I've been thinking a lot recently. There is a book or two that I was handed that have been helping my thinking, but I've been thinking. I struggle to decide what to share on this blog about what I am thinking. I know some of you who read my blog and comment and nothing would make me happier than to share what I am learning with you, as you also share your lives with me. But a blog, is by nature public, and subject to many people reading it. It is those who hide who cause me to pause before I write.
But another train of thought that goes through my head is transparency. I grew up, like a few of you, as an MK, in a conservative church. The idea of constantly being on display, especially on furlough, and even when out on the field - people are always watching... it affected us. We were to project an image. I still see that in some churches and people. But over the last years, my husband and I have been mentored by some pretty great people. The biggest thing we have been both shown and taught is transparency. The ability or the choice to be honest and clear. It takes away the fear of hiding. It takes away the fear of not being accepted if we were known. It shows sins, but gives the room for grace and forgiveness. It completely removes the possibility of manipulation.
We've grown to love this new thing. Being transparent. It is something we model in our team, hoping that as we demonstrate it, that others will pick it up and show it to even others.
So part of me thinks, "Ignore those who should not be reading, and just talk." I may. I may not. I may continue to edit carefully to be able to say what I am learning without setting it into its frame. Difficult.
Anyway, let's try for today. I'll start with a small tidbit that I learned from one of these books. It is about dealing with rejection. Rejection is what hit me hardest this last spring - we felt rejected by our own, intensified by our weakness after a time of intense stress. When we should have been cared for, we were not. Rejection is not a feeling unfamiliar to my husband or I. In different degrees we have both felt it often as we grew up. Circumstances, moves, trauma, misunderstandings, people's weaknesses - all these things have left us with wounds. We struggle through those, and when trauma hits, feelings we have carried come rolling back.
I don't have this book now, but when I get it, I will write some more from it. What I want to share right now is just one piece of it. It was talking about our fear of rejection will cause us to reject the very love that God has for us. Adam and Eve did this in the garden. When they were ashamed, they hid. They lied. They did not trust God anymore. The book says it so much better than I can without it here, but it talks about from that point on, we had a new inner belief. We began to believe that "I know what is best for me". So we attempt to protect ourselves. Self-protection leads to all sorts of messes.
I don't know why that particular phrase hit me right then, except that we were in team meetings and team meeting are difficult for me. I've struggled through why God allowed some of what He allowed this last year and also during the years before that. Why He did not step in and protect me from some pain?
When I read that line about our new inner belief, I paused. I honestly struggled with that one a little. I saw the truth in it - undoubtedly. But transferring that truth into the day to day was difficult. My mind immediately popped the question, "How could what happened during the shark attack be the best for me?!" That was painful, awful, so wrong...
But truth has a way of quietly standing in the face of opposition, and I agreed with it. I've learned when my whole being butts up against truth full force to wait quietly and listen. God is not in the habit of defending Himself to my angry accusations, nor is He in the habit of railroading me down with His thinking. He sits quietly, until I have quieted myself and am ready to listen and question Him honestly. Then He speaks. In that quiet, still voice.
As I sat there questioning out the practicality of this truth... "well, if that is true, then what happened in those meetings was Your best?... How exactly does that work? It hurt me." God, I have learned, is also not one who belittles my pain. The devil does that. He will either blow up my pain so it fills my vision or berate me for pain and belittle it - or likely both at once. God does not belittle His children's pain, nor does He scold us for feeling it.
I questioned God on that point late that evening. "Tell me how that works, please. I don't get it. You know I was weak there already, a sore spot, and hurting place, and in the middle of our weakest point, You let them hurt us there!" I sat quietly thinking over those meetings, those days after the trauma and all that had gone down. There was no positive spin that could be put on them - only the very wrong actions of one or two others that caused deep pain for those already wounded.
A question for myself, "Am I willing to say that God knew what was best for me? For all my life? Even when it led places I did not want to go?" Not just that it was ok, that He would bring me through it, that He would bring good out of it... but that in His knowledge, it was the best. James that says that God's will is good, acceptable, and perfect. The first one, good, is a little struggle to get through, ok, it is good. The next, acceptable, harder. But it is when you hit "perfect" and it means that nothing else would have been better... that is a tough one to swallow!
I will not say that what people did was right. It wasn't. But can I trust that at that moment, that this was God's best for me - not the most comfortable, not the most just, but His best... for reasons I do not know... but His best for me right then?
Hmmpf, that made me take a deep breath and gather some determination before I was willing to face that one head on... but my rational mind says, "this, too, is true."
Then came the quiet, still voice that I have learned to listen to. "Would you have been pushed to deal with this issue of rejection without that hurt right in the epicenter of that wound?"
You could not have got my attention more quickly. Little chills ran down my back. I was wounded, yes. Right in the middle of a very tender spot. But it was a glimpse into a wisdom deeper than mine.
Most of my kicking against God and most of my fighting and most of my pain lies right here - I am pretty determined to hang on to the thought that God obviously does not know what is best for me - look at all that He has allowed! - and that I need to protect myself. And as I write this, another thought comes in my head... look at all the pain you cause while trying to protect yourself. I wonder if I hurt myself more than people hurt me simply by my reactions and my attempts to protect. And then, in the middle of all those attempts to keep myself safe, I ache that I feel isolated.
My thoughts went back to Jacob. He was also a an wounded by God. Yet with that wounding came a blessing.
I've been sitting on these thoughts this week, quietly listening to God's voice. My heart quiet, listening to the call to trust even deeper - to trust that God has my best in mind even in the face of man's sins against me. That even pain is what is best at times - not only that God will bring good out of it, but that there was nothing better for me than to walk the difficult road.
I would have chosen an easier one. But I have such a limited view and still prefer comfort over growth any given day.