There’s a moment, when you’re talking to that new acquaintance in your life and one of you dares to share something real, something personal…and you realize that your relationship with this person has shifted. That you’re no longer just co-workers, members of the same church, fellow PTA enthusiasts… but something more, and the first seeds of friendship are planted.
There’s a moment, when you’re just hanging out and having fun, and you realize that this guy friend sitting next to you wants a deeper relationship than you’ve ever considered, and in that split second, you find yourself wondering a million things all at once, trying to decide if you value the friendship too much to be open to the possibility of something deeper.
There’s a moment when you’re dating someone, and you’re comfortable. Things are smooth, easy and simple. But then you realize that they’re not in this relationship for easy and simple. The reality of their commitment washes over you with exhilaration when they pull out a shiny ring and no matter what happens next, you will never be the same.
Just like the moments before, there are other moments that come and define you. Who you are and who you choose to be. Which direction you choose to go. Not the moments where your consistent decisions to practice an instrument daily culminates in learning to actually play the instrument, but I’m talking about those singular, decisive moments where you decide to commit and purchase the instrument. The moment when you decide to accept a new job offer, or put your house up for sale and move across the country. Those moments that define the moments that follow because they change your course, those moments that seem to hold so much more than an insignificant and short 60 seconds.
And perhaps sometimes, over the years there are moments like these, where the excitement and newness of that next step in a relationship, any relationship, or the decision to change your course is wonderful and exhilarating – full of promise, but overshadowed by fear. The type of fear that comes from the uncertainty and insecurities that accompany a lifetime of those moments followed by heartbreak and shattered dreams. Slowly, if you let it, that fear – that can seem to enter so innocently disguised as caution or even prudence – takes away your sight. Blinds you to seeing God’s will in those moment, to hearing His voice. Then before you know it you barely register any longer that fear is your constant companion, and you no longer even have a theory as to where it originates within you.
The funny thing about moments is that with all God’s infinite power, He is able to move mountains within a single one, but also patient and loving enough to wait as many as you need. He’s not confined by our 8 to 5 schedules or by what time a hockey game is on. Over the course of a weekend He offered me a glimpse of how much pain and anger I still hold onto. How much fear and the opinions of others still drive so many of my decisions. How often I react out of anger, without even noticing that is what is driving the reaction. And in those rare moments that I do see it? Denial becomes my best friend. And when God showed me this part of my heart, my soul, that is dark and angry – I spent the majority of a six hour drive home begging Him to forgive me, to remove these rotting parts of my heart that I suddenly felt as if I were choking on. And then….
Zippity – do- dah
And I’m not talking about for a few minutes… I’m talking about the next few days.
Ok – so it’s not 40 years wandering the desert… and it’s not 40 days in the wilderness… but it still seemed over the top…
Then I started thinking… how that even though this some people can seem to pray this one time, over-arching prayer of repentance and come out on the other side feeling that white as snow feeling. I have never been among those ranks. I don’t know how to just say I’m sorry and leave it as that. I seem to need to drag out every minor detail and confess it and know that God or whoever I’m apologizing to, understands exactly how badly I messed up…or it just doesn’t seem real, and the relationship never feels whole again. That I didn’t accidentally sin, that I did it because I was angry and frustrated and I had malice in my heart. So, I thought maybe that’s why I wasn’t hearing anything – that I needed to make a list of everything I’ve been holding on to and repent of each individual little thing.
Then my mind began going completely bonkers on me… thinking about how I need to get this done and over with RIGHT NOW. That I couldn’t face church or bible study or anyone for that matter until I was able to go through every detail with God. And I started panicking because I already felt the walls going up. The defenses. The ones that tell me to run and completely evade any real discussion.
In that next moment, God was there. Yes, He’s always here, but it was one of those moments when you feel His presence in a very real, very tangible, way. I told God that I didn’t know what I was doing wrong – that I apparently don’t know how to be real with even Him, when I already know He knows more than I do when it comes to my own heart. And my mind drifted to all these verses in the old testament that talk about when the people realize that they’ve sinned, offer such and such sacrifice. But it felt so contradictory to what I started feeling, that I didn’t need to beg and gravel for His forgiveness – that’s not why He’s shown me these issues. And I couldn’t reconcile it in my little brain. So I asked Him what has changed, how in leviticus is sounds as if they needed to go offer a sacrifice and repent as soon as their sin was recognized and here I felt like God wasn’t pressuring me to respond the way I was thinking I needed to respond.
The answer, of course, is much more obvious than what I was thinking…
The one sacrifice capable of covering everything.
That He doesn’t show us our sins and inequities and wounds to rub it in our face. To hear me tell Him once again how messed up I am and how much I need Him. But for a much, much larger, and much simpler purpose. To heal my heart and heal my relationship with Him.
It’s a purpose that I’ve know – intellectually – even accepted on some level, intellectually.
And then, being a “smart” human – I asked Him why He doesn’t just kick down the walls for me? I don’t want them there – I don’t want anything that shuts Him out, I know He can do it, and I don’t know how to be vulnerable enough – even with God – to let Him in. To surrender the parts that I’m so defensive of. And the answer, was one of those moments – the ones that seem big and important and will change you, regardless what your response is. It was also the sweetest moment I’ve ever experienced. That He’s willing, that He’s patient enough, that He loves me enough… to take the time to teach me how to have that type of relationship with Him. To show me how to be open enough, real enough, and vulnerable enough to allow Him to heal what needs to be healed. That I can go to a doctor, allow this doctor to fix my broken leg – but there’s no deep, real relationship with the doctor. God has the power to fix everything in an instant, and yet, He desires more. He wants the intimacy in that relationship that ushers in the healing. And that realization reaching my heart, has changed my perspective. The parts of my life that God has already healed and broken off the chains, the parts that up until a very short time ago felt free and alive…now feel shallow and claustrophobic compared to the possibilities.
So what’s next? Where do I go when it feels like the creator of all wants an intimate real relationship with me? Imperfect, messed up me? Where do I start? Well…by heading the advice in the book of James I suppose….draw near to God and God will draw near to you….