Empty, void, gasping, a zombie.
That is who I have been for too long of a time now. I will not deny that there have been brief seasons of joy and glimpses of splendor but then I blink and the winter is cold and sun is harsh and the winds cut to the bone. For anyone who has encountered me like this (as I know many of you who read this have) I do deeply apologize for how I get. To say it isn’t a choice would be the greatest of understatements. Some nights I will fall asleep weeping and the next morning I arise and I am invincible.
Many friends have spoken to me (in love but of course) that this up and down is not okay, that there is a better way, there is stability that exists. When first these words hit me, I was angry. I was convinced these people couldn’t possibly know what it was like to have such a war about them constantly. Next, I was depressed and in despair. Often thinking “I can never attain this balance…it is far too impossible for me.” I would be sad for hours on end thinking of how amazing it would be to not have the swift shift in my world perception. After that, I was fully empty. Completely void of hope or feeling and completely believing God had brought me to Kenosha, plopped me in this state of misery and left me to crawl.
But then just when I had given up believing there were good things for me, something would happen. Someone would come up to me on a Sunday morning and simply hug me for that moment too long that indicated true caring. Or, on a few occasions, people I know (but not well by any means) would speak words to me that cut daggers to my core because when they uttered those syllables, they really KNEW what it was like for me. There was understanding and there was grace….and grace, grace is the purest form of hope. After these incidences had occurred I would be plunged into an incredible, deep starless night, full of a hunger I did not know was within me. I would dig and I would search and I would run until finally, in the wee hours of the morning, I would be so exhausted from my lengthy time reading the word of God until the letters swam on the pages. It was at this point I would finally fall asleep, only to wake several hours later from dreams which I would then have to carry with me throughout my work day.
And then, there was a joint meeting of the churches. From the moment I woke that morning I was on edge. A few short days before that Sunday I had agreed to give a ride to a student on the School of Worship. So, that morning I picked her up and we ambled along to Lakeshore Tabernacle for the meeting. I remember that day vividly: the sun was warming and deep hues of golden yellow were about the air. Fall had really just hit us and though there was a chill in the air, this day was warm enough for sweaters and nothing more.
I have a great thankfulness for this friend who was with me that day because in my apprehension of being around people, she made me laugh and become at ease with the day. We chose to sit down towards the front for the worship time and immediately I could not help it, I was engaged and my spirit was soaring.
As often happens in these instances, God almost immediately began giving me a picture with a specific word and right I away I knew I must bring it that morning to that person. In the midst of this prophetic painting coming together in my mind, another person I respect greatly and care about came up to me and gently spoke to me, “I believe I have a word for you.”
In that instant, he had no way of knowing the significance of what he was about to speak to me, nor did he have any clue how quickly it would knock the wind out of me and drench me in terror.
His words painted a picture of a figure attempting to pick out clothes to wear from her closet, clothes she had worn for ages and chosen carefully to represent her. As the figured picked out clothing to dress themselves with, it became apparent that the beloved, worn-in t-shirt no longer fit and the crisp new jeans with the price tag still attached also didn’t fit and certain clothes were way too big while others were so small it was ridiculous to even think they would work out for wearing.
Then he continued, “In the next year, something is going to happen that is going to cause everything you wear to no longer fit who you are. There is going to be such a drastic change in you that will cause this to happen.”
After he had spoken and gone back to continue worshipping, I finished the word I had for someone else and quickly went to where they were and gave it, the whole time my mind was reeling. Of course I knew what this word meant, there was only one thing it could mean. Something that terrified me and also left me frozen solid. Once the teaching had finished that day, I ended up going to lunch with two of my closest friends in Kenosha and it did not take us long after being seated at Chili’s and placing our order for me to spill everything that was caged inside of me.
Everything just short of tears just poured out of me: fears, apprehension, doubt, concerns, questioning, honesty. Finally I took a deep breath and in my utter vulnerability to not wanting this, I found loving, caring eyes looking back at me. Patiently, yet excitedly, in turn they spoke truth and encouragement to my trembling heart. In that moment it was more than enough and it began to well up in me passion almost to bursting.
When I got home later, I was surprised to find no one else around, and in a moment of total abandon and simple obedience I went online and printed off what I needed to complete to get things started. My hands shook the entire time I was writing and I was amazed my handwriting still was legible. I got through a page of the application and then I needed to put it down and do something else because life was calling me.
Many weeks would pass, months even, and still I would not touch those papers. Initially I had given a reference form to my homegroup leaders because I needed to prove to myself that I was taking God serious. I knew they would hold me accountable.
Stealthily and quickly fear crept into my heart. How could I possibly do this? What on earth could I bring? WHY would this ever be a good idea? Who did I think I was that this would be something I was worth being part of?
I became so very sad and so very afraid to even talk about the whole thing. This pushed me straight off the cliff into a subtle depression that would haunt me every waking and sleeping moment, I could no longer find rest. This was a life fleeing from God’s will.
This was Jonah refusing to go to Ninevah.
Eventually I couldn’t handle the weight. Not quickly enough I collapsed under the strain. Truly I blame it all on going to see Les Miserables in theaters.
I cried so much that movie finally gave me the small window I needed to realize what I needed to do. Visually through that film, God spoke to me so strongly and so with a very weak, resigned self, the next free moment I had I finished filling out my part of the paperwork for the application. I cried through a lot of it but then…it was over and complete.
In that place, guess what I found? At the end of my rope I found a ridiculous consuming peace.
AND NOW, the application is complete. And now I set up a meeting to discuss with Kal.
Am I still fighting and struggling with God wanting me to do the School of Worship? Oh yes. So much so I cannot even with an honest conscious say I’m being obedient right now. I’m afraid to surrender yet afraid not to and so for now I am in a perpetual limbo where I am clinging to the only thing I have– the truths God has spoken to me in hope and love.
This has been an update.