This whole season has been pretty intense. I mean, honestly, just being married is pretty intense some days, and it’s still relatively new to us! But aside from that, all the changes, the big decisions, the baby, getting ready for transition (or, more accurately, living in a constant state of transition) and now finding out Stephen needs to have major surgery, it’s a lot. A whole lot.
It’s a really fine line, I think, between honest and open and then just going against God. I believe in my bones that God wants us to be honest, not only with Him and ourselves, but with each other. No one gets anywhere when you’re not honest. We don’t heal, we don’t receive encouragement –nothing, when we’re not honest. But then there’s also the lingering fear that in honesty you’re being a heretic. Heretic may be a strong word, but you get the picture. Like you’re saying something you’re not supposed to say and God may get pissed.
For example, pregnancy. I am so lucky because I have some amazing friends who have either had kids or are pregnant. And these friends are all honest and real, which I love. So it doesn’t surprise or shock them when I say things like, “Being pregnant is not awesome today.” or “Well, this is not what I thought it was going to be. I don’t got any glow. I’m just sweaty.” I know I can say those things to them because they’ve said similar things. They have given me permission to speak freely. Their honesty has encouraged my honesty, and then, real comfort and encouragement can be received. When we’re honest with each other, feeling understood is just a natural consequence. You’re giving people permission to see you and really know you. It’s a great thing. Scary at times, but great.
In all these changes, there have been times where I’ve wrestled with God. And it hasn’t always been pretty. There has been real, deep, scary fear that has come with some of the choices we’ve made. Heck, even just being pregnant has been half amazing and exciting and half pee-your-pants-terrifying. And the tricky, frustrating thing is that there are tons of circles we’re in where saying those things is unacceptable.
Anytime we say we’ve been scared about (fill in the blank) we have to quickly follow it up with something along the lines of “but God is good and where He guides He proves and God doesn’t call the qualified He qualifies the called” and whatever else we need to say so people stop looking at us like we said Jesus isn’t real.
Obviously, we believe all those cliché things. I mean, we’re moving to Thailand and God has provided and we believe He will qualify us and all those other lovely Christianese sayings. But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t times where we’ve looked at each other, looked up and gone, “Why?” Like with Stephen’s disease, ulcerative colitis. Why hasn’t any treatment worked? Why does he have to his colon removed? Why hasn’t God healed him? Why is this happening to us?
Is it possible to believe that God is good and still have moments of deep questioning? I think so. I think there’s a reason why when God calls people in Scripture He has to sometimes cajole them, command them, encourage them for a while or even repeat Himself a ton (I am with you, fear not, anyone?).
What I love about Scripture is that it’s real. It’s not people saying what they’re supposed to say, what’s comfortable. Yes, we all love when everything is perfect and easy and we’re not challenged. No one wants to be faced with someone who loves God and is obedient and still has questions. It makes you question things, and if we’re honest, we don’t love questioning our presupposed beliefs. But that convenience is not in Scripture. In fact, there are very few convenient things in Scripture.
What we see is people being real and, surprise!, God not being offended. God seems to actually handle it well, almost like He expected it, when people are honest with Him. It’s from that place that He can actually move, actually heal people, actually get them to the next place, the next thing.
Honesty is the place where change happens.
For us, it has been in those moments of fear and questioning like leaving the doctor’s office, paying the bills, hearing reactions when some people hear our plans, and looking at each other and together falling before God. Telling Him we don’t understand, we don’t like what’s happening, we don’t feel awesome about it and letting Him show up. Letting Him comfort us.
It’s that kind of honesty in this process that has gotten us to a place where we can look straight into the pain or darkness of our own hearts or the world around us and at the exact same time say and believe, “But God you’re good.”
So, you’ll have to excuse me when I say things I’m not supposed to. Ain’t no one got time for stuff that isn’t true.