Note: This is copied from something I wrote in 2010.
Yesterday, my head hurt so badly that I couldn’t think straight and everything looked funny because of pressure on my eyes. But, I needed to make an effort in spite of it all because my neighbor and her baby had stopped by. My neighbor was sweeping up the crumbs on the floor and I was getting ready to take the trash out. My neighbor is nice like that — she knew I didn’t feel good so she swept the floor so I wouldn’t have to worry about it.
I was gathering up the trash and having this inner monologue directed at God….
(Note from 8 years later: Please give me a little grace here — I’m not this childish and self-centered when I’m not sick — or else maybe I really did used to be this way and this incident really did have a profound impact. I don’t know. I don’t enjoy thinking about this portion of my life very much. All I know is I read this and shook my head at how self-centered this sounds.)
“You know, trash isn’t my thing. It’s cold and snowy and I’m a girl. I shouldn’t have to do this. Seriously…. I need a man here…. God, either You need to give me a man or You’ll need to do this for me cuz this is so not my thing.”
It was basically one of those “God, you have to do something” moments.
And He said, “Hold it right there, Missy.”
I knew it was God because everything — my brain, my eyes, my face — ached and I couldn’t put a philosophical thought together on my own if I had wanted to, which I didn’t want to. I just wanted to take the medicine my doctor prescribed and go to bed.
“Hold it right there, Missy,” He said. If you want my blessings, you have to submit to me and the things I put — or haven’t put — in your life.” Submission and passivity are not the same. Submission does not mean accepting things simply because you can’t change them. Submission is agreeing to not wallow in misery because your circumstances aren’t ideal.
“Submission is being open and honest enough to invite me into every area of your life,” He went on, “even the areas that hurt and don’t make sense and that you would give anything to be able to change.”
By this time, I had realized that what I had always thought submission to be — which was basically just sitting there and waiting for God to do something — was entirely wrong.
“Many people think they’ve submitted to me when they invite me into their lives. But I don’t make them submit. I prompt. ‘Hey, are you sure you really want to keep that part of your life in the dark away from the light of my love?’ The choice is yours. You can not experience me and my love completely until you allow me to permeate every area of your heart, mind and will. Even the broken and hurting parts.”
As far as I’m concerned, it’s so much easier to just let it lie and live the lie that everything is just fine. (I mean, except for the part where you lie in bed at night and think about how miserable you are because all that stuff is trapped inside and no one really understands because you’re afraid to even let God see it — as if He doesn’t already know, in spite of your amazing coping mechanisms.)
I guess God felt a little chatty, because He went on, “The key is in inviting. All of it — even the most hurtful and illogical parts — make sense to me. And as I walk through the pain and hardship and loneliness with you (after you invite me along on the journey), I will teach you the meaning and the purpose of it. I will teach you things you would never understand otherwise. As I walk through the valleys with you, joy will spring out of places of pain. I will draw you to myself, and as our hearts are cemented together, I will make you whole. This is what spiritual wholeness looks like.
“But, there’s a reason why that must happen. It’s easier to be emotionally whole when you’ve become spiritually whole first. It’s very hard to find emotional fulfillment — which is what you’re looking for when you ask for someone to take out the trash — if you’re not first spiritually fulfilled.”
That must be why Jesus said “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” I get it now.
And He concluded, “But it all starts with submission. It is a choice that involves being really honest. It’s praying stuff like ‘Lord, this is hard and I need You to walk with me or I just can’t do it. I can’t even walk without You holding my hand.’ It’s about asking me to be part of it, even though you hate it. There isn’t a valley in your life that is so dark that i don’t want to go there with you. If you invite me along, it will change and it will get better. I want to help.”
With that, the garbage was bagged and ready to go and I felt like some of my internal garbage — some of the lies I had been believing about how dark and hopeless my life was — had been taken out too.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up. James 4:7-10