This morning a fog has descended on my neighborhood. It is very much a picture of the fog that has descended on my heart. After 3 months of moving across the country, I’ve hit the wall. The wall of loneliness from lack of adult conversation and fellowship. The wall of discouragement as the “newlywed” phase has dissolved into the reality of being in a new place. The wall of exhaustion after months of packing, then unpacking, all the while trying to keep this crazy ship of a family afloat and going in the right direction.
As I sit here and ponder this reality, I pray. “God, what do you want me to learn right now?” I don’t know why I’m here in this new city. I can’t see the big picture, but I know you do. Show me what you want me to learn from this place. The ouch of the reality of this situation.
Here are 5 thoughts that came to mind:
1. Embrace my weaknesses
I have a natural tendency towards sadness. As an introverted feeler, I feel deeply and process internally. I’m not using that as some sort of trite excuse. I do believe God has given us all our strengths AND our weaknesses. And rather than try to pretend I don’t struggle in this area, I’ve learned to embrace it. As Paul speaks about the thorn in his flesh, I know this weakness keeps me humble. I’ve seen God’s power come through when I come to the end of myself, throw my arms up in abandonment, and surrender.
2. Brewing is bad
I’ve also learned to not let myself brew in a state of despair. Satan would like nothing more than to see me paralyzed with hopelessness. I’ve seen God work in such ways, that I have faith that He is with me, leading me through the darkness. And though my heart may be grieved, I do not give up hope. I may not be able to keep thoughts from entering my head, but I can keep them from brewing there by taking every thought captive and replacing lies with the truth of God’s word.
3. It’s OK to be sad
God is bigger than my feelings! He can handle my loneliness and despondency. I often feel that I need to pull up my bootstraps, hunker down, and put on my “happy face”. That is what a good Christian would do. But when Job questions God and laments the day he was born, it says “Job did not sin.” (Job 1:22)
We see David lament many times in the Psalms:
For I am poor and needy, my heart is wounded within me (109:22)…..My soul is full of trouble (88:3)..I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears (6:6)
We see Paul’s heart in 2 Corinthians 2:3
For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
Even Jesus cries out, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Mark 14:34)
Pretending “I’m fine” doesn’t help. I’m not fooling God. Rather admitting I’m poor and needy opens the door for God to show up in the midst of my sorrow.
4. The ONLY answer is to fix my eyes on Jesus and cling to the truth of the Word.
We have been born into a living hope. In his presence there is fullness of joy. Not the joy of pretending we are happy all the time, but the deep joy that brings a peace in the mist of sadness. This was a huge revelation for me:
JOY AND PAIN ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE
In fact, in the midst of real-honest, “I’m feeling this” pain is when our joy is refined and shines through. Our joy is tethered to our hope, not our circumstances.
Psalm 19:8 The precepts of the Lord are right giving joy to the heart.
Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit
Psalm 42:5b My soul is downcast within me, therefore I will remember you.
5. It’s ok to just BE
As a “doer” personality type, this has been a hard lesson to learn. I often need to be reminded of this:
God’s love for me doesn’t change based on my feelings about myself.
He delights in me even if the only thing I accomplished today was getting out of bed. God has shown me time and time again that people and relationships are more important than my to-do list. It is ok to leave the laundry and go on a bike ride…. Or a nature hunt…or curl up on the couch with a good book…. or ___________.
I need to build margin in my life for REST and for doing things that make me smile. And sometimes I need more rest and more smiles and that’s ok!!!
So today I will rest in the fact that I am greatly loved by an almighty God. I will take joy in my feelings and circumstances for I know God is with me!
And like the fog, these feelings will pass in time.