I am finding something out about me, and so many of you are awesome to care and pray about even these details, so I’m going to try to process it here. This is going to be one of the posts I don’t put on Facebook – I’ll just trust the Lord to bring the right people to read it who can pray or maybe who need to read it and are walking with me.
The past month or so, there have been parts of our journey that have been challenging for me to wrap my mind around. I am a processor – and these things have me very much focused on what is going on in my head. It isn’t that I am not trusting, or not dealing well, it is just that they take much of my energy and focus to process. I am a methodical decision-maker and a planner, and I struggle to turn that off. So it has me in this strange place of disorientation where I almost have two worlds, the world in my head and the world where I interact with others. I told a sweet friend the other day that I feel like I’m not handling either world well. When I am home, I am busy dealing with our reality, and sometimes I feel like my girls and Justin get the short end of the stick. Then I go out with friends, and I don’t know quite how to be myself. So I feel awkward. I feel like I say too much. People ask where I am and I tell them – making myself vulnerable in an uncomfortable way. Or I won’t answer and I’ll give the pat “fine” and my friends will look at me knowing there is more. Or I’ll try to make light of our situation with a joke, which often falls flat, mostly because my sweet friends and family understand all too well and my voice betrays my tension. So I feel like a buzzkill, really. It becomes hard for me to trust people with myself. I start to want to just stay home and hide out from the world.
Last night we went out with some lifelong friends. I love these people – they are more family than friends. And I struggled. It was like the “art” of conversation was lost on me. Everyone would be laughing and when I would join in – everything slowed down. It was like my rhythm was off – have you ever had that feeling? Now here’s the truth, I could have broken down crying and these friends would have been fine. They love us – unconditionally. But I don’t want to be that person – that friend. So the whole way home I just felt weird – I replayed conversations like I was an awkward teenager trying to earn friendships. And that is not me. But I greatly value these people’s good opinion of me – and I fear being labeled as weird or depressing.
I don’t really know what this is – but I think maybe this is a pride struggle. Or at least a struggle to trust the people I love with the hard parts of loving me.
And I think my vulnerability is getting to me. It’s just like it has been going on for too long at a really intense level for us. And I feel like my facade is cracking.
Here’s what I know. I know I am loved. By my Lord – who has a plan, and by the friends He has given me. I know I need to trust the people around me to be the church and stand with us even when we don’t feel like standing with ourselves. I know I can act this way on a few occasions and this does not redefine me into some corner of neediness from which I’ll never be able to escape.
My trick is believing and living what I know. It’s kind of like faith – useless until put to the test.
I’ve never lost an immediate family member, although I have lost two very close friends. And this kind of feels like that. It feels almost like I am dealing with grief and struggling to stand. And it’s hard to know what to do here. One thing I learned in losing my friends is that there is nothing natural about grief. Grief is a physical visible reminder that we are not of this world and this world is not our home. When we lose someone – it isn’t natural. We were not created to withstand that kind of loss. So what do I do when I feel like this? For some reason, in processing this today – I felt like reading about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
From Matthew 26 –
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”
He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
Now I realize our struggle is no where NEAR as cosmic as the struggle between light and darkness, life and death, that was beginning in the garden. But I do think there are lessons here for me. I relate to this today. There are moments of this where I feel overwhelmed, not to the point of death, but certainly to the point where it is unhealthy for my body. And I cannot count the times I have asked the Lord to take this cup from us. Again last night – coming home – I begged the Lord for rescue. And although my spirit is willing, my body is weak. This journey has taken its toll on me. But it somehow comforts me to know that my Saviour has experienced much more than this. Everything I am feeling – he felt in multiples of a thousand.
So what can I learn?
First of all – Jesus didn’t trust everyone with His vulnerability. He didn’t even trust the twelve. He trusted three. I need to be willing to give the pat answer to some people and then really trust a select few with my mess. It feels dishonest for me to give the pat answer – so sometimes I am not as discerning as I should be and I spew neediness on people unnecessarily. I want to learn from Jesus here and limit who sees the depths of my struggle. And then I need to trust my three. Because if you read it – Jesus was what I would call “overdramatic” in front of His three. He openly lived through a season of sorrow. He was battling, and unafraid to show them his struggle. If He can do that – I need to be able to do that.
Second – I think it is also important to note that there is a part of this where Jesus walked alone. His three fell asleep. I need to realize, and be okay with, the fact that as wonderful and amazing as our friends and family are, they likely won’t understand all of this, and they weren’t made to be the ones we turn to. We will probably at points exhaust them if we lay this burden at their feet instead of the cross. Not because they are weak or careless, but because there is purpose in walking alone at times and there is value in coming to the Father first. Only in walking alone do we truly reach for our Father. So part of God’s plan for this may be short times where nobody really does understand and people won’t meet our needs, not because God is uncaring, but because He loves us too much to let us make idols of our support system.
Third – I can learn from what Jesus did when He was overwhelmed. At Jesus’ breaking point, what did He do? He prayed. He pushed in to the Father. He spent time alone in prayer. He asked for mercy. He stated His needs, yet declared in faith His willingness to do anything. He asked for the strength to walk still further – in fact He asked for the strength to walk up the hill to Calvary.
In essence, we pray at the foot of the cross because He prayed at the foot of the cross. I love that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before today.
And finally, fourth, I recognize that Jesus let His Father worry about His reputation. He walked His path alone faithfully – and trusted that the people He loved would understand. I need to stop worrying about that which I cannot control and begin to trust the Lord with my reputation. If I trust Him with this journey, I need to trust Him with the fruit of this journey in the lives of others.
I am not leaving this morning never to be conversationally awkward again. In fact it is likely I will be even today. But I am leaving this morning knowing I am loved by a God who has withstood much worse than all I am facing today. And in that – I have such great comfort.