As I let these thoughts mull over in my heart, it’s tempting to want to start with the excuses. The whys and the hows and the reasons for things the way they are; and it’s easy to get stuck in the excuses to the tragedy of missing the point, missing the message, and having a deaf ear for what God is really whispering.
So I’m done trying to explain myself. Or the myself behind myself. Or whatever it is we want to call it that stands in the way of the heart of the matter.
For my heart is heavy with the burden of God and a higher calling.
I have lived, for lack of a better term, a tumultuous existence. It’s my own doing but not a conscious effort. It’s the struggle and the battle that exists in me that is working itself out through God’s grace, albeit not really fast enough for my liking. I’m a girl who likes to move, who likes to be on the go and always working. Always speeding ahead. Always having something to show for something. The patience of God, while trying to find a home in me, is still overrun by that drive that keeps me from myself, keeps me from God, keeps me from the life He has called me to.
And often, I think of it and sorrow fills my heart. What a horrid day it would be if someone looked back on my life and remembered, “She struggled hard against nearly everything; her every day was a battle. And somehow, she just never got going. She had so much in her and she missed it all because she couldn’t see through the darkness.”
It feels like that’s the story that has been my story, but it is such a small part of my actuality. It stings to think that’s the role I have played, though I know to some extent it has been. For so many years, as God was working in my darkness, I wondered how it could ever not define me. As He has broken through and loved me well, changed my story, turned my entire heart around, and given me the greatest gifts I have ever known…I can’t see how it ever did. I mean, I let it. I know that I let it. But what a waste! Now, it’s been so long since my darkness has been my driving force that it seems almost unreal. Not that it couldn’t have happened but that I ever gave it as much control as I did.
And grief over the time lost, the love lost, the God abandoned, and the life on hold. I’m living now a life in motion. It’s kind of torn between the grief over the wastedness and the exhilaration of the moment. It’s weird, but I love it.
I spend a lot of time looking around, soaking in the things I wouldn’t have noticed before and feeling the itch. I’m antsy, anxious to move in and take full hold of the life God has put in me, the one He has called me to, and the one that has been my true story even when I couldn’t have fathomed telling it. I find myself in this horrid middle ground where His goodness is tangible and His promise is waiting but there’s still this pain to sort through. It seems like cheating to let there be good when there’s residual mess to deal with.
It’s not like it’s even big mess. It’s just…mess.
We’ve been singing “The Stand” at church. The words keep spinning around in my heart and my head, but when I’m singing it alone, the words aren’t right. There’s one phrase I keep messing up, and it is the one that slaps me in the face. The one that stings and hits me where I’m wrestling, I guess. We sing, “I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned in awe of the One Who gave it all. I’ll stand, my soul, Lord, to You surrendered. All I am is Yours.” But I have to focus on that “am.” Because it’s all too easy to keep singing, “All I have is Yours” instead.
I’ve gotten pretty good at giving God all I have…but all I am? It smacks at my unworthiness, stings at that deepest question my heart has always asked – am I enough? I have never thought that I was.
Most of the time, I feel like I don’t have a lot to offer. Then there are times, especially lately as God whispers in me, that I understand what I do have. Then I feel unworthy to approach it. Unworthy to offer it. Like perhaps God has given me this, but there’s still a thousand people better at it than I am. I’ve spent my whole life trying to prove myself – with family, with friends, with peers, with relationships. Even at night when I count down and rehash my day to figure out if I was good enough, if I mattered that day. To anyone. To myself. It is an exhausting labor, but it is, as God has shown me, the way I have lived. Always trying to prove myself. And always taking a back seat. Always relating to people like something lesser, not in the way that makes myself least but in the way that acknowledges my unworthiness.
I’ve finally come around to the place where God is enough, where I’ve stopped trying to be my own god and work the world for my good. I’ve finally come around to that place that is pure and not manipulative, that is humbled in God and anxious for Him. But that deep-seated unworthiness is still a block for me. And so He’s working on me in His whisper…
“You are enough.”
Those words pierce me. They just absolutely pierce me. They bring me to the tears of a humbled rebel, and I look to Him to answer the thousand questions that just trying to accept those words brings up in my heart. He answers, and His tenderness demands more brokenness. It demands more grief. It demands that sting that pains me but draws me into Him.
They sting because, and I know this sounds stupid, I can’t prove them. I can’t earn them. I can’t justify them. I know the past of my heart and the strongholds where darkness lies in wait…and it’s not enough. And yet in His whisper, I find the thirst and hunger of my heart that is yearning for Him, longing for the fullness of what He’s offering here.
That I could be enough.
And so I have this tumultuous, tormentous existence of saying I believe Him and wanting to believe Him and understand His presence and His promise and His mercy…and still trying to live like it might be a mirror trick. Thinking stupid thoughts like how much better I could feel if I felt just a little more worthy. If I could prove it. Earn it. Justify it.
And then there’s grief because it is this thought process, of which I become more keenly aware every day, that keeps me yoked to lesser things. That keeps me burdened and weighed down. Asking the same question I asked for so many years – how could this darkness not define me? – while knowing the answer is that it does not. Were I to live out of my heart…
Let me tell you something. I still feel like a kid, a teenager at best. Thinking I have a lot to prove. Wondering if I even have a place in this world. A little scared at the thought of going to find it.
Yet there is this deeply settled place in me. This settled spirit that hears God’s promise, knows His work, listens to His whisper, and understands. This settled soul that rests in knowing she is enough and hears God’s call on her life.
I’ve been wrestling with the call, hoping it would come in one of those places I know I would succeed. One of those outward, tangible tasks He has blessed me to do. Something I could DO for God, a gift to give back to Him. He has certainly blessed me richly. Then that haunting whisper that shatters that place where, only when sifting through the pieces, I find still too much ego, still too much question, still too much wondering of worthiness and desperation to prove myself. Enough that He could use but too much that stands in the way.
That haunting whisper…
“Just BE for me.”
Just be. Just be you. Just be the beautiful, wonderful, competent, humbled, gentle, stilled woman I have created you to be. That I created in you from the start. Grieve your rebellion. Grieve your darkness. Grieve your bondage. But let it go. For Christ’s sake (and I should know), JUST BE FOR ME.
So I find that my call right now, casting aside my own thoughts and plans and manipulations, is to love well. To be and to love. That is what He whispers.
It’s cool. I mean, it’s really cool because I tap into this stilled place He’s put inside me, the one He keeps calling me to, the one where His whisper echoes over and over, the one where His peace reigns and His presence stands…and I see what I have longed to be: a woman of God. Not a girl, not a teenager. Not angsty or restless. Broken, sure, and anxious for Him, thirsty and hungry, but stilled. Content. Peaceful. Gentle. Loving. Simple.
I remember that moment I realized I wanted more from God than His DOING for me, when my heart sought His presence to know He just IS for me. It was beautiful; it still is. His every day with me is unspeakable. It is a gift I want to turn back to Him, that I could just BE for Him.
At the same time He calls me out of this tumultuous conflict, this tearing between wanting what He is and battling the old questions, He calls me not only to grow into a woman of God but to shrink into a child. To be not needy or demanding, helpless or immature. But to be His. To stop living like an orphan who has to make her own way, who charges through the world because the only way she thinks she can make it is to take her life in her own hands. It is the other lingering, deep question of my heart: Is there anywhere I belong? Is there anywhere I make sense?
He’s been answering that for me, too. Showing me those places where I make sense, where what He is in me and what He’s done in me and what He’s blessed and called and created in me isn’t an anomaly; it is Truth. It is real. Something authentic. It takes a lot of that pressure off.
But then that other whisper…
Daughter. His daughter. His child, to run joyfully into His arms and greet Him with a hug. To linger in His lap and enjoy His presence. To feel His love radiating through me, an experience beyond words. Who He can train and teach and discipline, all while loving purely and wholly for simply her presence. Her eagerness. Her earnestnees. Her honestness.
You never realize how powerfully the orphan story line is in your own heart until you hear that word daughter and risk to let it mean something.
His daughter, who He loves dearly, because simply she is. And she is enough.
Lord, I humble myself before you. You have answered when I have asked and when I have dared not speak, and You are enough. Come and meet me here in this place, where I know You already are and waiting; give me the strength and the courage and the heart to meet You. To not back down but to surrender. Come and break me, Lord. Shatter whatever has a hold on me that stands between our love. Teach me to live from the stilled, quiet place You have created in me and Your call to be a woman of God, but let me never forget to let You love me. Let me rest in Your arms and know those two words You whisper continually in the empty space in me, those words that echo even through the darkness: Enough and Daughter. Lord, let me grieve hard those things that need grieved, but let me be strengthened in Your love. Let me live in You and know what it is simply to BE. To be enough. To be Yours. All I am is Yours. Amen.