Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pain in the Offering

Psalm 38

6: I am bowed down and brought very low; all day I go about mourning.
8: I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart.
9: All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.
10: My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.
15: I wait for you, O Lord; you will answer, O Lord my God.
17: For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me.
18: I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin.
21: O Lord, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God.
22. Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Floored.

I'll be completely honest with you and say that I envy those who can hear God's voice. I know he communicates with everyone in different ways, and (as of yet) that isn't how he speaks to me.

But at those times when he very directly speaks to me, I am no less floored. Often, it will be something that may seem common or trivial to those who weren't in on my prayers or thoughts. A sudden coincidence, and a very clear reminder of what is on my heart at the time. Or a song will come on the radio as I'm praying in the car, and the lyrics will clearly answer the questions I was asking him. And every time, the only thing I can do is sit in stunned silence and awe. It's very humbling to be addressed by the Holy King, no matter how it is that he speaks.

I had a moment like that a few minutes ago and was so moved by it that I knew I needed to write it down, because it's times like these that I like to look back on when I'm wondering where he is. As if he ever leaves.

For the backstory, please scroll down to the bottom of the post.

Here I am, just home from work and cranky and I sit down at my computer to check my email, all of these thoughts circling through my head - how I'll wait 'til I hear from him again to unload all these things on him, things I need that I'm not getting, and that I don't want to talk to him anymore and this isn't worth it to me. I'm sitting here almost looking forward to the moment that I can turn tables and make him feel as dispensable as he's made me feel.

I open my "Encouragement for Today" daily devotional from Christianity.com and again, sit here in awe and disbelief that still, that what God is still asking me for loud and clear is patience and perseverance. Even in the face of rejection. (God, you never did say it was going to be easy.) I'm floored.

Here it is, the answer to my questions, titled "Rejected Again?"

Now of course, there are two different dynamics here. There is the relationship side and the spiritual side. As far as a relationship is concerned, things are not good. But I have been telling God for 5 months that his sanctification is more important to me than our being together, and that is still true. God only knows why we've been put in each other's lives, but if I'm in his to help renew and restore his heart, it is disobedient to turn away when it gets hard.

And maybe through these things will come something stronger and more fruitful between us than whatever we could possibly have had before. Only time will tell that.

I do know I need to go about things very differently to preserve my own heart though.
Above all else, guard your heart; for it is the wellspring of life. (Prov. 4:23)

Lord, I know you never said it would be easy, but I know you won't test me beyond what I can bear. Lord help me to keep my eyes fixed on you as I walk with someone who is suffering and to release the heaviness in my own heart. Take away his heart of stone Lord and replace it with a heart of flesh. Give me the right words to speak Lord and the endurance and patience to keep going when I want to give up. Lord I ask also that you give me the courage to pray with him next time I see him. Thank you for the incredible transformation in him that you're already making and for the opportunity you give me to work for you. In Jesus' ever patient name I pray these things. Amen.



The Backstory: In the Spring I was dating this guy who I had an instant, crazy connection with and deep care for, and vice versa. Everything seemed as close to perfect as it could get and I never thought I would see the end of it. If you've read earlier posts, you'll remember that he's the one who taught me about God and the gospel and led me to Christ. Impactful, to say the least.

For reasons not totally understood by me, he went from hot to cold very soon after I became a Christian, which caused me a great deal of anxiety and heartbreak. I couldn't understand what I'd done wrong and was consumed by it. As I soon learned, he was deep in a spiritual struggle, knowing what he should be doing and doing very much the opposite. Bad habits that he had repressed all returned to the surface. He drank a lot and smoked a lot and refused to come to church. He lost his convictions and gave up trying.

Every day as I sat in prayer, distressed and hurting, I asked God how he could be this way all of a sudden and what I should do. Even though I felt like the only answer was to break up with him, I kept getting this strong overwhelming feeling as I prayed that I needed to wait and to be patient.

And I tried. It was a month of his being completely shut down and my worrying before he broke up with me. I told him it didn't feel right, and about my prayers. He asked me later after he left if it still didn't feel right; it didn't. He said he'd be a fool not to listen to that, but it was never brought up again.

Over the past five months since we broke up, it was ugly. We saw each other a couple times and it was bad. Really crazy coincidences would happen all the time pointing right to him, and I tried to brush them off. My heart wouldn't heal, and I finally convinced myself that we really were never going to return to the way it was when we were happy. Nonetheless, I thought about him every day, and his heart and strength in the Holy Spirit was the only consistent thing I prayed for daily, even though he was harsh and critical and hurtful when we talked.

It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I saw him again and things seemed dramatically different. He had a gentleness about him again, and the kindness in his eyes returned. He was humble and respectful, and apologized for all the things he had done and said over that time. We were on the phone all night, talking about how we'd never been able to get over each other and he said it just hadn't been the right time. He told me again and again how much he needs me in his life, and that the people he's surrounded by lead him towards the sins he feels he can't escape. He said he needed my influence on his life, that although he as the man is the leader and the "head," that I am the neck, which supports and guides the head where to go.

We decided to be very intentional on taking it slow this time. We started seeing each other every few days, and it felt like he had become the incredible guy I first met again. All at once he quit smoking, cut down drastically on drinking, cleaned his apartment, and got his stuff together. I can't describe the joy of seeing a heart being restored after the hours and hours of tearful prayers and blessing my 'enemy.' In some ways it feels as though he was in my life to guide me spiritually, and now maybe I was there for him in the same way.

After a few weeks we made the mistake of getting too comfortable and saw each other a few days in a row. I think it freaked him out and he shut down, yet again. I thought to myself, "how can this be happening again??" Not only is it painful in a relationship, but it makes me feel devalued and broken. I knew I needed to do it differently.

So instead of worrying and asking what was wrong and pleading for time together thinking that was going to fix it, I left him alone. We didn't talk for days and when we did see each other again, it seemed like everything was back to normal. But, yet again, it seems that he's switched off and become selfish again, and it brings me right back to that anxious, hurt feeling I had before. I don't want anything to do with that. I can't do it again. I shouldn't have to walk on eggshells and pretend I don't want to talk to him for days at a time for fear that he'll become that person.

So all last night and all today I have been praying, asking God what to do, but thinking I knew full well what I needed to do. I've come up with all these conversations I wanted to have about how I deserve a lot better than this and that I don't want to have anything to do with him when he's like this. And those things are both true. But it was the way that I was planning it that I just realized is not the way God wants it. It was coming from anger and frustration.
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