I’ve blogged off and on for years now. I’ve written commercially about fitness, how to grow your gym, and how to motivate your clients. Somehow when it came time to write this blog (my first for #ThisIsLiving) I lacked the ability to motivate myself to do it. I’d write a few sentences here and there that I’d quickly go back and delete. I’d stare at my computer screen with the cursor flashing, daring me to write something. I even got a whole paragraph in comparing the spiritual pursuit to running- something that has way more parallels than you can imagine. Yet, I still found every excuse under the sun not to write a blog entry – something I had volunteered to do. Why?
After staring at the blank page for the better part of two months, I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom. I am in no stretch of the imagination what you’d expect a Christian to be. I am tatted up with a half sleeve, live in yoga pants, I curse more than I’d like to, I’ve been divorced, and I loathe the societal stigma that has somehow attached itself to being an Christian. So, who am I to write to you about anything to do with holiness?
…I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom.
On Sunday, the message at church was on Jonah. During which it became abundantly clear that like Jonah, I had been running from doing something that I feel God has called me to do. Don’t you hate that? When people say stuff like that? “God told me.” I used to hate that, too. It sounds totally cliché, but I assure you it is also totally legit. When I say that God called me to write this, I don’t mean I audibly heard him say it. It is more like something on my mind and in my heart that I can’t quite put into words. Obviously, it wasn’t something of my own creating. I’ve fought hard against it. Where is all this leading you’re wondering? Don’t worry I’m finally getting to the main idea.
Like Jonah, I was afraid and I had taken hold of a pagan idea and pretended it was true. I was afraid to put myself out there by writing and being vulnerable. I had taken hold of the pagan idea that Christians are supposed to be perfect. Since I don’t fit that mold, I felt I had no business in writing this. Then I recalled how Hebrew literature depicted some of the best of the best: David, Abraham, Jacob. None of these men were painted to be holier-than-thou and perfect. God used them in their imperfectness, and with their many sinful blemishes, to do amazing things. They knew what I’ve come to realize in writing this and through the message I heard…what I hope you’ll explore as well: “We can keep trying our plan, or we can yield to God” and “Sometimes, the thing you feel uncomfortable doing is the thing God’s called you to do.”
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you” – Isaiah 43:2
This verse has resonated with me a great deal recently. I feel like the Lord just kept saying it to me over and over again this past week as my anxiety crept up in the way it usually does. This anxiety is not necessarily due to any one certain thing, but everything–the small and the big. I like to be in control of all aspects of my life, and when I realize I’m not, it can feel so immensely halting. The unknown can feel truly crippling at times. I’ve struggled to give this control over to God for so long. For too long I’ve fought this battle by myself, not letting anyone else take control. Especially not the One who wants to take it all from me. I am only so strong.
And as I let this verse from Isaiah settle in my mind and in my heart, I realized I don’t need to be afraid anymore. I’ve struggled with this burden for as long as I can remember and I don’t want to fight this battle alone. I don’t need to fight this alone. I can keep trying my plan…or I can yield to God. His grace abounds in deepest waters and I feel God’s grace most when He settles the storms inside me. I know He can use these struggles to draw us closer to Him and this includes the anxiety we may feel in life.
Admitting I struggle with anxiety has been such a rough battle in itself. Anxiety at it’s depths is ugly, and I didn’t want to burden others with my struggles. But that’s where I’m learning about community as well. I’m slowly growing a community around myself that encourages me to draw closer to God when I feel weak. He will never abandon me when I’m afraid. He knows my struggles and fears, and He holds me anyway.
My wife and I were sitting in first class on The Chunnel heading to the City of Love, and I was gutted by the absence of connection between us. I had known her for most of my adult life, and I had grown accustomed to the distance that failed to dissipate with time. We grew close early on and then it was as if we hit our ceiling. We had almost raised our family, the nest was emptying out, and I realized that I was emptied out too. Moments like this don’t simply happen but are born and grown over time. She looked up at me and asked me what I was so deep in thought about, “What are you thinking?”
Dare I answer? Dare I speak the raw truth that gripped my mind?
I had been in a trance of thought with my face toward the glass, with this one phrase rolling over and over in my head. I wanted to make this pounding thought audible, but I wrestled. I knew these would be the harshest words she has ever heard from me, and once spoken, there would be no getting them back. And so I did, in a quiet yet resolved tone, I spoke, and each time I repeated the phrase I was more convinced of this truth, “I am done.” The vocal admission was euphoric, and felt like one of the most honest and intimate moments of our marriage.
I am done.
Continue reading “An Odd Time & An Odd Place”
I’ve had Psalm 23 memorized for as long as I can remember. It’s one of those Sunday school staples that just seems to nestle itself in your long-term memory.
You know it:
The Lord is my Shepherd
I shall not be in want
He makes me lie down in green pastures…
Even though I walk through the darkest valley
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me
I have a vivid memory of a family trip to Durango, Colorado when I was in the fourth or fifth grade. We had been hiking all day long in search of a lake at which we would finally bust out our brand new fishing rods. The day ended up being a real bummer because the lake was nowhere to be found and exactly zero fish were caught. On the final stretch when just about all hope was lost, we peaked over a cliff edge to find not the elusive lake but a huge field in the valley of two mountains. It was one of those Sound of Music scenes where the wind is whistling through the grass and if you closed your eyes just right, the sun glares would peak through your eyelashes. Bliss. The feeling of laying down in that field after a day of disappointment is up there on my list of favorite things.
When I think of a green pasture, this is what I think of. However, I’m learning that in our walk with the Lord, laying down in a green pasture doesn’t mean that everything in our life makes sense, and it doesn’t mean that everything is easy. Continue reading “The Pursuit of Green Pastures”
Most of us live in a rather sheltered and comfortable community, and sometimes it can be easy to hear intensely difficult stories and think, “That is so foreign to me. I can not relate at all.” And maybe we write it off because we didn’t find it relative to us, or maybe we glaze over it because we don’t want to hear those kinds of things and expose ourselves to that level of hurt and pain. We want to protect ourselves from the heavy, dark and painful things in this world.
Well, I want to speak into that self-protective tendency in us all. Cause I can do the same thing, especially when my own life is feeling pretty heavy. However, I have a unique perspective on this, because I actually have one of those intense stories as my own story. It has often been difficult for others to hear. It makes them face the evil that exists in this world. An evil that I never had a choice in knowing about.
Continue reading “Uncomfortable Love”