Today I had the honor and gift of being able to sit in the comfort of my home while listening to some awesome Bible preaching and teaching. My Church set up the Resurgence Conference for free online streaming. I was giddy this morning for what I would learn. I was overwhelmed at the sight of so many Jesus loving individuals packed into my church …singing ….praying ….learning …living …and worshipping together. It was an awesome sight to see the pews packed. It actually brought tears to my eyes …because I want to see that every Sunday. And today was a Tuesday. A day generally not packed full of church goers. I was in awe of my God blessing me with a sight I always want to see. It truly was amazing!
What I took away from today amazes me more. It isn’t something I have really thought of. All the Pastors who spoke today touched on it spoke into this feeling inside of me, but it was brought home by Pastor Greg Laurie. Is who I am when I am all alone with God the same person I am when I am around others? The answer is no. I am not the same person I am around my family that I am around my Community Group. I am not the same person I am around my Community Group that I am every Sunday at my Church. I am not any of those people when I am with only my husband. And I am still not that person in any of those situations then when I am alone with just God. I’m just not. Oh sure I could give you a list of reasons and excuses to “sanatize” my choices. But I am not going to.
As Pastor Crawford Loritts spoke of today I need to move away from that dissection and set my feet to the path of what I am going to do about it. How can the awesome and redeeming power of the Gospel shine it’s light through me if I keep putting Yahweh’s lamp beneath a bucket? So I am going to start with today. By God’s sense of time this is the beginning of my Wednesday. And I was blessed with spending the beginning of my Wednesday listening to the teaching and preaching of my Pastor Mark and Pastor Crawford a second time through with my husband. It was a good start to my day and I find myself at peace with what the dawn will bring me. And trust me when I say that very rarely is the case.
So who am I when I am alone with God? At first I thought it was that I am more confident when I am alone with God than when I am around other people. Because I often feel a mile behind everyone else, completely out of place, and the only platypus among a flock of swans. I’m not even the same species. So as I allowed myself to sink into this self-professed confidence before the LORD I quickly come to realize I am not all that confident. I question myself before and around others, and even when it is just me and no one else can witness my pride …it isn’t displayed in confidence. It is displayed in second guessing myself, doubting myself, condemning myself, beating myself up …and staying completely focused on myself rather than focusing on the very real and obvious fact that I am an infant in my faith before a timeless LORD who knew all of my sin before He laid the foundations of the world. That’s intimidating. It is also so completely loving and humbling that He went ahead and made me anyway just the way I am. I can’t really wrap my mind around it.
If the last paragraph didn’t give the answer away I’ll say it plainly. When I am alone before God I am a mess. I realize that in most of my online social media stuffs that I am involved with I always mention that I am broken, but I don’t think I act that part out. I keep it hidden because it makes me vulnerable and real and imperfect. Granted I know everyone knows I am not perfect …but this is a whole other level of imperfection. I am broken because I am a sinner …yes …but the shattered pieces of me go much deeper than what I allow anyone to really see on any sort of consistent level. I know we are all broken from the start, when we are being knit in our mother’s womb. I know that, and I don’t want to try and play the ‘who is more broken’ game with anyone. I am just saying, and letting you know that my soul … my very core …is shattered to countless pieces in Jesus’ dust pan. I know I have only allowed Him the briefest moments of times to begin gluing my pieces back together. I know that every day that passes more of His glue will bind me together with the stickiness of the Holy Ghost. Just run with that analogy, bypass its flaws.
I am in pain. In an obvious way physically. I have told some about the constant level and degree of pain that I live in. When doctors ask about a pain level between 1 and 10 …I live normally at a 7. When I sleep it jumps up to an 8 due to the fact I am asleep. So generally I don’t sleep well. It isn’t restive. Every moment of every day I am in pain. It isn’t a discomfort. It isn’t bothersome or annoying. It isn’t mild. It is burning, stabbing, real pain. And if you look at me it is doubtful you will see that pain. It might show up briefly in a wince, but generally people don’t realize how much I hurt. I don’t want you to know. I go to great, exhaustive lengths so you don’t know. I hurt. All the time. Even when I am smiling, laughing, singing, and lifting my hands to worship LORD …I am in pain.
The fact I am in pain is not the problem. It is just how can you see the redeeming power of God for this pain, through this pain, and because of this pain … if you don’t even know I am in pain in the first place? Hiding this thorn isn’t allowing the light of the Gospel to shine through those gaps and cracks. Don’t worry I am not about to start whining around everyone, nor am I going to constantly complain. I just know I need to start exploring the ways of shining the light of Christ through the lens of this agony rather than covering it up. I know I will need to pray about this a lot, and actually talk with the LORD about this …rather than just at Him because of it. He had the solution in an eternity before today.
My physical pain was the easy answer. It is the low hanging fruit. A piece higher up has to do with intimacy. Oh I tell people I suck at it because I have absolutely no idea what it looks like and I have never really had living examples of it around me. The part that people don’t know is that I still have PTSD. The LORD has redeemed some shallower areas of this, but I haven’t really begun to explore the deeper side of the PTSD pool. I’ll hug people hello, because that is a greeting. But a strange man, or a man I am only acquainted with, better not come up to me and touch my arm. If that happens no one will know it…..but inside I am freaking out. And it doesn’t always have to be a man. Touch, in general, I am not very good at. Being married has exposed this problem in so many ways.
It is so obvious when it is between me and God that when I go out of town with my mom …and we share a bed to sleep in …I will sleep on the edge, corner of that bed so as not to touch her in my sleep. I get on the verge of anxiety attacks if while we are laying there and the outsides of our arms touch very lightly. Comfort be damned. And that’s my mom. I don’t think anyone realizes that every Sunday at my Church is a miracle of God because if it were any other space, any other place, I would be uncomfortable and looking for my way out. And I would never go back, much less volunteer eagerly and willingly to associate with random people. Every Sunday is a miracle in my bucket sheltered world that I can go to Church for hours, being around strangers, and feel at ease and protected while I am in God’s house. I am in God’s house with God’s people enjoying God’s company learning God’s word. If you take God out of that I would never go back a second time. Trust me on this. But how would you know this. How can I portray that in a way that isn’t all about me, but about all of His light shining through those shattered parts of me? And I don’t have an answer for that. I will pray about that. I know the LORD has the answer already.
So I am in physical pain, in PTSD to the point where I close my eyes if a commercial or image comes up involving tidy whites. What else? I hunger for His word, I hear His commanding voice, and I tend to ignore Him. I won’t do this in front of others. Before others I keep up appearances. I listen to God, I do what He tells me to do, and I portray a somewhat sedated, rebellious, obedience. Before other’s I choose Him. But when it is just me and God hanging out …most of the time I will choose myself. When I am alone with God I sit there in complete disbelief …confused …horrified shocked awe …at how shattered I have become. I am overwhelmed by my mess. I am at a loss over the loss the LORD and I look at in the parts of me that have become nothing more than a fine powder …dust. And yeah, some of that is my sin …but some of that is just bits of me. Bits of me I lost. Core elements of me that just don’t work any more ….and so I don’t know how to function as me any more. I know that the LORD has it all and that I am a new creation …but how does that new created me work, function, and exist?
I sometimes think I knew the answer, or answers, so I try to forge ahead. And as a lot of my friends have babies and toddlers …my actions remind me of the baby who tries to craw for the first time…but still can’t figure out how to get their knees beneath them. I would like to say I am a toddler learning how to run …but more often than not I am the babe who still needs to learn how to support and control my own head. Because I don’t do that very well. I don’t take every thought captive to the LORD. I don’t pray on my knees as often as I should. I don’t read my Bible as often as I should. I don’t focus on all things that are true, good, and holy from the LORD. I fill my head with crap, false gospels preached in TV series, or movies, or games, or books, or ect….and if I don’t control my head how can I possibly guard my heart?
Before God I am broken. The puppet strings of the world have been cut …but that is still the habitual way, the normative way, I know how to move. I exist beside the LORD looking at the shattered mess of me in horror ….and I don’t know what to do. I know Jesus is where I need to start. Jesus is my start, my middle, my end, my energy, my reason, my salvation, my joy, my motivation, my prize, my portion, and my support. Just to name a few. Before others I know I put on the front and face of this is who I am, this is my personality, this is where I am from, and this is what I do. When it is just God and me …I feel less defined and more like a blob. I am undefined as I set myself to the task of knowing deep in my core …in the spaces inbetween all the shattered pieces of me …who the LORD says I am and how He defines me. I am learning those truths in the Bible, in the teaching of the Gospel, in the testimonies of the people around me …and I know it is true in my head. I need it to sink and cement itself in the empty spaces between the pieces of me. I need to sit, and think on it. I need to take the time to sit with Jesus at His feet to chew on His words.
I don’t know if any of this makes any sense. I hope I’m not writing in circles, because I am good at that. I just wanted to get these thoughts down. Because good men of God spoke into my life today. The LORD spoke to me through them. He made me who I am before Him …and I need to allow His glory, His light, His redemptive power, and His grace to shine through my mess. He doesn’t want me to sweep it all under a rug or the bucket just because others come around. That doesn’t glorify God. It glorifies me. I’m broken. I’m a mess. Jesus is the neat and perfect one. And only Yahweh can shine light through the murkiness of His followers. It doesn’t make logical sense. It seems foolish and folly. But the world in its wisdom does not know God. We can’t shine a light through dirt and murkiness. That is a miracle. Only the power of the LORD can do that. Because He is that awesome. And only HE is that good!