God always wanted to be a God. That’s a statement I wrote earlier this week in the current book project, and it is something that surprised me a bit. Not because it isn’t obvious, but because it seems this is something I have struggled to live.
He’s been working on me. And I could not let the present times come and pass without sharing the awesomeness of this moment, this place.
This is the place of learning how to be. Not how to be…something. Simply how to be. How to let go and live simply and honestly from the truest core of my heart. How to accept the peace and confident assurance that has often troubled me, even as I have known it was a gift from God. How to accept my role in my own life without trying to be the stage crew, too – without running back and forth, deciding when to open or close the curtains or where to shine the spotlight or what colors to use in accenting the action.
It’s been very weird, to be honest. I have noticed as I fight my own reluctance to stop being stage crew that I’m a little concerned about the curtain closing right now. It is drawing shut on a long, tedious phase of my life, and I am almost standing here wondering when I’m going to see the next section of the script. I am an actor, and this should come as no shock to most of you, who loves to memorize my lines and know what is coming; perhaps many of us are that way (we are). So to understand that one thing is ending and not be entirely sure what’s coming next is…difficult. It’s a challenge.
But I am so blessed, and so humbled, to see this chapter closing. It is a realization that hit home for me this week in a very profound way, and it drops me to my knees in redemptive tears. To believe this could finally be over, that it will not be the final and drawn-out scene of my life, is just incredible. I am watching God’s work in me, and I am speechless.
Every day that I refuse to fight it, every day that I choose to let God be God and push my uncertainties aside, I come one step closer to complete healing. It is most noticeably physical, where my half-a-decade journey in the depths of illness is vanishing before my eyes. This month, I am celebrating over three years since vomiting. I am watching my body rebuild itself in strength, developing the core muscles that allow me to be active without needing a nap (but let’s be honest – who doesn’t LOVE a good nap?). I am accepting responsibility for things and becoming my old dependable self, the kind of person that people can rely on to do good work and to fulfill promises and obligations…the kind of person even I can count on. I am watching the physical signs of illness come and go, even as God is finally seeing fit to restore both the visible and invisible. In 2007, I came out of a surgery with a disfiguring rash covering my legs. In those three years, it has never gone away. Now, I am watching it heal…watching it every day fade, heal, and it is not because of anything I am doing. I simply asked God, then LET HIM answer. I am eating good food, exercising, being active, loving deeply, and I even know now what the sun looks like, the way the leaves start to change color, the way the grass feels (even dead and dried up) under my bare feet. In just a few weeks’ time, my final permanent crowns will come into the dentist, and my mouth will be restored. I, who could not even have my teeth cleaned without fidgeting and crying, made it through 10 crowns and 44 fillings. It’s going to be over…
A huge step in all of this, and perhaps the most significant contribution I could have made, has been playing in my heart for several weeks. It has been the absolute necessity of my forgiveness. I have had to forgive myself for getting sick, my body for betraying me, my God for not snapping His fingers and healing me. This was a decision that did not come easily for me (and forgiveness is a decision); I wanted to beat myself up forever, to angrily obsess over the missed opportunities and lost moments, to hate myself for not being strong enough to be as I wanted to be even in the face of the serious moment, and to demand my life back…with interest.
That forgiveness was a better choice, and it has freed me to finish healing. To accept my new smile, my new strength, my pure skin, my energy. I like not holding myself victim to my past. I like understanding that even though life still happens, not everything is a reflection of what has come before. Some things are new. Actually, all things.
And it is perfectly in line with the further work He has been doing in my spirit.
The spirit is a tough one, and though I long ago welcomed the idea of His wholeness into my brokenness, it’s not as simple as it sounds. It’s been awhile since I have been bitter about anything, hateful at all. I have nothing at all to complain about. It’s been forever since I thought about making an excuse for anything; in fact, I have been catching myself trying to fall back on those easy answers and rejecting them. Because they are not Godly; they are not the work of my Father. These things that used to so heavily weigh me down are no longer my heaviest burdens. They have been lifted, and I nearly glide as I move now, unencumbered by the things I was soooo determined to carry for too long. The trick, I guess, is to not begrudge life for being life.
But I’m noticing those little areas of doubt, those little hints that there is more I need to do here, more to be conscious of and faithful with. I am trying to make faith my first response instead of my second thought, and it is coming…but slowly. All of a sudden, I will notice that I’m kind of afraid that I’m not afraid any more. Or that I’m worried because I’m not more worried (and then, magically, I can always find SOMETHING to worry about). Or I’ll notice that I’m holding too tightly to something transient, something of this world that will not last when something so much more important is at stake.
I’m probably not alone in this. I know there are millions of people out there who will get scared just because they have realized they are not scared. Or who will worry because they haven’t worried in awhile. No offense, but I don’t want to be like them. My God calls me to a higher plane, and yes – it SHOULD be that simple to accept His goodness and to accept no fear, accept no worry, accept no hindrance. That is what He calls me to, and I can live it…until I realize I’m living it and then think this all should be harder, that there should be more strife here because it is not Heaven.
This does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that life is roses. Far from it. This is merely the definition of the peace that passes all understanding, the fullness of God who overflows my cup that makes life not stress-worthy. It is the foundation of unshakable faith. (I’m not quite at unshakable yet, but I can sense that growing inside of me. It is near…it is SO near.) And it is what makes me content to be quiet and satisfied to be still, not demanding attention but not afraid to be looked at. Just soaking things in, letting them happen, feeling myself humbled (which carries with it great relief and a tinge of the pain of conviction), knowing redemption, and embracing beauty. The stillness, the quietness, the gentleness….oh, the gentleness!..is what allows me to stay focused on what God is doing, to continue letting go and refusing to pick back up, to stop looking for trouble just because I have none.
A few weeks ago, I was reading in my Bible and noticed how clean and crisp the pages still were, even though this is the Bible I have used for the past 10 years since becoming a Christian. It has been on mission trips, hospital visits, funerals, and so much more…and I always keep it in the box. These past few weeks, those blank, crisp pages almost appalled me. Who am I to keep God clean and in a box? I was inspired to start living a messier life with and for Him.
As I write, it is thundering outside, and the first rains in weeks are falling.
And as if this beautiful work is not enough, I am now preparing for my fifth interview in about the past two weeks, with more promising opportunities on the horizon. Do I know where God will send me? Not exactly, but my understanding of His call on my life sharpens every day. Do I know what is coming next, after this long and arduous chapter in my life closes, as it is so near doing and I am both very excited and very nervous about it? Not really; some vague idea, maybe. Is God about to hand me the next section of script and let me memorize my lines before the next curtain opens? Doubtful.
Instead, He has a new direction. “Let’s just wing it. You follow me, and we’ll play off each other – you respond to My words, and I will answer yours.” It’s probably going to be better that way; then, I can’t obsess about getting it just right, about muffing a line here or there or missing a mark. It’s fluid, flexible. That is my God.
That is OUR God.