If you saw my Instagram/Facebook post where I announced my first article on this blog, you saw that I revealed quite a few vulnerabilities. I shared that I have never felt good enough to write, and as a result really struggled to launch this blog, feeling that there were already too many. I struggled with finding something (or rather believing) I had something unique to offer, and believing that I had the talent to do it. Shoot, I have STRU-GGLE-D to write this. And that’s because this post, like most that will grace these pages, are personal and very,very real.
I felt, and still feel at times if I was honest, completely inept to do the tasks I feel called to do. I mean, I could list my weaknesses…
Even SpongeBob didn’t have enough paper.
…and I’m quite sure I could find many who would verify just how imperfect I am. I mean, there are plenty of parts in my story that would have some of y’all looking at me like…
…but for real though…
In reality, my biggest insecurities come from the deepest parts of my relationship with Christ. The question is, in the face of uncertainty, do I trust Him to be exactly who He claims to be in the pages of scripture? Shoot, do I even trust Him to do for me what I envy in the lives of others? I might be getting too real here…but am I alone?
Because truth be told, I have in many ways felt abandoned by God. Brace yourself:
I have been abused, cheated, and lied on. I’ve lost more friends and relationships than I can count – a great deal as a result of my own internal damages and insecurities (serious shout out to those of you who still talk to me…at all), but several that I never saw coming. Yet, here I stand on what should be the precipice of new hope, but instead I feel sick, grave bound and very, very…broken. I’m hurting and hiding it well (well, on most days), but still hearing the still small voice, and feeling the tug of God asking me to step out of a place that I feel like I’ve just learned to survive in.
Brokenness is real, and that hurt is often what leaves us feeling insecure. I struggle with feeling like a good wife, mother, and friend because I’ve failed at it all before – horribly – or I’ve seen someone fail and I’m afraid I’ll be just like them. This type of insecurity is a demon that is no respecter of persons. It comes for all of us, and though few are able to withstand it without crippling effects, I know there are many of you out there just like me – struggling to reconcile where you are with what you feel called to be or do. I found myself caught in an ugly cycle of insecurity and comparison. I reconciled that God must have given opportunity, influence, and audience to others because they are just better off than I am. While I could never convince myself He loved them more, I do often feel like, maybe, just maybe he liked them better.
This is the sickness and ultimately the grave I’ve found myself in. Some of it still lingers like a spot in my vision, while in others it completely blinds me. Your broken place may look different than mine. How you ended up here, or the pain you find yourself in may be altogether different. But there is a question that we must all face when we reach this broken place – How do we engage the God of our pain? And when we do, how do we begin to navigate the tension between pushing out and pursuing our God-given dreams and goals and experiencing the reality of our brokenness?
For me, I found some insight and comfort in John chapter 11. Each of the members of this small family can tell us something different about handling pain and moving forward.
First, let’s agree that this family had every excuse to feel abandoned.
Lazarus was not just a random person begging for Christ’s attention. Jesus was, in every way, a very close friend of the family. We often look at the message they sent as a marker of their close relationship. Verse 3 does tell us that Jesus loved Lazarus. But, consider this – Mary and Martha knew exactly how to get word to Jesus. They weren’t randomly checking town to town trying to catch up with him. They fully expected their message to arrive in time for Jesus to respond to their plea. In biblical times, where messages were carried on foot and often took days, they had to have known His exact whereabouts to have that much confidence in it reaching Him in time. Maps actually tell us he was about 25 miles away from their home. Mary and Martha were devastated at Christ’s late arrival because they knew not just that He could heal him, but that He had time to intervene and heal him. So, if they were devastated by the Savior’s lack of a response, then could you envision how Lazarus might have felt as he lay in bed sick, and most likely, in great pain? I can imagine it. I’ve felt a pain so deep that I wondered how a loving savior could look away. He probably felt exactly how I have. “Lord, you have done it for so many others. Why do you continue to overlook me?”
Yet, we see three different responses.
Martha ran to Jesus when he arrived.
Does anyone else find it strange that Martha gets a bad rap? In every book and Bible study I’ve ever done on the sisters, Martha is described as one having a character to be avoided, while Mary should be celebrated. But hold on a second…
Who do we find running to meet the Master? Martha. Who now waits behind? Mary. OH HOW THE TABLES HAVE TURNED!
Martha didn’t just run to Jesus either with accusations, she told Him that she believed that He still could do something, even if it wasn’t until the final resurrection. The fact that she even mentions that there will be another resurrection denotes just how closely she has listened to and understood His teachings. Let me emphasize the understood portion here since the disciples show us, on plenty of occasions, just how many times what He taught flew right over their heads.
My point is, from her we can pick up a vital tip to surviving when all hope seems to be lost.
Don’t just run to Jesus. Acknowledge your pain, but profess and remind yourself who He really is.
Martha proclaimed this – “If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Martha may have doubted His presence, but she never doubted His power.
In the midst of our pain, we need to remind ourselves of who He is – His unchanging character. Address the hurt, don’t hide it. She was blunt and honest that she believed Jesus should have been present, but she never took her eyes of what He still could do. Believe in the power of the undone. No matter the time that has passed between your dream or your pain and now, believe that He is not yet finished. He is the author and the finisher. (Heb 12:2) He is the Alpha and the Omega. (Rev 1:8) He that has begun a good work in us will complete it! That is just who He is…we just need to give it time.
What are some practical ways we can remind ourselves of who He is?
- Create notecards or posters of scriptures that tell the truth about God and His love for you. My favorite way to do this is to get a dry erase marker and write on my mirror, or grab white paper and write the scriptures and put them someplace I’ll see every day. This helps me to stay anchored to THE truth when life is pretty convincing of the opposite.
- Listen to music about His love. I’ve developed a playlist that you get access to when you join our community. It’s my private list of personal worship songs that have gotten me through some of my toughest moments. Playing this, even just in the background, keeps me focused and helps me to keep going.
What are some other things that keep you focused and pressing forward? Drop more ideas in the comments below!
This is part one of a two-part series. Stay tuned for the next installment where we discuss the viewpoints of both Mary & Lazarus.