I know, I know, you’re never supposed to ask God for humility. He might chop off your leg or cause you to lose your job and have to work at McDonalds or make your little sister your boss. Humility and patience. Those are the two things you’re never supposed to ask God for. ”He might actually give them to you.”
Even knowing this full well, I would go out into the street wearing nothing but a big black trash bag and lay down and yell, “HUMBLE ME!” if I thought it would work. I am terribly, atrociously, and irrevocably conceited. I have built walls in my mind a million miles high that are stamped with the words, “Megan is the ultimate authority.” The messengers that carry the truth- the news flash from the outside world that I am not that special- never make it past the walls because I, the ultimate authority, refuse to let them in. Oh, what tangled webs we weave.
Inside these cement walls, I feel terribly lonely. I’ve built them higher and higher for years and years, but what was meant to be protection has become a prison. I long to lay down my defenses and join humanity, to let myself feel loved as an equal, as a sinner.
There are many verses that promise that God will exalt the lowly and humble the proud. As one who is prideful, I read that and feel great hope, not fear. I am proud, but I long to be humbled. It is a promise to me, that God will show me how big He is, so that I can trust in Him and not in myself.
Humble me, King Jesus. Humble me.
My memory is faulty and inconsistent. It’s a file drawer whose drawers get stuck more often than not; it’s a library whose keepers never learned the Dewey Decimal system. My past seems splintered into a million segments, each memory surfacing unbidden and disappearing quietly and softly into the depths of my mind once more.
I write, tonight, to not forget. I write because I can feel the emotions of the past week already fading into forgetfulness- I lift my eyes to watch they turn and walk away, and I feel no sense of loss, no desire to raise my voice in protest. I will turn away just as quickly; even now I feel the sunshine calling. But before I go, I will write. I write, tonight, to not forget.
My body is a shell. It houses me; it transports me. It provides the only conduit through which I am able interact with the world. When I walk down a dark street alone, I keep my keys in my hand, wary for its safety. I protect my body. But this week, my shelter, my body, became an enemy.
As the car warmed up, I sat with my head against the steering wheel, trying to catch my breath, trying to dislodge the weight that had settled on my chest and refused to shift, even for a moment. If emotions could be weighed, I believe we would find fear to be quite heavy- heavy enough to make it hard to lift a body out of bed, heavy enough to keep lungs from filling. Fingers shook as they tried to fit the keys in the ignition- fingers and shoulders and mind, all trembling under the staggering weight of fear.
What is there to be afraid of? You ask. What is there to be afraid of? I asked myself, as the windows defrosted and my breath came out in gasps, casting ghosts into the frigid air. A routine meeting a work- something I was proficient at, something I had done a million times. And yet, the thought of this simple meeting was received by my body as an indicator that there was serious danger. I’m flooded with adrenaline and cortisol. The sun is just rising, and my body is ready to fight to the death.
On the road. Car is warming. The wheel is making noises again- didn’t the mechanics fix everything? What if they didn’t? I can’t afford to take it back in. Oh God, help me not to worry. My throat feels tight. I turn on the radio. The song makes me feel anxious. I switch the station. Switch. Switch. Switch. I turn off the radio. I’m seeing Greg tonight. I don’t want him to see me like this. I don’t want him to think I’m crazy. I am crazy. I’m losing my mind. Oh God, please don’t let me be losing my mind. I check my phone. I dial my mom’s number, then hit end. I dial it again, hit end again. What is wrong with me? I’ve never felt this way before. What if it doesn’t go away? What if this is forever? Oh God, help me, I can’t live like this.
I am a lion pacing the edges of the cages, restlessly looking for an exit. I am beaten down by anxiety, I sink under its swells. In the precious moments where my head is above water, I write reminders to myself. I scribble, “we are not ignorant of his schemes” across the bottom of my notepad. I throw myself a rope for when the next wave comes. But I’m not a trooper; I’m trapped. I would do almost anything for a few minutes relief. I would do almost anything for a few deep breaths. I endure, but only because I am trapped in my body, in my shell, in my anxiety.
There is a God who is above all things. The innermost parts of me cannot be convinced otherwise. The bible tells me that this God lives in a place of unimaginable splendor and beauty- a place where there is no crying, or tears, a place where everything is right and true and brave. This God has a son, the delight of His life, who was willing to leave perfection to enter a body like mine. This son was no stranger to agony. The night before He died, his sweat turned red with his blood. Oh God, take this cup away, he pleaded.
But not my will, but Yours be done.
I would have chosen differently. I would have walked away. In my selfishness, when confronted with a mere weeks worth of anxiety, I was done. I stayed because I had no choice. He had a choice, and yet he stayed. How can my mind comprehend a love like this? How can I understand a person who wouldn’t seek first his own survival? Even in my faith, I cling to him on the basis of survival. He is my only hope- he who gave away his hope for me.
I write, tonight, to not forget. I will not forget how weak I am. I will not forget how easily I am overcome, how easily I succumb, how easily I surrender. I will not forget that, in my agony, I chose me, and that, in His agony, he chose me.
We sit, knee to knee, in the room full of worshipers. Heartfelt prayers and ardent adoration swirls upwards around us to the foot of the Throne, as our gracious King bends down to listen. I feel your fingers in between mine, and I shake my head in amazement at the way He loves me.
This post will have no point. This post is me needing to write a letter, to get all my thoughts out on paper so that I can look them over and analyze them and take a hold of them and run my fingers over them until I decide whether they need to be thrown out. This isn’t a task I can do alone. I’ve long ago learned that my judgment is not valid. But the One whose judgment alone constitutes truth is with me- living within me and next to me as I type out these words alone in my bedroom. To Him I beg, echoing King David- Search me, O God, and know my heart… try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wickedness in me, and lead me in the Way everlasting.
Scripture says that “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”. I used to think that this meant that friends and lovers were able to deliberately build one another up- to point out flaws and errors in thinking and doing, and so to help the other be more than they were before. Now I see the error in my thinking- in that iron does not move on its own. It does not sharpen unless Someone causes it to sharpen. Iron is an inanimate object, and only by the will of One greater does it serve any purpose at all, in sharpening or in usage. If the Master of the Tools chooses to bring iron next to iron, they will be sharpened if He chooses, and not by their choice.
Likewise, I find myself in a relationship that is inadvertently reflecting a very bright light into the corners of my heart, and frankly, I don’t like what the Light is showing. I was once a child of the dominion of darkness, and though the very great price was paid to have my citizenship changed, I often find myself drawn to the anonymity that darkness provides. I’m satisfied to call myself a sinner without having the Savior call out my sin by name. I’m satisfied to tell myself that the work of Christ was enough for my salvation without believing that it was enough for my sanctification. I’m satisfied living in comfort, wondering if there’s more, rather than asking to be put through the fire to find out for sure. I beg of you, Lord, put me through the fire. Call out my sin by name. Sanctify me so that my brokenness and lack will show your sufficiency and your fullness.
1 John gives me a promise- that the God I serve is faithful and just; that if I confess my sins He will not only forgive me, but also cleanse me from all unrighteousness. Lord, I need forgiving, and the bright light has made it clear that I need cleansing. There is nothing in my heart that is not completely known by You, and yet you call me to confess my need. I will lay these things before you now, fully aware that if You don’t move, I won’t change. If You don’t move, I will forever be broken and lifeless.
Fear. I’m afraid. I want to protect myself. I want to be given a guarantee that everything will work out. Fight-or-flight… I find myself demanding that God give me a sign so that I can be sure that this will work out, or that He tell me right now so I can run far away. Of course, I offer God more justification, as if we’re bartering. I make it seem holy so that He will give me the acceptance I’ve already freely been given. “Show me if Greg is the one, Jesus,” I pray, “so that we can be sure of your will and know that our relationship is in obedience to You.” Or, “Tell me now if Greg isn’t the one for me, Lord, so that I can get back to being a single woman who is ‘only anxious about the things of the Lord.’” In reality, I just want to strong-arm God. I want a promise I can throw in His face when He’s not living up to my expectations… “But GOD, you said!” I want something small and secure that I can hold to my chest, because the Lord of Heaven and Earth is a wild, fiery tempest, not something to be bargained or trifled with, dangerous beyond all of my human understanding. For our God is a consuming fire. I’m afraid for myself, for my heart that knows heartbreak only too well, for my hopes that have been dashed a few too many times. I devalue the most valuable thing that ever existed because, in my heart, I don’t believe that He cares about me- even when He sent His very Son to die for me. In my heart, I don’t believe that my heart is of concern to Him- even when he pursue it recklessly and at ultimate cost to Himself. In my heart, I don’t believe that the greatest hope I have is actually found in Him- even though He promises that hope will not put me to shame.
But I do have hope, even as my emotions and insecurities are screaming in my ears and as my fear is tempting my feet to run. I have hope in the fact that I have already gained everything in Christ- and that this is something I cannot lose. I have hope because of this, because it means that I am free to take risks. Free to fail. Free to be seen as “not enough”, because the same Voice that commanded the universe to be also states that God finds me righteous and worthy in His Son. I have hope that as I see and show clearly all of my weaknesses and failures, that Jesus is able to shine all the brighter.
So Lord, even though I don’t have a promise from you in this matter, I will hold to You as my promise. You are all the security I’ll ever need. You took the greatest of all risks so that I can be fearless in loving and living and losing.
I love having deep conversations with people- talking about Jesus and the gospel and God and beauty and love and truth. But, most of the time, when I’m having these conversations, there’s a part of my mind that says, “Megan, you’re being naive. This conversation, while fun, is not reality. It’s just a fantasy, and once the conversation is over, and you’re done with this silliness, you’ll re-enter the real world of spilled coffee and disappointment.”
Colossians says that God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness to the Kingdom of His son. That we’re a new creation in Christ. That the things of this world are only a shadow of the substance- and that substance is Christ. This gives me so much hope because it means that the things that set my heart ablaze are not just figments of my imagination- they are actually more true than the rain and the mismatched socks and the fear over my future.
Courage and peace and beauty and sacrifice and love make me feel alive because they originate from the kingdom of King Jesus. And God has paid the highest of all prices to transfer my citizenship from the land of shadows to the “kingdom of his beloved son, in whom we have redemption.”
I was listening to the song, “Where I Belong” in the car a few minutes ago.
It got to the chorus-
“Until I die I’ll sing these songs, on the shores of Babylon- I’m still looking for a home in a world where I belong. Where the weak are finally strong, where the righteous right the wrongs…”
& all of a sudden I was PIERCINGLY aware of the fact that, if the righteous were to right the wrongs in this world, it would not go well for me. I may be the weak needing to be made strong, but I am not the righteous- I am the wrong needing to be made right.