Do you ever have those days where you hate your life? For me those days usually come when I am overwhelmed with too much to do, things come up unexpectedly, and I feel like I haven’t had enough time to myself. Which is why it happened the past couple of days!

Confession: I cry a lot. For years I didn’t really cry ever, and then at some point in my young adulthood I realized that emotions aren’t there just to get in the way of my goals, but that they actually serve a purpose in our lives. Somehow, I was able to embrace that and declare to God that I didn’t want to be ashamed to cry in His presence. So since God actually takes our prayers seriously, I cried literally every time I was in worship for the next year. And since the dam broke, the river has been flowing pretty freely every since. I do get annoyed with emotions, but I know they serve a purpose, and tears — for me — seem to be a pretty quick way to connecting my emotions with God. So, yesterday if you came into the kitchen as I peeled potatoes for dinner, you would have thought I was chopping onions, because the tears were THERE, freely flowing down my little cheeks.

I think when emotions get uncomfortable, our inclination can be to squash them, or drown them, or ignore them. Watch a sad movie? I can release my tears without dealing with the true emotional source that has caused them to build up. Drown them in wine or something more potent, and it can numb the pain inside. Harden my heart so as to not feel so much, and I end up hardening my heart to the people around me as well. I have a friend who recently confessed to being on anti-depressants, but stopped because though the medication helped her function, it also caused her to not feel much of anything, like joy or excitement or desire. It was a tough slog, but she is now able to be a little more connected to God and others and deal with the emotions without feeling debilitated. [For the record, I don’t think medication is wrong. I believe it can be very helpful if used in the right way. However, I believe psychological medication is often like a pain suppressant. It doesn’t actually heal, but it can help us function, which is very good. Ideally, healing will come when we are able to connect with God and others and are in a safe enough place in those relationships – and physically – to deal with the true source of the problems instead of just the symptoms.]

As I found myself overwhelmed with negative emotions, I kept asking myself, “What would I tell me if I came to me for help?” I am, after all, a pastor! I know what is true. Appropriating that truth is the tricky part. But what did my soul need to be reminded of? What truth was I missing? And what did I need to do with the truth I’d discovered about myself that was causing me distress? I won’t go into the particulars here, but on top of the deadlines and projects and sick family members looming over me, I had realized something about myself that helps explain some other things that have caused me repeated frustration over the years. Some of the things I have been asking God about are sort of starting to make sense as to a root cause, but now that I see the cause, how do I fix it? And how do I keep from being sucked down by negative emotions surrounding that particular bit of unhealthiness in me?

I think I did two things right: First, I allowed myself to have a good cry (while peeling potatoes), and I journaled a brief little prayer to God asking Him to show me something. Second, I reached out to a friend, and I talked with my husband with the disclaimer that I wasn’t mad at him and I just wanted him to listen! This helped him to be prepared to not have to explain himself or fix me — because I knew he wasn’t the problem, though of course, since he’s such a part of my life, he was involved in the mess. And then I went to bed. Okay maybe you could call that five things, but it’s two categories of action and one act of submission (sleep) which is sort of like doing nothing so it doesn’t count. Even though it is important!

Anyway, through all that and as I’ve been ruminating today, I discovered some things. They aren’t really new revelations. They are things I have known and committed to many times over. But sometimes we just need to be reminded, and recommit.

  1. Satan hates me. It’s true! I’ve known it as long as I can remember, but it’s good to have a reminder. As I told my husband how I wanted to “Quit everything and run away” I realized that the things I actually wanted to quit were the ones that are most connected to my particular calling and assignment from God right now. Guess which things in my life Satan doesn’t like? Those ones. So that is what he attacks. Boo! I’m not giving in, Satan. Go back to hell. (That’s the only context in which I can say “Go to Hell” you know, so I am going to use it while I can.)
  2. Jesus loves me. Pain shows us where there is a problem. And though I don’t yet have a solution to this distressing truth I have discovered about myself, I am thankful that God showed it to me, because it really is part of what I think has been holding me back and causing frustration in my life.
  3. People are important. I think if I had not reached out to a friend and my husband, I would not have been able to move forward toward good. I would have stayed in the bad and frustrated and self-centered. I wouldn’t have received the love I really needed, because they wouldn’t have known I needed it.
  4. I have issues with boundaries. I don’t know what to do with that yet, but I know (and I have known for awhile) that I need to keep seeking God on that one. I tend to know something for a long time before I act on it. Like decluttering. I’ve read books, listened to podcasts, downloaded apps, but I have yet to make a truly significant decluttering effort. I want to do it. But WHEN? *groan/eye roll* And exercise. I bought new running shoes…a long time ago… and have yet to run on a consistent basis. But I think this lack of finding time to do what I know will be healthy for me and help me in many ways has something to do with that boundaries issue.
  5. C.S. Lewis thinks God wants to kill me, and I think he’s right. I am reading Mere Christianity right now, and as Lewis states it (book 4, chapter 8),

Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half measures are any good…Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked — the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’

Good LORD! I mean, Jesus is a good Lord, but He’s not very NICE sometimes! Why do I have to DIE??? (Though of course, GOOD is a lot better than “nice.”)

*Sigh*

But that is the path I choose. I choose death. To the bad and the rather-innocent-but-still-selfish. To the me that is not yet like Christ. I choose death because I choose LIFE.

Wheat_close-upJesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” — John 12:23-26

image: By User:Bluemoose – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=333105

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