Tuesday, February 15, 2011

the one i struggled to write.

{from here}

I try to keep my home as clean and as neat as possible.

Sometimes, I fail.

On the days when the laundry has piled up and the vacuuming is left undone, Jordan takes one look around our home and elicits five little words, void of any sarcasm or irony:

“This mess is a place.”

And he is often right: empty refrigerator, dirty laundry, dusty books, and dishes in the sink.

Lately, I look around this world we are living in, and I see the same thing.

This mess is a place.

It is full of hurt and division and angry words and bad attitudes and disappointment and ruined expectations and brokenness.

And the church — intended as a refuge for the broken, the disappointed, and the hurting — doesn’t always look much different.

It, too, is a mess. But our Lord calls it to more.

A few months ago, a follower of Christ hurt my feelings.

This is not unusual, by the way. The idea that redeemed believers are a perfect people is simply a farce, a cover-up. We are flawed and broken just like everyone else. We say things we shouldn’t and do things we shouldn’t and generally behave in ways that undoubtedly disappoint the One we are trying to please.

And despite the fact that we are told as children that words can never hurt us, the words are what really hurt the most, and they cannot be taken back.

My feelings were hurt, and I have been broken, lost and without purpose, every since.

I generally pride myself on not caring too much what other people think about me. My parents raised me to be strong and independent, confident and purposeful, and I hope, in my heart, that I am those things.

But these words cut me like a knife, and I have let the wound fester and gurgle up until it has really become too painful to bear.

I do not think even my husband or my parents know just how much pain those words caused me. I said I was okay, that I wouldn’t listen, that those words wouldn’t deter me from the purpose Christ has called me to.

But I did listen. Those words permeated my soul, and I am broken.

I allowed another person to affect my worship and my purpose, and it must stop.

My God knows my heart’s desire. He created me for unique service to Him. The gifts I have been given are special and divinely mine.

I let someone else take that from me.

No more.

Because although those hurtful words were sinful, my harboring of those words is also sinful.

For months I have worshipped in tears and in hurt and in frustration. For months I have questioned my purpose and my value as a daughter of the King.

There is this phrase I came across weeks ago, and I repeat it to myself as I enter the walls of my church building each Sunday.

“Grateful people and ungrateful people. Those who whine and those who worship. You can hardly be both.”

I cannot be both.

I cannot whine and complain and grumble about the people who have hurt me, because I am not in the business of worshipping people.

I am in the business of worshipping the Creator of this universe.

In her book One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp writes that the fall in Eden was ultimately a “failure to give thanks.”

I am guilty.

Each Sunday I enter the holiest of holies, and I dwell on the hole that exists in my heart.

My Father must look at me with tears in His eyes.

“This is not what I called you to be,” He whispers, gently nudging me to forgive, to live up to my name, full of favor and grace.

And I cry and I protest and I remind Him that I Have Been Hurt.

He nods, for He has been too.

But worship is not about dwelling in the hurt, in the wounds that have festered in our soul.

Worship is about being grateful.

The writer Paul gives us this admonishment in Philippians 2.

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

Somewhere along the line, Christians turned the definition of holy into a list of dos and do nots, perhaps because it is easier to follow a checklist than it is to live without complaint.

But that is who we are called to be.

To shine in this dark universe, Paul — in this particular passage — does not bestow us with a list to follow. His command is short, and it is simple: Don’t complain.

Be grateful.

Give thanks.

In everything.

And if the command is to do everything — every word, every action, every thought — without complaining, then I can only assume that includes worship, a time devoted to praising the One who made me well.

When I was in the fifth grade, I read this biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, and that day I visited the FDR memorial in Washington, all I could do was stare at the statue of Eleanor. I loved her, loved what she stood for. Mostly, I loved what she said:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

For weeks, I have believed that a small group of people took away my God-given gift and passion.

But the truth is, I let them.

I stopped being grateful, and listened to the words of an imperfect people rather than a perfect Father.

That is my own fault, and no one else’s.

My God knows the desires of my heart. He knows every word spoken, every hurt harbored. He will take care of me. He will handle these burdens that are far too big for my small soul to carry.

But I must not stop worshipping.

I am sorry for the weeks I have wasted, but my God will redeem them.

He will carry my burdens and heal my broken heart and give me renewed purpose and passion.

And I will be grateful, because I was made for more.


Jessica said...

Annie, I am so sorry for the hurt you've been feeling. I appreciate this post so much. I've been dealing with a very similar situation it seems and these words are so encouraging to me today. Thank you. I hope that everything will work out and that you can move on with the best attitude despite people and situations that work to hold you back. If it counts for anything I think you're swell:)

chet said...

This deserves to be published on a grasnd scale. Beautiful and poignant. Love you, sister.

Laken said...

I'm sorry to hear about your hurt, Annie. I completely understand the feeling and I'm guilty of it myself. But I admire your strength, as always, and your ability to see God's will.

Four Flights said...

This is beautiful and so, so true. We allow others to affect us more than we sometimes allow our Lord to affect us. Glad you are now allowing that person to hurt you anymore.

Anonymous said...

Your mom and I have been where you are and we, like you, have to go through this healing process. I think by "walking in the light" (I John 1:7), God helps us recover from the hurt, the pain, the injury. This is a great post. While it was difficult, it will help many. I love you! -- Dad

monster cakes said...

This was beautiful, Annie. Since my husband works in the ministry as a worship leader, it is so easy to get discouraged by the imperfections in supposedly Godly leaders and the imperfections in the church as a whole. But like you said, our calling isn't to get frustrated by the church and the people, it's to keep our eyes on Jesus and live our lives as an act of worship. And remember, you do not have to fear men and their opinions. God knows your heart. He has searched you and knows you. Truly knows you. Thanks for this inspirational post girl. Made my day brighter. xo

Marli and Memory said...

wow you are an amazing writer. i think this every time i read your posts. i enjoy writing some so i am completly amazed every time i'm on your blog. anyways, thanks for these touching words. i hope that God gives you the strength you need to let it go and that it will be a quick and easy process for you! :)
MeMoRy ReEsE*

jenna said...

Annie, I grow more and more convinced that you and I need a Skype date soon. Can we make this happen? Asap? I love who you are, Annie. I love how I can see our God radiating from you, even though I haven't seen your face in person in years... But your words... Words are powerful. And I see God using your words to speak life, light, and truth. Dear friend, I am thankful that you refuse to allow the enemy to rob you of who you were created to be!

aunt lisa said...

Wow Annie! You really hit home today. Uncle Ray and I are still recovering from a similar situation. It is so true...shame on others for robbing us of our passion and gifts, but shame on us for letting them. Strength rises when we wait on the Lord and maybe your weeks haven't been so much wasted as they have been waiting. Waiting for God to give you the strength, courage and determination to move forward using the incredible talents and gifts you've been given. We love you! Thanks for so eloquently putting in to words what I bet alot of people have struggled with.

Dennis said...

... and now you have a slight idea of how Jesus felt, being betrayed by those who should have loved him. In the process you become more like him. In the process you learn to be more careful of how you use your words so that you do not hurt others. By you example, you teach others. It is extremely hard to love those who do not love you, but should. It all makes you either a bitter or a better person. I think you are a better person. Stay on the path. Follow Jesus. You are loved.

Sabrina said...

Very thoughtful post! As I read all I could keep thinking was, in this life people, by being themselves remind me how much I love God, how much I need him. Imagine a life where you only had people in which to derive(sp) your purpose. In people and myself I often see weakness, mistakes, and trials. In God I see hope, and purpose, and love. The more I grow up the more I am able to see people less and God more....and that came for me when I relaized God sees me less sometimes and sees Jesus more. What a blessing:)
PS- Ray and Lisa you are both too AMAZING for words:) Your Godly kindness touched my life in a variety of ways!
PPS- Sometimes I just have to humble myself to the extreme and cry out in prayer for those that have hurt me....it truly is one of the only things that heals.

Mom said...

I love you daughter! Thank you for your words! You are indeed gifted and God is using you! This post not only touched me, but helped me regain focus.


Jilliebeanie said...

I don't comment much, but you should know that your writing speaks to me on a deep level. You have a ministry right here.

I was compelled to share your blog on Facebook in hopes that others will get as much out of it as I do.

Anonymous said...

what a powerful post.
Thank you for sharing friend.

Leslie said...

I have been there. And forgiveness is not easy, but so liberating.

Anonymous said...

Nice style. I would love to write that way.
Tapety na pulpit