April 8, 2010

Remembering

I looked back on the journal that I have been writing in (sparsely) for the past two years. It's a part of my story, and I felt like sharing it, because it is part of the story that has been unfolding in my life.

June 19, 2009
I don't want to be a Christian anymore. I feel like life is one huge joke that ends as ridiculously as it begins. God being God seems a farce at best. If I had a way out...I think I would take it.

Disillusioned. Frustrated. Let down. Discouraged. Beat up. Weary. Sad. Angry. Unwilling. Uncertain. Unconvinced. Afraid. Bruised. Doomed to fail. Rejected. Alone. Sorrowful...This is what I live with. This is how I feel. Maybe it is who I am.

I'm so tired of this game. SO tired
. How is everyone else so capable of believing? I don't know if I will ever be convinced. I used to believe that You would be near to the wrestlers heart. Now, I just feel like You're leading me on in a game that can't be won, that will never end.

I'm done for a while.

Three days later, another entry:

I don't hate God. I don't resent Him (completely) and I don't want Him to leave me alone. At least not all the way.

I think there's something wrong with me- physically wrong. There has got to be a reason why I feel so detached, so frustrated, so quickly discouraged, and why I fall into so many pits so easily. There has to be more of an explanation than simple lack of faith or not believing enough truth.

Jesus, please help us figure this out. Keep me safe. Keep me close to your heart. I'm so confused and feel so out of control sometimes. I get so weird inside, that I can't think rationally enough to connect my emotions to stability. I don't know what is wrong. Please help us figure out what's wrong.

This must have been the point when we started investigating a different diagnosis. I knew deep down that there was something wrong, something not connecting quite right. It has been an interesting process since that point.

It's so hard to process the affect that emotional and physical depression has on people's lives. But I also can't believe how eventually, even when it feels like a long time, God does respond, and in His faithfulness (though sometimes hard to feel) He has not left us alone.

"I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. "The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD."

[lamentations 3:19-26]

April 6, 2010

to live before Him...

I have been pondering for the past two weeks what it means to have a mature love for God. Disappointment with God has really challenged my understanding of what it means to walk by faith. I have encountered a new respect, a new love, for the person of Jesus Christ, and for the God who has orchestrated this entire beautiful story of redemption.

For almost two years, I have been battling an uncomfortable disappointment with the Lord. I have been numb, silenced, discouraged, and disheartened. Often, I have been extremely hopeless.

For years I tried to know God, tried to love Him, tried to serve Him.

For years I struggled with depression that I thought was my "fault". Worse, I thought it was the result of a spiritual deficiency. No matter what I tried or how hard I tried it, I couldn't figure out a way to pray myself into happiness, or "joy" as the Christians call it.

I struggled through listening to many people who tried to explain to me that in the Christian walk, life isn't always happy. In fact, God doesn't expect us to be happy, he just expects us to be joyful.

For years, I have struggled with this concept. For years I held bitterness toward people who tried to explain away my depression as a lack of joy, who tried to convince me that it was indeed within my grasp, if only I could figure out a way to resolve to be joyful in the midst of unhappiness.

For years, I reached for the Lord and ached for His presence in the deep parts of my heart. I poured over the word, drenched my heart and soul in his words to us, prayed my heart out. I dreamed of the Lord, I thought of Him when I woke up, I thought of him when I fell asleep. The problem was, my thoughts were not "happy, holy" thoughts. I struggled, intensely, with a God who orchestrates so much pain in the world. I struggled with a God who would create me to experience such internal sorrow. I struggled against a God who was silent, a God who hid himself when I needed him the most, a God who seemed to not care that people were accusing me of not being spiritual enough...He knew better, but He still didn't answer, and He didn't heal me.

For years, I stood in church services, completely numb, singing words I didn't feel. Out of obedience I would stand before the Lord. In obedience, I would kneel my heart before Him. I don't think people who have never experienced this will ever truly be able to know how it feels, but I feel compelled to still try to express it, because it has been so real to me.

For years I struggled with the goodness of God. After struggling and struggling without end, I finally chose to believe by faith that God is indeed good. And for two years, I have held onto that belief, though so much seemed to point against it.

When I was diagnosed as being Bipolar, things got better and worse at the same time. Part of me was so extremely relieved, so thankful that there was a medical diagnosis. That feeling of relief has grown even stronger as we have found a medicine that addresses the chemical imbalance, and I am able to actually feel normal and stable. I have been "myself" for almost 6 whole months now. I have existed and lived for 6 months without irrational crying, without suicidal thoughts, without hopelessness toward the future. This is truly a miracle to me, and I believe that this is a form of God's healing in my life.

When I was diagnosed, however, things also took a turn for the worse. Although we were able to figure out things physically, I shut down spiritually when I discovered that this was how God made me. I didn't know how to process relating to a God who had made me with the disposition of being clinically, chronically sad. I felt so betrayed, so hurt, so completely vulnerable. So for six months now (but actually for almost two years) I have been sitting still, holding myself tight, waiting for something to happen to help me pick myself up spiritually and keep moving toward the Lord.

I wasn't running from Him; I knew He was the holder of hope, of all the answers, the Author of my faith, the bringer of redemption...no, I didn't run away from Him. But I didn't know how to walk toward Him anymore, so I just crumpled to a heap, numb and cold, and stayed there quietly for two years.

These past two weeks have been the first two weeks in nearly two years where I have truly been able to look at the Lord, truly look into His eyes, and choose to think and process and move toward Him.

God in His goodness chose to put this book in my hands, and He chose to speak to me clearly through the words written by Philip Yancey. I have a new, deep, beautiful respect for Jesus now. I feel hope in knowing Him, and feel like there might be a way to pick up this relationship that has been in shambles for years and continue to move forward.

As Hosea so beautifully wrote, "He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him. "

For the first time in years, I feel like I am ready to once again live before the Lord.

I will betroth you to Me forever...

"...yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion. And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the LORD. It will come about in that day that I will respond," declares the LORD. I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth, And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil, And they will respond to Jezreel. I will sow her for Myself in the land; I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they will say, 'You are my God!'"

[Hosea 2: 19-23]

"Come, let us return to the LORD, For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth."

[Hosea 6:1-3]

a mature love

"...think back to the images from the Prophets: God as Parent and as Lover. Both those human relationships contain an element of what God has always been seeking from human beings...the difference between those two relationships shows, I believe, what God has been seeking in his long history with the human race. He desires not the clinging, helpless love of a child who has no choice, but the mature, freely given love of a lover. He has been "romancing" us all along.

A lover possesses complete freedom, yet chooses to give it away and become dependent....God never got such mature love from the nation of Israel. The record shows God nudging the young nation toward maturity: on the day Israel advanced into the Promised Land, the manna ceased. God had provided a new land; now it was up to the Israelites to grow their own food. In a typically childish response, Israel promptly started worshiping fertility gods.

God wanted a lover; he got a permanently student child."

[Disappointment with God, pg.163]