Friday, February 27, 2015

How to Live When Your Spirit Needs Resuscitation

It was 15 years ago today. The call came just hours after a nurse told me to leave because my dad would be okay and it changed everything. I threw on this obnoxious, loud wind jacket I always rolled my eyes when he wore, entered his room, and said everything I knew to say in the moment. I was a young girl saying goodbye to my dad. He was only 47.

I closed the glass door and heard his friend say, “I didn’t tell him I appreciated him,” and I vowed not to make that my story. In the moment where many things changed about me, some things changed in me. Things that I think have made me a better person even though I would never choose what I lived.

Including my faith.

I struggled to put it nicely, sucker-punched by a life I never saw coming.

What kind of loving God would let this be my story?,” I asked of my religion professor who came to my home.

People came because they loved and my heart was a ping pong ball vacillating between wanting presence and shutting my bedroom door on all in my space. Wearing my heart on my sleeve in tough moments isn’t my gift. I was confused. My “God of love” that had always meant everything to me didn’t congeal with my life turned upside down. Numb, I put on a nice girl face because that is what I was. A nice girl.

My friend Heather saw right through my unspoken struggle, walking through my door and handing me bubble bath. Permission to get away. Permission, I discovered, to have it out with God.

I can’t tell you how many bubble baths I took in the dark by the light of a small candle flame. It felt like my world- a small flicker in consuming darkness. Gushes of tears melded into the water so that I couldn’t tell where they started and the water ended.

I let anger burn hot. I dared ask my God the hard questions that my put-together self never previously said aloud. I felt all the feels that nice girls and pretty put-together Christians never speak of in our “confident” life.

And my spirit started to breathe again.

Maybe you are reading this and your life has been turned upside down. Maybe you feel in the dark and you are wondering how you are supposed to live a solid faith in what can feel a shaky world. And to you I say this, solid faith isn’t pretty. In fact, I think it is quite the opposite.

The Word says, “In this world you will have trouble,” (John 16:33) a less than lovely promise that we Christians don’t get to side step no matter how much we’d like to believe the faith life is insulation from misery.

Faith is made real when we are real through it.

If I believe in a God that knows the number of hairs on my head, then certainly He knows all I am thinking and feeling. The real and only question, then, is if I admit to it. If I’m bold enough to offer the ugly to God. And while we can feel this makes a “bad Christian,” I would argue that it, in fact, makes us a better one. Because void words grow distant but honesty draws us nearer. This is true in all our human relationships so why would we think it any different with God?

He is big enough to cushion all your stuff. And, when you share it with Him, you feel the second part of the verse, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This isn’t felt in the pretty, put-together moments. It’s in your sloppy tears and venomous words when you realize He still pulls you onto His lap and whispers, “I love you and I am with you.” With you in your sadness. With you in your anger. With you in your darkness just helping you breathe.

Confident faith isn’t knowing all the words. That is memorization. Confident faith is trusting you are loved through your brokenness. It’s real relationship.

One day you will see God in things like bubble bath. You will look back stronger with greater ability to love in the tough spaces of life. But for now, breathe out honesty. It’ll look a lot like a roller coaster ride of emotions from minute to minute. Sometimes you will like yourself and sometimes you won’t like the taste of your thoughts. But as you open your spirit, you give God access to work in and through you, resuscitating you back to life. And the living faith that emerges? It will be one that carries you through all the feels.

This is the messy beautiful of life. The life-giving faith that restores.

Be real, friends. He will revive you. :)

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me. 1 Timothy 4:17

XO Melissa

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