A “scrapbook” post- random bits and pieces cut and pasted and glued together to create a picture of my life right now.
Everything is disjointed. Pixilated. Smoke and fog. Not tangible and real.
The only tangible, real thing right now, the only thing I know that I know that I know, is Scripture.
There’s nothing else to grab tight to. Everything else is a question mark. Real or unreal, a lie or a truth, a blessing or broken, and I don’t know which.
So I hold it up to Scripture, and I realize that so much of what I don’t know doesn’t really matter, because what I do know is that God is good and He has a plan and I don’t have to have all the answers.
I don’t have to turn every possible scenario over in my mind, trying to force it to come together and make sense to me.
I don’t have to attempt to plumb the depths of my loved ones’ minds or analyze their actions.
I don’t have to go through my life with a fine-tooth comb trying to figure out whether or not I really belong anywhere.
All I have to do is breathe and trust, and guard my mind and heart fiercely. Yes, I will stand guard against lies and I will turn those lies away with one word: Jesus.
I was watching Eat, Pray, Love the other day and one of the characters in the movie told the main character, Liz, “You have to pick your thoughts like you pick out your clothes each day.”
Admittedly, that’s not a super great analogy for me because I wear leggings and flip-flops as much as possible, but I understood what he was saying. He was saying that our thoughts are as much in our control, and deserve at least as much attention and consideration, as our outfits.
In response to him, Liz said, “I’m trying!”
Yeah! I thought. She’s TRYING! Cut the girl some slack! What do you think she’s doing there, out of her comfort zone, exhausted?! Can’t you see how hard this has been for her?!
But then he put us both in our place, leaving our mouths hanging open with a combination of outrage and an inability to argue with his logic. Because how do you argue with truth? You don’t. You just sit down and shut up, or stand there with your mouth ajar and scowling at the truth-teller’s audacity to truth-tell right to your face when you’re having an emotional moment.
“Stop trying!” he said. “That’s your problem! Stop trying! Surrender! Fall into trust!”
I can’t remember if that’s exactly how their conversation went, word-for-word, but that was the gist of it. And after my mouth closed, I smiled. Because Liz and I, we’re not that different. Maybe she traveled the world chasing after romance and pasta, and I sit at home with my cats and pray for family and love, but we’re both people. We’re both people under the incredibly false illusion that our brokenness can be fixed by trying more or harder or even at all. Because to say that, to say that it just takes effort, is to say we have control over our brokenness. And we don’t. We have no control.
And I marvel at how God can speak to me through a movie that I was only half-watching, how He even loves me enough to speak to me! And how effectively He was able to get my attention, saying as the scene in the movie progressed, “THIS IS FOR YOU. Put down your book and your tea and pay attention for a minute.”
I’ve said that a lot over the past few months: “I’m trying.” “I’ve tried so hard.” And maybe that’s been my problem all along. Maybe what I was trying so hard to do was FIX, when what I should’ve been trying to do was surrender, trust, accept that this is the way things are right now. Sit with the pain of it and allow God to give me eyes of gratitude and hope and joy in the midst of heart-heaviness.
I was trying the wrong thing. I was trying to take control when what the Lord wanted of me was to put the control back in His hands and rest in the knowledge that He is good even when I’m struggling to look at my life and call it good.
“I bring You my heart, I bring you my praise
I bring You my broken dreams I’ve lost along the way
I lift up my voice, I lift up my hands
I lift up the moments in my life that I don’t understand
And I lay it at the cross where I’m surrounded by Your grace
And I marvel at the wonder of Your love
And I stand amazed, I stand in awe
And I stand forgiven in the midst of it all
Before You I bow, before You I fall
Blessed Redeemer, Sweet Savior of all
You are my shelter, You are my King
You are the risen Son of God, the Lord of everything.”
I watched Toy Story 3 the other day too.
I related to the toys in a whole new way than I would’ve a month or two ago. I was emotionally invested.
Lotso? He’s the staff at the various facilities I’ve been to as of late. He’s pink and cuddly and smells like strawberries, and everyone thinks he’s so nice and helpful and such a good leader, but he’s not.
Buzz on demo mode? He’s my friends. Suddenly I didn’t recognize them, and they’d have said the same thing about me.
I watched, eyes peeled, desperate to see how this was all going to turn out for them–for us. It was OUR battle. Our shared battle. Separate, but parallel. I related. I knew how it felt to have the doors locked, to be misunderstood. To be entrusted to Lotso by the friends who you no longer know how to relate to. I know the terror of having no options or control or escape.
When I was in treatment, the only thing apart from my Bible that gave me even the slightest relief from my inability to breathe–(just typing that, remembering what it was like, is making my body feel tense and hot; it was truly the most terrible experience of my life)–was looking outside. I’d sit on the windowsill and watch people go to work and I was SO jealous. And also so comforted. It reminded me that there was a life out there, that there was fresh air and freedom and that even if I was trapped and panicked, there was more to life than what I was currently experiencing.
And I thought about how my life, with its various sorrows and disappointments, was SO much better than I had ever given it credit for. Being locked up with Lotso and not knowing if Buzz would ever look me in the eyes again with love and respect and recognition and hug me, that was excruciating. It made me fiercely miss everything I had been so desperate to run away from just days prior.
In the movie, Mr. Potato Head has a similar change of perspective. “You know all the bad stuff I said about having to live in Andy’s attic?” he asks. “I take it all back.”
Me too, Mr. PH. Me too.
“I felt like I was spinning.
Didn’t know what was up from down.
I tried to fix what I had broken.
It was scattered all around.
It seems that every time I try walking by myself,
I end up on my face with nowhere else to go.
So I surrender all my ways.
Take all of these impurities.
I’m giving you this wretched soul.
I’m giving you these insecurities…
Giving you all control.
I’d set myself up for the lies that this world satisfies,
But you’re all that I need.
And I have peace inside
So keep tearing out all of my pride.
I’m taking all my fears and layin’ em at your feet now.
I’m resting in the fact that everything is safe now,
When I let go of all the things I know will fade out.
Every word that you have said I know I’ll never doubt.
Purify this tainted soul
I’m tired of living life a fool
Soften up this heart in clay
To be a servant this I pray
A reflection of You I long to be
So Your kingdom I will see
I Surrender to Your throne
And I will make my heart Your home
Oh I Surrender to Your throne.”
I love Glennon. I love that she gives people permission to be a mess. She assigns meaning to the messiness, and purpose to our pain. And she helps me believe in a person’s ability to triumph.
I had a dream the other night that I had moved into a new house with my mom. She was still alive. It was just the two of us in my dream. We were walking through the house together, looking at all the rooms and nooks and crannies. The house, I realize now that I’m awake, was a bigger version of my childhood home.
My dream self was excited because the house had so many windows. I kept saying that in my dream how I loved all the windows. The house was flooded with sunlight. I just kept going from window to window to see what view they each provided and reporting back to Mom.
In dreams, looking out a window is representative of looking to the future.
“To dream of looking out a window represents insight into what’s happening or your outlook for the future. Seeing ahead or what you feel is going to happen. It may also reflect your hopes for what is about to come.”
Yes. That. Hope. I have hope. And it’s such a miracle. It makes me want to giggle just thinking about how incredible it is that the Lord has fostered a hope in me that I was lacking for so long.
I have hope and I want to laugh. And what’s even more striking about all of this, this unshakable hope and joy that only the Lord can provide, is that I was just crying. Sobbing. Heartbroken over something in my life unrelated to this post.
But now here I am, smiling about the hope I have.
And it’s beautiful. It’s so beautiful that we can cry AND laugh.
We can grieve AND hope.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” -James 1:2-4
I had never read The Message version of that verse before, and this line stood out to me: “Don’t try to get out of anything prematurely.”
How much in my life have I done just that? With any negative emotion, with any painful experience, I tried to fix it. I tried to make it better, make it go away.
Above I talked about how hard I’d tried for so long, and how I had been trying the wrong thing. I had been trying to fix instead of trying to trust.
And isn’t that exactly what this Scripture is cautioning against? Of course if you CAN fix something, that’s great, do it! But if you can’t? And so, in response you decide instead to just take matters into your own hands, looking for other ways to make it not hurt? Denial or drugs or working long hours or drinking large quantities of booze? Well, what this Scripture is saying is that if you try to escape the pain, you are also escaping the lesson. And the pain doesn’t really go away. Rather, you only create for yourself even more pain.
I am learning to sit with pain instead of panic about it and do whatever I can to make it go away. I can’t even begin to tell you how hard that lesson has been for me.
But the more I let myself feel my pain? The more I can also feel joy.
And the more I trust in the Lord? The more I stop trying so hard and just rest? The less my pain scares me.
Nothing is bigger than my Jesus. Nothing.
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