I have a hole where all my hope and trust and joy and faith slips out almost as soon as it’s poured in. I don’t know where the plug for it is. I’m not sure if I lost it or if it was stolen. Whatever the case, it’s a fact. I can sit in a church service, worship with abandon, hear a word tailor made for me, leave filled with such confidence in the God I serve, the plan for my life and the brightness of my future.. and sometimes before I’ve hit the parking lot, some rancid thought has slid into the place that confidence once held and I can almost FEEL the good drain out.
My faithless heart has lies on loop
It’s the same for me in relationships. Any relationship. I am so sure of you, of your care for me, your loyalty, your genuine desire to be a friend…until I am six steps away from you and then I am riddled with insecurity, doubt, fear and all of the joy that we just shared is in a puddle at my feet. If you and I are friends you may not know this about me. Maybe this is the first time you are hearing this awful truth, or maybe , secretly, you are just like me.
I have a good friend Kristen, who used to call my withdrawal from human contact and emotion, “turtling” lol. I love that word picture. I really do feel like that sometimes. I shrink back and go someplace dark and safe and pop my head out when I’ve sorted truth from lie 🙂 ( Gratefully Kristen was always there waiting for me… you’re the best Kitten!) But for others, this pushing away; as I wrestle with my demons , is exhausting and they can’t sustain the effort it takes to constantly reassure me and keep me from hitting the road. I understand.. believe me I do.
I know soul deep that this is no way to live. I KNOW it… and while knowing or admitting is half the battle, it doesn’t change it. Knowing however does arm me with understanding. I understand that I have to be diligent. Like a diabetic testing their blood through the day, vigilant about what they eat. I test the messages that fill my head and heart against the word of God or the truths I know about a person. I rehearse those truths until the lies are quiet. I do this everyday. Just enough to stem the tide.
I cannot afford to live a horizontal life.
What in the world do I mean by that? To me living a horizontal life is living by what I see and feel. Living by what’s around me. On my level, surrounding me. Too often that kind of life becomes mired in a geasy fog of discord and fast judgements. We have a very horizontal society I think. We are instant and emotional. We lack depth on a whole and only respond to what is an arms breadth around us. This is so not me judging.. lol.. because, of these sinners, I am chief!!
When Thaniel came along I was knocked horizontal. lol. I mean flat out . All I saw and heard and thought was on a level line . I saw the immediate and nothing else. I was so filled with fear and guilt that for a few weeks I was deep in a dark place of thinking I shouldn’t even be here on the planet with the rest of the ‘right’ people. That place of despair was flat. It was me laying face down. Wholly horizontal.
I had to look up.
If I had bothered to look up during those days I would have seen a plan and a grace and a promise that was being offered to me. If I had bothered to look up I would have seen the vastness of possibility and not the finite wall in front of me. When I finally did look up it was because of a song. The lyrics of which grabbed hold of me and gave me a little shake.
Give a read.
I stand beside you, I’m all around you
Though you feel I’m far away,
I’m closer than your breath
I am with you, more than you know
I am the Lord your peace, no evil will conquer you
Steady now your heart and mind, come into my rest
Oh, let your faith arise, lift up your weary head
I am with you wherever you go
Come to me, I’m all you need
Come to me, I’m everything
Come to me, I’m all you need
Come to me, I’m your everything
I am your anchor, in the wind and the waves
And I am your steadfast, so don’t be afraid
Though your heart and flesh may fail you
I’m your faithful strength
And I am with you wherever you go
Don’t look to the right or to the left
But keep your eyes on me
You will not be shaken
You will not be moved ooh
I am the hand to hold, I am the truth, I am the way
Just come to me, come to me, cause I’m all that you need
( Come to me-Bethel music)
Cool beans right?? It’s in this way that I live a vertical life. Digging my feet into these truths and looking up.
How does living vertically benefit someone like me? Someone for whom hope is fleeting and love appears distant and faith is misty? For starters it takes my focus off of the things that are temporary. Perhaps someone I love is having a bad day or a busy day or like me a pain filled day… those don’t last forever and my perception of their care for me shouldn’t be based on the moment, but on the grand total. Digging my feet into the solid ground of time spent and trust built keeps me from spiraling into a false sense of rejection. Perhaps I’ve just been given bad news, or Thane has hit a health snag, or one of my children has behaved like… well, like a child, and I’m wondering where God is in it all and if I’m alone with the whole mess. Looking up helps me to remember that His view is so much larger and He has already seen the end of the journey I’m on. I’m held.
This blog today is an exercise in this practice. As I type my hands are shaking with the pain that is barely contained. My back is clenched in a tired knot from holding myself still, I have a furrow on my brow.. pain and concentration drawing lines across my forehead. I want to cry. I want to make fists with my hands. I don’t want to deal with the outside world. I want to draw inward and give in. Give up. The pain is real. So when I say this next bit, don’t think for a second that some kind of mind over matter thing is going on, or that I’m somehow overcoming it with a saintly wisdom or faith. It’s here, it’s real and it isn’t going anywhere soon. But my feet are dug in. I need to say that again. My feet are dug in . I’ll play worship and sing thru gritted teeth and tears. I’ll remind myself hourly that I am loved and silence the voices that say I’m not worthy , that I will be left, will be alone. If you are reaching out to me right now I won’t politely smile you away and keep your offer of friendship and love at arms length, but will be brave enough to trust. I will allow the strength of Joy to buoy me for this time.
My eyes are looking up. God will not be leaving me in this place forever, there is an end to this and until that time, He is faithful and true, He is my rock and my fortress, He is acquainted with my pain and my feelings about it and He sees me. He will not leave me. I have this HOPE, this promise. It’s as sure as the sun standing in the sky. It’s as vast as the blue and the clouds that climb up and up and up, it is as unknowable and unsearchable as the space beyond that.. His promise to me is everlasting. Solid and unchanging. This is my stand. The hole where my hope slips out is plugged up for a little while longer.
Abba Father I ask that you would pour these truths into the hearts and minds of any of those that need it today too.