Daring to Think You Might Be Okay


I got a little irritated with God a few days ago. Not the first time, mind you. We have this cool-enough relationship where I am like a kite…bobbing around, way up there in the sky, surrendering to the whim of every breeze and care of life that blows my way; while He is below, patiently holding on to my kite string. Never taking His eye off of me; no matter how far away from Him I go.

It can get a little crazy up there, in this place I do life…sometimes I get a little sick to my stomach from giving in to every high and low the air current brings; my feelings as temperamental as sudden changes of weather. And sometimes I get frustrated; my kite string wrapped tightly around something I so desperately want resolved. I can’t get unstuck and free; too tangled up in another one of life’s worries.

I’m so glad He never lets go.

I know He won’t, you know. Well, in my head, at least. Lots of theology classes…Scriptures memorized…Bible reading…Sunday school when I was a kid…they’ve all told me that He will never let go of that kite string; no matter how hard the winds blow.

But, oh, my heart… Sometimes my heart just hurts too much and feels empty and alone, and I wonder if He’s not there anymore; especially when I’m being whipped around by another storm. And I’m looking for Him. And waiting for Him. And trying my hardest to hear what He is saying to me…

It’s at those times, that I question myself most: Have I created this storm? Did I do something wrong? Something to deserve this? Am I not seeking truth enough? Change enough? Honest introspection enough?

I am high up in the sky, being battered by the fiercest winds, and I look to God for answers… show me the truth that will set me free. Show me truth that will give me peace.

Like the other day. When I asked Him these very questions – and then waited for Him to show me what was wrong with me (like I often do), what I did to cause the storm, what I could do to alleviate it. I wanted, so much, to hear what God had to say to me so I could fix it. And I waited…and waited…and waited…and waited…

Nothing.

And so I asked Him again, please, show me what I’m doing wrong, God. I can’t hear you way up here. It’s cold. And lonely. Are you there?

And I waited…and waited…and waited…and waited…

Nothing.

This went on for a few days; my kite tale quite tattered and torn by now. Seeming to be almost beyond repair.

I begged God a third time. A fourth time. An umpteenth time.

Nothing.

Until, one day, I got real still. You might now what kind of stillness I’m talking about, if you’ve read the story of Elijah trying to hear God (1 Kings 19). It’s the kind of still that only comes after you’ve been exhausted by all that’s going on around you. And I finally heard God…barely…but I heard Him…

What if you’re okay with me, Sherri? What if I have nothing bad to say to you? Could you hear that?

Wait, what?

He spoke to my heart so softly, like a whisper, but as clear as day nonetheless:

Why do you assume I always have bad things to say to you? What if I’m pleased with you? What if you are okay? That is why you can’t hear me oftentimes. You’re always straining to hear the bad. The corrective. You’re constantly looking to hear what you assume is the truth; not always what is the truth.   

Gulp.

And then peace.

No wonder I sometimes have a hard time experiencing God. I assume, because I’m so hard on my own self, and because He’s holy and I am obviously way not, that His main objective is about correcting me rather than loving me; disciplining me rather than caring for me; improving me rather than celebrating me. As if the former can be separated from the latter.

What an ugly, distorted, untruthful, picture of God.

And I wonder…how many other people have a distorted view of God like I sometimes do? Assuming He mostly has bad things to say to them…afraid to spend time with Him, and get to know Him, lest He only affirm what a failure they are.

Oh, I know. Some people have the opposite problem. They can’t hear anything corrective or hard. It would pick a scab off a wound way down deep and assault the core of who they are, rather than what they do. I get it. I’ve been there too.

But I have a hunch most people are just like I was last week – ever-ready to hear the bad and ever-suspicious of the truth.

I am so sorry for us. I think we’re really missing out.

It takes a lot of bravery to search for what God is really saying to us rather than searching for what we assume He is saying; to look for truth rather than assume we already know what that truth is; to dare to believe God has great, affirming, life-giving things to say to us just because…well, He really means it.

This week I decided to choose bravery. I dared to believe God had good things to say to me – without any bad. It was hard. But, man, what a difference it made! It’s amazing what can happen when you let a few life-affirming words enter who you are…and how much those words then affect what you do.

Your kite flies higher – and further – and freer than you ever thought possible.

I need to dare to believe God has many more good things to say to me, much more often.

I dare you to believe that, too.

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When the World Seems to Be Going to Hell in a Handbasket


I’m trying to understand. Still.

How whole islands get wiped out by water and wind.
And why.

How earthquakes can so mercilessly swallow homes…and families…and happy times.
And why.

How a man can be seemingly normal and then do something very abnormal, like destroy loved ones with a barrage of bullets as well as ruin the lives of the loved ones they left behind.
And why.  

How people can let issues on kneeling, or not kneeling, or love for health care reform, or love for Obamacare, or love for the left, or love for the right, or love for guns, or love for gun control, get priority over showing unconditional love for man.
And why.

I’ve cried a lot the last few weeks; maybe more than I ever have, over our world. Not only are we exploding, we are imploding; promoting way more division than unity. So besides asking the what the heck is going on question over and over, I also keep asking myself, what else can I do? Because I often feel helpless. And frustrated. Cause, see, no matter what myself and other good-meaning people do, (and by the way – there are lots of them), things just seem to be getting worse.

And yet…I still love this Scripture, believe in this Scripture, live by this Scripture:

“Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”
Romans 12:21 MSG

I can honestly say that I’ve worked hard – and purposefully – at overcoming evil in this world by doing good. But this morning, as I stared at this verse, something else stood out, caught my attention, and pricked my soul…

Don’t let evil get the best of you.

Oh, man. How has evil gotten the best of me?

When I’ve focused on being right more than I have on relationship…
When I’ve fallen into cynicism as opposed to holding onto hopefulness…
When I’ve spewed negativity rather than inspired positivity…
When I’ve valued being listened to more than listening…
When I’ve focused on the worst of a person rather than the best…
When I’ve sought to be understood more than I have to understand…
When I’ve thrown my hands in the air instead of holding on to others…
When I’ve promoted argument instead of peace…
When I’ve put down instead of lifted up…
Given up instead of persevered…
Let go of instead of carried…

And I realize.

I can do good and still let evil get the best of me. Which then gets the best of you.

And I wonder…

Can the good I do be voided by the bad? Or at least, diminished by it? Diluted?

I say I want to do good – and my intentions might be right – but I wonder if the evil I often fall into ends up discrediting these good intentions. Like loving someone and then talking behind their back.

And I think…maybe my “good” would go a whole lot further if I got rid of the evil tagging along behind it. Maybe my good actions will be more effective if they are clean and not tainted by ulterior motives and needing to be right. And that Scripture might work a little more effectively in this world if I heed to the whole of it – not just part of it. Then, maybe my small contributions will start enacting some real change in the world.

Oh, I know I can’t change the whole world.

But I can change mine.

 

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