My heart is in a place of tremendous pain, almost indescribable. I’ve been sitting with my thoughts, with my heart, and with my God for several days (weeks?) trying to figure it all out but all I want to do is curl up into a little ball and cry forever. It has nothing to do with sadness, so it is not depression. Just deep, deep pain.
I have cried and screamed and begged God for silence, to shut up this incessant hurt that stings and yells and wants to demand attention. Just make it go away, God, I have begged and He has refused. “Because you need to hear this,” He says.
“You need to hear that there’s more to you than you have ever imagined, that I have done and am continuing to do tremendous things in you. And you are frustrating the wits out of me! What’s wrong with you?
I have answered your prayers, even the ones you have not been able to speak to Me. I have given you a new voice, a new strength, and a new spirit. I have invited you into a new story. I have begged and pleaded with you to turn your back on things, and you ho-hum and half-diddly around with it only to find out it is good, REALLY good, and tuck your tail and turn away.
Isn’t this what you have wanted from Me? Isn’t this the unspeakable gift you so long begged and prayed and pleaded for? Child, I set you free. When will you set yourself free?”
So that is the question that rolls around in my head and cuts through the recesses of my heart to hit the deepest places. That is the question that is the pain. When will I set myself free?
My whole life, I dreamed of being rescued. Or someone just rushing in and grabbing me and stealing me away from the things that robbed me of my dreams. But there was always that overwhelming fear, too, because I knew there were so many things that tied me to the very place I was trying to get away from. Here it is, and that Someone has come. I have been thoroughly rescued. Not only rescued, but washed clean, redeemed, restored, and purposed. Not to mention the million other little things like loved and beautified and purified and forgiven and saved and (insert your own word here for beautiful gifts of God) and I’m still tied to that place.
Life used to be hard. It used to be a challenge to wake up every day knowing there was darkness and difficulty awaiting me. I have been places and seen things inside my own heart that nobody should ever have to experience, that should never live inside us and dominate our being like that.
That is all gone. Or so I thought. I mean, days aren’t hard like that any more and I couldn’t tell you how long ago the last day of darkness was. But days are still hard, and this pain is even deeper than any before it. How so?
There’s something I can’t let go of. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know why I am so tied to it, but it is there. I know it is there because you can judge something by its fruit in your life, and this is nothing but rotten. If I could find it, I’d get rid of it…because it’s making the whole house stink. No, seriously.
And now God is telling me to stop myself. He knows this is a road I could easily go down, beating myself up for something invisible or something perceived. He knows this could take me completely off track from the sensation in my heart that is calling me to something deeper. So I will divert.
Because I am beautiful. I am loved and gifted and blessed and so beautiful, and that is what He is doing in me. That is part of what it means to have been set free. Then what are these chains that still hold me.
Maybe it is partly paying a debt. There are times I feel like I owe something to myself, somehow. If that makes any sense. It’s like…if I embrace this freedom, my past grows dim and while I don’t forget it, it doesn’t dictate me any more. And shouldn’t it dictate me? Shouldn’t it have something to speak about this young woman standing before God anxious to feel every bit of the sun on her shoulders, the breeze through her hair, the rain on her face? Shouldn’t that past get a voice and warn everyone that this is just a myth, that it is something temporary, and that no one should expect goodness without the rotten, stinking fruit of the world?
Then I start thinking that no, there can be no voice to a lie. There can be no voice given to the untruths that define my story. Is the story true? That’s not the question; that has been answered again and again. The question is: was the story penned by a dirty rotten ratfink with no inclination toward telling a good story? That is the question.
There is such a thing as goodness that comes without strings attached. God isn’t dangling His presence in front of me like the proverbial carrot, taunting that I can sense its goodness but will never come close enough to feast on it. He is inviting me to feast.
To feast on freedom and not being held back by the sense of unworthiness or burden or fear or whatever else might try to step in the way. He is begging me to set my heart free, to soak in the truths of His word and His presence and the thousand little prayers He answers for me every day. He wants me to laugh and joke and let myself be. Just be.
And what would I be if I weren’t trying so hard to be what I never was? If I weren’t paying some debt to the dirty rotten ratfink who has written so many lies on my heart, lies that – let’s be honest – I don’t even consciously believe any more but still somehow dictate how I live at times.
It’s scary. It is overwhelming. It hurts, and it is the cutting of the deep pain. I know I don’t know how to live that way. It’s foreign, an idea that would barely have crossed my mind even a year ago. Now, it is heavy in my heart because that is what I am being called to and the more foreign it seems, the more natural it is.
Yes, that is what I said. I’m realizing that God is a God of paradoxes, of opposites. This is growing evident in every hint of redemption that catches my eye, that seizes my heart. Never have I felt more loved…or unworthy. Stronger…or weaker. Wiser…or more naïve. More humbled and grounded…or more unrealistic.
The way God is calling me to live seems like the most natural thing in the world. It’s so obvious, so clear to me that if I would get out of my own way, I would be fully that and probably more. He’s probably not even revealed the depths of His plan for me. Still, I stand in my own way because of…
Because of what? I wish I knew. Lord, how I wish I knew. But I am so thankful that He knows, that He is letting me dangle by a thread and not rescuing me from the depth of this pain. He reminds me again and again and again of the beautiful things He is doing, of the beautiful things He has done. He calls me to a simple, quiet life of purpose and faith. That is becoming my reality.
It is wild. Like some parallel universe, something so far beyond my wildest imagination. To be able to imagine myself here, in the purest place of my heart where He is vital and active and begging me to trust Him…it is incredible. To know my thoughts turn to prayer first. That I’m not afraid to ask Him the questions and more importantly, not afraid to hear His answer. That I’m learning to accept not always having the answers but knowing them in my heart enough to choose, to follow, to obey. To be stilled and quieted, not feeling like I have to say much at all, if anything, and not demanding of the world as I did for so long. To stop reckoning by force and instead living as a force to be reckoned with…a gentle, grateful, gracious, generous, grounded, awe-filled force with enough strength and power and tenderness behind me (and in me and around me) to move mountains. That’s totally, totally awesome.
And I’m one thread away from letting myself go and being fully that, of embracing God’s work in my life and living a life worthy of His presence. One little thread that I don’t even understand the significance of any more but I’m sure once upon a time meant something very dear. Probably. One little thread that God is screaming at me, in the depth of unspeakable pain and crippling hurt to “Let GO, Daughter! Set yourself free!” then following with promises that this will not be a freefall; it will be an invitation to soar.
One little thread that if given a million years, I’m not sure I could ever let go of.
This is a deep pain, cutting through me in ways I cannot explain. I can’t understand it. There are no words. Not one. Yet, I see beauty in this cutting pain. Somewhere, somehow, also without words, there is something beautiful happening even here. That is what I know, in the depths of my heart, each day that I find the strength to stand up again.
The answer to the pain may be more pain. I’ve so often thought of the cold and flu bugs while God has worked on me because I have felt the heaviness of my own exhaustion. And I have known the exhaustion is simple – it is breathing again. I’m not worn out, worn down, tired, fatigued, and just about dead because of the good things God is doing in my life. I am all of those things because of the long fight, the struggle, the stubbornness? that kept God’s goodness out of me for so long. He set me free to breathe again, and the fresh air makes me realize how stale and even toxic the air used to be. That’s why I’m exhausted. This pain may be much the same. It is a hunger pain, craving to feast on God. On Christ. It is this gnawing, demanding, crippling pain that demands a feast. That reminds me how long it has been since I have feasted on anything, let alone anything of nutritional value or even pleasing to the tongue. My mouth is watering even as I write this. And I know that when I feast, it will be more painful for awhile. It will be like sitting down to a full-course of steak and potatoes after fasting for a month. Because God is not asking me to take small bites, to build myself up to this, to take it easy and let one thing after another digest piece by piece until it feels like maybe I’m ready to try something more substantive.
He’s asking me to let go. Now. Fully. Completely. Embrace His presence. Be everything He has put in me to be; forsake everything I never was. Feast.
“Let Go, my daughter. You’ve held on long enough. You can smell this that I am preparing for you; it is everything you have ever wanted. Your mouth is watering because you know how deep, how satisfying, how good this is and you are scared. I get that. It’s a new dish, a brand new recipe just for you, and it is hard to try new things. But I am not new. I am forever, for always, for always have been, and for all time. I am eternity. Feast and be full.
I have set you free, daughter. When will you set yourself free?”
And I see the thread that could hold me forever, that I seem so willing to turn my back on the good and beautiful God to hold on to. And I know that even in this pain, where I am begging for quiet and for peace and for rest, I might never find it in me to let go.
“LET GO,” He cries, begging and pleading and screaming with me. It’s so loud I can barely think, let alone will myself to rise. “Let go.”
I know that I can’t. I just can’t. And I’m sorry, Lord, but I can’t let go. There’s only one thing to do.
With that devilish grin He’s put in my heart, that sneaky sly style He embedded in me, I pull out the scissors and cut the cord.
In one fail swoop, I am falling first then soaring. It is overwhelming. I still feel the sting of pain where the fight between a dirty little ratfink and Abba Father nearly ripped me apart. I feel the pang of emptiness filling with a feast. I am exhausted. I am thoroughly exhausted. I am awed. I am brought to tears. There may never be enough tears. And there it is, what I have been searching for all along, praying and begging and pleading with God for: There is quiet. There is peace. There is rest.