Monday, September 28, 2009

This Time Around?

After four months, I'm not sure what to say. I'd like to come back with a bang, or pull out one of the many things I've started to write and find that it's perfect. I'd like to say I've gained so much perspective, that things have come clear, that there's been a miracle.

I'm not ready to be especially declarative. I have gained perspective. I've come such a long way since this time last year - in fact, at this time last year I was just about to enter a time of crisis. I think there are things I see now, take for granted, that a year ago were still looming so huge that they were indistinct in their enormity. There were things I just couldn't face, things the very thought of which filled me with a desperate, frantic denial. It's strange how things you can't see in one moment gradually, insistently lap against you until they are no longer a shock, like standing in what you think is a frigid tide until suddenly it's perfectly comfortable.

Some of those frightening ideas have become clear. The mere thought of approaching them is no longer filled with dread. I'm afraid it's one of those things about life, that after a while some things just are, and after some time and perspective are no longer worthy of either dread, shame, or even require explanations. They just are. This can be wisdom.

There's been no miracle. Not the kind I'd like, anyway. Not the kind that you put on your calendar and date your life by the before-and-after of the date. Miracle isn't the kind of word I like to throw around. I still hurt. I have--very likely--more questions than I had before. And I still don't understand why this experience has to be, or why it must last so long without the answers I think would help.

And yet...I know very clearly that this last year or year and a half is one of those times by which I will date my life. That kind of year happened to me once before, and I recognize some of the signs. That first time, things shifted in me in a way I know are irreversible. Things changed in a way that can't be un-changed. Before, the way I knew those changes were beyond myself was that I didn't do the changing. Almost against my will--and absolutely against the way I would ever have chosen--God built something into my soul that was unshakable, because it was not of my making. This time around, although I don't feel at all as if I'm all the way through this experience, I see signs of things in my life that were not there before, that I didn't do, and that I cannot undo. This looks like the hand of God.

I've read recently that God is in the business of taking all the worthless things in our lives--fear, discouragement, anxiety--and replacing them with things of inestimable worth--love, hope, trust. A very wise young woman told me how God was showing her that Jesus will offend anything in us that can be offended, because then when He has removed all our worthless placeholders and foolish pride, there is room for Him to do whatever He wants, build whatever He wants, and fill us with so much more goodness than we can imagine at present.

The only thing that made sense when I was trying to think of what to say here, today, is that I may have more questions than answers. I may tremble at the pride I see in myself where I thought I was humble. I waver daily on the edge of discouragement, thinking that all my dreams may have to be sifted and shifted before I see them come true, or that they may not be fulfilled at all in the way I hope. I see my own, utter weakness most where I desire to be glorious and strong, and pride amid my filthy, pitiful attempts at righteousness.

But at the end, I cannot deny the Hand of God in my life. I won't even try to put a pretty cap on it, but in the most abject moments of shame and despair at my own insufficiency I glimpse--only glimpse--a love that is all the greater because it comes for me there.


Bethany Streng said...

that's much better:-)

Lauralei said...

This was one of the things I think God was telling me to tell you. When I entered this summer after a horrible spring semester, I made a list of things that I needed/wanted God to do with me. I kind of put the list away but I prayed over it constantly. At the end of the summer, and even now, I continue to look at that list. God worked in me and worked in ways that made those things on that list come alive. And not one was done in the way I expected it to work. He works mysteriously, sometimes more mysteriously for others, but it will connect one day. Maybe yours will just connect better and be better because of how long He's been working in you and on your heart.