I hit a rough patch this summer. If you follow me on social media, you wouldn’t have had a clue. I’ve become pretty skilled at pretending life is just fine, while hiding the fact that my heart isn’t truly intimate with God.
Months before, I’d had a random conversation with a stranger in the DMV line. I heard about his native country of Liberia and his passion for the people. He was a Christian and challenged me to have faith in God. He also told me we would have children one day and gave specific details. I walked away with a strange feeling. Was he a prophet? Or was he simply a caring person, trying to give me comfort?
Months passed and the things he talked about never came to fruition. And while I was halfway expecting it, it still was hard. To have those words spoken over me, even though I knew it could simply be someone’s way of trying to offer hope, awakened a dream of a family in my heart. It is so much easier to keep things buried; and to have them pulled out and then trampled down is so very painful.
What are You doing, God? What are Your plans? Why would You allow this conversation? Will it always be just Jay and I? Most days I’m ok with that. We have a rhythm; a quiet life, albiet a busy one. We’re auntie and uncle, brother and sister, friends and confidantes to others. I know You are using us in many small ways and I love that.
It’s when I see moments of family life- a baby being comforted only by mommy, a daddy teaching his son to fish, a husband and wife sharing a glance over a child- that I feel a twist of loneliness, and a vague feeling that we’re missing out.
It’s so hard to sit on the sidelines and watch others live out what you’ve longed for years to experience.
And while I told myself I was handling it well, I really wasn’t. There seemed to be a spurt of pregnancy announcements and newborn babies, and each time I genuinely congratulated them and simultaneously kept my heart from my Best Friend.
Why was I running from God? When I finally sat down and confronted it, the thing that kept coming back to me was control. My life wasn’t as I wanted it, and I blamed God. I couldn’t manage the childlessness, but I could choose when I approached God and how I spent my time or even what I ate. And as you can guess, they weren’t good choices. The rebellious streak in me felt satisfaction in eating those cookies or wasting time on social media instead of sitting down with the Word.
It’s sin. This control issue is sin. It’s pride, and God hates it. It’s an abomination to Him.
I had a mentor tell me a long time ago that she believes I like to do things well, to the point of perfection. Style, writing, my house- I have high standards. She challenged me in my relationship with God. Do I feel the need to be perfect and in control?
At the time, it stung and I reacted with defensiveness. But deep down, she had struck a nerve.
This pride was rising from a place of fear and anger, and would only continue to get worse if I didn’t fling it down at the cross and ask for forgiveness.
Here’s the beautiful thing about our Abba Father. He takes our sin when we come crawling to Him and He gives freedom. What grace! It is extravagant and abundant, and we are so undeserving.
Psalm 78:36-39 is just one example of this, played out by the children of Israel on their journey through the wilderness.
Then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant. Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return.
Our Jesus knows. He understands and longs for me to bring my sin and brokenness to Him. He walked right here on earth and experienced all I do.
I am not in control. When I try to take the reins, my heart closes over, and joy is sucked out of my days. While it is good and healthy to grieve, I need to keep coming back to the place of surrender to God. This is the way I was created to live- in vibrant faith, trusting that God is still faithful, and He is still good.
Faith, as I am growing to understand it more, is about looking beyond my circumstances to a person. To have faith in better circumstances, even in God creating better circumstances, is not true faith. I want to be the kind of (woman) who can watch every dream go down in flames and still yearn to be intimately involved in kingdom living, intimately involved with my friend the King, and still be willing to take another risk just because it delights Him for me to do so. And my flesh shivers to think about it. -David Shepherd