“Don’t be afraid.” Easier said than done, am I right?
You know, there are a lot of commands in the Bible that I can easily get on board with – a lot of straightforward, easy to understand commands. No, they aren’t all easy to follow of course, but a lot of them seem pretty black and white, right and wrong, do this and don’t do that. And I can see value in them all, even though I fall short of each one, often.
But when the Bible commands Christians not to be afraid, it throws me off because it isn’t just a suggestion or a good idea. It’s not just a friendly phrase to throw around in the midst of trials or to encourage loved ones with. It’s a command.
“Do you forgive me?”
In my head? Yes.
In my heart? No.
This is often how things play out between my husband and I after an argument. It doesn’t really matter the circumstance, whether it’s a huge, deep hurt against the other or a small comment taken too seriously, when my husband and I disagree, he is always quick to apologize and quick to forgive.
I wish I could say I’m the same way. I wish I could say I fight for unity with ease and am quick to reconcile, but the truth is, I don’t and I’m not.
And I hate that.
I hate that I am often the grudge holder in our marriage. I hate that I am a keeper of wrongs. I hate that apologies don’t come easy and that I cling to unforgiveness. I hate that my mind is ready to forgive, but my heart and my emotions are not.
I see you.
You, the exhausted, worn out and weary soul, tired of chasing grace, yet refusing to accept it.
I see you.
You, who are fully aware you aren’t living in the freedom Jesus promised, yet paralyzed by desperate, failed attempts to taste His sweetly promised peace.
I see you.
You who’s been beaten down by shame and who’s given the reins to the enemy to attack you with his accusations. You – trapped in an exhausting cycle, a victim of the less-than-perfect, never able to meet the demands of perfection, yet refusing to ever accept the reality that we are surrounded by an imperfect everything.
Yeah, I see you. And in every way, I’ve been you.
“Mom, be prepared.”
This is what I used to say to my Mom as a child every night before bed. Not your typical, “Goodnight-I-love-you,” am I right? I don’t know many women who long for their goodnight cuddles and their “I love you” to be returned with, “Mom, be prepared.”
But, for most of my preteen and early teenage years, I ended each day with a rigid routine – one where I placed my phone on the exact same spot on our coffee table, got ready for bed, washed my hands three times, restarted the bedtime music I slept to about 15 times, carefully took 11 sips of water – three regular, three big, three small, one gargling, one tiny – and then, always the same each night, “Mom, be prepared,” followed by the assurance, “Honey, I’m prepared.”
See, during those years I struggled with chronic anxiety and severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I couldn’t handle anything out of the ordinary and I worried constantly. I worried about my mom traveling on business trips. I worried about being the last one up at night. I worried about being away from home. I worried about school. I worried about losing my family or friends. I worried about germs. I worried about getting sick. I worried about what I thought. I worried about what I said. I worried about what I did. And I worried about change.
you know when I love that idea? That idea of God making beauty from my
love it when I’m in the beautiful moments of life. When I’m sitting with my
Bible open in the early hours of the morning, sun shining through my apartment
window, warm coffee in hand, praise music on, and prayers of gratitude pouring
from my lips. When I’m sitting by still waters and God’s peace has captured my
heart for an hour or two and all I feel is still. When I’m laughing with my
husband, caught up in the realization of just how lovely it is to be
vulnerable, known, and unconditionally loved by another human being, despite
the sin that courses through both of us. I love that idea when work is going
well and loving my co-workers is easy and when I see them, I see God and his
heart for them. When I’m in a season where the Lord has put all the pieces together
and I am so aware of how perfect his plans truly are. When I’m sitting at a
coffee shop, words pouring from my heart, and the Holy Spirit is speaking life
right into my soul.
those moments, I love the idea of God making beauty from my brokenness. Because
it is so nice to sit in that beautiful place of reflection, thinking of all the
ways God acted on my behalf to bring me where I am – to a place of being more
free and walking in more victory than I used to.
know when I don’t love this idea?
not sure why I thought it was a good idea, spending a freezing Saturday night
in October at a Haunted House when I’m the girl who’s always been afraid of
pretty much everything. I’m totally a listen to Christmas music in September, beg
for a Caramel Brulée Latte from Starbucks in October, and a let’s skip right
past Thanksgiving and get on to Christmas type of girl.
from candy, which I can get any time of the year (thank-you-very-much), I find
no pleasure in Halloween traditions. For me, there is no joy in being scared, I
despise horror films, I like avoiding danger, and I don’t need any inspiration
when it comes to fear. Disney’s Halloweentown is as scary as I like
things to get, and even that can be pushing it.
So, it makes absolutely no sense why last
Halloween, I raised the idea to my family and fiancé that we should go to a
haunted trail. I’m not sure if I thought I would rise to the occasion or if I
just figured that being a grownup meant I would find some type of joy in the
experience. For the record, neither ended up being true.
Ugh. Did you have to put it that way? “The Christian who doesn’t trust God…” That sounds so…harsh.
Yep. I did have to put it that way.
“Well, I wouldn’t say it’s anything that serious. Everyone doubts sometimes!”
“I’ve always been a pretty anxious person, it doesn’t mean I have deep trust issues.”
“But, I believe in God, so how can you say I don’t trust him?”
We were cooking dinner together, the hubs and I, and it was set up to be an absolutely adorable, Insta-worthy (by my standards at least) occasion. We’d picked the recipe, gathered all of the ingredients together at the grocery store over the weekend (because for the first .2 seconds of our marriage, we were going to do EVERTYHING together, including grocery shop…..which after exactly 2 times, and 2 fights, we agreed was the worst idea ever) and we were all set to make our first meal together. White bean chicken chili was on the menu for the night.