Two years ago this month, I was preparing to become a wife. Just little over a week away from my wedding day, I was making last minute preparations. The thrill of beginning a new life was simply too much for me to comprehend. I was feeling through every high. I'd make adjustments and process later. I only wanted to smile through it all.
I haven't experienced that kind of pure joy since then. It seems foreign, unreal to me now.
It hurts how much one can change in a matter of a year or two.
There are days when I cringe at my twenty-three year old, engaged self. So innocent and naive.
It wasn't the refining process of marriage, the sharing of a life with another, that scarred me. I was well aware that becoming one with a man would create its own difficulties. Perfectly natural and expected. But little did I realize how surrounding circumstances and outside relationships would tear me down and so easily creep into my marriage.
The divorce of my parents ten months after the beginning of my own marriage. And all the dysfunctional and messy events and discussions that quickly followed that day.
Moving seven hours away from the only city I knew as home my entire life. It took an entire year of being away from my first home for the realization to slam me in the face that, although I will visit there again, I am never moving back. Ever. Again.
Job-searching for eight months. Seven interviews. Nothing.
Riddled with panic attacks. Failing health. Depression. Thyroid, adrenal, gut, and dental issues.
Unexpected big payments. Trying to make food stretch until the next paycheck. Embittered that food would be plentiful if someplace just hired me and my husband and I became a two-income household.
Failed business and creative endeavors. No fellowship or companions in the new city. Only met with flaky personalities, big talkers, and uncommitted persons.
Constantly feeling unsettled, insecure, unstable.
Those feelings encompass everything. They linger and hang on me, a weight that I cannot remove. I feel them as sharp hooks in my nervous system, as if they mean to paralyze me. And I let them.
The tormented experience of feeling forgotten, passed by, and insignificant has broken my heart. I am beaten and bruised inside. My dreaming-self quickly fled, terrified and unable to cope with life in the adult world. And I let her go, because to keep her in this environment would have been cruel. When I am alone and reflecting on these things, I whisper, "I want to dream again." I don't know if it is a prayer or merely a statement. In the moment, the words come dressed in mourning and I send them into the air. There is an ache in my chest every time I voice them.
I want to be bitter. I have wanted so much to be miserable. At least, I think, that is real and I can honestly and freely be miserable.
But my bitterness…
It sends shards into my husband's heart. I realize this bitterness will not just take me down, but him as well. I have wrestled in frustration that I am not free to be a miserable person now that I am one with another. It is a fact that I cannot smile my way through anything. I cannot pretend. I cannot push things aside. I cannot be strong when I feel weak. I cannot force my emotions to not be felt. I cannot hang onto objective truth and ignore what I feel. I cannot. I cannot. The Holy Scriptures and the vast realm of mature Christians cannot make me, cannot tell me, cannot demand me to set aside my deep emotions and just "trust in the Lord," "have faith," "hold onto fact and truth and put experience and feelings aside." No, I cannot. I do not mean that I won't. I mean, I cannot. These emotions are who I am. They are real. They are very much ME. I cannot un-be who I am. My entire life, I have held onto them and, in my solitude, have allowed myself to feel every range of emotion in every season of life. I am truly myself with them.
One of the most significant pieces of my inner-healing has been confession.
The honest act of admitting to myself that I am not so that my Abba can then tell me who I am.
I am not mature. Not strong. Not happy. Not wise. Not content. Not pure in heart. Not selfless. Not anything.
I spent years [mentally] preparing for trials and suffering. I even told my Lord I would never forsake Him when the day came. Then, the day came, and I was not [could not be] emotionally prepared for trials on any level. I have cried out, “I don’t know how to survive real life! I never learned and no one ever taught me! I am not a survivalist by nature, just an ignorant dead-end dreamer!” So, last year, I did what I thought I would never do. I closed up my heart to my Lord. I felt that He came to lecture me, to tell me what I should have done and should be doing. What I should have thought and what I should be thinking. Like people. People do that, right? Christians, though well-meaning, do it to each other all the time. Something in me wants to utter curse words when I think about. It is not who I am to want to utter curse words, but I am on the verge of it when I think of Christians I have known, met, heard, and even who I used to be. We lecture one another with the Bible. With the Word. With Jesus' precious words. Why? Just to correct behavior? To correct thoughts? Yes, "take every thought captive," just like Paul wrote. But correcting thoughts only comes when we are given a different response, an unexpected response. The response of Love, which does not demand, berate, or shout. The eyes of Love, God Himself, fierce and unrelenting. One might think Him gazing with such deep hatred and anger towards if it wasn’t for His actions. The way He quietly walked to the slaughter. The way He willingly submitted to the nails in His hands and feet and allowed Himself to bleed dry. All of a sudden, I no longer see anger or frustration in His eyes as I once thought I saw. It was Love. Love so full, so perfect. The intensity of His love makes us think He is angry or frustrated with us because we are not accustomed to such a fierce quality intermingling with Love. But never is He meaning to lecture, berate, demand, or shout at us with wrath of any kind. He determines not only that we should know about His love, but that we receive and experience it for ourselves. The human heart, He knows well. We will not be convinced without a severe, unrelenting, long-suffering Love, affirming us as the Beloved, every single waking moment.
Genuine, whole-hearted repentance will not come in the flaunting and shouting of Truth. Repentance comes in the still, quiet, modest, humble, and always-present Truth. He, the Word, the abiding Truth, that declares us His Beloved, clothed with His Righteousness, therefore we are Righteous, Favored, Holy. God knows it will take a lifetime for us to take hold of that and to live in the freedom of such a heavenly reality.
When I wrote that I want to utter curse words when I think of the way we Christians lecture one another with the Word, I do not mean it against the people and Christianity itself. I mean that the way we treat each other is such in direct opposition to the heart of God that I feel a strong vehemence against it! I want to curse that attitude! I am sick to the stomach every time I think of the way I have used (and probably still continue to) the precious words of Jesus to get someone to correct their behavior and thinking. Their heart is what He is after! I am well aware that rebuke [through love and grace in the Holy Spirit] is profitable when done in accordance with the Holy Scriptures. However, I believe that the rebuke spoken of in Scripture is altogether an entirely different matter when compared to the type of pious, self-righteous lecturing attitude that we adopt as rebuke within the Body of Christ. That is a topic for a different post, however.
How long will it take for me or that person to finally open up to Christ and receive that we are Loved and Favored unconditionally, always and forever? As long as His love is long-suffering. As long as it must be. Love has no limits. Love will wait ten thousand lifetimes and more if that is how long it takes for my frail heart to unfurl, to open and receive Him. Through ten trillion million selfish mistakes that I make and more. Love will wait. Love will suffer long forever and always to see me return to Him, battered and bruised but humble and open. To receive that I am loved by Loved, that I am pure and holy in His sight because not for a millisecond does He see me as separate from Christ.
Insanity sets in during my days of isolation and the hum-drum of each passing day. In moments, I experience a guttural cry within me, as if I am imprisoned and yearning to break free. I am breaking free. Breaking free from everything that bound me. Lies about myself that I’ve repeated to myself for years. Lies that pastors and Christian authors have taught and I have received. Lies that I perceive my circumstances are telling me about God, myself, and others.
I am unstable most days. I can hardly tolerate myself. Then, through a gentle, unexpected reminder, I sense I can hear Him whispering to me, “Don’t push yourself away, Erika. I will not abuse your heart. Don’t hurt your own heart. It is healing. Do you hear its beat? It may be irregular, but it is living. I don’t just tolerate you, I desire more than anything to sit here with you in this moment and listen to your heart’s irregularities. Will you listen with Me?”
I listen and learn. To be honest in everything. I am learning that it is safe to be honest with the Lord. In that transparency and vulnerability, I am beginning to heal.
Life doesn't run a clear course
It flows through from within
It's suppose to take you places
And leave markings on your skin
And those marks are just a sign of something true
You witnessed in your time
Of something new, like the start of something fine
Like morning dew,
Love will come again to you
Like morning dew, morning dew
And your tears have been worthwhile
They got you through to a different place
And time where all is new
To the start of something fine
Like morning dew, your love will come again to you
Like morning dew
// Love Will Come to You by Poets of the Fall //