The Hard Hallelujah.

Reader, this season is hard.

If I could sit across the table from you, cup of coffee in hand, and pour out all that is on my heart, I’d share how I’m feeling cooped up, isolated, a little bit anxious and a lotta bit lonely. I’d share how my moods are changing by the hour, and how though some days I feel like I can identify and embrace all the beauty and joy there is to be found in this season; most days, I’m battling for joy and rejoicing is painful. I’d share how I’m finding so much to be thankful for, yet mourning the loss of so much. And I’d tell you how I’m feeling guilty about my struggle because I have been infinitely blessed and so many of my neighbors haven’t been. I’d tell you how most days I question who I am to consider this season one of suffering.

And I’d ask you the same questions I’ve been asking God.

Questions like: How do we rejoice in this season of suffering, isolation and loneliness? What does it look like to give thanks when so many people are losing and living in desperation? In this season of emotional frailty and weakness, where do we find the strength to rejoice in the Lord? When all we have are hard emotions, exhausted hearts, and weary minds, how do we embrace the command to rejoice?

Do we muster up “good” emotions? Do we look for the silver lining? Do we try to fake it ‘til we make it? And what about that thing called joy? Is it there and we just can’t find it? Or are we doing joy wrong?

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God, I give you my mess.

This is the cry of my heart tonight, reader. I’ve got nothing else to offer, nothing else to bring. No words of wisdom. No lesson or learning.

No, tonight what I have is a broken and contrite spirit. A faint heart, an emotionally exhausted mind, and a discouraged soul.

And beneath it all, the smallest flicker of hope.

The last few days, God’s convicted me big time of some sin I didn’t want to acknowledge. And I don’t know if this is how it works for you, but when God convicts me of sin, he doesn’t seem to hold back much. It seems like he brings out the big guns. (Even as I write this, I can almost hear God chuckle to himself, as if to say, “Oh Megan, you think those are my big guns? You’ve got no idea.”)

And I know God’s character is gentle. I know he can be delicate and soft in his handling of his children.

But sometimes, he is the thunder and the roaring lion and always he is a jealous God and a loving Father, and so when God sees us wrapped up in a sin, especially one we are either oblivious to or in denial of, he sends in the big dogs.

Or at least, that’s what it feels like on the receiving end.

And hear me, I’m not saying God isn’t kind in his conviction. I’m not saying his discipline isn’t rooted in love. I’m not saying he inflicts pain, pours out his wrath, or sends us into a place of shame and condemnation.

But I think what he does do, is come into our lives with all of his power and authority, and he hits hard on the hardest parts of our hearts.

And when he does, I always react the same way: first, I cry. Second, I question.

God, why do you have to hit so hard? Why is your approach so intense?

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When forgiveness is hard.

“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.

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To the worn-out perfectionist

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.

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God, will you make beauty from my brokenness?

Do you know when I love that idea? That idea of God making beauty from my brokenness?

I 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.

In 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.

You know when I don’t love this idea?

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