Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Creeping Lies of the Enemy

Ugh. Ok friends I can’t post out of nowhere without mentioning that we haven’t posted much in the last year(s).  I promise you, at any given time I have at least 5 blog posts floating around my head, waiting to get out.  I am just undisciplined.  I promise by summer, I’ll have at least 5 more for you (if we have any readers left).

For the past 6-8 months I’ve been experiencing a comforting renewal and regeneration in my faith life.  After a couple years of beating myself up about not being where I used to be, I finally let go of the times I was stronger and just accepted the now. No easy feat for someone who continuously wants to be better and do better in everything.  But I am not in a competition with myself, and no matter the crisis or tragedy that I previously overcame through Jesus, comparing myself to myself was getting me nowhere.  After a long dry season of feeling like God wasn’t speaking to me and wondering why I was more often a hot mess crying on my bathroom floor than pouring over my Bible and breathing in the truth of Jesus, somehow I let go.  Through deepened and almost constant prayer and stepping back my from my intense focus on my desire for children and subsequent pain of those unmet desires while opening myself up to the pain and needs of others,  I could finally hear God again. 

So as I was basking in my resurgence of faith I was surprised to find myself hit with lies from the enemy.  Lies that sound so true, it’s tempting to believe them. I was very tempted to return to my former place of wallowing- usually on the bathroom floor, because I thought Mark couldn’t hear my sobs and would just assume I was struggling with tummy problems and not pressing my face into a towel attempting to both muffle my sobs and drown out the pain.  Sobbing isn’t wrong, friends, but moving in and making camp in a place of wallowing to the point that Jesus seems like a distant stranger is.  I was beginning to believe that I had left such moments behind.  Until that Sunday.

That Sunday in December I stood in worship at church, and the lies snuck out of nowhere with a sudden onslaught that almost took the breath out of my lungs.  My memory tells me it was Christmas Eve, because holidays are hard for me. To be motherless and childless in December makes me wish time travel existed. My memory tells me it was Christmas eve, but it could have been any December Sunday.  

I was probably very preoccupied as I’m always running at least 6 minutes behind and I usually need to touch base with someone before service about our prayer ministry. Plus, I don’t easily walk by friends without wanting to say hi and chat a bit- and church is a place full of friends. We were settling into our seats, and into our opening worship songs and I glanced behind me.  A couple we know, who has gone through their own struggle and wait, had just arrived. Her pregnant belly almost taunted me. As I turned back toward the worship team questions flooded my mind.

Why did her wait end while mine continues to stretch on endlessly?

Did she pray more?

Did she pray better?

Is her faith stronger than mine?

Does she deserve motherhood more than me?

Do I still not trust You?  How can that be possible when I’ve grappled with your sovereignty for YEARS?

Am I being punished for doubt? Am I being punished for grieving, for fearing? Am I being punished for all those evenings on my bathroom floor?

Is this because I like wine?

Or because I’m overweight?

Or because Mark and I’s story doesn’t follow the typical young Christians who marry after a short courtship in their early 20s?

Is this wait a result of bad choices I made in my past?

That’s a lot of questions.

And yet in minutes they all flooded my mind and I found myself crying in church- not one of my favorite past times.  But God is good and full of grace and His Holy Spirit whispered truth where I needed it.

I am not being punished. 

Babies are not a result of perfect faith. 

Tear stained towels and moments of pain on bathroom floors do not prevent God from giving good gifts.  

Cling to His promises, even when it hurts.

And shut the enemy up by praising Jesus through the pain.

So I lifted my eyes and I lifted my hands and I sang my praises to Jesus, with tears and snot ruining my make-up and ruining the image of a woman who has it together.  I wrestle with a weird dichotomy of deeply wanting to be understood, of wanting my pain to be seen, and yet being afraid to let any weariness show. But that day at church, I just needed to be seen and heard by Jesus. I needed my faith to silence the lies and I let my contour and smokey eyes run as I chased after the only Savior that can make beauty from these ashes.

As I sit here tonight with tears streaming over my cheeks I remember that God often gives gifts with a bigger purpose. For my entire life, writing has been a release for me. Writing has offered me the ability to express myself when speaking was hard. Those who know me would claim speaking is never hard for me, but in my youth anger often gripped me and only allowed me to express myself in vitriolic rage and hurtful sarcasm. Pain has always made me quieter. But writing has always been a salve to soothe the messy parts of my heart, and a creative release for the hidden parts of my personality.  And as these tears fall precariously close my laptop, I marvel at how silly humans are and how we often vacillate from one extreme to another.  In the last number of weeks I felt the familiar pain of unmet desires grip my heart. And though I’ve expressed such pain to a couple trusted friends, I haven’t really paused in it and processed it.  A life that is full of friends, ministry, a new job, and thriving marriage gives me the opportunity to jump from that pain into something else. No more hot messes in the bathroom, but ignoring hurt has never been good for me either.  Through surprise pregnancy announcements on facebook, endless belly pictures, the enemy using friends to tell me my faith is untested without children, and 3 negative pregnancy tests this month, I’ve felt the grip on my heart and quickly jumped into something else. Or if I’m being honest, I’ve also taken that pain and used it as an excuse to sin- by allowing myself to roll my eyes and snidely remark about said belly pictures and announcements.  But tonight, these words allow me express myself. To recognize that the pain still exists, the desire for babies still aches in my heart and my womb- but the ache does not negate the expectance of my faith.  The hurt of expectation no longer drowns out the balm of the Holy Spirit and the trust that God has a plan for my future.

For Christmas Mark gave me a necklace that holds a tiny mustard seed- it reminds me, that other people’s blessings do not change my hope. Faith allows Jesus to move mountains. With faith as big as the sky or a small as a seed, Jesus can grow babies where babies have not grown for over 5 years.  And again I raise my hands in praise of the author and finisher of my faith, to the one who I expectantly wait upon; my Savior, the lover of my Soul, the comforter of my weary spirit: Jesus Christ.