I am the girl who musters all her strength just to walk into the doors of church on Sunday morning. It takes me tremendous effort to get into the building; I fight the want to turn back every time. The faces that I see in there seem to have it all together; they smile at me and ask me how I am. What do they expect from me? I wonder.
Some truly do just want vague responses and general niceties. It makes it easier on them and doesn’t ask that they face their own story. Others ask and seem shocked or disappointed when I tell them I’m not well (No, God didn’t answer your request for a miracle today, sorry). Few seem to be okay with my not-okay-ness. On “Good” days I have learned to tell [something reflective of] truth with a smile…a self-deprecation meant to assuage the guilt-inducing responses that they feel and that seem to come so easily from my lips.
And yet in this place are people that I love. Deeply.
I have days of strength too. Days when I am able to face my inner insecurities with honesty and gentleness; when I allow the anxiety to come unbidden and look at it with curiosity. These are the days that I am mindful of who I am, and in whose arms I am held. Grief doesn’t threaten to strangle the life of this body, and I am so bold as to believe my theology of a God who redeems. It is my balance of the simultaneous knowledge of death and life.
There is such a strong contrast in what I believe to be true about God and what I experience in the environment that tells me that this is where He is. It creates this disconnect that is hard to reveal. Like understanding the idea of the stars in the dark night sky. You might believe that they are as science describes, gas on fire; beautiful. Riveting. But do you really know? In the daylight they don’t exist. Are they still present when the fire burns so brightly that they are lost? So it is with me. I believe that God delights in me. I know of waves of mercy, I have tasted contentment. I believe that my God loves me deeply, is my warrior.
I also know anxiety is seriously incapacitating. That the hard things that I have known have changed my ability to utilize my brain to its fullest potential. I know chaos in my mind. I have ways of coping that are temporary at best. Ways that lead me to sin, to get lost in my own daydreams; that cause me to miss today. To lose perspective. To turn away from God because the pain of my reality supersedes my ability to remember that circumstances are temporary (Psst. They are relatively temporary, you know).
Will can’t make me obedient. It doesn’t heal my hurts or save me from temptation. Cobwebs remain, and Will is stuck dangling like a fly…incapable to save himself from impending death.
I am not among the lost souls. I know who God is. It’s just that I also know that there are days that are unbearably hard. This is where my shame comes undone: when these two truths collide, when my theology allows for hard days, weeks, years…even lifetimes, and the promise of redemption remains. To allow space for my story, a story that holds both sides of me to be true. The side that loves Jesus, loves people, believes that I am good; and also the side that is mired in hidden heart sin. When both exist at the same time, I am free.