Dear Christian friends, you’re not doing it wrong.
Just because we love Jesus doesn’t mean our lives will be lived out in beautiful Instagram-worthy moments. Life isn’t always pretty and in focus.
We may have clear and focused philosophical views, spiritual convictions, and intentions (and it’s a blessing to have found even those). But often, our day to day, in and out, living and breathing and interacting can feel muddled and conflicted and imperfect. Especially in today’s world. Even (don’t throw stones) when we’re walking in responsiveness to the Holy Spirit. Because sometimes, in certain seasons, the present is painful and complex and downright ugly.
But you don’t need me to tell you this.
I’m just trying to give myself permission to hold the space I’m holding.
A space of mind-blowing love and peace, where the Word of Yaweh has spoken and it is finished. Where my identity is sure, my eternity is secure, and my future is hopeful. Where doors are opening, vision is being birthed, my spirit is quickened with the anticipation of watching God unfold His awesome plans, and my heart burns with the invitation to be part of it. A space where hope is so deeply anchored in the bedrock of His promised inheritance – the immovable place of shelter in the midst of “come what may” – that His grace could carry me literally anywhere and I know that I know that have not a thing to worry about.
A space of pain so deep it seems like a bottomless well, and a glimpse of its weight practically suffocates my heart and makes it hard to breathe. A space where years of being silenced on the outside has lead to constant screams for help on the inside of my mind, and I feel like a little girl trapped on the other side of the windows of my eyes, hands pressed to the glass begging for someone to see and rescue me. Where platitudes and shallow comforts mean absolutely nothing, because seeing the underbelly of humanity makes the beautiful parts seem like a lie at best and a tease at worst. A space where any and all attempts to salve the wound is like placing a bandaid on a severed limb and even the supernatural steps of Yaweh Himself into these places of darkness, while healing of course, also breathe permission to grieve and speak and feel where silence and death reigned before. Which sounds well and good until we hear what they’re saying and can’t help but wish they’d never spoken at all.
A space where some mornings require both coffee and anxiety medication and morning quiet time is more like wrestling an octopus into this tiny little box called “present” and less like breathing deeply with gratitude. Where I desperately want my prayers to be a neat and tidy process of bundling up my burdens and laying them at the cross, but instead, I feel like a failure when it doesn’t seem to work that way. Where I find myself unable to get out of bed, and I’m asking my husband how we can bundle up this current crisis in a package that is acceptable to those I care about – vulnerable enough to know I’m struggling but not so much they fear I can’t handle my responsibilities.
Because the truth of the matter is, the kids still get fed, the jobs still get done, the Spirit still speaks and sings through me, even if in between it feels like I’m seconds from curling into a ball and never coming out.
And yes, my life is an extreme example, but I know there are others out there feeling like they’re living on the edge most days.
There are others dealing with the shame of knowing all of the answers in their hearts, but facing the same agony of reality morning after morning – fighting for each breath. Overwhelmed by circumstances outside of our control. Worried that others won’t think we’re living “victoriously.”
You know what? (This part’s for me. You can take it too if it resonates. I don’t mind.)
I am living victoriously. I know my Jesus has already overcome. I’m living in the promise of a future hope – that’s victory. I’m living with the knowledge that this light and momentary struggle is nothing compared to what awaits me – that’s victory. I’m willing to allow the fruit of love to shine through me (when I can muster the energy and courage to leave the house) – that’s victory. I’m holding tight to my Abba instead of hiding my face in shame and despair – that’s victory.
I know I’ve written before about the dichotomy I constantly feel between healing from the past and living in the present. I know not everyone can relate to “mental illness” in the things I face every day. But I know some are still confused by the apparently conflicting messages they receive. I know some are still striving to live their lives in clarity and are frustrated that it’s not coming into focus. I know some feel like they’re failing in certain areas of their lives even though they love the LORD with all of their hearts, souls, minds, and strength. And that’s why I want to be vulnerable today.
You’re not doing it wrong.
If you’ve given control of your life to Christ, and you make the daily choice to point your heart in His direction, to reach for the Word of truth whenever you can, to keep taking breath after breath no matter how much it hurts… If you’re doing those things, you’re rocking the hell (literally) out of your life. As far as the rest goes, we can only go as far as the grace of God enables us.
Kurt asked me before he left for work today, “Are you going to be ok?”
“I’m going to be ok,” I answered. “It’s not going to be pretty, but I’ll be ok.”
“Well, pretty was never the goal.”
Still I pray: Jesus, make my life pretty in all of the ways that I want it to be. Make me eloquent and strong. Make me organized and precise. Make me benevolent and selfless. Make me a person who always remembers names and birthdays and lavishes love during special occasions. Make me perfect.
And He looks at me lovingly and says, “My darling. The beauty is in your faith (John 20:29). The beauty is in your righteousness (Romans 3:22). The beauty is in the story you are allowing me to use for my glory (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Your imperfection is my opportunity (2 Corinthians 4:7). Your dependence on me is the avenue I will use to bless others through you (2 Corinthians 12:9). Don’t you worry about a thing (Philippians 4:6-7). Abide (John 15:4).”
Even in the pain. Even in the therapy appointments and emotional meltdowns and “just getting through the moment” moments. Our lives are a beautiful sacrifice of praise.
Pretty was never the goal, but He does make all things beautiful in His time.
2 Corinthians 4:7 – New Living Translation
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.