So Just WHAT Do I Need to Change?

Look at this:
Another
suggestion.
“God,” I whisper,
“You know that isn’t
what it felt like.”

I’m agitated about
the substance
of a conversation
with an acquaintance of mine.
She showed a keen interest
in learning my answer
to the Big Question
(“What are you doing
with your life,
hah-ney?”)–
that is, until she heard it
from me.

Then she seemed to
jump into gear,
prepared to fix
what wasn’t quite right.
Her advice came with a
subtext I had no
trouble absorbing
along with the words she spoke
(“This wasn’t a task
I was looking for tah-day,
but since you’ve
foisted
it upon me,
let’s try to work with me,
huh?”)

I don’t believe she ever heard
my heart.

Have you had a similar encounter?
You started out,
pleasantly surprised
by the attention
you were receiving
from someone
you didn’t know well,
but almost immediately
found yourself repenting of
your earlier gratitude–
wanting nothing more than
to welcome the disappearance
of your adversary.

Oh! The worst part
is when they do leave,
and we are left
feeling chained to
all the things they
said with the
skimpiest of words.
Where is the advice for that?!

I’ve been asking
that question,
and searching for its answer,
since the days
when I was
the little lady
the average adult didn’t
understand.
I felt the punishment
of every comment
informing me that
my atypical behavior
had not gone unnoticed
and, of course,
would not be free from
whatever
suggestion
seemed appropriate.

Years have passed
with little changing.
I’ve decided
there isn’t really
a promise
of escape
out there
waiting for me.

Instead, I’ve been learning
to walk through these
continuing confrontations
looking for God,
expecting Him to use
each one
as a backdrop
for the revelation of
something that only
the poor in spirit
wait to see.

Because I’ve watched Him do this
again and again,
I’ve learned to end
the prayers I begin
like the one above
with something like this:

“What could I gain
from this,
Lord?
What would you like me
to work through,
to learn by trying,
to act upon
that the change
You want in me
might take place?”

Where is Amazing?

Amazing. I like that word. I also like the idea of it labeling all the particulars of my life. It would just sort of be…right, you know?

Yet, the life I live is not always loaded with amazing. Sometimes the concept actually seems quite removed from what I am experiencing.

There is just too much boring and stressful and confusing–maybe even heart-breaking–in these days to match the dreams I had while I was growing up.

Rather than living what I have imagined, I am living something…else. I don’t really have words for it–beyond discussing what it is not.

It frightens me to realize that my lack of control over my life even extends to an inabilitity to describe where I am, what I’m living through, and why it’s not more in line with what I was expecting.

But, maybe all my problems with reality are one: I’ve been insisting that Amazing must be more than just the identity of my King, but that of my whole life as well.

In the end, though, I have to ask myself: What is my life, besides a vehicle for the Amazing One to make Himself known?

Can grief agree with me?

I thought You had
to save the day
or I would die.
Even if my body didn’t
crumble under the grief
of what I’m going through,
I was sure my heart
would faint.
I am not built for disappointments
or standoffs with evil,
but here You have me.
As my Savior,
You weren’t built for these things
either,
and yet You selflessly
share them with me
everyday,
as long as it takes
for Your redemption
to be made complete
in every secret place
within my heart.

Show me how Love saves the day

Do I really need to make it out
of what I’m going through
as quickly as possible?
Is salvation only as big
as getting my prayer
answered right away?
I should think
that if
Your hand is with me
and Your heart enlarges me
while You fight for me
in trenches
where I can’t win,
this might be exactly
what amounts to You
saving the day.
Isn’t my life bigger than what happens to me
and what I feel…
isn’t it all really about
You
coming close
to me
every day
to show me
what Love
looks like?

I still feel broken, but if You’ll take it as my token…

Pain sears my heart, but still…
You’re here.
You aren’t stopping the bad news from coming
my way
but with every cut it makes in my
heart’s armour
there is an incision You use to feed
my soul.
Light pours into me that I could not
live in
this darkness without.
The unsettledness…
all feels too crippling to ever let go its hold
on me.
But in all the insecurity of facing what I
can’t change,
You’re setting my focus on the
binding cords
Your love has wrapped
me in.
You are true in all my trials,
and sometimes
I need uncomfortable pressure like this
to move
me into deeper places than I would go
without it.

Why does it hurt so much to open my eyes?

You are freeing me, Lord–
gently insisting that I trust You
enough to break this seal of fear
that’s held my heart down
in this paralyzed position for so long.
You’re calling me to open my fear-locked eyes
even when everything in me tells me
that I will die from what I have to see,
what I finally have to acknowledge is real.
I’ve always thought my real was just too wrong
to treat as anything more than a nightmare
You were planning to wake me up from any minute.
But, instead, You’re teaching me to face my life
in the conviction that You are holding both my hand
and my feeble heart.
I don’t want to do it, Lord;
but it’s what You have for me today.
Where do I have to run to
if I can’t be comfortable in Your arms?

How can I be silent?!

The pain won’t lift from my heart. I pour what I can into conversation with my Father, but where the words end, the frustration remains–in some ways, deeper than ever. The absence of immediate relief tests me, but in another, odd way it strengthens me.

I realize that my frustrations may be greater than I, but they do not dictate the actions of the One who holds my life. And if He is not changed by what I’m experiencing inside, should my attention be focused there?

I used to think if I could ruminate all that I was going through, putting in detail all that I was thinking, all that distressed me and made my spirit wilt in my condition, then, I could have a handle on things and I wouldn’t be as bad off. But this really only increased my absorption in feelings that were already depressing and…destructive.

So God made clear that His wish for me was that I choose silence in my struggles as much as was possible for me. Essentially, He was requesting that I abandon my self-interested ideas about what I need to carry me through a bad moment or a rough day.

It has taken strength and spiritual fortitude I do not have to refuse to delve into my own perceptions of the situation and figure out the solution that would best make me happy. When my whole life bothers me, I’ve always had one hope to fall back on: my ability to give self-comfort.

But God has made it clear that clinging to Him and turning to my own ways of finding relief are not options that will ever stand in agreement. I must choose a life that functions in the liberties of one or the other. It is very difficult–there is no use in saying it was difficult. When I choose Christ, it often means that my I-want-to-feel-good priority must take a back seat to whatever larger thing God wants to accomplish.

Needless to say, it typically takes a long time for my heart to get in step with cherishing the idea of that larger good. All I really want, most of the time, is for my own sensitivities to be attended to. But even while I’m not getting all I believe I need to get by, God is showing me that there is something better to my life than attending to feelings that just reside in me. He wants to expand my heart’s regard for His thoughts, feelings and ambitions. It hurts, but it’s real. After all, His love for me is never without pain.

What does Your strength look like here?

My body shakes with a torrent of tears that just won’t stop, even though I thought I was finished minutes ago. “I feel in a bind today, God.”

As I speak, all hope of getting myself “back together” is lost. It will have to not matter that my neighbors may be party to this emotional downpour as I walk by; I have to get away from home–at least for a few minutes.

My struggle isn’t new, I realize, it just hurts me anew.

“I know I’ve come to You with this before,” I admit with a wail, “but it’s too big for me to not ask for Your help, again.

“I know Your answer will probably not be to change things right away,” I acknowledge, “but You have to do something to help me. It feels like all my weakness is crashing in on me all at once.”

After a pause I land on the one thing that I cannot do without just now. “I just want to know: What does Your strength look like here?”

His words reveal that He is the One behind these constricting circumstances: They are not an accident that happened on His watch, but a difficult matter that He means to shape me into more of dependent on His blessing.

My child, My strength? It doesn’t look any different than enabling you to live in weakness–teaching you to embrace it and surrender yourself to Me. You see, recognizing your brokenness isn’t the end of you, it’s just the beginning of Me. It’s worth it to be here. I will show you how…Are you watching?

Will You help me here…maybe just to hear?

I am searching today for a light in this life. I am disappointed with the abundance of shadows that conglomerate before me. I wonder what You were thinking when You allowed me to walk through this forsaken land. I want to be free from it, but I sense Your intentions to free me through it.

Why, Lord? WHY?!! Why do You put such weights upon me? Do You really think I can handle this? I don’t understand Your plans when they conflict with what makes me strong and sure of good. I want to pull my life out of Your hands, to wrench my hopes from the limitations imposed by Your grasp…but somehow I can’t.

All I can do is sit here in a heap, wanting to scream. Wanting to abandon all that I’ve known of Your faithfulness. Wanting to stop trusting. Wanting to find a new God. Wanting to find pleasure and hope in any place I can. Any place that lacks these shadows and tears.

Dearest Reader, do you find yourself identifying with me in my struggle today? Do you have less than all the answers? Are you living with a minimum of what you want, unable to understand why God would let this be–and for so long?

I only know to offer you one counsel: Water the lap of your Father with your tears. Let not one remain within you that does not touch Him as well. This is what you need to do now–it may even be a part of why you are where you are. Your strength will come in trickles of mercy that intermingle His identification with your suffering. This can be good for you. This can be grace. Oh, please, friend, be willing to let Him make you see.

If you’re not mistaken, God’s made a mistake

Looking at your life, you’re threatened by what you see. Life has so not turned out like you thought it would have. The contents He’s heaped on your plate are more than you can handle, let alone stomach.

You’re striving to make the most of it, but you don’t know if you and God will ever be on the same page. There are just too many things you disagree on. You would like to be able to accept what He’s doing in your life, but that’s not going to happen without a lot of help.

And you’re not really sure if God helps with that kind of thing. After He’s allowed so many things in your life to be difficult, will He really turn back around and meet you in your pain? Wouldn’t that be like acknowledging that He had made a mistake?

If you’re unsure about this, maybe it’s time to find out. Are you willing to take that chance?