Why it’s actually not a good idea to be self-made.
It’s been a long, long while since I’ve gotten the writing jitters. You know, the kind that make your hands sweat and you breathe quick because you’ve got so much to put down and you feel like if you don’t get it all out on paper right this very second, it may all disappear.
So much has happened. For everybody, for the world. So much has happened to me.
I get a little teary at thinking about the past and vividly remembering how I’ve felt at certain stages of my life. High school, college, dating, getting engaged, roommates, post-grad, career changes, family changes, friend changes, marriage.
Super hard things, really good things.
With these stages has been a pendulum swinging high and low of my closeness with God. I feel Him smile, Welcome to life as a human being.
Even with the oscillating ups and downs, feelings of rejection have littered my life. A hard pill to swallow for someone who, at her worst, wants desperately to be untouched by the past.
My brain, like many of yours, works to find ways to self-protect. For me, this looks like undermining the pain, trying to muscle through it, or ‘faking it ‘til I make it’. This is mostly good until you’re 23 and realize that this learned reflex has pushed God down the list of priority. I’d rather be the one in control but still sit in my hidden pile of shame than be honest with the ugly and ask God to handle it instead.
Because that takes effort. Because that takes self-awareness.
It’s easier to lean on our humanity than to be spiritual.
We sat at dinner last night with friends new to me, old to John, when they closed out our time together with prayer. I’ve only been prayed over in this way a couple of times in my life—you know, the prophesying kind of prayer that literally makes every hair stand up on your neck at the sheer power and love of God, and how he works through other believers.
The two looked both John and I in the eye and told us things only God would know to say. We were quiet, nodding and watching tears hit the wood floor, completely in awe.
Even more than the encouragement and connection we received last night, I realized something:
The Lord isn’t expecting me to be fruitful and Christ-like without him. My frustration, disconnection, and fleeting peace over the years has come from a self-made faith.
I can’t just will myself to be healed. Or close to God. Or secure.
Those feelings of rejection are a direct reaction to “sufficiency” apart from God, and that’s literally the opposite of how we were designed to live.
I do this daily; I know you do too.
The word “regret” has been pushed into my journal a few times over the last little bit, and I really believe it’s because I know I’ve wasted time with trying to be my own God, as silly as that sounds. I also know that all feelings of shame don’t originate from the Lord (which is both comforting and super scary), but it did wake me up.
I regret how many times I’ve done this. How many times I’ve been around this track, doing the same things to fix it only to come back to this same spot a couple months (or years) later, completely exhausted and frustrated because nothing in my heart or habits have actually changed. Yeah, we’ve grown up in age– which sometimes masks our need for real maturity, but I still stub my toe on the same corner. I haven’t learned my lesson.
The good news? God welcomes our stubbornness. He welcomes it all.
He’s just so glad he gets to be our Father.
These words are ones I’ll cling to, because I need them:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Apart from me, you can do nothing”
“As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides by the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me”
“He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever”
“Peace I leave with you”