It's Okay (And It's Going To Be Okay)
This last week was our church’s Fall Retreat. The theme was Gospel-centered living, something we all need more of, right? Just give me the good news, the freedom, the grace. We need the Gospel every day, in every way, in every area of our lives.
And something I’ve been pondering/praying about lately is the areas of my life that don’t seem to grasp this good news. We all have those areas that are tight and ill-stretched, where our man-made rules and regulations reign over Christ’s grace and freedom. The places where we haven’t quite embraced the goodness of the Gospel and what it means for our lives.
I arrived at the retreat center feeling full and satisfied, which was a strange feeling for me, to be honest. My default is needy and wanty. I had been reading When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty on the way there, and I had to write down quotes from about every other page it was so amazing, delectable tidbits of biblical truth to chew on, savoring slowly. Here are some of my favorite passages that I can’t help but share with you:
“God is joy spilling over.”
“When you realize you are among the least, the littlest, the last, and the lost, God becomes everything. To be caught up in his superior happiness, is to see his love infused in and entertained around everything. Absolutely everything. You find your heart drawn nearer to God by the smallest of enjoyments.”
“The secret to being content (during suffering, which is defined as having what you don’t want and wanting what you don’t have) is to take one day at a time. The sufficiency of Christ is more than enough to meet the needs of a lifetime, but life can only be lived one day, one moment, at a time.”
“Satisfaction in life arises from knowing you are where you belong. Discontented people strive to be somewhere else or someone else. Contentment comes from many great and small acceptances in life…when life isn’t the way you like it, like it the way it is…one day at a time with Christ.”
“Each of us is a sinner, but we have all developed our unique styles of sinning. For some it is one thing (paraphrased), but for others it’s a respectable lifestyle-doing all the right things while disregarding God. God hates both and finds them equally offensive-and both deserve hell.”
“Every day of our short lives has eternal consequences for good or ill. Right now counts forever.”
Like I said, I came full. But Day 2 exposed my spiritual and emotional deficit, and it was like a hole punch was taken to whatever reservoir I had, draining everything away.
I have spent the last two years slowly sweeping some painful experiences under the rug. I just didn’t want to look at it anymore, or think about it, or talk about it. God, I was so sick of talking about it. I wanted to move on, ready or not. And for me, that means forgetting it, avoiding it, numbing myself to it.
But God had the audacity to stick his fingers in that mess this last week and stir the pot.
At first, I was really, really angry. I was mad that God would turn my face towards it, make me wade through the muck and the confusion, make me see what was there, what wouldn’t just go away. Haven’t I suffered enough? Why can’t I just move past this?
But God always knows better. A dear friend of mine, a brother to me, told me what he felt God wanted me to know during prayer. Just, “It’s okay”.
It’s okay that certain parts of my life look messy and feel oh so broken.
It’s okay that God hasn’t completely healed my heart and emotions.
It’s okay that I’m angry because that means I’m not completely numb. And God can handle that anger.
It’s okay that I don’t want to pray for someone else, or talk to someone else, or be especially social every time I step foot in church. It’s okay that I’m uncomfortable in a crowd. I don’t have to pretend.
And it’s also going to be okay. God always knows what he’s doing. It’s okay that I don’t.
Hiding away your wounds is not healing them. It is trying to cope with pain apart from God, and it hurts us in the long run. The walls that we build around our hearts in order to protect them become boundaries that prevent us from loving others and experiencing the full range of emotions that God has given us. In toppling those defenses, God is giving me a bigger heart, bigger love, and bigger joy. He doesn’t rip off the band aid without purpose.
I mean, this is the Gospel. This is how it's impacting my life. God loves me too much to let me stay walled off, certain parts of my heart dead forever. He gives life to dry bones, remember? He came that we would have life, and have it in abundance. And sometimes life breathed in hurts a little. But not forever.
The last day ended with encouragement, the shared testimony of amazing missionaries and their lives, and the mission that we’ve been given as Christians-to go and make disciples. I left knowing that God didn’t complete anything in me, but I have renewed hope knowing that he will complete it, and probably (definitely) not on my timeline.
And it’s okay.