This semester I’ve gotten involved in a Beth Moore Bible study at Heidi’s house. It’s led by her mom and her mom’s friend, and consists mostly of senior girls, with the addition of Laura and Heidi and me. Last Thursday, when we were sharing prayer requests at the first meeting I mentioned my kind of frustrated relationship with everyone back home, particularly my family. In the scheme of things I thought it wasn’t a huge deal, or I wouldn’t have shared it with a bunch of nearly-strangers. But then, almost before I noticed, I started crying, which was not supposed to happen. Everyone looked at me so sympathetically, and hugged me so long, and I got back to campus that night in a foul mood.
This past week I did the five days in the workbook, and was occasionally a little frustrated by Beth’s questions. No, I could not imagine what Jesus’s face might have looked like when he delivered a particular line, or how John might have felt witnessing his first miracle. I knew that Jesus did and Jesus said and that John was there too. Wasn’t that the important part? I also withdrew from a class, which was something my parents didn’t want.
Last night, at our second meeting, what all the other girls said they had appreciated most about that week were the very questions which had frustrated me. I kept my mouth shut. The video teaching for the evening had a lot to do with finding your calling, and the girls, most of whom are student teaching, and already have one foot out in the real world, shared that it meant a lot to them. This was something I’d never struggled with. I always know what I want.
When we prayed, I put my head down on my knees, and told God in no uncertain terms, “I do not like this. I do not like being different. Sometimes at this school, I feel as if I’m the only volatile one, the only one whose sin is motivated by rebellion rather than fear. I am not a fixer or a people pleaser. While they’re all nodding understandingly at each other’s struggles with insecurity, here I am I am digging my heels deeper into the tar, and crossing my arms, knowing nothing will move me unless I want it to. But if I tried to tell someone, I’d cry again, and it would be embarrassing.”
Then we went home. As we got out of the car, one of the girls whom Laura and I had been riding with, Anne, attached herself to my arm, and told me she wanted to get to know me better. We should go to Warriors together. And so we did. (I’m so glad.)
I don’t remember any of the songs, although I think I sang all of them. I do know, though, that probably for the very first time I admitted something to myself that probably most of you already knew. I have walked though life being a quitter and not a joiner, and I have always said that it’s because I don’t have anything to prove to anybody. But that’s not true. I have a lot to prove–and almost everything I do is motivated by it. I went running at six-thirty this morning to prove to my parents that I am growing up; I dress up every Friday, not only because I love good clothes, but to prove to the world that I am beautiful; I started this blog to prove that I can write; I so rarely talk to boys to prove…well, I haven’t figured that one out yet, but there’s some sort of insecurity there–obviously.
I really, really want people to like me and be proud to know me. I’m deliciously insecure. It’s when I figured that out that I started to smile. Because if I admit I am weak, I can accept help. I don’t have to be stubborn. FOR ONCE, I CAN ACTUALLY TRY! What a relief…
I will continue to go running (with my little lungs protesting at every step), not for my health and not because I think anything I do or don’t do will ever make my parents love me more or less, but because I like to make them proud. And I wouldn’t care if my dad came all the darn way up here just to take a picture. I will dress up with relish every Friday and continue to blog, because I don’t care who knows that I have good taste in words or clothes, and they’re welcome to watch as that taste improves. And boys? I’m just not going to worry about that.
I didn’t know giving into God would be this easy. I’d been resisting this change of heart for years, and bracing myself for His painful sanctification, but it felt like opening my eyes–and that’s all. I didn’t just feel clean, I felt free.
At this point, (I bet you had I forgotten that I was at Warriors while all this was going on. Don’t worry–I had too.) Anne leaned over, grabbed my arm, and whispered that God was going to heal my relationship with my parents. She was sure of it. Funny thing–I was sure of it too. Because that’s what God does. He heals. I may have cried a little, but mostly I felt like dancing. I was not peaceful, but exhilarated. I think I bounced a lot.
So here’s the point: God is good. I mean He is not just kind and loving, but He is righteous. He is good. The other thing: He is faithful. It’s been a long few months, but here he has been.
The only thing I do remember from last night at Warriors is one of the passages they read.
Ezekiel 36:22-28: Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went. And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.
Beth Moore, I know how Israel felt, and what God’s face looked like, because that is my story, and the promise is for me. It wasn’t what I was expecting. It never is, thank God. Really. THANK GOD!