Some of the best moments of my life have happened when I am alone, sometimes in the car or at home or somewhere foreign. These moments are like old school photographs where I dropped off some film and had to wait for it to be developed to see the final picture.
These are the ones where you finally get a sense of understanding about why something happened or didn’t. Why you walked through a season that seemed to have no explanation at the time. Why a particular grief was caused. Some of these things we never get answers to. I consider it a grace when I do, God’s way of saying that we will never understand everything, or even most things, but here is a help to guide you, heal you, redeem you.
I had one of those moments recently. Some things had been rolling around my mind throughout the day that seemed like random thoughts, as if they had all been walking around the same neighborhood but never intersecting. Then I was driving home from work and they all came together like good friends over a good meal. [Aside: is there no better picture of comfort and ease than loving friends joined around a meal and laughter? My favorite.].
The backstory to my revelation: After asking God rather demandingly [usually something along the lines of, “Seriously. Seriously? What was the point of all that!?”] for some time about the meaning of a particular heartbreak, I gained some humility and left my wonderings behind, but my heart, still quite in need of healing, offered up to Him. I began each day for a long time surrendering my hurt and pain and choosing to believe what I know to be true: You are good. You are a good Father. You know what is best for me and you work all things for your good purpose. I want more than anything to be a part of your purposes.
That day in my car what I realized was this: God wants us all out on fragile limb of faith because He wants us to believe he will take care of us. He wants us spending most of our time and efforts in the deep water where we are really unsure of things and have to depend on something other than ourselves because HE IS WORTHY OF OUR TRUST. [FOR REAL.]
I have said and believed those words to a certain extent, let’s just say a comfortable extent, for some time. It’s not a new concept. I trusted God in increments, in amounts that looked and felt like a lot but, when I get real honest it wasn’t very much at all. When I really looked at my life it was pretty gosh darn safe and full of “good” things. When I look back on what I finally learned, without realizing it, is that God is really trustworthy and that means that I can venture out into and I daresay live in the area of “want”, an area that has been historically the scariest place of my life.
I love what Allison Vesterfelt says about want,
It was scary to want something. Wanting something meant feeling the pain of not having it, and feeling the pain of chasing it down.
I have avoided the area of “want” for a long time to avoid that pain. Growing up I was never very competitive, I think that’s because if I lost, along comes disappointment or worse, rejection. It was easier to just not care. That is a profound statement for my life because so much of it is defined by either pretending to not care or living in my authentic self and caring more than any human should be allowed to care. The empathy dial is always turned up to “very high” on this girl.
The aforementioned heartbreak came from a situation where I had typically denied myself the “want”. I subconsciously would not allow myself to want because there was the probability it would end in tremendous pain. Well, somewhere along the way I choose to want it. For the first time I felt how nice it was to experience what I had denied myself the opportunity to have. Then it all came crashing down. The heartbreak I had carefully avoided experiencing came. For a time I wondered how people experienced it more than once. It felt like when I was a little kid being caught in a tumbling wave in the ocean, the kind where you can’t find up, you can’t catch your breath, and you keep getting crashed into the sand and picked back up like being in some kind of underwater spin cycle.
All because I wanted something that had great risk attached to it. Because I chose to a little brave.
Your eyes and lungs sting when you get washed ashore and finally get reoriented. You spend some time catching your breath and coughing up water. Someone would come over and pat you on the back and push the wet hair out of your face. But then you went back out in the ocean, wiser, stronger, running faster and with more joy than before. It was just a wave.
We recover and run back into life again and tackle the next one. You don’t stop wanting to play in the waves.
That’s what happened in the recovery for me. I realized that God is worthy of trust and that I can and should want to go after things that seem completely crazy (and quite inconvenient) because He is with me and without this type of sincere faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6). I want to be a part of something bigger than myself. I want to get more skin in the game. I want to be a part of hard things where the stakes are high. Wanting means giving up things. It means not thinking about my level of comfort and convenience above everything else.
Jennie Allen puts it this way,
Some of us have decorated our prison walls so beautifully that we have altogether forgotten we are sitting in a cell, wasting our lives. We don’t know there are chains that, though they no longer bind us, still seem to tangle us up. We sit and listen to talks or read good books about God, and we wonder why nothing changes when we so desperately want it to.
I was in an extremely beautiful and good prison cell that had lots of things that looked like God on the walls and on the coffee table and in the words that were spoken, but it was still a prison cell. Ironically I’m moving to a country where it much more resembles a more literal prison cell but now my heart is a prisoner of hope alone.
Let’s want things that require us to be brave and have sincere faith.