Life has a way of happening.
We think we have it all figured out. That we are ready to be the expert. And then we find ourselves in over our head . . . again.
I’ve had this blog for six months now, including a two-month break for the summer. I started it before I was ready, well, because I was never going to be ready and I just couldn’t wait anymore. (You can read my first post here: Hope for the Tangled Soul.)
The posts I wrote were in-the-moment transformation for me. I wrote healing words to my own broken places and I cried through most of them. It was a gut-wrenching experience in all the right ways.
Getting ready to enter this new season of blogging, I had this crazy notion that I was at last all set and ready to go. That I’d finally gotten myself together and I’d be able to write on this blog called A Life at Rest with my life actually at rest, not as someone daily aspiring to this reality. I’d be the person who had overcome her mental and emotional struggles and could now tell you all how to do it in three easy steps.
Only, I can’t tell you how to do it in three easy steps.
I’m a mess.
This week, I fell into the same holes I’ve always fallen into.
It’s so disheartening to feel like you have come so far, only to realize that your dysfunction is still right on the other side of the door. What if I actually struggle with these things for the rest of my life? What if I’m never completely free of the temptation to slip back? What if I’m just going in circles? This is not as linear as I would have hoped.
The big question is:
How do you even move forward if your journey is nonlinear?
I don’t know a lot. I don’t have all the answers. But after this week, I am coming back to one thing I do know:
Forward = Moving Towards God
I have it in my head that somehow “moving forward” means getting it all together and then keeping it all together. But I don’t think that is actually true.
It doesn’t matter what tangled mess you are in right now. It doesn’t matter if you have screwed everything up and feel completely unworthy of any more chances. Move toward Jesus. That is Forward from wherever you are.
I know, when I am in a good place, it feels like I will never fall for those lies ever again . . . and then I do.
But that’s not even the part I’m talking about today. Let’s just assume we have fallen in a hole again. By hole, I just mean the sin that seems to trip you up every time. The lie you always seem to believe. (We all have different ones.) But let’s put aside the details of our actual issues for a moment.
After witnessing my own digression this week and my despairing reaction to it, I had a thought that brought me some hope and clarity.
From every single hole, no matter which one you are in, the direction of progress is always towards God.
Moving towards God when I feel like a failure is so often the very last thing I want to do. I’d much rather punish myself in a corner with self-loathing. I want to worry about my problems, and think about my problems, but coming to the Lord and praying honestly about my problems often feels completely inappropriate. As if I have no right to even think about approaching God in the sorry state I’ve allowed myself to get into.
But Jesus said this:
“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they might have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd.”John 10:9-11
There are two different agendas at work in your life.
Our enemy is out to steal, kill, and destroy us. It is his absolute goal to keep us from turning to God when we are in desperate need of help.
Jesus is our good Shepherd. His plan for our lives is not to pivot back and forth between “acceptable behavior”, failure, and self-loathing. That’s not a life at all. Much less abundant.
Maybe you feel like Too Much. Like your issues are too complicated. Or that your secrets are too horrific. Yeah. Me too.
But you are not too much for God. He made you. With your personality. With your gifts and with your weaknesses. You are not too much for Him.
There are parts of myself that I don’t even know how to begin to think about fixing, but walking by faith means trusting that my Creator does. I can, once again, offer the messiest parts of my soul to my Good Shepherd, daring to glance up and see that His steadfast love is still steadfast, even when I feel I least deserve it.
I don’t know if anybody relates to this. I think maybe one of the lies we hear is that we are the only one who has such a hard time. That everybody else seems to be able to pull it together. But if you know what I’m talking about, please know that you are not alone. Just because you struggle doesn’t mean you aren’t making progress. Don’t let the enemy steal any more from you. He is a liar.
Forward = Moving Towards God
Take a deep breath and Move Forward.