendships; from my ability to do any job anywhere (because I was sure I would get fired) to ever really knowing where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing with my life, ever.
Same song, second verse. Been here, gone through this a time or twelve. And yet, it caught me by total surprise and had me completely unraveled. I couldn’t believe I was back here, dealing with, fighting off, and thinking twice about the unoriginal lies that I had heard more times than I’d like to count.
Sunday morning rolled around and I fled to church. I wanted to be nowhere else. I wanted nothing other than sanctuary.
It was the refreshing and renewal I needed. Worship was poignant, saturating my parched spirit; the message was simultaneously comforting and challenging. Then, in the midst of the moment, I felt an urge of holiness. “Lord, please reveal to me my sin; show me what it is that it holding me back from pressing forward into you. Break my heart. Strip me and make it clear what the hindrances are that are blocking my path to you.
Sure enough, He heard. Then He answered. Awesome.
Turns out I’m more screwed up then I had anticipated. And instead of immediately being relieved that He answered my prayer so quickly and clearly, I become almost instantly discouraged and horribly flooded with guilt.
“Good night nurse! All of that Lord? All those things? That big, fat, massive, list…? Those are my sins? Those are the things that are setting up road blocks to you? Need I remind you of my delicate emotional state? I was irrational when I asked you to reveal my sin. You should have known that this would be more than I can handle. I mean honestly.”
Instead of divine sympathy, He gave me a verse. Again, not really what I wanted, but given my desperation I looked it up.
2 Corinthians 7:10 “Godly grief brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…”
Huh. That’s a good one. I feel pretty grieved at the moment… and yeah, turns out I do want to repent. I would like to repent and be reintroduced with fresh eyes to the truth and power of the free gift of your salvation. And while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and leave my large load of guilt by the curb. Yeah, good call God.
As I read and reread the verse, stunned that I really heard from the Lord so directly, I discovered something that caused me to pause.
“Godly grief.” M’what? Sorry, but when is grief a “Godly” attribute. Why would God grieve? You lost me.
Then, in the same way as before, as if He were sitting right in front of me predicting my next question like a chess player predicts his opponents next move, He said “Isaiah 53.”
*flip flip flip*
Isaiah 54:3- “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief… 4Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…”
Oh yeah. You were fully human once. You were tempted. Probably a little more so than I will ever be, so I take it you know how it feels. You were separated from your Heavenly Father but were still in perfect communion with Him…so yeah, you probably had moments/days that you felt a little off. And then, the big one, you lived as a man in a fallen world. A really imperfect, messy, overwhelmingly sinful world in which you were the only one of your kind; hardly conducive for being able to relate to anyone else. You were alone.
Can’t say that I’ve been there.
And then, the truth of His Word began to sink in; He has walked where I am barely crawling. He has faced and defeated the same lies, deceit, and fears that have clouded my vision. He does know how I feel, what I’m thinking, and just how tumultuous my emotions are. He is Himself an emotional God. How then could we not be emotional? Reactive? Impacted by our circumstances and surroundings.
I loved how an author put it recently. In Genesis we are told that God created man in “His own image.” Basic, 1st grade Sunday school material. Not earth shattering by any stretch of the imagination. But it dawned on me that God’s image is not a mere reflection of His outer appearance. He is a spiritual and emotional being; filled with love, joy, peace, patience, etc. Those attributes and characteristics are hardly tangible things. Rather they are instilled; intrinsically and purposely planted in our souls that we use them for His glory.
My emotional outpourings are reflections of the Lord in and of themselves. When I am hurt, He hurts. In the same way, as a believer, when I see or hear something that mocks my God, I am burdened because it burdens His heart.
What an extraordinary and intimate relationship! What a phenomenal way that He would reveal more of Himself. What an incredibly close way to draw us nearer to Himself, than to allow us the privilege to feel the feelings of His heart.
So I came to the conclusion that, whatever my emotional reaction to the moment, person, etc., it creates an opportunity for me to draw closer to the heart of God. To see Him more clearly, to know Him more dearly, and to follow Him more nearly.
And it might be a little overwhelming, but that only opens the door then for Him to overwhelm me with more of Himself.