You know that feeling that comes when it seems like you just can't catch a break? That overwhelmed, tired, and worn-down feeling that is expressed peacefully with a shake of the head in disbelief ... or loudly with a stomp at the ground and angry, yet honest, shouts of frustration towards the Heavens? That's been me. I've done the disbelieving head-shake and the frustrated stomping and shouting, as well as everything that falls somewhere between.
Remember when I told you that God is making me holy? Well, its been a difficult journey.
I'm not sure when it all started, but I know that it has been going on for some time now. I distinctly remember it in the Holy Land. This time in my life has had two major characteristics. 1.) I have been pulled, pulled hard, in many different directions. Many by choice. There have been countless details in my life that have needed attention. There have conversations with teens that I have loved and would not trade for the world, but that have added to my burden. There have been events and meetings and conversations. There have been changing friendships, changing lifestyles, and changing calls in my prayer. I have been pulled. 2.) I have felt, more so than ever before, alone. Though many times I have been surrounded by people, I have felt alone in my endeavors, alone in my person, and alone in my prayers. That loneliness has caused suffering.
I spoke also of my struggles and wonderment in regards to the Great Commission of the Gospels. It seems that God needed to stretch me, to increase my capacity to express, and to humble that part of me that takes pride in what I claim to know. Each conversation that begged of me a response to tough questions regarding the Church and God left me feeling abandoned, confused, and far too burdened. Beyond the needs of those questioning, there was another pull here. From God Himself came the pull towards deeper commitment to Him. As stood alone, undesirably called to be the representative of Christ's Church, I felt trapped inside myself. Try as I may, I could not escape.
God offered me little consolation. I was surrounded by an abundance of desolation. My soul ached, longing for the change to which He called. My flesh screamed in protest, begging me to give up, to walk away, to find something, anything else. My spirit was breaking.
Then I was reminded, in the most perfect way, of God's immense love. All of those things that caused so much discord within my soul came together for the occasion. I was alone, when asked by someone demanding more of me, to answer big questions. In His wisdom, God granted me the grace to respond. In my response, God placed traces of the reminders I needed myself - that He loves us; that He truly works for the good of those who seek Him, even when everything in life seems to indicate that it isn't so; that when we are willing to turn to Him in our brokenness, He is able to heal us and change us - really heal and change us. That if He never withheld consolations, we would never realize just how much we need Him. We would forget that everything we have is a gift, from God. One that we do not deserve, but He gives nonetheless.
Throughout this time, in my honest prayers, I was left knowing that He was working. However, that did not make the experience more appealing (or peaceful. As I dramatically declared to one friend, there was not a situation or relationship in my life that had peace. Even with Jesus all I did was cry and cry - hot tears of pain. I could not stop.). I knew that He was making me holy, but I have not the virtue to respond in a well-mannered, virtuous way. Instead, I often found myself kicking and screaming, questioning and arguing - desperately seeking relief from the burdens I preferred not to bear.
And in all of that, God remained steadfast in His love and fidelity to me. He heard the honesty in the cries of my breaking heart. He listened. He loved.
He waited for the unwilling smile that came with true surrender. He waited for me to stop hiding, to stop pretending to run, not care, and not listen, and to stop telling Him that I couldn't, that He asked too much, that He was making it too hard.
He waited, and He loved. Perfectly.