God Is Not Enough (and now that I have your attention…)

 

Last week I was dwelling in self pity and wrote some regretful words in my journal. After careful consideration, I thought I’d share:

God isn’t enough. 

…God is NOT enough. Not all the time, anyway. In those desperate times when you are told God is enough, He’s not, really. That’s the punishment of original sin, I suppose. We lost what made us whole. We suffer. And all the evangelicals etc. can say what they want – but sometimes, in some moments, He is not enough.

When the diagnosis is grim.
When the mortgage can’t be paid.
When he/she leaves and won’t return.
When you’ve waited, your whole life for love and love doesn’t find you.

In these moments – I think it’s fair to say – He isn’t enough.

And to go further…
He doesn’t always come through in the end.
Nope.

Suffering. Loneliness. Hopelessness. Death. 
It’s all over the human condition.

So. What does that leave me? Leave anyone?

“God won’t give you anything you can’t handle” – Ha. Not biblical. 

What He did say? Life would be rough. We would suffer. Our hearts would ache and brokenness would consume us.

No more lies.

In this fragile life – in the midst of it – He isn’t enough.

Obviously I wrote that out of pain and not a little loneliness, but I did so with a pure heart. I reflected back on the words throughout my week and what I realized is

God can only be enough when we allow Him to be. 

He’s the one knocking at our door. It’s up to us to answer. When He isn’t there, it’s because we haven’t made room for Him in our lives. Perhaps we haven’t been obedient? Or maybe we really want to live our lives with one foot in the world and one in Christ?

For me, I needed to admit my relationship with Him needed some soul work – more intimacy and times of prayer and mediation. How can He be enough when I don’t know Him as I should?

I choose to allow God to be my enough. I also choose to believe He has the best plan for my life. I believe He created me the way He did for His purpose. And the best place I can be in times of weakness and suffering is on my knees.

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A Dry Season

 

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Well.

It’s been a long break, hasn’t it?

The past few months have been extremely busy and difficult for me. First off, it was tax season. As a bookkeeper, a busy season to say the least!

But more than that there was increased anxiety in my life. A palpable oppression. And I  am completely convinced the enemy had me in his crosshairs. I have been doing the work with shame and he is not a fan of my healing.

But today – in the distance – I saw it! A small cloud in midst of the desert. Praise God, because I was reaching my end.

It’s just a small cloud. Tiny. But the rain is coming. I can smell it in the air.

He has been faithful in the past. And yes, He will be again and again!!!

 

Deserve

Deserving.

You hear it everywhere:

“I deserved better.”

Or

“She doesn’t deserve him”

Or

“He doesn’t deserve that (job, house, car, whatever.)”

Or

“I didn’t deserve to be treated like that!”

If you grew up with background similar to mine, chances are you have a unease with the word “deserve.” For Christians the word deserve can reflect over-reaching expectations or even entitlement. We are told because of our sin, we “deserve” death and only the grace of Jesus Christ gives us good in our lives. It’s not about deserving, it’s about mercy.

However, I’ll admit I’ve gone through many struggles during my walk with Christ. Not so much about entitlement, per se. Rather a deep disappointment with the way things have gone.

“Don’t I deserve it as much as her/him?”

“Haven’t I been obedient?” “Haven’t I done good works?”  “Haven’t I deserved more than this?”

Ugh. Comparison.

And even in compassion I’ll look at someone in strife and think, “He/She doesn’t deserve this pain.”

It’s not about deserving is it? We deserve the grave, yes. But more than this, we need to come to an agreement – we live inside a fallen world and despite our prayers, desires and actions – sometimes the blessings/answers/healing remain far away or never come.

And it really sucks.

I was thinking beyond deserving earlier today. I have a few items in my prayers which might come across as expectations. The difference is, I believe through prayer and reading the Word, God has instructed me to pray in this way. It’s not my expectation, rather His plan.

For instance, God may be leading you to pray for prosperity so that you may bless others. He may want you to let something “good” go – even if it seems illogical – so He may take you farther, bless you further.

How can we change our language to reflect a better way? Sometimes God is calling us to a good thing – in His grace. Not because we deserve it or have earned it. We know well enough that’s not possible. He is inviting us to be in His likeness – in power and justice and blessing.  We can choose to accept His invitation in humility. We can opt for waiting and not pushing our agendas and wants. We do deserve the grave, but God deserves the infinite best. He is always looking beyond our petty comparisons and desiring our obedience.

I deserve the grave, but I will choose obedience.

Thy will be done, Oh God. Thy will be done.

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With Full Abandon

 

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With full abandon.

That’s how I long to love.

To rush forward passionately. Joyfully. Fearlessly.

Yet with fear is how I’ve always loved. Always afraid of love dying. Or moving on. Or fading away.

A little girl, terrified. My mother ten minutes late. Fearing the worst. She who I loved the most leaving me behind.

A young woman. First romance. Push. Pushing love away. A self-fulfilling prophecy.

Older. Getting my very own first dog. And still afraid to love too much. For the inevitable day will come. And she will go. So, I hold something back.

What do I give up if I love with full abandon? Do I give up a cage of my own making for true freedom?

What do I risk if I love completely?

Much.

I could get hurt. My loves will die, move on, fade away. And even more – they could hurt me. Lash out and do damage.

Yet.

What do I risk if I don’t love with complete passion? What will I miss out on? By tying love to conditions? By holding back in fear?

Steadfast love.

Again. And again the scriptures tell of God’s steadfast love for us. Despite our sin. Our absolute rejection of him. Worse – our replacement of Him with pale substitutes. And yet: love. Steadfast love. And if I am to be an example of His life and character and walk in imago dei… shouldn’t I embrace the love? With full abandon?

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

Fear has to do with punishment. My fearful love is wrapped up in a reprimand I may deserve, but Jesus has redeemed me from.

Perfect love drives out all fear. All terror. All hesitation of intimacy. Perfect love opens us to a grace too beautiful to imagine.

What have I been hiding myself from?

 

 

The Confession: Part Two

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The Wall.

Let me be honest about what this “wall” really is: a shame-based separation of myself from any type of suffering. A deep-set belief of unworthiness.

As a young girl, I recall experiencing several painful and uncomfortable health issues. My mother remembers me asking her why God didn’t answer my prayers and take away the pain. In my wee little girl brain, I began to believe God wouldn’t answer my prayers because I was a “bad girl.” Even at two years old I believed I was less than others. If I were just “good” enough God would remove my suffering.

As I grew the unworthiness embedded itself into my soul. Every disappointment re-instilled the belief that I was flawed and undeserving of love or relationship or blessing…

I won’t say my early physical trauma created a separation between God and myself, however I’m sure it contributed to it. I became distrustful of God and His relentless pursuit of me. I became content to stay on the sidelines of spiritual life. Safe, but never experiencing true joy. I made attempts to break free, but one small setback would send me scurrying back to my safe spot in the corner.

Almost five years ago, things began to change. I was immensely disappointed with how my life was playing out and I was ready to move on from seeking relationship with God. I was giving Him one last chance. I challenged God: show up now, or this relationship is going to stay where it is until I die. (I completely OWN that challenging God is not the wisest of ideas. But I was desperate.)

I laid down the challenge and He took me up on it in an unexpected, gentle way. He invited me to see Him in a different light.

Not in the storm, or the fire or the earthquake.

But in the whisper of a breeze He passed by.

In a few short months, I went from little involvement in church to attending a discipleship group and seeking God fully. In that time, I experienced, not one, but two job layoffs. In times past this development would have crushed me. Yet this time it didn’t. This time, regardless of the layoffs and financial insecurity, I had a new experience: Trust.

For the first time in my life (yes, I really mean that!) I understood what it meant to trust in God. To let Him take over and let go of the burdens. More importantly, I began to believe in who He created me to be. Not the “bad girl” filled with shame, rather a unique individual with immense potential to be pursued and used by God.

By trusting in Him, I let Him woo me. I allowed Him to take over control of my life. Willingly.

There’s far more to this story than I will share now, but know I have been living in trust for five years and what a joy it has been. When awkward times arrive, I am still tempted to rush ahead and fix things, but I am learning to slow it down and allow God to do His work.

Does that “wall” still exist? Sure. It probably will until the end of my life here on earth. I still have fears: justified or not. But now I have God standing in front of me. His grace and love is an impenetrable fortress and it will choose it over the other every time.

As Good As It Gets

Remember the 1997 movie, “As Good As It Gets”? Jack Nicholson plays famous writer, Melvin Udall, who suffers with debilitating OCD – and makes those around him suffer right along with him. In one scene, Melvin marches into his psychiatrist’s office demanding to see the doctor. Of course, his demand is denied by the front desk nurse. In his frustration, Melvin turns to the waiting room full of depressed patients and says:

“What if this is as good as it gets?”

What if this is as good as it gets, I wonder.

Now, the “good Christian girl” inside immediately replies, “Of course it isn’t! We are children of God! The best is yet to come!”

Hmm.

Lately, that “good Christian girl” has been on vacation. Instead of responding with positivity and joy, my response is tired and my heart a little bit broken.

I’ve been facing an inordinate amount of disappointment lately. Disappointment is a part of life, but this year it seems to be one thing after another. Plainly speaking, I’m struggling.

And I’m wondering, what if this IS as good as it gets. I mean, we are, after all, living in a fallen world. Our hopes and expectations are bound to be out of our reach, right?

Nothing is utterly tragic – rather little pokes of sadness and disillusionment. Tiny things. Career uncertainty. Struggling with singleness and loneliness. Mild depression.

The nagging thought that this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

And there is truth in that – this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.

How it’s supposed to be is not about me, rather all about Him.

Earlier this summer, during my regular prayer time, I felt God challenging me to lay down my prayers for myself and instead grow my intercession for others. Specifically, wait on God to lead me to pray for three people daily. This is not to say God wasn’t interested in my needs/desires. He knows my heart. He was instead, showing me how to become more selfless and concerned with the lives of others.

I’d like to say this experience has been a rousing success and I’ve been so changed by the practice.

But I can’t.

I’m not.

Yet.

If I’ve learned anything in my spiritual life in the past few years’ it’s God’s demand on my obedience.

I came across this golden truth today:

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And I do. Love Him. And right now the only hope I can access is found in this belief. That I can’t come close to imagining His plan.

So for right now, that’s going to have to be enough.

(Please feel free to comment or if you’re local you can always ply me with coffee and comment face to face. 😉 )

The Illusive Calm

Prayer is funny, isn’t it? Two years ago, I began to pray ten specific requests. I was prompted to do so after reading “Praying for Your Elephant” by Adam Stadtmiller. In his book, he advises praying for ten items and then slowly building up to a hundred items of requests for others, the World and yourself. I started with ten, but the number never increased. For over two years I have prayed for what I desired God to do/change in my life.

(I won’t get into all the specifics in this post, but these ten prayers have been transformative and life changing.)

Prayer No. 9: Character

When I started to pray for character, I had already come so far. I own that I used to have some rotten characteristics. I could (can?) be judgmental, critical, jealous, quick to become angry – the list is long. But in the past 15 years, God has done some remarkable work with my character. Primarily, He has taught me to love and love unconditionally. Like all other humans, I have a long way to go. Yet, as I began to pray I sensed He was leading me in more complex direction. I recognized an intrinsic part of “Who Am I?” was being overlooked. He created me for more than the behavior I was currently exhibiting. He was calling me to calm.

Not just to be calm – but, a call to be at rest. Admittedly, I am nowhere near reaching this goal.  There are some unique hurdles I have to leap over:  I have Tourette’s syndrome – not exactly a condition known for relaxation. I deal with some social anxiety, in that the more people there are, the more difficult it is for me to “chill.” I present myself bubbly and friendly, but this behavior isn’t always authentic. It isn’t how He created me to be. In calling me to calm, He was calling me to BE in Him. By acting what I wasn’t it was all about DO.

So, what do I think calm means at this point?

Lack of pretense.

Not working to impress others.

Humility.

Christlikeness.

There is emotional calm. Spiritual calm. And a biggie for me: Physical calm. All these I will explore in the months to come.

I have so many years of conditioning to unravel. Society rewards the happy face and the “I’m fine” responses. Yet, my God is calling for truth. This blog is one act of obedience to this truth. It’s full of grammatical issues and blinding honesty. My words aren’t flowery or poetic. Yet I attempt to make each post genuine

There is so much I can say about this as I am only just beginning this calm journey – another step in to the authentic.