I never ceases to surprise me that when God is using our lives, the enemy will make a sneak attack. Seriously. Why does it trip me up every.single.time??! I know better.
A friend of mine told me years ago that when that attack comes directly aimed at your achilles heel, that’s when you know it’s him. He’s so predictable. He always goes for the same old places of pain and disappointment from your past. He uses people as pawns to poke and prod those wounds to convince you that they’re true. It’s a joke. He’s such a liar.
Last week I wrote a blog post about calling. It was a message from my heart to your heart, that you were born for such a time as this. The whole truth of that blog post was that I was preaching to the choir. I desperately needed that message. I needed to remind myself that God planted a purpose in me even when I don’t see it or feel it — and especially when it comes under attack.
Chances are, if you’re normal, life actually hurts sometimes. If you’re really paying attention it probably hurts a lot of times. I remember praying a prayer several years ago that God would break my heart for the things that break His. How many times I wish I hadn’t! But when we look at the life of Jesus, he was grieved. His heart hurt for us, and with us; He knew the deep, searing pain of loss, rejection, and betrayal. Why do we try to convince ourselves that pain and vulnerability is weakness? Why are we so intent on convincing the world we’re okay and punishing ourselves in silence?
We like to cover up our losses and pretend we’re just fine, but I know my own self and I’ve talked to too many women to know better. You can’t cover up pain with pretty. Believe me, I want to do it too because the reality of walking through life and conflict and struggle and misunderstanding isn’t comfortable. It isn’t fun. But pretending, protecting and playing pretty just doesn’t work. Unfortunately we’re human and none of us get to escape it’s realities: We’re flawed.
Bitterness, envy, jealousy, pride, selfish ambition, and greed always rise to the top and they’re so easy to see. If we’re remotely honest with ourselves it comes out sideways and backwards and hurts safe people who love us who it’s not even about. They’re just easy to hit.
But the honest truth is that when you’ve been hit, you react. Whether you speak your truth or refrain from it doesn’t really matter, a reaction occurs. Abraham Maslow said: In any given moment you have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.
If I’m honest I don’t necessarily like the constant stretching and pulling and sometimes breaking of my heart that God continues to send my way. I don’t enjoy conflict or hard conversations or speaking truth in love. I’m not good at it. It’s not my nature. I like justice and truth and black letter law. I’m comfortable there. But God has never let me stay there. He calls me to go higher. He calls me to go deeper. He calls me to righteousness for His name’s sake. I want justice. I want truth. I want right relationship but He says it is not mine to have. It is His.
He controls my future. He orders my steps. He prunes my life.
I can step forward into that, accepting the change, the pull, the stretch of humility, forgiveness, grace and righteousness He is molding in me; or I can step back onto my safe, comfortable perch of judgment, and be nothing but a Pharisee.
I was up late with one of my dearest friends last night and she texted me: Your way isn’t easy. She knows it so deeply because it’s her way too. My closest friends walk this way and it is hard. You know it too; It’s painful. It goes against all of our feelings of justice and gives way to a God who is for us, even if it’s not what we think we want. Even if it’s not fair. Even if it’s not true.
Every moment we have a choice. Will we step forward into growth and accept it? Will we allow Him to do the work He is trying to do in us? Or will we waste it? Every injustice, hardship, trial and pain is meant to do a work in us. It’s meant for something bigger than ourselves. Sometimes the very things we want to hold onto are just not meant for us anymore. Old ways of behaving are not what He wants for us. He continues to stretch us beyond where we’re comfortable, because He’s more interested in our character.
The way of love, grace, mercy and kindness will be met with misunderstanding. It will face opposition. The world shouts, and it is getting louder and meaner. He whispers.
What will you hear? Who will you listen to? How far are you willing to stretch and bend and even break to let Him mold you into righteousness for His name’s sake? Do not be discouraged.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
If you struggle with covering your pain under the illusion of pretty, I so get it. Much, much more than you know. I invite you to watch this video and read my story of breaking free.