I have a civil war within my spirit. I am an spiritual adolescent; this is made plain by how my inner dialogue is constantly warring against itself:
This is so difficult. I have never felt more alone.
I can persist. I can tell He’s using this to make me stronger.
I celebrate this season!
I will finish.
Lord, I’m all the way in. Do your full work.
Jesus, I need relief. All I see is darkness.
I trust Him.
I feel so sorry for myself. No one sees how much I’m aching.
Purify and make me perfect–a true daughter.
I want to be like You.
I have no one to talk to.
I don’t want to talk to anyone.
I can’t stand the idea of people feeling sorry for me.
Jesus, don’t stop.
Jesus, don’t stop…
And it’s all simultaneously true. Eye roll.
The process the Lord has initiated in our family bears his mark so completely that I cannot question it at all. Even in the darkest days I can tell He’s closer to me now than ever before. I know in some ways He’s really guarding me, because my emotions and feelings are so raw and vulnerable that I really do need a constant awareness of Him more than I need air. There are recent days when He is the only place on earth for me…
I want to be (and often, genuinely am) the strong, steady, reliable one. My nature is one that detests being the needy one, the broken one, or the insecure one–seasons in which I prefer to hide until they pass. This preference towards perfection is weakness in me, that ensures that I never fully embrace my value to others. The true revelation of my full value is the sum of myself, strengths and weaknesses, and all that it reveals about Jesus.
I like to play myself as magnanimous and assured, as though words of love and encouragement don’t echo in my mind for days after I get them. I have an old voicemail I have never deleted, that I use to refill an empty tank. When I say that sometimes one good genuine conversation is enough to get me out of bed in the morning, I’m not exaggerating. My favorite cheesy acronym is one I heard several years ago: SPF Specific Positive Feedback. That phrase carries a rank of affection in me paramount to chocolate and epidurals.
Yesterday Sherri left me a bouquet of fall mums on my desk and her simple card was…I can’t even say. The reason her words sank so deep is because she knows me and invested her words in a simple affirmation of who I am and what I do–those things are inextricably linked, and she knows that about me. She pierced through superficial to the eternal parts of me—she made my heart sing. (I’m so grateful, Sherri–I love you.) I almost feel bad singling her out–there are so many people who are treasures to me–she’s just a recent example.
The thing that I struggle most with in relationships is in how to communicate when my tank has gone empty. I seek out connection, but I flavor it with my trademark ambivalence and of course, carefully concealing my need. I make grandiose gestures of service, hoping to earn a rave comment or two that will hold me over, like an addict who needs a fix and settles for the cheap stuff.
As the Lord ushers me through a season of advancement (read: process, crap, struggle, pain)…these self-sabotaging reflexes have been revealed to me in a way that feels like an exposed nerve. This is compounded because He is working on several areas simultaneously (I’m talking serious surgery here folks–someone bring me some Vicodin), making it hard to think with any sort of direction or clarity. One voice or another bubbles up to the surface based on who won the toss; it’s frustrating to feel so little control. But it has been an effective method of purification. I can’t tell you some of the disgusting things I’ve been throwing away.
Jesus loves my heart and he loves to live in it…and He’s building on. The construction has been painful and messy. Stuff is everywhere. My guts are exposed and some of them are being entirely relocated or remodeled. It’s fine–He can do whatever He wants, and honestly none of it is making any sense to me at the moment. I’ve laid myself entirely upon this thing and I’ve closed my eyes. Whether this takes another day or another ten years, I have no where else to be.
SO I write, to examine my heart as it is shuffled and changed and shaped anew. As my fingers hit the keys, they tell me my own story and give me courage. As sludge is exposed and bubbles out of me, like oil in water, I recognize it as the anti-me. I part ways with my weaknesses and brokenness, and I make Him promise to give me ways to make all this worth it.
I know I wasn’t formed to be a coward, living in this ridiculous closet of fake bravado. I’m so glad He values me so much, to take me through seasons of such tremendous growth and training. If you’re going through a time of training like me, maybe writing this out will help you feel less alone, and maybe even honored. I am engaged, with you. I will finish with you.
Like you, I have no where else to be.