It's been a while since I've been on here, but it's been quite an interesting time in my life. I have been shaken in all the areas that are vulnerable - finances, job security, betrayal, my health, my family's health, feeling overwhelmed by busyness - you name it, it seems to have hit me in the last six weeks. Thankfully, many of the areas of testing had happy endings. My Dad didn't have cancer (hallelujah!!!!). I didn't have a blood clot (can I get another amen!). But other things, usually minor annoyances, seem to loom larger than normal because of the added stress in my life at the moment. It seems my tipping point is lower than it was before.
During all of this, I kept thinking, "I need to be strong. I need to be godly in my response to this. I need to be serene in the midst of these storms - it's what a spiritually mature person would do." God has given me peace and comfort, and I have wrestled with the demons of resentment, bitterness and even hatred during this time. I felt like I had come out on the other side somewhat victorious. God had given me victory to forgive and feel compassion toward the person I wanted to hate. However, anytime I felt weak or sad or upset, I also experienced guilt and the question - shouldn't I be a stronger Christian than this? Shouldn't my joy be above circumstances? Shouldn't I have a deeper trust in God and His plans that I can't know and understand right now? Shouldn't I be past this by now?
A few days ago, I was sitting in my oldest son's. My heart was pounding uncomfortably in my chest, skipping beats. I felt lightheaded. Every article I've ever read about a woman in her 30's dropping dead from heart failure flashed through my mind. The anxiety about that caused my heart to bump up another notch. My chest hurt. All I could think was, "Please don't let me pass out at my son's award ceremony and ruin his moment." I tried deep breaths. I tried to think of peaceful rivers. It didn't work. My breath seemed to come with effort. The more I tried to reason with myself that I was fine and it was just stress, the worse I felt.
I did make it home and I didn't keel over (of course, you probably know that since I'm typing this now - three days later). But I went into my room to change. I went in my closet and started cried. I sobbed until I was exhausted. When I came out, my eyes suspiciously blotchy (yes, honey, those darn allergies make my eyes itch too!), I felt much better. I was wrung out and had that headachy feel behind my eyes I get if I cry a lot. But I felt much better.
Immediately the guilt started - if you were a strong Christian, you wouldn't need to cry - you'd find joy in your situation and help someone else in the bargain. It's insiduous, this need to react perfectly as a Christian. The thing is - I'm not perfect. Far from it, in fact. I have these messy things called emotions. Sometimes, it hurts to feel them and experience them. But often the only way over them is to go right through them. God did say when we go through the fire or the floods, He is there. Feelings, while they aren't always true, are still real. It's okay to feel really angry with someone, to acknowledge they hurt you and what they did was wrong. It's not being somehow unChristian to admit that things make you upset.
I had fallen in this trap of thinking the perfect Christian response was to have perfect, all-positive feelings. Life doesn't work that way. God expects us to be human and to have human feelings. God doesn't expect us to be strong and perfect. In fact, Paul says that in our weakness God is made strong. Paul said he gloried in his weakness because it showed off God's strength through him. What a load off my shoulders to really know that I don't have to be strong. God will be strong for me and shoulder my load.
Isaiah 40:28-31, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they wil run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."
~ Blessings, Bronte