In Dallas, TX for work.
Been going through some really painful stuff, perhaps the most painful in my adult memory (but then I’ve said that many times). My experience is that the path of engagement in life (as opposed to retreat from life or counterfeit life) is just plain… painful. And I believe with as much of my heart as I have at the moment that God is about bringing about full restoration and healing in our lives — transformation, sanctification — and that requires, among other things, reopening old wounds to clean and heal them. For what is laid down in pain, is (often) only accessed through pain. Moreover, I’ve heard and believe, that the great Physician in His love will allow the exact kind of pain that will give Him access to the parts of us that He wants to heal. Of course, that means that the deeper you let Him take you, the more fierce the dragons, the more subtle the deception, the more core the wound, the more terrifying the pain. And I’ve prayed that He would indeed access and heal these parts of me, transform me, regardless of the cost. Sometimes (often) I regret having prayed such prayers, but too late. Oh, I suppose I could always retreat again from His offer of Life, but I’ll never have peace that way. Ever.
My take on the enemy’s strategy in my life is that he used early trauma around perceived abandonment by my parents to lie to me about the heart of God the Father, and to encourage me to cling to dependence on self and others for my security in life. There’s a fear in me around this area of security in my life that can truly be called terror. I’m fiercely devoted to self-protection of this most tender part of my heart, that desperately desires security and love. So the enemy has some firm root in this part of my heart, and that part is itself fortified by strongholds upon strongholds, like a kingdom with rings of walls, all themselves strongholds protecting the key stronghold. That means layers of selfishness, fear, lust, idolatry, and the list goes on.
My loving Papa’s strategy on the other hand… He wants to be at the center of my heart, and wants to break down all strongholds, free me completely, and establish Himself at the center of my heart. I’ve asked for this, and there’s absolutely no way I can do it myself; I faint in terror just looking at this stuff. This usually manifests itself as anger (rage, really), distraction, endless idols and squirming strategies. But He Himself can and wants to free me, but He’s asking for my trust and cooperation. What He seems to be doing now is systematically removing people and things that I’ve turned to for life instead of Him (my idols). Frankly it’s hellish. In part because it’s just so… unjust! I suppose I thought He’s just come in and fix me, but He seems to be using what I perceive as injury and injustice, and asking me to trust Him. I can feel His hand and his love even in the injustice… but it’s so damn hard to trust. Damn hard. My inclination is to hate and curse, to curse God and die (not literally, but by rejecting “the path” and turning to less wild lovers).
But truth is truth, and truth hurts. I fall back into hate daily, hourly, but He calls me back to Him daily and hourly. One of the ways He calls me back is by the amazing people He’s put in my life. I’ve prayed for a “band of brothers”, and He’s answered (not in the way I had imagined!). I’ve got friends who love me enough to tell me the truth, and it often pisses me off. A lot. But damn it, I just can’t deny it. I think this is a great grace. I mean, I fail much, much more than I succeed (I’m talking about sin), but He keeps being there, even though I don’t trust Him, even though I turn from Him all day every day. Even though I watch Netflix when I feel His gentle call to receive His love and consolation in prayer. Even though I run wild inside, even when I’m bat-shit crazy. Even when I say “no” to His call to sanctity. It’s like no and yes are waring inside me, with my life being mostly “no, but Lord I want it to be yes”. Even though my prayers are mostly “Lord, help me to want to want say yes!” “Lord, my answer is no, but help me answer yes”.
My friends help me sort through my rights. Somehow, rights are wrong. Rights are not life-giving for me. Even though they have every appearance of being real (and perhaps they are), somehow they have bad fruits. And every tree is judged by its fruits. Every action, every thought, every feeling, every act of the will. It’s confounding and there is no right that I let go of that does not have claw marks all the hell over it. More accurately, I let them go and grab them back in the same breath. And I’ve found that in this journey — the journey of the heart, the life of the heart — there’s a huge multitude of well-meaning people that will support my rights. Friends, family, Priests, etc. But then.. there’s “the silver thread” of those who see beyond my rights, to the calling on my life, and help me see beyond my rights to… to what? To love. To the Cross. To true healing, forgiveness, selflessness, freedom, to His life.
My friends help me return to hope. Maybe some of you know how painful hope can be, how much courage it can take (know what I’m talking about)? How can you have hope in uncertainty? How can you know you’ll be OK when there’s no evidence that you’ll get what you’re hoping for in this world? So there can be no hope without faith. Because I sure can’t see the thing I hope for. I’ve put my hopes in meeting my deepest of needs in things that just can’t meet those needs. He’s the only one that can meet those needs, but what courage it takes for me to believe!
So.. thank you. Thank you to my brothers and sisters who tell me the truth. Even though it hurts. I hate you for it and I love you for it. Thank you God that you’ve never left me alone, even if it looks completely different than I had imagined (or rather demanded). I wish I didn’t need this painful medicine, but.. seeing that I do, Thank you.
“Lord, I pray again the prayer that terrifies me; do whatever you need to do, whatever you want to do, to transform me, all of me, according to your love. I accept this pain, and I give you complete access and permission to let you use it to heal my heart. Take me there. Lead me. Give me courage, faith, hope, love. Thank you that you don’t crush this bruised reed, that you don’t extinguish this smoldering wick. Thank you for your faithfullness. I want so much to trust you with all my heart; help me to trust when I cannot trust on my own. Take my groanings, and pray them for me. Under my layers of pride and fear, I’m such a small person with such a small faith! Thank God you are so big! I love you, I trust you. Do what you will. Love, heal, free and transform my family and loved ones, especially those who I want to hate. Take away all my hate, and transform it into love. Amen!”