I have been learning the same lesson over and over the past several months––actually closer to two years at least. The lesson is this: I am weak. It comes in waves. The depression, cynicism, and confusion do give way to happiness, laughter, and moments of intense clarity. But then another round comes. At times I’ve felt intensely frustrated, stuck, even hopeless, wondering if this season will ever end, but what can I say? God is a thorough teacher.
The past several months, my mantra has been, I am not okay. Friends ask how I am, probably because I look tired or sad, and I tell them frankly: “Not great.” And I’ve been fine with that. I guess you could say I’m okay enough to openly acknowledge that I’m not okay.
Perhaps I’m getting more comfortable with my brokenness. Perhaps I just simply don’t have the energy to care what others think.
I had thought my long season of struggle was over. Last year, I did counseling, unearthed some of my deeper issues, and took a step back from some of my responsibilities. So at the beginning of this year I was ready to leave all the wrestling and introspection behind and get back to being productive, helpful, and upbeat. But then another huge wave of pain and confusion hit, and I realized that would not be possible.
To be honest, I was not at all happy about this. But God said to me, Will you let Me carry you this season?
“Aw, that’s so sweet,” a friend said in response to this story.
Yes, I suppose it was. But that was not my reaction when I heard God’s offer.
Used to Being Useful
I didn’t realize just how much of my worth and identity I had tied to my usefulness as a person (and especially as a Christian) until this year. Until God told me to give all of it up. Actually, how it really went down was that I came to a point where I felt like I was drowning. It was either stop serving or die. I had been internally wilting for some time, secretly dying piece by piece, but I had managed to keep up a somewhat even-keeled facade for a pretty long time. Now I couldn’t.
I knew in my head that God loved me apart from what I accomplished. But I could feel that my heart didn’t understand that truth. I told myself I needed to know my worth was separate from my ability to serve.
But up until the last moment, I secretly waited for a sudden burst of supernatural strength that would allow me to continue to serve as I had been. God just wanted to know I would be obedient, but surely He wouldn’t actually have me “give up.” People needed me now more than ever. I would be letting them down. I would be increasing everyone else’s burden. How could I truly glorify Him without actively serving? Would stepping down not be lazy? Would it not be selfish?
Will you let me carry you this season?
Even though I was literally incapable of doing anything other than collapsing into His arms, I resisted. He had carried me all last year already. I wasn’t a baby, I wasn’t supposed to rest this long. People needed me. It was time for me to step up.
But He said no.
Will you be bold enough to follow what I am saying rather than fulfilling others’ expectations? Don’t you see how this, too, could be an act of faith?
I’m used to fighting, to persevering longer than is humanly possible. Time and again I’ve reached the end of my strength, but then called upon God for help, and He has enabled me to push through. I am the one who goes all the way for Jesus. I never give up! That is how I glorify Him with my life!
But I’m learning that sometimes that isn’t what God is requiring of me. Sometimes He is asking me to let go. He is God, and I am not. It’s not my job to take care of everyone. My job is to obey––even when He tells me to sit this one out. It’s humbling. It’s downright painful. But it is also freeing.
I have never felt simultaneously more loved and useless in my life. God constantly encounters me with His immense love, but I am painfully aware that I have done nothing to earn it. I remain deeply confused, conflicted, and wounded inside. Yet He says it’s okay. He says He still loves me.
I’m used to defining myself by my skills, my personality, my plans, my potential, by the qualities others notice and like about me. But He says I’m defined by Him.
Slowly, day by day, He is reorienting my identity to be THIS ALONE: I am loved by Him.
Wanting to Skip Ahead
Sometimes I want to skip this season––I want to skip ahead to the point where I am more together, less confused, and less emotional. To where things are easier. I am constantly looking for ways to fast-track the process.
At times I can see the shining destination ahead of me––it looks beautiful! But between here and there is a huge chasm, a dark valley I have no idea how to navigate. And I don’t have the strength to climb down into it. I don’t have the fortitude to face it.
Yet once again, God reminds me of His offer. Won’t you let me carry you?
And suddenly an invisible tightrope appears, stretching from here to the beautiful land ahead. I would never have seen it on my own. But He is taking me across it.
Part of me knows that these moments of being on the brink of collapse and finding His arms there to catch me are precious moments I will treasure my whole life. Looking back, I’m pretty sure the pain, tears, and confusion will be eclipsed by His constant presence. My most distinct impression will be that of His strong arms lifting me, carrying me, holding me close.