Emotional Sweatpants

You know how people always ask “How are you?” and we respond, “good” or “ok”? Why do we do that? What if we aren’t ok and we really just need one person to notice or at least care enough to really care about the real answer to that question.

I am not ok. I don’t know how long I have not been ok. God is bringing me through what seems like a never-ending wilderness season. Every time I think we are getting around the corner, it just gets drier. I am raw, wounded, angry, bitter. My feelings are screaming at me and tightening the grasp on my heart. Unloved, rejected, unworthy, excluded, broken…..these are the recurring themes that trade time in my “how are you’s”. Talking to anyone leaves me feeling misunderstood and isolated. I am lost. And when you are a Christian in North America, feeling like this can be viewed as sinful, out of the ordinary and met with a silent awkwardness that can leave even the most ardent talker speechless. Then come the packaged responses.

“THAT’S NOT WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST”

Right. That makes me feel much better, thanks. It may not be who I am in Christ, but it is exactly who I feel I am here, right now at this moment, in the world.

“YOU ARE NOT OF THIS WORLD”

Yeah, but I am here now, so…….

The pretty, bowtied, pre-wrapped Christian answers don’t help. It’s the same thing as saying, “I’ll pray for you” before awkwardly walking away quickly as though you are trying not to catch someone else’s sin the way one would catch the flu.

Here’s what I know: God loves me and tells me to trust Him and I am desperately seeking God. But what do you do when you don’t trust God? Everything in my world right now hurts, He is tearing up deep, deep roots and rebuilding and it is excruciating. Everything is up for grabs in this season. How do you even trust that?

“It hurts when He is making something new in us.”

Thanks for your empathy.

Part of me regrets saying, “I surrender ALL to YOU, Lord.” Maybe I just meant a little of something I had in a closet waiting to be donated.

Here’s the thing, even though I am a mess right now – and I do mean a hoarders episode of emotional messes – I am learning that it is ok to NOT BE OK! In fact, it is so biblical that we, as the North American church, must repent of pretending that being a mess is unbiblical. The ENTIRE Bible is cover to cover people who are emotional with an emotional God working through these seasons. For a quick reference, just go to the book of Psalms and pick almost any of them.

Psalm 42:11
Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why the unease within me? Put your hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 38:6
I am bent and brought low; all day long I go about mourning.

And then Jesus even says in Matthew 26:38
Then He said to them, “My soul is consumed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.”

“GOD IS SILENT IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW”

You know, I really wish I could say that. Maybe it would make this wilderness a little more bearable if I could pretend that I am in such a dark place that even God can’t reach me, but that is untrue and irresponsible of me to represent that view. The truth is that God is actively speaking into me during this season. He has given me visions and prophecies that I am grateful for but being His selfish, hurting daughter, all I can see is that none of what He is showing me seems to have anything to do with my pain.

I keep hearing the story of right before Jesus ascends into heaven and he is with Peter – the same Peter who just days before denied he knew Jesus three times while Jesus was being mocked and accused – and he is asking Peter if he loves Jesus and, you know the story, three times he asks and Peter is like yes, Lord, I love you and Jesus says to feed his sheep and then Peter turns to look at John and says, “Lord, what about him?” And Jesus says, “what is that to you?”

This story keeps coming up and keeps coming up in my life and I find it kind of interesting, because I know that God is showing me things and sending me to take care of others, but rather than saying, “God, what about them/her/him?” I am saying, but God, what about ME? It is like going to the store with two kids and Your Father buys your sister a brand new shiny toy and you stomp your feet and throw a tantrum, “Where is mine?”

I hurt, I am wounded, I am raw, I am angry, I am bitter, I am terribly sad, I am jealous; what about me? Where is my healing? Where is my land of milk and honey? How long? How long will you have me here, Lord?? Do you hear me? Can I trust You? Does Your Word really say that Your plan for me is good and right, or does it just say You have a plan and a purpose? Are those the same thing? Will I see it this side of heaven? And so much more….. And I am not getting those answers right now, but I do know that is ok too. We see that over and over again in the Bible too. It doesn’t take the hurt away, but maybe it would hurt more if we weren’t able to see that we have a brotherhood with these emotional biblical ancestors of ours.

So let’s ask this question: Why do we dress up our feelings? We can feel crushed, not knowing how we can get out the door in the morning, but the first person who asks us, “How are you?” is met with a forced smile and a “Good! How are you?” Why do we do that? When I lead women’s Bible study, I always tell the ladies “Don’t get dressed up for me, come as you are, messy hair and sweats, this is a place to be comfortable and be yourself.” We need to learn how to be like that with our emotions too. Don’t dress it up. God can handle our feelings. He can handle when we don’t trust Him, “Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief.” He is an emotional God that made us in His image. He can carry our mess.

I am not ok. And I think that is ok. This is a space I am desperately seeking God. And maybe that’s the whole point of this wilderness season anyway.

If this is where you are in your life, I hope it helps that you are not alone. Put on your emotional sweatpants and own it. I don’t know your exact circumstances, but God only leads us out where He has made a path. It’s ok to say that you doubt that. Cry out to Him and ask Him to show Himself to you during this time, it is the biblical thing to do. My prayer is that He will show you in ways that make this season a little more bearable for you and that you will come out the other side with a tender sweetness only found after times like this.