Read it and Weep

I am an emotional being. I cry nearly as much as I laugh and I don’t find it that weird. It is my normal. If I am not between a 5 and a 7 on the sad to happy scale… my eyes are probably leaking. But that’s my okay. I actually quite like my crying. It feels healthy.

Today, I started crying because I finally got to spend sometime with a dear friend of mine; given it was just a 10 min car ride from Claverdon to Henley but as I got out and went to my flat I burst into tears. I became a puddle of happy and sad… a fountain of anger and lament… a waterfall of distress and peace and now I feel just fine.

Let me explain. Because often emotion, especially the kind that moves us to tears meets the response of “Shhhhh” or “It’s okay” or (the crappiest response) “Don’t cry”. When inside my head I had a tribe of girlfriends chanting,”cry!”, “Let it out”, “Amen, sister!”

So my explanation…

I was emotionally set free by the kindness of my dear friend offering me a ride home out of her way, inconvenient and 10 mins past her own house. We spent the drive catching up on each other’s lives, sharing our genuine concern and basking in a friendship. I felt delighted to have a girlfriend and while we are separated by decades our lives seem to share meaning. It felt inspired to have our soul sister vibes finding rhythm again.  I didn’t know during the car journey but as soon as I stepped through my threshold I knew that this was actually an answer to prayer.

I have been feeling so many emotions lately that I abnormally haven’t been able to really cry my normal cry.; be my emotional roller coaster of a self.  So I just sat down on my stairs and cried.

Tonight at Claverdon’s Alpha course, where I was coming from, we talked about prayer, I decided to make this freedom of tears my prayer.  So I have been sitting on the stairs crying.  This is what came pouring out.

Praise.

Thank you GOD for being such an unstoppable force. An almighty heavenly ruler to look after us, care for us and never let us down. You are the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. The creator and the sustainer. You are love and goodness. You have already seized victory over evil and you protect us from darkness. You are gentle like a mother, firm like a father  and kind like a friend. I get to see bits of your face in your children, people I get to call friends. You are mysterious and wonderful.

Gratitude. 

Thank you for sending Jesus Christ to take the penalty for our sins, that through him we have the freedom and ability to be good enough to meet with you when ever we want. Thank you GOD for friends and family, that show us love and support in a very real way. Thank you for your earthly church, brothers and sisters in Christ that stand together as a band of instruments learning about you and praising all you do in our lives. Thank you for sending your holy spirit to wrap around us when we are all out of sorts, when we feel lost and when we feel empty. GOD, thank you for restoring us, making us resilient and loving people with each day that we seek you. Thank you GOD for a loving me when I am not lovable, for guiding me when I have turned the wrong way, for blessing me with opportunities to get to know you. I love you.

But GOD…

Lament.

I don’t understand you. Where are you in the pain? Where are you in the sickness and in the wickedness? Why does it sometimes feel like darkness is winning if you have already won? GOD, I seek your will in all of the news headlines and I just don’t get it.

When people of power make jokes about killing an already marginalized group. When horrible natural disasters crash and burn homes and peoples hope. When I have to see my friends and 500,000 human beings of the like post statuses of #MeToo in response to the epidemic of sexual assault. WHERE ARE YOU THEN? How many people have cried out to you in desperation?

When people consistently get away with rape and murder stealing peoples joy and replacing it with suffering. When racism is a blatant part of our society that it becomes a cultural norm. Where children don’t feel safe in their homes or in their schools. When there are children, human beings you created, suffering in all corners of the world from malnutrition, diseases, constant war, abuse and domestic violence. FATHER GOD, WHERE ARE YOU?

When good people, your people are dying from cancer and disease. When people are battling their inner demons, their personal darkness, their depression… GOD?

When people abuse the power they have. When things like terrorism, sex slavery and dirty corporate swindlers seem to be in charge of the spin of the world. When people abuse the elderly. When people turn to drugs because they cant find you and they need something to fill the void… GOD tell me where you are. I am desperate for you to assure me that there is something I am not seeing. GOD???

It scares me how easily, I can get angry at you, GOD. It makes me so sad that this is the reality we have fallen to. Can we ever be redeemed from this hell on earth?

I am sobbing at this point curled into a tiny ball, like a child. When tears stopped flooding down my cheeks, I sniffled that horrible sniffle where nothing moves because your nose has become a brick and your face is just numb. Sitting up. I somehow felt…

Peace.

I felt Jesus sat next to me crying too. I felt God directly behind us with his hand on our shoulders saying, “I know… it hurts. I didn’t want this for you. Go ahead, Cry. You can be angry, you can feel this way. I feel it too. Everyday. All the time…”

We were wrapped in some kind of blanket. It bound us tightly together and it took me a moment to realize that this was the spirit and it dawned on me that the number of times I have prayed for GOD to wrap me in love, in his holy spirit this must be what it is. A blanket of peace, love, even heaven. I have never felt so need-less or want-less, just peace.

I blinked my eyes a couple of times because they felt dry oddly enough and then they were all gone. I was just sat on my rug in the middle of my floor with a stuffy nose.

You see the reality hasn’t changed at all. All of this horrible-ness, the evil lurking in this world is evident but its darkness and what combats darkness but light. I am a Christian human being and it is my responsibility as a human being and my privilege as a Christian to be a light. Shining and showing love, mercy, forgiveness, (insert what you may need here) into the lives of those around me.

John 8:12

12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Matthew 5: 14-16

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

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Mess and Bless

I lost my keys, in the great unknown

Call me please, cause I cant find my phone…

These are the opening lyrics to Francesca Battistelli’s Song This Is the Stuff . Pertinent and relatable. This summer I was home in North Dakota for a little over two months and while I was showered with the beautiful blessings of being with family and friends; I struggle to say it was a replenishing or relaxing holiday away from work.  The two months were filled simultaneously with joys of celebrations, games and a couple of beers as well as a mess of undesirable things like playing a waiting game for VISAs, selling nearly everything I own and everyday dramas like misplacing your keys and phone.

I seemed to find myself caught up in the mess instead of the bless which brings me to Francesca’s chorus…

This is the stuff that drives me crazy

this is the stuff that’s getting to me lately

In the middle of my little mess, I forget how big I am blessed…

I know I am certainly not alone when I say that it is so easy to get caught up. All summer long I found myself swimming in mess after mess, feeling the discontentment of nothing really going right and most definitely not in the timing that I desired.  I am not sure when during this summer I came to a moment of awaking but it was a lot later into my time home than I would care to admit.

To put it into perspective,  my summer was a lot about waiting. Waiting for paperwork from the UK to be submitted, waiting on calls back from friends to make plans, waiting on my own Visa submission… waiting…All of which wasn’t really in my control but spun me anyway into a tight little mess.  You know know as well as I do that all our lives are little messes, losing keys and playing waiting games are all just gentle annoying reminders that the time we do have isn’t really ours. We have this threatening desire to hold on to time as if it somehow is in harmony with our own wants. It isn’t. The only harmony between our desires and the happenings in time are God.

(certainly, you knew I would get to God eventually.)

I lost sight of God in each mess. I felt more sorry for myself in each mess. I didn’t think about talking to God about each mess. I just let the stuff , the struggle bus that I was riding just take me for a ride and then had the audacity to say, “uffda, I feel lukewarm. I cant seem to feel God lately. I feel distant from God.”

What a loser am I that I came to that place.  I wish I could say that this is the first and only time that this has happened to me but it is just such a part of our human-ness. Francesca concludes her chorus with this…

This is the stuff that gets under my skin

but I got to trust you know exactly what your doing

might not be what I would choose

but this is the stuff you use…

“But I got to trust you know exactly what your doing”… Oh how trust is so hard in any relationship let alone with a God that this is active, living and a complete mystery. So I decided that the only way I could resurrect my summer and give my relationship with God a good jolt was go to him. Confrontation.

I grabbed my notebook, my bible and sat in the quiet. I wrote page after page of prayers and when I couldnt find the words that my head needed to say I opened up to his. I sat there and slowly became immersed in his desire of time, his desire for me.

How silly to let little petty things and waiting get in the way of a relationship with Christ. I learned from James chapter 4 that there is literally no point in making plans if you dont invite God into them. Hold on to your plans loosely, trust in the fact that Gods plans will be better because they are bigger.

God has such love for us even in our human-ness. He understands the mess and he chooses to bless us through it if we let him. In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” God’s blessing in our lives only requires us to ask, seek or knock…

In the waiting game I was playing, I felt encouraged by Matthew as he wrote of Jesus saying, ” Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus frees of all our burdens whether they be the giants we face or the petty little stumbling blocks. An authentic relationship with God means we can seek him anytime, anywhere and he will arrive ready to help with the mess.

Most of all I learned once again that God needs to be my number one. He needs to be invited to all happenings or I get discouraged, tired and defeated. My mess seems to be bigger then the bless and that just isnt true, ever.

With Christ, flights can be canceled and what once would have been getting stuck in Amsterdam all of sudden felt like mini vacation in beautiful foreign city. Plans will change and that’s okay. God’s plan is so big and vast we cant comprehend whilst in it but trust that God wants what is good for you teaching you patience, resilience and love along the way.

What is your mess? Where is the bless? If you cant answer that, I suggest a bit of communication to work out your relationship.