Tagged: love

When Your Relationship Comes Before God

Confession: I do this thing where I end up looking to my boyfriend to fill me instead of looking to God.

I’m comfortable telling you that because I’m finally realizing that I’m not alone in this struggle. For the longest time, I’ve been afraid to show anything about my relationship with Grant that could be contrary to the good image of our relationship that people probably have in their minds.

But I know now that my failure to always put God first in my relationship with Grant is not the same as having a bad relationship or being a bad girlfriend/bad Christian. It just means I’m a normal human being who still has a lot left to learn.

For the past couple days, I’ve had to ask God to forgive me for letting Grant consume a majority of my time and energy and focus. As I was setting apart more and more time to build my relationship with him, I was neglecting to use my time to build my relationship with God. I justified it for some time by telling myself that if Grant and I are working towards marriage, then we must pour all of our efforts into this to make it the best and most godly marriage in the whole wide world.

I forgot that I’m already in a marriage, a beautiful union with Jesus. He is my first love and my Husband. My relationship with him is the reason I even get to enjoy such a great relationship with Grant. 

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Grant and I have been reading through Proverbs both together and on our own this past month. Never before have we realized so much wisdom is packed in this book! Proverbs is even where we found the passage we decided to adopt as our vision for our relationship.

By wisdom a house is built,
    and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
    with rare and beautiful treasures.

The wise prevail through great power,
    and those who have knowledge muster their strength.
Surely you need guidance to wage war,
    and victory is won through many advisers (Proverbs 24:3-6)

We want to build a relationship that’s built and established by wisdom. We’ve made our fair share of unwise mistakes (before each other and with each other) and we know now more than ever how valuable wisdom is when you’re merging two lives together. Just like this passage says, we want our “house” to be “filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”

What made this passage even more meaningful to us is when I stumbled across this verse:

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).

By JESUS our house is built and established. Because of JESUS, our rooms can be filled with rare and beautiful treasures.

This is something we’re having to remind ourselves of again and again. It is too easy to neglect God when you’re madly in love. But let me tell you something truly amazing: God makes sure our relationship is not all rainbows and roses. I believe that stumbling blocks are put in our way and those stumbling blocks serve as reminders that God is the one we need above all else. These stumbling blocks may come from satan, but because God works all things for our good (Romans 8:28), He knows how to use our temptations and failings to pull us back to Him.

I’ve experienced this in the past couple of days. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Grant and not as much time with God, and I’ve been longing for Grant to be there for me in times of sadness and fear more than I’ve been longing for God.

Thankfully, Grant is also a human being who still has a lot left to learn because when he tries to fix everything and be my everything, he fails. This shows me just how insufficient his love is to satisfy my deep longings. That might sound sad to some, but it’s actually a very humbling, beautiful thing. It’s during these times when I’m pulled back to God (after sulking and wrongfully blaming Grant, of course).

I feel bad for putting Grant above God, but I know that the guilt or embarrassment I feel during these times do not come from God. Instead of guilt, there is abundant grace.

My relationship with Grant is not sinful against God or something to be condemned; it’s being shaped and molded by God, something to praise Him and look to Him for.

This morning as I was reading Proverbs, I found this passage that summed up the truth I’ve been needing to hear:

Two things I ask of you, Lord;
    do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God (Proverbs 30:7-9).

I don’t need poverty or riches. I just need my daily bread.

In other words, I don’t need to break off my relationship with Grant because of my mistakes. I also don’t need to stay in this habit of being consumed and obsessed with him.

I need God’s all-sufficient grace.

When I have too much of Grant, I “disown” God and forget how good He is. I neglect to spend time with my first love, my Husband.

When I don’t have Grant at all, I end up stealing all of Grant’s time and attention and focus. I dishonor Grant’s relationship with God when my neediness results in greediness. I dishonor God himself, the One who’s been right there with me with arms wide open as I’ve chased after a man who can neither fill nor satisfy my heart.

Yes, I need God’s all-sufficient grace. I am so thankful that He pours such grace upon me every single time I turn my eyes back to Him. And what amazes me is how that grace carries over into my relationship with Grant. Only this time, our relationship is healthier and back on track. We are building that house again. Or rather, Jesus is building it and we’re finally letting him.

I love Grant, but I love God more. I need Grant, but I need God more. I want Grant, but I want God more.

This is where I’m at and this is where I’ll always be. I might forget for some time, but grace carries me back. What a beautiful life I have with my beautiful God — my first love, my Husband. And I’m so thankful that God has allowed Grant to come alongside me and share in this beautiful life with me. We get to spend our lives looking up to heaven together and I can’t think of a better way to enjoy this relationship with the man I love.

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Grant and I have been together for a year and I’m still falling more in love with him all the time! This man pursues me, fights for me, and serves me like no other. Grant doesn’t like this picture very much because he’s used to only seeing serious pictures of himself, but I love this picture because he just looks so HAPPY. Not everyone gets to see him this way, and I am thankful that he’s chosen me to be the woman who gets to see him and know him better than anyone else. He’s my best friend! I can’t help but thank God for Grant — not just because of what he means to me, but because of the man he is.

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What I Didn’t Know about Guarding My Heart

Photo by Tatenda Nyamande on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/cdb8tW)

Photo by Tatenda Nyamande on Flickr (https://flic.kr/p/cdb8tW)

This morning I began thinking about what it means to guard your heart. I hear it all the time, I’ve seen it in God’s Word, I know it’s what is expected of me, and I’ve been told that men have something to do with it. But I have to admit I’m just as clueless about what guarding my heart means as I am clueless about what the heck is going on in Lost.

So I did what I do every now and then when I want to get a better understanding of something God has said. I went back to the roots. I looked up the Hebrew translation of “heart” from Proverbs 4:23 (above all else, guard your heart), and what I found was enough to get me thinking long and deep.

heart = inner man, mind, will, understanding, thinking, resolution, determination, a seat of appetites, a seat of emotions and passions, a seat of courage

My heart is complex. I knew that already. And God must know it, too, because He sees it better than anyone.

But I didn’t know guarding your heart could have so many connotations. If my heart is all these things: understanding, resolution, emotion, passion, courage… then how can I guard each of them? Apparently protecting this complex heart of mine means a lot more than what this verse in Proverbs first lets on.

For so long I thought guarding your heart just meant protecting things from coming in. Now I see it also means protecting some things from coming out.

I say this because it’s so obvious how my heart has been very much at play in my relationships. After all, my heart is where love is found, like my love for Grant (forgive me for putting so much emphasis on my relationship with Grant, but this is where I’ve been doing a lot of learning and growth this past year). Many miscommunications, disagreements, and fights that I have with Grant are stemmed from something inside of one or both of our hearts. For me, it’s usually fear, insecurity, fleshly passion, or lies.

If I’m not guarding my heart, those things can come spewing out and hurt him. They have many times. I realize now that satan wants my heart to be unguarded because it gives me the opportunity to throw this crap up all over Grant (which he surely doesn’t need or enjoy). Satan wants me to feel like “anything goes,” like it doesn’t matter what I feel or how wrong I may be; I HAVE to act on them and force them onto the poor guy sitting across from me. I let those suckers control me and make way into my relationship. This makes the enemy very happy. After all, his goals are always to steal, kill, and destroy.

The only time these harmful things inside of me are rightfully coming out is when they’re being laid before God for him to deal with. My deep insecurities do not benefit Grant. I don’t want them spilling out before him because they only bring destruction to us. And Grant is not and never can be the true healer of my wounds. That doesn’t mean just letting them stay there and hiding what is really going on, though. I MUST bring my deep insecurities to GOD so HE can bring destruction to THEM. And the same goes for all else that is wrongfully taking place in my heart.

But here’s the other side to guarding your heart: there are things that need to be protected that are good.

My resolution, my determination, my God-given passions and emotions, my courage… these are beautiful and worthy of being protected. I must fight to hold onto these things and not let the enemy distort them or misuse them.

And because Grant has taken up the task of guarding my heart, it means fighting the enemy’s attempts to steal, kill, and destroy alongside me.

It means standing up for me when I feel too weak to get up. It means praying for me and declaring truth over me when I’m facing attack and lies. It means continuing to pursue me even when I argue that I’m not worth pursuing. It means pushing me to believe again when I’m losing my faith or trust.

This isn’t something that is necessarily laid out in God’s Word. There’s no manual for exactly when and how a man should fight for a woman’s cause. But we are given a why: because Jesus fought for his Bride. Men are charged with the task of treating women with that same love and ferocity.

Guarding my heart is a task I myself must face, but I am thankful that I do not have to face it alone.

This is what I gathered from my morning venture into Proverbs, and I know I need to continually bring this to God for better understanding and application. I’ve been too careless with my heart too many times. I’ve seen the catastrophic effects. But PRAISE JESUS that I’m healing and my heart is being restored. I am being renewed through intimacy with God. And that growing intimacy with Him only enhances my intimacy with Grant.

Show me how to guard my heart today, Lord.

This is my prayer. And this is what I’ll keep praying, what I’ll keep waiting expectantly in. My heart is loved too much to be left unguarded. It’s too precious to be ignored.

And this isn’t just true for my heart. It’s true for yours.

When an Optimist and a Cynic Fall in Love

My boyfriend is quite an optimist. I, on the other hand, lean more towards being a cynic.

And when an optimist and a cynic get together and fall in love, conflict happens.

Let me give you a way of understanding what our differing thought processes are: He sees a glass half-full and I’m doubting if the glass is really going to hold my water.

Grant is the most supportive boyfriend I could ask for, but because of my cynicism and skepticism, I question everything. I question why he’s being supportive, I question whether he really wants to be supportive, I question whether his support is enough, I question if I even know how to receive support. Even though he’s sincere and hardworking, I find something to doubt and criticize. In other words, I don’t fully believe in anything. 

Now, when I express my doubts of Grant’s intentions and sincerity, he’s surprised and responds to my cynicism by believing things will be fixed no matter what. He’s confident that he can prove himself again, and he’s so sure that he can do it that he often forgets to work towards it. When my cynicism reveals itself a couple days or weeks later, he’s caught off guard and thrown for a loop all over again. Because of his optimism, he expects things to quickly become fine and dandy like they once were. In other words, he believes in everything.

This post is not meant to condone nor condemn either perspectives of life. I can see pros and cons for each, and those pros and cons have presented themselves in our relationship.

You might be thinking to yourself that optimism is the obvious winner when it comes to whether optimism or cynicism should be most celebrated and sought after. But let me offer a different way of looking at it. Yes, optimism tends to make you more happy and more friendly and more hopeful, yada yada. But optimism, if unchecked, can lead to carelessness. An optimist can believe so firmly that something will happen that they end up not doing anything to get there.

And cynicism is no winner, either. Being a cynic makes you a little more foolproof than others. You are skeptical of people’s motives and already expect some disappointment, which can protect you from being taken advantage of or hurt. But cynicism, if unchecked, can lead to faithlessness. A cynic can believe so firmly that nothing will happen that they decide to not even try doing anything to get there.

I have seen both sides and I can’t say which is more right.

But here’s something Grant and I have realized: we might not be able to change each other, but we have to figure out a way to accommodate each other. And if we really want our relationship to thrive, we have to figure out a way to bring out the best of these things in each other.

When our optimism and cynicism work together, we become unstoppable.

He’s the hopeful one, the one looking toward the future and believing wholeheartedly we’ll get to where we want to be. I’m the critical one, looking for the pitfalls that we need to avoid and pressing us to evaluate and fix our motives.

If he’s being overly optimistic, then he won’t understand my cynicism. And if I’m being overly cynical, I won’t understand his optimism. And when you don’t understand someone and you just assume they’re the one who needs to change… well, both people get a little ticked off.

With that being said, we each have to find a way to hold ourselves accountable so we don’t get carried away in our mindset and shut ourselves off from options.

We need to know how to allow room for the other’s perspective and beliefs. 

So God comes in.

When I surrender my mind to God, He can shape it to be more understanding and loving of Grant’s hope and optimism. He might not rid me of my doubts (because a healthy amount of doubt in life can serve a purpose), but He can give me just enough faith to keep believing and keep hoping.

And when Grant surrenders his mind to God, He can shape his to be more understanding and loving of my doubts and cynicism. He might not rid Grant of his confidence (because a healthy amount of confidence in life can serve a purpose), but He can give him just enough humility to keep working hard and keep striving.

And when I’m believing and hoping a little more, and Grant’s working and striving a little more, we’re one step closer to seeing eye-to-eye and conquering any conflict or misunderstanding that wants to rear its head.

It’s not a perfect formula and I’m sure I’ll never find one, but at least I know that when an optimist and a cynic fall in love, nothing has to be hopeless.

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This is my stud right before his big interview with the fire department. And let me tell you, preparing for such an interview is no small task. It’s a task requiring a healthy amount of both optimism and cynicism, and I’d like to think that we came pretty close to mastering the fusion of our perspectives during that process. It was just one of many opportunities to work together and pray together, and nothing’s over yet.

Dear Friend Who Just Relapsed

Dear friend who just relapsed,

I heard you gave in to the lies again. You were holding out for a while and fighting pretty hard, but the voices in your head just got so loud and you didn’t know what to do. So you caved last night.

And now you’re hating yourself for it. Thinking you were so clean for so long and now it’s all gone to waste. Now you don’t know if you can stop again.

You broke promises to your loved ones. You broke promises to yourself. You broke promises to God.

You feel like the damage is irreparable now.

You feel weak. You feel defeated. You feel selfish and stupid.

But you’re still loved.

My feelings haven’t changed for you. God’s feelings haven’t changed for you.

You’re tired of feeling so weak, but let me tell you that you’re a fighter.

You weren’t defeated. You just lost a battle. But the war doesn’t have to be over. You don’t have to raise your white flag.

I know it’s hard to convince yourself to keep going, but you did it once and you can do it again. You can hold onto freedom. Christ died so you could.

. . . . . .

I’m so sorry you were hurting so bad that you didn’t know what to do but return to your former life. I wish I could’ve been there the minute you decided so I could’ve reminded you just how hard you’ve worked to be okay and how damn much you wanted to be okay.

You want to be okay. And you are.

It doesn’t feel like it right now. But you are.

Today was just one day. It was just one time. And yes, one time can change everything. It can make everything fall apart. It can lead to another time and another and another.

But it doesn’t have to.

You will still be hurting, the ones around you will still be sad, but you will have made a decision that will ultimately save you. If you would only just pick your resolve back up like I know you can.

. . . . . .

Let me remind you of who you are: you are a redeemed child of God. You are important. Do you know the lives you have impacted just by simply being you? By smiling that smile? By offering that listening ear, that compassionate heart? You are special. And that’s not something to be ashamed of. You feel things more deeply than most, and that is simply beautiful. Yes, you are beautiful. You are a beautiful being comprised of gifts and talents and love and grace.

You are also comprised of genes. And I know you hate your genes. You hate your chemical makeup. You hate that it feels like there’s so much crap you can’t do a darn thing about.

But despite the way it feels, it’s simply not true.

You can make a choice. Just like you did that solemn, brave day when you decided you wanted a better life and you knew God could get you there.

You’re not forgotten. God’s still pushing you forward. He has a plan for you, and it doesn’t involve this mess. You can still get there. I promise. God’s holding out his hand and I can be your cheerleader on the sidelines. Just one more step. And then another. I got you.

I love you.

Love, me

 

Why I Need a Man

I want to dispel a lie for you today.

And the lie is that it’s wrong for women to desire affirmation from men. The lie is that because your worth is found in Christ, you shouldn’t be seeking any other person to offer love and affection and truth.

The truth is this: it’s not only okay for women to desire affirmation from men; it’s good to. And when your worth is found in Christ, love and affection and truth from another is all the more valuable.

Women deeply desire beauty. We crave beauty around us, beauty to flow through us, and exterior beauty, too. And satan, knowing full well just how desperate our longing for that beauty is, uses that to his advantage.

The enemy makes us think that we’re NOT beautiful. There is no beauty around us. Or if there is, it’s so far removed from us that we are ugly in comparison. He lets us believe there is no beauty flowing through us nor can beauty ever flow through us. We don’t know how to offer loveliness to others. And we face insecurity day after day, expressed in accusations towards our body. Why do I not fit this? Why does this look good on her and not me? Why do the men in my life look past me?

And here’s what has happened over time: society has decided to wage war on this insecurity and longing with phrases about how “you don’t need a man” and women can feel beautiful and incredible all on their own as an independent woman. And Christians have decided to wage war on this insecurity and longing with phrases about how “your worth is found in Christ alone” and women will only end up feeling empty if they look to men to fulfill them instead of God.

But in this is a whole new insecurity, the insecurity of having insecurity. On top of that insecurity is shame and guilt that women are feeling from desiring attention, affection, and affirmation from people when the Church is screaming that we should only be asking for things from Jesus.

The world says it’s wrong to ask men to help you see your beauty, to rely on their input and wish for them to call out your loveliness.

I believed that lie for a long time.

But now I see that it is necessary for the men in our lives, specifically any godly man you are striving to build a future with, to help us see our beauty. It’s good for us to desire their input and wish for them to call out our loveliness.

Because in this, we give them the opportunity to receive what THEY most long for, which is the affirmation that they are capable.

Men want to know if they have what it takes to woo a girl, to win her heart and make her happy. And if us women take on the “I’m an independent woman who doesn’t need a man” mentality, we are depriving them of the opportunity to romance, pursue, and love us.

A woman feels most loved when she is receiving affection and affirmation of her beauty. A man feels most loved when he is receiving respect and admiration for his strength. We have to let the men in our lives offer their strength. And not letting them be there for us in our weakest moments, the moments where we wonder if we’ll ever fit in those jeans or be model gorgeous or have a charming personality, does nothing to build or uplift them. It only takes away.

Let me be perfectly clear on this, though: the only way this works is if you DO know your worth is found in Christ.

If you don’t know this, a man’s affirmation and adoration will mean diddly-squat. Their words will feel hollow and end up being wasted breath. If we don’t have that foundational knowledge in our heart of whose we truly belong to and how beautiful we are as redeemed daughters of God, we will take advantage of that man. We will expect them to fill the God-sized holes in our hearts, which is another thing that does nothing to build or uplift. It only destroys.

And if we don’t believe that our worth is found in Christ, then the affirmation the men in our lives give us will not be believed, anyway. We’ll end up arguing with them. “You don’t really think I’m beautiful, though.” “Are you sure I’m pretty?” “You can stop pretending I’m so great.” And THIS is damaging, my lovelies. It hurts a man to not trust him or believe him. It hurts a man when you don’t take him for his word. It hurts a man when you’re hurting so much you can’t possibly receive a single compliment or word of affirmation that comes out of his mouth.

So yes, our worth must be found in Christ. And if our worth is found in Christ, love and affection and truth from another becomes valuable. It becomes an opportunity for both parties to bloom in their design, a woman as a beautiful lover and a man as a strong provider.

This is something I’ve been learning and still am having to wrap my mind and heart around.

I have a wonderful man in my life who adores me and takes care of me and reminds me of my value in both his sight and God’s. But the temptation to take it too far, to demand for more and more compliments and approval, is constantly at my back.

It takes romance with God to remember how romance with people should work, too. There is little strenuous demand between God and I because He speaks my worth over me and I have learned how to gladly receive it (some days less gladly than others). Because of this, there should be no strenuous demand between Grant and I either. God has already spoken worth over the BOTH of us and we should already have gladly received it.

What we ought to do for each other now is just echo the divine truth that’s already been said.

I echo the love God has for him and he echoes the love God has for me.

That’s the kind of romance I’ve longed for, and I’m beginning to see it’s not just a possibility; it’s a beautiful obligation that God can make a reality.

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Side note: Grant and I went to the beach this week and came back with a little sunburn and some good memories. Vacations, even of the one-day kind, are (as Grant puts it) “good for the soul.” Yes, my soul was refreshed, and I’d say our relationship was a tad refreshed from it, as well.

Please, God, don’t let me forget how to laugh and have fun with the man I love as summer comes to an end and the real work begins. 

Suicide Headaches and Heartaches

Let me tell you something about my headaches.

I get these things called cluster headaches every now and again, and they’re called cluster headaches because they only come once a year and they often come in a large (and largely painful) quantity.

I wake up with them usually. And it takes me a minute to realize what they are, but once I do, I sprint out of bed for pills and a bottle of cold water. And then I have to run to the bathroom before the pills I just took and the water I just drank are puked up all over the floor. When I am able enough to get up from the bathroom floor, I put a Bed Buddy cold pack on my forehead and drag myself to bed. I usually writhe for a little bit, stop to cry and pray and scream and vomit and whimper. Light kills me. Standing kills me. Even sitting up kills me.

All I can do is just wait it out. Fortunately, cluster headaches don’t last longer than two hours. Sometimes they’re only fifteen minutes long. But the pain is still the same and I have that voice in my head that tells me this is never going to end.

Did I mention that cluster headaches have another name? Suicide headaches. Cluster headaches are considered one of the worst pains known to mankind and having them increases a person’s risk for suicide. Pleasant, right?

I’m explaining all of this to you because I had one this morning. The first one like this in a year. I probably could’ve expected it, but you always hope you never have to have one of those dreadful headaches again. This is my third year and it’s the exact same thing with the exact same thoughts running through my head.

Thoughts like I HATE YOU SATAN AND ALL YOUR STUPID DEMONS AND I WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS BECAUSE I AM A DAUGHTER OF GOD AND I HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO SEND ALL OF YOU BACK TO THE PITS OF HELL IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST.

And then thoughts like JESUS, PLEASE HEAL ME. HEAL ME. PLEASE…PLEASE… PLEASE… PLEASE (and so on and so forth).

And then thoughts like LET ME DIE. JUST KILL ME. I CAN’T DO THIS.

And then thoughts like MY VOMIT TASTES LIKE GINGER ALE.

But you know what I think upsets me the most about these headaches? It’s not that they’re the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. It’s not that I can’t stand or sit up or keep my food down. It’s not that I’m wanting to die. It’s not that my boyfriend is seeing this happen to me and has to hold my tangled hair back from my contorted, puffy-eyed face.

What upsets me the most is that I KNOW I have been given authority to command my body to be better and I KNOW God is good and delights in healing His children, but I can’t seem to get either of those things to happen.

My prayers felt powerless coming out of my mouth as the pain remained and nothing changed.

I had absolutely no control.

And that’s a scary thing to me because I almost always am in control (or at least I think I am). I don’t have much of a say in what the world does, but I can manage my own life and my own body and my own health and what I say or do. If I’m sick, I can go to the doctor and get medicine to make me better. If I don’t like a person, I can tell them to leave me alone and walk away. If I’m feeling something too strongly, I can write it out in a blog post or in my journal or in a song.

But today was a day in which I just couldn’t control things. I couldn’t control these bastardly headaches and I couldn’t control these ghastly thoughts and I couldn’t control the demons afflicting me or the God I expected to save me.

THAT is what upset me the most.

And that’s when the thoughts turned into WHAT KIND OF GOD WATCHES HIS CHILD SUFFER THIS TYPE OF PAIN AND NOT DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT? WHAT KIND OF GOD HEARS HIS HURTING DAUGHTER’S PRAYERS AND REQUESTS AND DECIDES TO NOT GRANT THEM? WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO BE LEARNING? ARE MY PRAYERS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU?

And I wish I could say that He gave me this awesome revelation or I was healed right then and there. But I cried and vomited and rolled around for some time after these things transpired. I am feeling better now, but the healing wasn’t instantaneous and I didn’t walk away feeling as good as new.

But is God still good? Yes.

Do I still have faith? Always.

Do these headaches still suck? You bet.

But do I get through them alive? Every time.

This is not a post about God being cruel. This isn’t a post about how He chose to not heal me when I asked Him to and how that was so utterly wrong of Him. This isn’t a post about how there’s suffering in the world and nothing’s happening about it.

This is a post on time. That one thing NO ONE can control.

God authored time. A clockmaker gets a clock to tick, but whether or not that clock is working, time is still moving forward as we continue to orbit. And God lets this happen because time is HIS and His alone.

Why did I get this headache on a Tuesday morning versus any other day of the week? I don’t know. Why does this happen year after year? I don’t know. Why didn’t my headache go away the moment I called out his name? I don’t know.

And I don’t think I ever will know.

Just like I don’t know why death has to come early for some people and why he waits so many years before giving us the things we’ve been earnestly praying for.

All I know is that God is good and He has been faithful to me even in my wondering and questioning and faithlessness.

His decision to not heal me of my headache instantly is not an indicator of a lack of power or goodness or love. It is rather an expression of his power and goodness and love. 

Why would I want to serve and follow a God who does everything I ask of Him the minute I ask it? If He did, I’d be engaged to a man I now know I didn’t have a chance of having a good relationship with. If He did, I would be knee-deep in a career I now know I wouldn’t enjoy. If He did, I would be the most impatient and faithLESS girl in the world.

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for (Hebrews 11:1-2).

The ancients– Noah, Abraham, Joseph, the marchers of Jericho, and many others– were not commended for how quickly their prayers were answered. They were commended for how faithful they remained when there appeared to be no answers. And what joy they must have received when their prayers were not only answered, but God was given the glory! He IS a God of power and goodness and love, they must have exclaimed.

If everything was done their way and in their timing, things wouldn’t have been the same. We would not know such ancients, such faithful warriors and servants of Christ. We would only know quick-fix prayers, which may do good for the body but not for the soul.

My soul has been healed this morning because I am reminded that God is the Master of time and He is a good one.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God has power to do what he promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:18-22).

I want to be like Abraham. I don’t want to stare at unanswered prayers and questions with skepticism and halfhearted hope. I want to stare at God, my good and faithful God, and I want to not waver in my belief.

I am persuaded that God has power to do what he promised. And He could’ve given me supernatural physical strength to send that blasted headache away forever, but He chose to gave me supernatural spiritual strength for my soul. That strength is faith. And I don’t see Him as a bad Father for that. No, He’s a very good one indeed.

I am healed.

It Takes Time

The writing has slowed down.

You may or may not have noticed.

My summer in Clarkston is coming to a close and I feel like my heart has somehow decided to close itself, too.

No more, God. I’m done thinking. I’m done praying. Let me just stop and breathe for a minute.

I know life is meant to be filled with growth and change and learning. When any of those stop happening, we might as well be dead. Or so I’ve heard.

But growing and changing and learning sometimes hurts. And even though we’re told that we need to press on because it’ll be so worth it, that you can’t have gain without pain… well, I just don’t want to do that right now.

I don’t WANT to press forward with all I’ve got because it’s just super, super hard.

Doesn’t that sound so pathetic? But it’s the truth.

Right now I just want to sit. Forget carpe diem. Forget Paul’s running the race with endurance. Forget YOLO.

I want to curl up in my bed and sleep. Or stare at the wall and not even think about anything in particular. And then when I get up from my bed, I want to drink coffee, sit on the couch to stare at the wall some more, and ignore everyone who tries to talk to me. And maybe I’ll write some. But maybe I won’t.

Of course, my life right now doesn’t offer that “luxury”. I have a week left in Clarkston, and with being in Clarkston comes priorities and people relying on you. I can’t afford to just lie on the floor for hours on end (although I have been giving myself at least an hour of exactly that for the past few days). I can’t just “check out” and silence the world.

Life still happens, whether I want it to or not.

But what I have a say in is (and no, I’m not going to say any of that cheesy “you can choose your attitude” Pollyanna-esque stuff) whether or not I receive what is offered to me.

I know God wants me to grow. And change. And learn. He’s offering me things, I can tell. The doors are there. And stepping through one of those doors could mean the difference between wallowing in my self-pity and finding true freedom and joy.

But if I’m going to step through that door, I’m going to need to take my time. And I think He understands that. God is patient, you know.

He knows I’m not ignoring Him. He knows I’m not giving up. He sees my heart, how much it truly longs for Him and all the gifts He’s offering to me after all this time. It may be difficult to pray, but I still say hello. It may be tough to communicate with the world, but I still let myself be a friend to others. And it’s hard to call myself “happy”, but I know how to find joy in the little moments He brings.

It takes time for babies to learn to walk.

And I’m just a baby. I’ve been carefully putting one foot in front of the other for some time, but I haven’t let go of the ottoman just yet.

It’s okay, Jessie. You can do it. I won’t let you fall.

I know, Daddy. I’m getting there. I just need a minute.

I know I’ll get there. I know it because I have within me a spirit that is yearning for far too much to stand still for very long. It looks like I’m not doing anything right now (and you may be right), but what you don’t see is that every hour I spend in solace and silence makes my soul a very restless one indeed. And when the conditions looks a bit more favorable and I am able to get out of this bed, I will charge through that very same door I’ve been staring at for years. I know this because God loves me too much and I love God too much to stand still forever.

I’m not going to feel bad for not pursuing Jesus as hard as everyone else right now. I AM pursuing him, and HE is making up for the rest (and then some). This is not hide-and-seek or tag. This doesn’t even feel like a race.

No, this is a long and challenging stroll on the beach.

And as we’re walking hand-in-hand, looking out at the horizon, I sometimes get so overwhelmed that I just stop and have to take a minute to look down at the sand. It’s too much. But after a little bit of time, he lifts up my chin, gives me that understanding smile, and helps me take that next step. In some cases, he even carries me. And when I pass by people who are also struggling to take that next step, I’d like to take their hand and walk with them, too.

Before I know it, we’ll be at that boardwalk. That little speck in the distance that I thought (and still sometimes think) I could never reach.

And in that moment, I’ll know that it didn’t matter how long it took me or how many times I had to stop to catch my breath.

All that’ll matter is that I arrived and I didn’t let go of his hand.