So today I’m trying to spend downtime. While I’m sitting in front of the TV, it isn’t on. I’m in two different Bible study groups (well 3 really) and I’m using the time to prepare for the next week. But I’m also trying to rest well.
Monday I got the ok from cardiology to attempt another steroid injection in my knee. (In case you’re new, the last time I did that, I ended up in the ER with SVT…basically a heart rate upwards of 185…which is not preferable). I’ve been struggling the last few weeks with this darn knee that no longer functions properly, and being as my baby nurse grew up and I have to do all my own stunts again at work (supervisory role complete…shoot), I decided to make an intelligent decision with the heart doctor but that if he said yes I was calling from the parking garage. He said yes and I made that call from my car. They got me in yesterday. So all that to say, the steroids that have ventured out into my body are saying clean your house! Do all the things! (They talk with exclamation points because steroids make me do that). But the heart rate tracker on my watch tells me I should not do all the things and slow my roll until we get past these 24-48 hrs where things tend to get “fun”. So far the max is 140 but the average is 115 so that’s not terrible but less than desirable.
The two books we are studying have oddly similar themes: Remember God by Annie F. Downs (which I might be reading for the 5th time but who is counting?) and It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst. It’s been a season, a year plus some, where these books speak loudly to my battle weary soul.
Last week, I was privileged to be able to share my story with my people. Do you see how the narrative just changed? I dreaded it for the better part of two weeks. I eluded to my struggle with the story here on this blog. I argued with God over the story. I fought the story He wanted to tell. I even rehearsed it a little once I gave into that as the story I was telling. But you know what, none of the flowery rehearsed words came out. The story came out. I had other things to say but I didn’t say them. As I was driving over, I prayed for God to tell the story He wanted to tell and I think He did. And in the aftermath, I feel freed by telling that story. I feel healed a bit from telling that story. Sure the wounds are still there. The hurts of disappointment in what I thought my life was going to look like still bleed on the floor from time to time. But I’ve put my cards on the table now. I’m not hiding behind any mask of perfection, at least not with my people. It was good. It was cathartic. It was soul repairing. And I feel like I’m ready to move on from it now, still in the middle but with my precious people cheering me on to make it to the other side.
God’s not picking on me. Could He fix my life? Could He fix my struggles? Sure. But what would I gain from that? What would He gain from that. Learning to trust and walk with the God who sees me, who wants to sit with me in the hurt instead of quickly whisk it away. I like quick fixes. I don’t like pain. But pain let’s you know there’s a problem. Pain let’s you know you’re alive. As long as there’s pain there’s still hope. And sometimes you have to sit in that pain for a while to actually get through it. And there’s no way through it except through it. No timelines. No agendas. Just sit and breathe and wait and learn. To sit in the middle between the past and the future. To learn in the present what God has for you. To sit with Him in the middle. To pause. To rest. To will your heart not to race when it so very much wants to.
To admit that you’re disappointed but to not live in that disappointment. That’s the hard one for me. To admit that sometimes in the quiet of my house, I miss what could have been. Oh sure I like the order and lack of chaos a lot at times. I like that when I clean things they stay clean and there’s no sticky handprints, but in the same breath I hate that there’s no sticky handprints. I miss those tiny feet that I thought would be here by now, running around bringing chaos and joy. I miss them, even if they were never here. Sometimes I cry tears of what could have been because the disappointment is deep. (I mean right now I could use a Kleenex just from admitting that). But what does God have for me instead? That’s what I’m leaning into, or trying to. What are His plans?
I told my precious friend today, “Releasing outcomes to Him is new for me, but I’m doing my best.” Releasing the need for plans and backup plans and contingency plans for when the backup plans fail, that’s what God is convicting me of. That I don’t need to waste time in all of that; it does nothing to affect outcome and only sends me down the what if path. Instead I need to tread on the Even If path. Even if I never have children of my own, even if the bottom falls out of a situation, even if I end up in the ER yet again (hopefully not). Even if….there’s still God. There’s still His plan for my journey and releasing that is freeing…but oh so scary for this warrior, perfectionist heart. But I am working on it. Day by day, inch my inch, one foot in front of the other until we get out of this middle space.
I’ve discovered in the middle that one way to make it through is to admit I’m stuck in the middle, to admit my disappointments, to call out my failings, to ask for help. Oh goodness that’s hard for me. To admit that sometimes someone else’s blessings still deeply hurt my heart and yet being happy for them in the same breath that’s hurt for me. And that it’s ok to admit that, because as I’m loving them well (hopefully) through their blessing despite my hurt, so they are loving me well through my hurt despite their blessings. And that’s community. That’s having people. That’s living life well.
In a podcast (LTN:the enneacast #16), I heard today “It’s a gift to allow other people to serve you.” What a perspective shift! I’m not inconveniencing people who love me when I ask for help. I’m not asking them for anything they don’t want to freely give. In fact I’m denying them of the opportunity and the blessing to serve me if I don’t ask for help. I’ve been convicted of this too lately. I get literally offended when people don’t need my help, like they are rejecting me personally. Yet, I do that to other people all the time! My people are pointing this out to me regularly, and while sometimes I’m like shoot, why did you have to notice I’m also like thank you for loving me well to point that out to me. To keep chasing me when I struggle and run. To help me fight my personality and habits.
And that’s the journey. To walk together closely with people who love you well despite yourself and because of yourself. To admit your failures so that they can hold you up. To give them the freedom to call you out. Y’all I know that’s hard. I HATE being called out, but y’all I need it so much. I need to lay down my pride and my fake perfection and say, ya…you’re right. I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t have it together.
Close your eyes and breathe. You’re brave and beautiful and handpicked. A decorated soldier in this horrible battle with a glorious ending.
Oh, my longsuffering friend, hang on. Keep walking your tightrope, and I’ll keep walking mine. Keep looking for His presence in your process, and I will too. Together we will make it all the way across. And if you make it through your longsuffering journey before I do, come cheer me on. Today, I’m still a girl in the middle. But I’m a girl who is one step farther than ever before, on my way to a really good promise.
–Lysa Terkeurst, It’s Not Supposed to be this Way pg 104.