Melancholy Spiritual Ramblings With Few Answers But a Hopeful Analogy
I’ve been having a kind of stressful year. Well, the last two years have been stressful, I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I love owning my house and being on my own and learning about responsibility and all that fun stuff… but ever since I lost my steady office job 2 years ago, I’ve been having a hard time both getting to a stable place financially (which causes a lot of stress when you’re suddenly paying bills and house repairs that you never had to worry about before) and finding confidence in my “work” part of my life.
Through various stresses and situations, I have been struggling with feeling inadequate. It’s hard not to compare myself to people who seem to have their life more together than me, or who have more ambitious goals, or who seem to have fewer struggles with the things that are really hard for me.
Add to that… I’ve been going through a spiritual dry spell for about 4 years, and while I’ve had good moments and am hopefully on the upswing, not connecting with God like I want to has made the whole “life thing” a little bit harder. I keep thinking to myself “if I could just spend more time with God, if I could read my Bible more faithfully, if I could relearn to connect with God in song, then a whole lot of these problems would be easier”. And yet I still haven’t gotten back into consistency with most of those things.
I was sharing some of my inner struggles and worries with some Christians earlier this year, and someone asked me what my biggest fears were. My two-fold answer is the same deep-rooted worry that’s been in the depths of my heart as long as I can remember: 1) I’m afraid that who I am now won’t ever change… 2) I’m afraid that I won’t find my purpose in life.
I have confidence in who God is and in His power; I have confidence that He can. I tend to doubt that He will.
I don’t have answers to all this. I have Scriptures to cling to, but I haven’t quite knocked out that niggling, mental commentary that says I am somehow holding God up by my lack of initiative, knowledge, and ability to grow.
You know, sometimes I get jealous of people who have all of the flashy, “draw-attention-to-themselves” talents that some Christians have. But deep down, what I really want is to have a heart like Jesus’. I don’t need attention or awards or accolades. I just want to know that I am moldable, that I am a (wo)man after God’s own heart, that my simple pursuit of Him will bring Him joy and can be used to lift up those around me. I get discouraged when I feel like even that’s not happening, like all the compassion and kindness I wish to live out is somehow less than it should be or selfishly motivated. And feeling like even the simplest of things I try to do is wrong can get discouraging.
But maybe the desire to desire God is enough for today? Here is the chorus of Nichole Nordeman’s song “Your Heart” that she wrote from the perspective of King David:
At the end of the day I wanna hear people say
My heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart
When the world looks at me, let them agree
That my heart looks like Your heart, my heart looks like Your heart
Maybe having a long cry over wanting to be more like Jesus is already on the way to having a heart like His. Maybe God is pleased with the way I want to pursue Him, even if I don’t always succeed. Maybe the first step of being like humble, being like Jesus, is by saying that I know I’m not there, but being willing to be willing to be so. It’s not even about trying hard enough, because we can always try harder. It’s about caring about trying. Even that simple desire towards desire, when that’s all I can muster up in a day, that’s enough for Jesus to be pleased with me. Our works mean nothing; God looks at and knows our hearts, and as someone who is covered in the righteousness of Christ because of what HE has done, God loves what He sees when He sees me.
You know what else I thought about the other day? God knows the end of my story. He knows my story arc. He sees every episode of my life, and He knows where all my points of growth are. I had this revelation that, if my life is a TV show that God created… I need to remember that He is NOT impatiently watching each episode in order to get to the ending. God isn’t saying “ugh, I have to get through all of these boring seasons of Bethany being stupid before she is finally who I want her to be”.
God does not look at my life like that. He LOVES watching each episode, because He likes spending time with me! He finds me adorable; he laughs when I’m being goofy and wants to give me a hug when I’m going through a tough time. He relishes the moments that I’m learning, and he sees where all of the story is going even when I’m stuck in the center of the drama. But He DOESN’T make the story just to get to a perfect end goal. He makes the story because He loves the process, and He wants to walk with me through the process. I’m one of His favorite characters.
I don’t know why that analogy hit me so hard, but realizing that God is not just sitting around and waiting for me to get better, knowing that He is walking with me despite all the mistakes and all of the drama and loving every moment because He loves His creation… that somehow really connects with me and give me a new perspective. And yet He loves me so much more than any TV show character, because our lives are real. Thank you, God, for creating my story and finding me adorable.