Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How painful will God's best be?

I ran across this C.S. Lewis quote yesterday, and it spoke profoundly to me. We have had a very hard past couple of days as a family. Some major decisions have had to be made. All of our plans have begun to go awry. I have questioned my calling to ministry, I've been wondering if it's worth it. All of the sacrifices and loneliness, the effects that have begun to rear their ugly head with my family. The cost, it seems, is almost too much. I'm tired of doing things alone with out a support system. Sometimes it seems as if my husband and I are the only ones who think this thing is worth fighting for. Others think it's a good cause, and worth  it when it's convenient for them. But they don't let it consume their lives. At the end of the day, if it's too hard, they can quit. When it starts affecting their children, they can quit. When they aren't getting support from anyone else and things are too hard to bear alone, they can quit. I was at the point of quitting yesterday. If they can, I can too. My calling is painful, and I've had enough pain in my life. It doesn't seem fair sometimes. Honestly, the thought of having continue to do this for what could end up being years started to make me nauseous. I'm not sure how much more I can take. This week has left me feeling like a huge failure in more areas than I'd like to admit.

The isolation is deafening. Having problems that you can't speak about to anyone is a hard burden to carry. We had to make some major decisions and sacrifices regarding our son. Things that we need to grieve over, things we need to adjust in our lives for his benefit. My son will always come first, and every sacrifice for him is worth it, but the pain of my husband and I bearing these decisions alone is hard. My husband went to talk to our pastor about what was going on. He said he needed to talk to somebody. Somebody who wouldn't judge, someone we don't have to be an example for. Someone who he doesn't have to worry about using his flaws and shortcomings and failures against him. Someone who understands ministry.Then he looked at me somberly, and said this : ".... And I feel bad because you don't have anyone like that to talk to." And I started crying. Because he's right.

I spent most of yesterday in pity party, feeling sorry for myself and for my wayward plans. Things are not turning out how they were supposed to. I was feeling sorry for my loneliness. I was comparing how all of the other women ministry leaders and pastor's wives have people rallying around to help them, wanting to be their friend, to help with their kids, to help them carry the load. I was sure that when God told us to start CROSSROADS,  he would send in people to help. So why am I going  through ministry alone, without even a friend I can truly talk to about everything~ besides my husband, who already has enough to deal with? Surely God would want that for me!

Sitting in pity can get comfortable. It's so easy to look at all the bad and justify feeling sorry for yourself.  That can be incredibly dangerous for me, because it leads me down the road to depression. That's not road I can go down again, because it could cost me my life. Luckily I recognized it creeping in. I knew nothing else to do but to pray. Ask God why. Why is everything going haywire, why do I feel so isolated, why is there no one to help, why aren't things going right for my son, why do I feel so alone? WHERE ARE YOU GOD?. TAKE THE PAIN AWAY!

Then, quietly, I realized that pain is part of the process. It always has been. The most painful times in my life are when God worked the most. My fiance committing suicide got me to a point where I surrendered to God out of desperation, seeking for something to make the pain go away. My years of drug addiction broke me down to the point that I have compassion and empathy for people in the same situation because I remember that torturous  pain so vividly. My years of being thrust into ministry leadership in the women's home in Milwaukee were years of being being attacked, and knowing the pain of not having a person to lean on. But I learned how to fight, and I learned to lean on God.

My greatest spiritual lessons and growth have been born from pain. In  retrospect, it's easy to look back and see how God worked it all out for good. But boy, is it hard to realize it when you're going through it. My husband's favorite saying is  "no matter what, it's going to be okay." And I know that. I know that God truly does work it all out for our good. But I also know that he uses painful circumstances to bring about that good. That's the part I don't like. That's the scary part. Knowing that God's best could mean I have to go through another death, another loss, another humbling experience, another stretch of loneliness to make me utterly dependent on Him and Him alone is what I have a hard time dealing with. I know it will be used for good, but I don't want to go through it. I wish there was an easier, softer way. A way for God to bring about his will softly and gently.

For some people, that IS how he works. But I'm hard headed. Pain gets my attention. When things are going good and I'm happy, it's easy to push God to the side. When I need to focus on him, pain does the trick. When I start veering off course, he has to smack me upside the head sometimes to straighten out my vision. And that's what I'm holding onto. God loves us too much to leave us the way we are. And if pain is what he needs to use to change me, so be it. I just need to remind myself, that He has never failed me, and he won't stop now. Nothing we go through is wasted, nothing is unnecessary. It may be painful- but it will be used for my good, and one day I will be able to look back on this time in my life and see how God was there all along, and was working His plan out through it all.

It's just up to me to keep walking through the valley. Psalms 23 says though I WALK through the valley of the shadow of death. It doesn't say anything about sitting laying down and sitting in the valley. I have to get up. I have to keep going. I can't let the pain stop me, or let the devil convince me that it's not worth it. I know what God has told me, and I hang onto it for dear life when I reach my breaking point.  I have to know that God is going to bring me through the other side, and that one day this pain will be a memory, a testimony, one more thing to build my faith, one more testament to God's faithfulness.

But boy, does it hurt.