Saturday night was the first night in two months that I didn’t cry myself to sleep, and for a moment I thought that maybe this is it. The worst is over and healing is underway. I catch moments of it as the weeks drag on, moments of clarity and hopeful tranquillity, but come Sunday the tears demolished any sense of optimism I had left. I had a post sort of prepared and it just did not feel right. It still doesn’t, but I’m going to post it anyway. Not for any type of target audience objective, or validation, but for me, a synopsis of emotional voyage if you will.
Personally, I’ve been battling with the concept of love, fear and wisdom and what they mean to me. I recently got baptised, and I wish I could say that things have been enlightening, and spiritually uplifting ever since. I’d like to say that I experienced some sort of apophony and rose to a higher level of spiritual growth and awareness, but I never. I’m none the wiser and not experiencing any kind of transcendent enlightenment. Now don’t get me wrong, I never thought the waters of baptism would magically move me and change the essence of my soul in some profound and fantastical way. I did, however, feel significant accomplishment, it did draw me closer to God in an unexplainable way, but what I’m going through at the moment is, what the amazing William. P Young calls, “the great sadness”. The older I get, the more aware I become of myself and who I am in Christ, and the more I’m becoming aware of how incredibly complex human character is. I’m beginning to realise how little we know about ourselves, and I’ve had the unfortunate pleasure of learning that it’s our pain that shapes us.
When you find yourself in a space where your walk with Jesus is growing stronger, when you know that God is getting ready to elevate you spiritually, this is when you are most vulnerable, and this is when the enemy does everything he can to derail you and boy, has he done the most with me over the past few months! It’s during this time that two things come to mind: God said, “in this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” That sentence keeps playing in my mind like a broken record, and the song Like a Bridge Over Troubled Water, man, I can’t seem to get it out of my head. I almost want to say; “God, is that You?” It must be, right? In the midst of “the great sadness” I keep seeking God and praying harder and reminding myself more and more that I need to keep pushing, and the more I keep clinging to God the more attacked I feel. Like a donkey chasing a dangling carrot. Does it stop? The chaos? Does salvation come with peace? I think it does. I think it’s the way that I’m handling my pain that is going to define my character.
Even though right now I feel like Daniel in the lion’s den, or David when he fled from Saul, even though I feel like Noah after the ark, drunk in my vineyard of pain and anguish. I think there’s something God is trying to teach me in this moment too. I just need to grab sight of it, but how? I find myself going back to the concept of love, fear and wisdom, and I think love is such a troubling thing, it scares me to the core, but it is more precious to me than anything, and there’s a part of me that’s not okay with that.
I recently read an article that spoke on the five stages of love. I know, I know, reserve your judgment. The first two stages spoke about falling in love and how connections become deeper, and the last two stages spoke about how you grow stronger together over time and heal from difficulties. You know, the really cheesy, sappy, heart eye emoji kinda love we all secretly looking for. However, the third phase spoke about becoming disillusioned, where all the confusion and uncertainty that accompanies love is the main theme. Where couples start to question whether they even made the right decisions in the previous stages of love. Where you feel like things are falling apart and everything in the relationship feels wrong. Without any specific reason, you find yourself getting angry and resentful about the smallest things.
The article goes on to say how couples rarely make it through this stage and don’t get the chance to experience the deeper love stage four and five have to offer. Major bummer, I know! However, if couples do make it through this phase their relationship grows stronger and they begin to feel more in love than ever before. Optimistic, right? I certainly thought so!
Then I decided to skim through the reader’s comments section, (warning: do not skim through the reader’s comment section) and I happened to come across a comment from a woman who has been married for over 38 years, and she laughed! She actually laughed at how the article made readers think that once a couple makes it through to stage five you get to experience the endless possibilities, excitement and passion love has to offer, live “happily ever after” so to speak.
See, one thing she said the article failed to mention is how in marriage and relationships you go through those five stages of love multiple times, and that after 38 years of marriage they still have to navigate their way through each stage from time to time. This made me realise that it’s not easy after you make it through one storm, but perhaps, just maybe, genuine love makes you stronger to withstand the next storm, and the next, and the next.
Obviously, I was gutted it’s almost like a cruel joke life plays on you, like that donkey chasing a dangling carrot again. Then she said something simple yet so profound she said, “sometimes two people have to fall apart to realise how much they need to fall back together”. We all want the happy part of love, you know, like the movie montage that plays your favourite Coldplay song while showing different snippets of how happy, untainted, and sexy your love for one another is. But as much as the good sustains us, It’s the bad that helps shape us. Love is about two imperfect people refusing to give up on each other, and as difficult as it was to read her comment, her wisdom really put so many things into perspective.
One of my favourite books in the bible is Proverbs, and one of my favourite books I’ve ever read is called The Shack, both books speak about wisdom personified as a woman calling out for us to hear her speak. This lady became my wisdom personified. So, after throwing an internal tantrum and flinging multiple metaphoric angst filled fists to the air, I realised that I’m not looking for flawless. I’m looking for someone who’s cracked pieces fit with my own. I think we all want salvation without the suffering, but even Jesus had to bare His own cross and die a painful death before resurrection. So maybe my revival is coming, but I’m beginning to realise that perhaps I need to understand the essence of suffering first.
“There was an elderly lady who lived her life in fear, she never did anything because she was too afraid of everything. One day she was talking to a friend, complaining about how fear is crippling her and taking over her life. Her friend looked at her and simply said “so why don’t you just do it afraid?”
In the book of Revelations one of the first groups of people that get thrown into the lake of fire are fearful people. Firsts in any form are of great significance in the bible. So, for them to be the first group holds a lot of implication, not murderers, or thieves, or non-believers, but rather those filled with fear. The enemy uses fear in almost every area of our lives, but one thing the bible teaches us is that bravery or courage is not the absence of fear, it’s doing the things we’re afraid of even though we feel fear. We can’t will fear away, or free ourselves from it. What we can do is push through it. When God says, “Do not be afraid for I am with you” His not saying that there is no fear. His saying that He is your courage.
So maybe that is my answer, maybe God is teaching me about love, wisdom and fear. Even though I don’t like the way I’m learning, I think that’s the point, isn’t it? I don’t think Jesus particularly liked going through everything he had to endure on the cross, but nevertheless, He did it with no hesitation. So this is me owning my pain, and saying “okay God, I hear you.” I’m going to fight the good fight. As Jim Caviezel (who plays the character of Jesus Christ in The Passion of the Christ) once said; “if you’re a Christian, you’re in for it!” and indeed, we are! So here’s to the suffering before the salvation, the uncertainty before the promise. My prayer is that each of you get to find that thing you’re looking for, that God will give you the strength to make it through each phase, each storm, each sleepless night again, and again, and again. To those who are considering throwing in the towel, as the great Dylan Thomas once said: “do not go gentle into that good night, rage, rage against the dying of the light”.