I don’t like to be wrong, but sometimes it’s worse to be right.
I’m a worrier by nature. I routinely fear that the worst will happen so I’ve learned a tool that has helped me combat those worries over the years. I remind myself that our fears hardly ever happen. Being attacked by a shark, being in a plane crash, a tornado destroying our home, nuclear attack. It’s true that the likelihood of our fears happening is small…until it’s not.
I had a card deck of questions Steve and I were asking at dinner one night while we were at the beach. Many of those answers have been invaluable to me over the last 4 months but one of them still chills my heart. “What is your partners’ greatest fear?” We both got it right on the first try.
Steve’s was being weak or out of control. (Enneagram 8 y’all?) Mine was something happening to him or one of our kids. (Enneagram 2, maybe?) After 33 years together, many highs and lows, struggling to learn to communicate, and lots of history to look back on, we both knew the others’ heart.
Literally, a week later, we faced them both.
How I wish my fears would have been unwarranted, but the truth is, devastating things happen. Maybe not as often as we fear, but when they do, it changes everything.
Unfortunately, I’ve met countless others over the last few months who wish they weren’t walking through their own fears as well. Some who seem to have an unshakeable confidence that all will be well. Some who’ve given up on the thought that God could love them or that he even exists. Some who are rightfully broken but humbly hopeful for the future. Some who take their hurt and wrap it around their hearts like a steal vest until nothing, pain or beauty, can get in or out. I’ve wondered where my heart will be found once I process and walk through this season. Honestly, it scares me. Doubt, fear, anger, and hopelessness threaten to rule my mind and heart quite often but, in standing against them, the greater fear is the temptation to counter those emotions with simplistic religious answers or trite platitudes.
In the face of all this, the deep truth of Matthew 11 has reminded me that Jesus stands firm and true in the face of my greatest fears. Through John’s question and Jesus’ subsequent answer, my questioning heart is encouraged to remember that even the most faithful and humble servant of God can find themselves facing doubts because of fear, suffering or death. Jesus doesn’t disregard or rebuke John for his question but, actually, honors his faithfulness. Isn’t that beautiful? In verse 6, Jesus seems to allude to the fact that following him won’t always be easy but we are blessed if we don’t fall away during those times. He goes on to acknowledge that there will be resistance and pain in the advancement of his Kingdom; that things may get blurry at times but, in the end, truth will be known by the fruit that it produces; that humans have the propensity to seek blessings more than truth; and that life can become hard and heavy at times – but he wants to give us rest. That’s a lot of boxes he teaks off in one short chapter.
It seems that he wants us to know he gets it. Life I mean. Not only does he get it, he cares and wants to help us through seasons of pain we didn’t see coming. If someone gives me a 3-step plan as to how to trade my fears, burdens, worries and pain for God’s rest…I think I’d be suspicious. Relationships aren’t that easy. They’re complex, ever-changing, dependent on communication and strengthened over time.
This relationship I have with my Jesus is no different. So, this morning, over breakfast, He and I had some questions. After 46 years of highs and lows, struggling to learn how to communicate and lots of history to look back on, He gets me and I’m learning to listen. You’re welcome to listen in if you’d like but, better yet…spend some time talking to him yourself. He doesn’t mind the questions and he can handle our doubts. Listen for a while and ask to see the depths of his love even in the pain of life. My prayer for you and I today is to find a place of rest that cannot be shaken and a hope that rests in him alone.
Me – “Are you really who you say you are, Jesus? Is it all true? This isn’t what I expected and it’s scary. It hurts. I’m confused. Did I hear you wrong? I thought you said you were doing a new thing. That this year would bring complete healing. That our family would find a place of purpose and joy. How could I be so wrong? Why would you heal only to take? What do I do now? The hopelessness seems like it will never go away. God…where are you?”
Jesus – “What have you seen and experienced in the past? What have I done in you and around you? Remember, sweet daughter. Remember – so that the enemy doesn’t cloud your heart in this pain. The temptation is always to question when life gets hard and when it seems like you’re being defeated. I understand. I’ve faced it all myself. Don’t so easily forget that I was, and am, victorious. This world is all you know (as of yet) but it isn’t all there is. In fact, it isn’t even your home. You are an eternal being created for an eternal home. This is simply the prologue to the real story and I want you to learn to focus on that. If you do, you won’t cling to this world with such desperation because hope is never lost. Life is always waiting. Striving will cease because you can trust me to have your ultimate joy prepared and waiting. Death holds no power over my children and, because of that, life holds infinite possibilities.
Remind yourself of all the times I showed up and all the times you have seen beauty, redemption, restoration, salvation, healing and love. This present darkness doesn’t change the truth of those moments and I continue to move in ways you can’t see and haven’t seen yet. I love you. I weep with you. I pray for you. And I want to carry you and your pain. Release it all to me…your doubt, your fear, your anger, your confusion, your disappointment…everything that is weighing heavy on your heart and pressing the breath out of your lungs. Open your hands and let it go. I am with you. In the moments when you question me and my promises, remember that this is always true. In every season, every wilderness, every pit…I am with you. That’s what I do. I come to you. I stand with you. I hold you. You don’t have to figure out how to make your way to me because I’m already here, now. Always have been and always will be. Life is a continuous series of joy and suffering but in all things, I am by your side and you are loved. Hold fast to that truth. Fight for faith with all that is in you so that you can trust me when nothing else makes sense. Guard your heart and don’t let this world shut it off to love.I will carry you, your burdens and your pain. Speak to your fear and preach to your doubt, I was faithful then, I am faithful now, and I will be faithful for all of eternity.
You, my love, are seen, known and held.”