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Heartbreak

Lately I have been thinking about God’s plans and purposes.

My heart hesitates to speak of God. Not because of lack of love for Him. Not because of shame or guilt or anything like that. I simply feel inadequate. Who am I to have any vast knowledge of or insight into the grandeur of the Lord? Who am I to comment on the holiness of God or the love of Jesus or the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit? I am not a great theologian. I’m not even a mediocre theologian. Even reading the Bible is so very difficult at times. All I know is the still small voice. The one that whispers, “You are ok” when everything is falling apart. All I know is His faithfulness to hold me when everything around me is crumbling. I know nothing from an academic standpoint. But I know He loves me and He has good thoughts and intentions for me.

The past several months, God has been asking me to evaluate my attitude about my circumstances and deal with my emotions about how someone else’s choices are affecting me.

I was hopeful.

I was jubilant.

I was devastated.

I was numb.

I was numb for about 4 months while my life crumbled around me. I didn’t have the capacity to feel anything. Then I needed help and he came. He helped me for a few hours and then he left. My world was right-side-up for a few hours and then it crumbled again. I was devastated. I was broken. I was heartbroken.

It’s been four long, long years since this situation started.

I had prayed and cried out to God to reveal His plan to this other person. I cried a lot during those four years. And nothing happened. Nothing. Except that he left for two years in the middle, while I did my best to muddle through life, hoping for the best; fearing the worst; praying to be delivered from the affection and adoration I felt for him.

And still, nothing changed.

After he departed that day, I was down. It was the first time I felt anything outside of numbness about the situation for several years, and it was bad. Very, very bad. I struggled. I prayed. And in a moment of epiphany, the Lord seared on my heart the truth that the things that I have always thought of and understood as “God’s plans” aren’t plans, per se. They are purposes. They are things that He thinks and wants for us. But because of His overwhelming grace, His mercy and His love, we are given the choice if we want to participate in those purposes. (Note: I think the terminology is important here, because, a plan, when coupled with the name of God, implies inevitability. Because of God’s gracious gift of free will, the word “purpose” is a much better fit, in my opinion.)

No one is locked into a plan with Him. No one. He’s not like Verizon, where you sign on the dotted line and follow the rules until the contract runs out. He doesn’t work like your employer or your Master Promissory Note or your wedding vows. He does His thing and gives us opportunity after opportunity to participate in His purposes. But we aren’t locked in. We get to choose.

I was given an opportunity to reevaluate how I feel about Him. And how I feel about…. him. Am I going to reject God because I can’t (necessarily) have what I want? Am I going to be angry and bitter with the man in question because he won’t get his crap in a pile already?

Of course, my other choice was to internalize the grief and heartbreak and enter an even deeper depression. But that’s no fun either.

So many choices….

Several years ago, during a time of deep darkness in my life, God branded into my heart the truth that people are terrible representations of Him. Nothing people do changes who He is — nor does their behavior (very often) represent who He is. And because people are imperfect, I neither have the choice to be angry with Him, nor do I have the choice to be angry with…. him. He is already perfect, while he is in the process of…. becoming. You can’t kick people to the curb because they’re not quite like God yet.

I internalized the grief. I got depressed. I asked God for a reason to live.

Four. Years.

Wasted. (At least from my perspective, at this moment in time.)

I don’t know what to do with any of it. I’ll be the first to say that I have no idea how to help myself. I don’t know where to begin, except by going to the faithful arms of the One who is incapable of setting me down and incapable of losing His love for me. That is the only thing I can do. And as I cry out the pain and frustration and sadness of loss, I begin with these words:

If You’re going to start somewhere,

Why not here?

If You’re going to start sometime,

Why not now?
(City on Our Knees, Toby Mac)

I have no words. No thoughts. Nothing but pain and sadness and an eternal hope in His purposes that are always, always good – even when I don’t understand them and even when they don’t feel good.

I am reminded of this:

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;

    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

    Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Psalm 138:8

 

I know not how to pray. Nothing I can say helps. Nothing changes anything. I don’t know what to ask for. And so, I pray, “Lord, fulfill Your purposes toward me.” That is all I can do.

And He will do it, because His steadfast love endures forever. He will never, ever forsake me, the work of His hands.

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Posted by on May 5, 2019 in Current Events

 

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Finding Comfort

For most of my life, during times that I’ve been, well, emotional… I’ve always reached out to food for comfort.

You kind of do that when you don’t have people to go to.

I mean, I have people — sort of. I have my childhood friend, to whom I could tell just about anything.

But she’s far enough away that it’s not practical to run over for the sole purpose of having a shoulder to cry on.

That’s the way it’s always been — if I did have someone within a reasonable distance, there was always something making it impossible for me to find that shoulder to cry on when I needed it the most. Anything from her having to take care of her kid(s) to being out of town to having to take care of the hubby…. Or, my most heartbreaking experience was when the shoulder I wanted to cry on was attached to a body that was dying of cancer.

I’m not trying to be all negative or anything. I’m just stating a fact.

Sadly, it happens.

And sadly, my way of coping has never been the best.

There have been two times in my life when I didn’t turn to food for comfort.

The first was my first semester of college, during which I was so sad, lonely, depressed, scared, and desperately wanting somebody — anybody — to love me, that I turned almost anorexic. During that semester, I ate a grand total of 10 meals a week. They talk about the Freshman 15 — my experience was that instead of gaining 15 pounds my first semester, I lost around 30 pounds.

The second time I didn’t turn to food for comfort was during semester break my sophomore year. My brother told me that my mom had told him that he could have my room because I wasn’t going to come back.

I was so angry at hearing this news that I went on a hunger strike that lasted for almost two days. I told myself, “If no one else cares about me, why should I? If no one else wants to take care of me, why should I?” I spent those two days crying and wanting to do anything and everything to destroy myself because life just hurt too much.

Food does have a wonderful ability to comfort, soothe and distract.

But, when it’s used solely for the purpose of comfort, it can kill.

Not only does it increase one’s risk of weight-related disease, but turning to food can cause what I like to call “relational deficiencies.”

You know, like when you’re so caught up in something that you neglect everything else in your pursuit of that one thing.

I’ve been there.

I’ve done it — oh, not intentionally, of course. I’m so relationally minded that I could never purposefully fill a void that people are supposed to fill with something else.

But somewhere along the line, I’ve been hurt by people to the extent that even though I know that turning to food has the potential to kill me eventually, it feels so much safer than actually opening up to someone.

I’ve been stuffing myself with physical food in an attempt to emotionally nourish myself.

Unfortunately, the properties of physical nutrition are not the same as the properties of emotional nutrition.

While our bodies need things like Vitamin C and calcium, our souls crave intimacy, affection and self disclosure. We want and need to be deeply known, to be accepted just as we are, and to have a place of belonging and a purpose.

This week, a friend of mine challenged me to begin using a fitness app that she likes. With this app, you put in your current statistics and your goals and it gives you a daily calorie intake goal. You enter the foods you eat, your exercise, etc., and it calculates how many calories you have consumed and how many you have left.

At first, I said “no thank you” to this idea.

I’m not into these things.

She said to do it anyway.

So I did.

I instantly fell in love with it because it helps me stay focused. It helps me choose to eat fruits instead of chocolate and chef salads instead of cheeseburgers. It’s been 6 days and I feel so much better. And- I can almost fit into the pair of pants that I discovered were too small 2 weeks ago.

I was doing really, really well with this fitness thing.

And then something happened.

My first reaction was this almost uncontrollable urge to find something to eat.

And then I realized, for the first time ever, that this food thing is a problem.

Cookies can’t empathize.

Cheetos can’t listen.

Ice cream can’t give advice.

Chocolate can’t hold you and cry with you and offer support and encouragement.

Only people can do that.

(Note to the super-religious who would argue that only God can do those things: I respectfully beg to differ. God initially intended it to be that we would first get those things from Him, and secondarily get them from people. He walked and talked with Adam in the Garden. He was physically present with Adam. However, somewhere in the chaos of the pit viper and the cumquat, humanity chose to disregard God and His presence, which left us down here and Him up there and a huge void in between. It’s not that God doesn’t WANT to do those things. It’s that He is now severely limited because of the choice that humanity made. I am not saying that it’s impossible to find comfort in Him. I’m saying that because of that choice, God doesn’t physically comfort us without using PEOPLE to do it.)

So, I’m challenging myself to seek friendships instead of potato chips. Emotionally or spiritually focused conversations have more potential to bring comfort than ice cream or chocolate or snack cakes ever could.

I’m just not so sure how to do this.

What if people are busy?

What if people are shocked that I’m not as perfect as I was raised to be?

What if people resent me because I’m honest about my struggles?

What if???

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2012 in Current Events

 

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