I was talking to a friend of mine online last night and he was asking me how I was doing. I told him that things were hard but that I believed God was faithful and that the battle for me was in fighting to be satisfied in Christ for all the areas where the pain makes me want to give up.
He said something about that showing who I was and that I was an example to him. I realized I was being super “Jesusy”, and I tried to set him straight.
I told him that this was desperation for me. I told him I was at the bottom of things, that my life hurt. That the degree of rejection and agony I was feeling frequently made me really mad at God. I told him that I yell at God. I cry. I sob. I scream. But that at the end of the day I find that all I’ve done is walk a giant circle around Him, sometimes beating my fists in anger against His chest, sometimes holding onto Him like a terrified child, but always … always in a circle with Him in the middle. Because there’s no one else worth it. Because there’s nothing else that can take that level of abuse and desperate need. I run to God because that’s the only thing that works.
I believe that He allows us to fall into these times of discipline, where He lets us suffer the consequences of our actions. I know that’s where I am right now. I’m beginning to get to this place where I can see this as a mercy, Him saying “I won’t let you go farther down that road because I love you, because I’m putting limits on what access your enemy has to you.” This burden I carry is heavy, but it could be heavier. His mercy is new every morning, even when He is allowing me to go through excruciating pain. It is for a purpose, and that purpose has at its heart His eventual glory and my eventual good.
This is a gift, if I allow it to be.
A friend of mine last week posted a FB status that said “I’m not pretending, I’m practicing.” I’m still not 100% certain what it meant to her, but it means tons to me. In the past week, I’ve been accused of falseness, of hypocrisy and pretense. There are a couple of folk who thought I was posting about pain in my life in order to curry favor, to make people think more highly of me. I’m not sure what to say to that, except to use the words of my friend: “I’m not pretending, I’m practicing.”
When I talk about the beauty of the gospel in the middle of a divorce, when I write about truth and glory in the middle of my soul’s darkest night, when I quote scripture when everything in me wants to scream in pain … I’m not pretending to be something I’m not. I’m not pretending to have it together. I’m not pretending that I’m a “good Christian”. I’m not pretending that I don’t struggle everyday to believe, to hope, to trust.
I’m practicing. I’m practicing mercy instead of hoping for justice. I’m practicing grace instead of trusting the law. I’m practicing giving what I want to be given, saying what I want to hear, and doing what I want done to me. I’m practicing surrender instead of attempting control. I’m practicing being satisfied in Christ instead of trying to manage and provide for the wounds in my heart on my own. I’m practicing to be the man I hope God is turning me into. I keep hoping that enough practice will develop patterns. So far, the results are meager.
I’m in training. I don’t have this figured out. If you thought that’s what I was saying, I’m sorry. I don’t.
I am guilty and broken and prideful and sinful and lost.
Originally posted to my Facebook page, April 22, 2013.