Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes what is real is so hard to take that we hide behind a facade. There are no facades here because the feelings are too raw.
March marks the one year "anniversary" of the darkest time in my life.
I'm not usually a sad person. I typically am happy and try to find the good in every situation. Sure, I can be a cynic at times, but I tend to be more optimistic. That being said, depression is not a struggle of mine. I hardly find myself "down in the dumps". A year ago, this was not true. But that was not a mental depression.
This was spiritual.
One thing that you will learn about me is that I am stubborn. Not slightly...but absurdly stubborn.
After a year of ups and downs with my mom's health, Nick's career, the uncertainty of what our futures held in ministry, I had decided that enough was enough. I was not going to take the risk of allowing any more testing or trials in my life.
I was exhausted of never knowing what lay around the next corner. Not knowing what tomorrow would bring. Exhausted of feeling out of control and unsettled for months on end.
I drew my line in the sand.
I picture a young child who has just been told to do something she does not want to do. First, she simply says, "No." After seeing that this mild disobedience is not being received by the parent, the child raises her voice and says, "NO!" After continuing to seeing that her answer is being denied and she must still complete the task she's been given, what does she do?
She turns her back, covers her ears, and closes her eyes. This was me.
I shut God out. It was too much of a risk to allow Him near me. If I did my devotions and read my Bible, I was going to feel convicted to continue each struggle in faith. In my prayer time, I felt that I wasn't trusting God with control over my life and all its circumstances. I turned my back completely so that God would have no access to me.
Of course, we all know that turning our backs does not take away God's power and control over this life, but sometimes He does back off so that we can learn some hard lessons in our rebellion.
I was miserable. God was nowhere in my life. I could feel it and those closest to me could see it.
During this time, I was cleaning houses with my sister-in-law, Jill. We had so many conversations about the struggles I was having and the anger that burned in me. How I just didn't know how to trust God, and that I didn't want to. It was during one of these conversations that she quoted a line from C.S. Lewis' book "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe." When describing Aslan (who is a metaphor for Jesus), it is said:
"Aslan is not safe, but He is Good."
This statement grabbed on to me. I'm not the most theologically wise person, not even close, so at first I stumbled over what these words meant. The more I thought about them, the more I realized what the author was saying.
Christianity was never meant to be the easy way. We were never promised wealth, fame, health, and good fortune. In fact, Christ said that we must daily suffer and take up our cross (Luke 9:23) and that we would face hardships of many kinds (Acts 14:22). He says that we will be tested and tried in our faith (James 1:12), and that the road is narrow.
Our goal in this life is to be refined into His likeness. God is pure holiness, and He uses tests and trials of all kinds to build our faith and reliance on Him to get through those times. So when we have persevered through those challenging times we will be more like Him than before.
After months of mulling over this idea and finally accepting that God has called me to a season of testing, I realized that He did this because He demands perfection in order to be in His presence. I am not perfect by a LONG, LONG, LONG shot, and He knows that. This is why He sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sin, to take my imperfection and replace it with His perfection. And why did he do this?
Because He loves me.
I was looking at God as a tyrant. As some big bully in the sky who decided to deal out some misfortune in my life as if He were up there rolling the dice in a game of chance. I sometimes wondered if He was chuckling at each little obstacle He put in my way.
But He wasn't.
His heart was hurting as much as mine was. He hates to see His children in pain, but He does it as discipline and training because He loves us. I think of my own kids and how I must discipline them to teach them to make better choices next time. I don't do it with an evil laugh or because I can lord it over them. In fact, I HATE sending my kids to time out or grounding them from a special event. Why? Because I love them, and I hate to see the tears that fall when they've lost something special. It's the same with God.
And I never realized it.
Last summer, I had my own personal revival. I fell in love with Jesus again, like I hadn't in a long time. I saw Him in a new light and knew that He loved me. And because I loved Him, I could abandon all control and know that I can trust Him in every trial.
I'm writing this tonight because I'm angry.
I see myself shaking my fist at God and asking "Why? God, Why?" Were these trials for nothing? Did I not gain anything but only lose tremendously. I feel the child in me stomping my feet on the floor, crossing my arms and sticking my tongue out. He's not playing fair.
"Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness...But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve." Joshua 24:15
This verse echoed in my mind throughout the day today. I've been lacks in my devotionals and prayer time. Call it busyness or just mere stubborness. (I think its mostly the latter.) I'm angry, and I've been choosing to serve the child wallowing in self-pity. It doesn't feel good.
"But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Today I will choose the Lord.