Saturday, January 4, 2014

Drip by Drip

Things are not good right now. Life isn’t horrible by any stretch, but it is difficult and wearing on me. I feel like I have no room to complain because I know so many others who are facing tremendous pain and struggles: a 6-month-old going through cancer treatments. Job loss. Abuse. Adultery. Life-changing diagnoses. Lyme disease. Back surgery. Divorce. Infertility. Death.

My burdens pale in comparison to those struggles. Honestly, I feel like I should shut my mouth, lower my head and keep plugging away at life. Except I’ve already been doing that and I don’t feel any better. In all honesty, “plugging away” makes my heart feel more alone. Darker and smaller than normal. Maybe airing it out will help. Here goes.

2013 was a darn sucky year. Yes, I’ve had worse. 1996 and the four following years are benchmarks of misery for me. In most people’s lives there are years that suck because of a single major crisis, but this year wasn’t like that. 2013 bled me dry, drip by drip. Crap just kept happening, and a lot of it wasn’t made public because I didn’t want to look like a whiner or like I was ungrateful for the good things that did occur. But when I think back over the last year, the overarching theme can be summed up in one word: isolation.

I haven’t written a lot of deep posts on my blog this past year. Writing is soothing therapy for me, but I haven’t felt the freedom to be honest with my struggles because of privacy issues with the people involved in these struggles, plus not knowing who exactly is reading this blog. Just when I think I’m pretty much the only person who knows it exists, someone will mention it and then I’ll remember I can’t give full disclosure here. But here are the main highlights low points:

Jackson’s diagnosis. Dietary changes. Intense changes at my job. A family member’s abusive relationship. “Breaking up” with a close friend. Starting to lose my eyesight. Medication changes. Increased hours at work. Pre-cancer procedure. A family member’s lupus diagnosis. Tax surprises. An emotionally painful mistake.

I’ll summarize it: I’ve been wrestling a lot with God. Not with the concept of Him (my faith in His existence has never wavered), but with His direction for my life. I’ve asked “why” a lot, although lately I’ve stopped asking “why” and just took whatever new crap has been thrown at me… like it’s a punishment I somehow deserve. He could be ripping open the glossy veneer to show me the rot in my subflooring. Or maybe He’s been trying to buff out the selfishness in my heart. I’ve been wondering if this year was a lesson in humility. My pride is an idol that blocks the door to His workshop in my heart, so maybe He allowed some of this pain to happen as a way to unblock the door.

  • Maybe Jackson’s diagnosis was meant to remove the pride I take when my kids are well-behaved and under control. (Yeah, like THAT happens often!)
  • Maybe the dietary changes were meant to show me the ways food is an idol in my life.
  • Maybe the job changes stripped away comfort in order to show me God is the only safety net I need.
  • Maybe the abusive relationship was a way for God to tie my heart closer to my loved ones.
  • Maybe the break up with my friend was God’s way of showing me that earthly friendship shouldn’t take the place of His friendship. What if he wanted me isolated so I would depend more on Him?
  • Maybe losing my eyesight was a gift and got me off medication that was doing long-term damage to my body.
  • Maybe the painful mistake I blindly made was the reminder I needed to stop putting my trust in the wrong places, and a reminder that I really don’t have it all figured out and I’m not in control.
  • And maybe all the other crap was just an extra bonus Satan threw in to keep me down and turned away from my Refuge.

Heck, I don’t know! I keep hoping God will make sense of things soon but I know that even if my “soon” isn’t the same as His, every single struggle from this past year will eventually be used for His glory. I have to believe this pain isn’t for nothing and that it will be used in some way, some day. I see glimmers of that truth every now and then, like the woman at church I’ve been walking with as she took her son for testing and got a diagnosis that breaks her heart the same way Jackson’s continues to break mine.

Please, dear God, make this ache go away. And if you can’t make it go away, sit in the muck with me and help me endure. Please bring respite soon!

Where there is loneliness, help me feel Your presence.

In the places in my life where I feel like a victim, please empower me to take action. I want to respond to the ways You initiate movement in my life.

When I feel under attack, please go to battle for me.

When I can’t even find the words to ask for Your rescue, hear my groans and turn them into prayers.

Please, God, give me hope! I am desperate to know if I’m where You want me to be at this stage in my life. Do You want me to stay put for just a little longer, or is it time to move forward in some way? Speak boldly and plainly so I can differentiate Your guidance from my desires and fears. Give me vision to see Your ways, and trust to follow You.

I’m afraid to even ask this, but is it too much to request You do something big in my life? (And by big, I don’t mean more painful. Please not that!) Open my eyes to see You, God.

Help me be a leader for You, knowing You are my ultimate boss and my righteousness. I want to be courageous enough to stand alone even when no one else supports me. Help me speak truth when it’s necessary, but shut me up the rest of the time.

Help me obey Your will, even (especially!) when it seems contrary to what I want. Please show me the way out!

Thank You for hearing my prayers and for not thinking I’m a whiny baby. And when I am whiny, thank you for rocking me like the baby I am. Amen.

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