Monday, July 14, 2014

When God Is Waiting to Shake Your Soul

I have been feeling this feeling that I can only name as akin to when I have had the stomach flu.  You know when you feel it coming on, but you are hoping against hope that you can override the unrest.  You keep it at bay, even though the keeping it at bay takes effort and makes things worse in one way.  You don’t want to go there.  You want to hold off as long as you can.  Then, finally it is just too much and you give in.  The process is messy.  It tastes awful.  It smells awful {sorry girls} and yet, when you finally let go of all the junk you’ve been holding together inside, there is this feeling of freshness where there was rĂ©sistance and suppression.  

Grief.  It’s kind of like the stomach flu.  

Some people who know me in my day to day life might find it odd that I am writing about grief.  They might say, “I didn’t know you had a death in the family or another loss recently.”  That’s the thing.  It’s not recent.  Well, there were recent injuries that set this chain in motion, but those are not the big chunks of grief which have been haunting me – taunting me.  I’ve been avoiding them more than processing them and when I do touch the injured places I feel like I’m touching a hot ball of lava – the tears come so readily.  For a girl who is great at helping others find peace in their own journey, I can really keep vulnerability and difficult emotions stifled until they just won’t hold.  

Weakness was never safe for me.  I only survived by being stronger than the pain.  And I would think, maybe you would think, that after seventeen years on a specific healing journey with an amazingly supportive mentor walking alongside me I would be so free I would be through it all.  I always wanted a graduation from the muck.  I learned a while back that my goal isn’t to graduate, but to grow.  And grow I did.  God stepped in time and again - into dark and ugly memories – into cavernous wounds and barren, hopeless hurts and He brought Himself into those places. 

You would think after all of that freedom and restoration and redemption I would be jumping up and down, “pick me, pick me!” when it came to the next round of healing.  I would think that too.  But what I am finding is far different than my expectations.  Each journey of the heart has been risky and difficult.  Each pain I touch feels like it could consume me with fiery lava.  Why do I dance around this stuff instead of diving into the deep end?  I find ways to distract myself, to provide temporary comfort, to keep it all in a safe and tidy bundle while functioning.  But at certain points it stares me in the face threatening to unravel big. 

And God, He just refuses to leave me here in “good enough,” “far enough” “functional enough” “useful enough.” He wants more.  He is relentless in His care for the innermost places.  He waits and He woos and every so often He applies a little pressure to bring things to the surface which I wanted to keep buried and gone.  

Just this morning I was touching the places that are longing for more healing and I felt I couldn’t write.  When I think of writing this for anyone to read I picture people who have rejected me and I feel too small to type.  Then I hear His whisper – “write for Me … Focus on Me not them.  I will hold you.  I, Myself, will stand in the gap to protect you as you do.”  And, I get a glimpse of His plan and the vision He is longing for within me. 

 It has been many years since I felt the fear that He was out to get me – the angry Old Testament God Who was standing by with lightning bolts in hand and me wearing a T-shirt with the Target logo emblazoned upon it.  My perception of Him harkened back to the blows which sent me sailing into walls and furniture, the belt coming off pants then raised over me in unrestrained anger about something like me playing with a balloon and irritating him with the noise it made.  Those scenes were transposed onto God somehow and I feared Him – not in the biblical way, but deep in my unspoken places.  How can a Father be safe if my father was so unraveled in rage?  How could a parent be effective if my mother couldn’t stop him and she did her own version of damage when he was away?  God has to contend with this residue in my relationship with Him – it has been a wall of the thickest variety between us and then that wall transformed into a bridge brick by brick over time by which I tentatively walked nearer to find Him completely and unexpectedly different than anyone I know or will know.  Safe, oh no, He isn’t tame.  But good … He is very, very good.  I only wish I could express the goodness He has shown me here in black and white.  

When the dawn is breaking over the hills, yet it is dark, you have hope, the glimmer that something bigger and brighter is coming.  The unknown is on the horizon – hiding promise and something never yet tasted.  He says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing.”  Yes, He remains the same, but His new thing is constant.  He is bringing us to places unchartered in our souls.  He walks us into greater freedom and love.  The journey there is not without peril and pain.  As a matter of fact we don’t get there on the high and easy roads.  We must go by way of the cross.  This is something I have understood only a little and I imagine I have yet to understand it much more than I do now.  

The cross.  I must die to be reborn.  I must go into the pain, not away from it. 

The pain is the way of redemption.  As He wanted His cup to pass, so do I.  And, yet, there I stand, with Him in the Garden, saying, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”  For the joy set before Him Jesus endured the cross.  This joy – the joy of redeeming lost souls – this was worth the physical pain of crucifixion and the emotional and spiritual torture of separation from the Father.  

So I sit, overwhelmed with self-created messes from over-commitment in my life.  Projects needing completion, demands from others on my time and life, possessions scattered across our back porch from when the moths invaded our pantry two weeks ago all remind me of the uncontrollable overcrowding in my heart.  I can feel as unsettled and scattered as those miscellaneous items strewn across an otherwise purposeful table.  I long to have more of myself to give and more time to spend creating.  

I must declutter my heart.  

I must allow Him into the clutter to teach me His ways and lead me to become both more and less in Him.   

This is His gentle invitation.  

And I hear His whisper – life can be different, very, very different – but you have to trust Me and there will be big changes in how you use the word, “no.”   I am catching the vision God has for me and how I move in life.  It’s the letting go that is so hard.  Ever stop to see the white knuckle hold you have on the status quo, no matter how uncomfortable and ugly parts of that reality are?  I feel Him, gently prying my fingers away in invitation to allow Him space to make things different.  When I look up and see Him, I soften and give way.  But when I recoil in old fear I grasp even harder.  I long to let go and answer His call, but there is a chasm of unknown between here and there.  And this journey – this time around – this is between me and Him.  I don’t have a soul-journer at my side.  I don’t have the comfort of a mother figure in the faith holding my hand through the darker waters.  I don’t have the affirmation that all is well from outside myself. I could gather that up and muster some sort of support, but instead I hear Him now.  This call is for me alone.  I need to be strong enough to be weak.  I need to let go alone.  

Photos Courtesy of WikiCommons


Barbie said...

Oh friend, welcome back. "I need to be strong enough to be weak". Those closing words penetrate my soul. In our weakness, we lean into Him and find His strength. Looking forward to what comes out of you in this beautiful season. Blessings!

MsLorretty said...

Well my dear, if you want a soul-journer or a faith sister, I will gladly hear your heart.

HeartsHomeward said...

Thank you. YOU are a soul-journer. In this season, part of my grief is that my mentor of 17 years is dealing with her own demands and we are working through her lessened availability together, but in spurts. I know it is something God is allowing so I can lean more heavily on Him alone and not on her as a bridge to Him. Still, it smarts. I know in my head the "why" and all of that, but in my heart I feel one more abandonment. It is good because that is a not-so-gentle tickle of all the old wounds and they needed the nudge so I can do more work and let more chunks go - for the promised freedom that always comes because He died to give it. I so appreciate your outstretched hand and heart and I'm probably going to take you up on the offer in one way or the other as I go forward. Bless you for your willingness and I know well that it comes from a healthy place - the place you have found as the recovered temple prostitute - the place that says a genuine yes for the sake of another, not your own unmet needs. With love ~ Patty

HeartsHomeward said...

Thanks for your eternal cheer-leading, soul-sharing camaraderie, Bonnie. I treasure you and how you share what is real, broken and not-yet-as-you-want-it. You make safe places for others to do the same. I am grateful for your encouragement in this season of unsettled growth. I am equally excited for what He is doing and will do in and through you as you are letting go as well.
Love you ~ Patty

Diane Samson said...

Wow! So much of what you poured out from your heart is my heart too. There is so much there, I can hardly find one thing to plant onto. Maybe the most significant or what jumped out at me, is the feeing you have it all worked out, or the pain should be behind by now or the idea of helping others with the same issue…and here you go again, having to deal with the pain all over again. I feel your emotions in the last paragraph and God calling you to join with Him and Him only. And may you find, at some time, that God does give us a human hand to hold, a human shoulder to cry on and a human heart to share. Blessings to you!

HeartsHomeward said...

Thank you for writing here. It always means so much to hear a kindred comment. My son and I were talking today about "followers." He said, "I don't care about followers on Instagram, Mom. That's just wanting to gather people." I told him, "Yeah, I'm not watching blog stats either." His sweet response was, "Mom, that's different. You are counting lives you touch." It made me feel so affirmed - by my dear 12 year old boy. Thanks for your sweet words too, Diane. The "here we go again" - it is like getting up for a morning run. I sometimes hate it and yet, I have never come home regretting a run. We can get up and do this - in due time, with Him - and we won't regret it. You know.

Jamie Wheeler said...

Wow Patty! Your such a beautiful, talented, strong, encouraging, amazing, woman! You share your hurts, hurts some of us (me) are terrified to share outside of a private setting! I think you truly amazing! All of Gods children are special but I do believe some are perhaps a little more then others, and if this were true, you are by far one of them. I'm so fortunate to know you! You have no idea! My mind is spinning in delight and sadness at the same time over these writings of yours.

Jamie Wheeler said...

I guess I hit the max words lol... Thank you for sharing! Your a great encourager and friend! Blessing to you, your family and your writings! :-)

HeartsHomeward said...

Thank you so much. You are a gift in my life too. Truly. I am so grateful to have God's healing hand in my life and to know that my risking and stepping out to share (which has been prompted by other brave women and much time spent in quiet healing) has blessed others. He won't waste a drop of it. Thank you for sharing here and for being such a sweet cheerleader in my life. I'm looking forward to witnessing what God is doing in your life. Love you.

Jamie Wheeler said...

Love you too! :-)

shelley swanson said...

Strong enough to be weak. I'm just now learning this. My whole life I had to put the strong face forward up until recent, as in a month ago, the strong began to crack and I can feel The Lord literally holding me up at times.

HeartsHomeward said...

Whew! I feel it with you, Shelley, as you say it. Let it crack. It feels like it will all just crumble, but what is essential just can't crumble in His care. I was reading this AMAZING book - Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray - and in it she talks about when Luke and the others had to cut the lifeboats and sails off the ship so they wouldn't capsize in the storm. What used to serve us must be cut at another season and it feels there is just nothing to steer us or save us. Stripped down. But the stripping down ultimately saves us. There is beauty from ashes in your future, sweet friend. Praying for you right now.