lessons learned

As I prayerfully consider what his will is, I hold these verses in 2 Corinthians 6 closely. As grieving yet always rejoicing. I am not rejoicing right now. I am nowhere near rejoicing. Quite the opposite, I have done little besides beg the Lord to remove this from my plate. I have asked him to lead me and then fought as he has done so. I have questioned every step of the way. I say that I trust the Lord but my heart, my wicked heart, seems to deny his voice because I don’t like what he is saying.

Since I know no one I know will ever read this, I can be honest. Not that I’m dishonest to the people in my life, I’m probably too honest actually. But I am a private person and as such, I don’t know how to express the hurt. Like the girl from Mean Girls, I just have a lot of feelings. Long story short, I have spent the last year and a half or so with this sweet, sweet boy. He loves me completely and is everything that we prayed for. And I love him. But I don’t think that I’m in love with him. I don’t feel giddy at the thought of him. I don’t smile when someone says his name. I don’t miss him when he isn’t here. And I know that there is so much more to a relationship than the spark, the passion. I know that you need trust and respect and common goals and we have all of that. But I don’t feel anything. And so here I am. I feel trapped. I am with someone who is talking about marriage and I love him dearly. But I don’t think I’m in love with him. I have always been extremely guarded. And for no good reason, I haven’t been hurt by anyone, not really. But I am so closed off and I don’t know if I’m not allowing myself to feel deeply for him or if it just isn’t there. I don’t think that would be very fair. I think that we have worked so hard and we have put so much into it and the idea that a lack of passion would end it seems ridiculous and I really don’t like it.

And so here I sit. Twenty-one and terrified. I went to Africa last week. For the first time, God showed me his will in another area of my life. I had never experienced that. It was so direct. So personal. And so, obviously foolishly, I gave God my relationship with my boyfriend. I think that I assumed that as he saw how selfless and trusting I was being, he would pat me on the back and say that all is well and bless the relationship. Instead, he has placed doubt and pain in my heart. I’m not angry. I’m just tired. I want to feel like everyone else. I want to look at him and say “you’re mine. Forever mine and I am satisfied with that.” But I can’t. And I don’t know if that is a phase, if this is the Lord stretching me – very thinly stretching – or if this is him telling me that I asked for guidance and here it is. Writing this out has actually not helped at all. And as I doubt anyone will ever read this, why would they?, I don’t really know why I wrote it. I guess I just don’t want to feel alone anymore. My parents are worried about me, my friends have no idea, and my sweet boy doesn’t know how to make it better. I don’t think he knows how much I’m struggling. And that’s another really difficult component to all of this. He’s the one I talk to about everything. And here’s this really big, painful struggle and I feel completely lost and I can’t tell him how hard it is because he will think that he’s the problem and that’s not the case at all.

I have seen countless examples – big examples – in the past few months of how mighty and powerful God is. I have seen him change lives, mine included, proving his trustworthiness. And yet here comes this really personal struggle and I literally am forgetting every great work he has done because this somehow is different. Humans… me… we are all really the worst. I forget so quickly about the great love my Father has for me. I see this small section of my life and I become paralyzed. God never leaves my side. He stands with me through the darkest night. Those are lyrics that I stole from Citizens who probably grabbed it from scripture but the point remains the same.

I am really wanting the Lord to grow me but I think that every time he does, I forget how much it hurts.

_________________________

836_10202494203981268_1950099484_nI don’t know where to begin. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t open up easily. It takes a lot of time spent with
someone to trust them. This isn’t because I’ve been hurt in some horrible way in the past. I just tend to be extremely private and know that most people don’t actually care and I don’t want my secrets to go away with them. Because of this, I don’t talk about anything of consequence very often. Last week something devastating happened in my life and I feel like it’s important to talk about. I haven’t told anyone about it but I cried to my roommate because I trust her completely. I know that no one who reads this knows me, which comforts me.

I don’t want to write it out. There’s no point. But I found out that my father struggles with addiction.

The Lord has been kind. My dad said that his worst fear was his daughters finding out. This has acted as a sort of rock-bottom. He’s begun going to meetings for men who struggle with addiction. We’ve talked since and our relationship is healing. I still cry when I think about it and feel rather alone because no one outside of my family knows about it. But I have been blessed with a spirit of mercy, compassion, and grace towards my father. Even as I sat on the porch late Wednesday night, I was reminded how we are all broken vessels before the Lord and his grace covers all. I hate that my father feels hopeless and doesn’t feel worthy of the grace of God.

Pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s assumed that everyone looks at it and people don’t seem to consider its consequences. I want to point out the obvious: habits made when we are young and carefree, harmless or not, will carry into our adult lives. My fathers struggle will go with him to the grave. I know that when he was young, he never thought about the consequences he would face. The respect his daughters would lose for him. The hurt it would cause his wife. The pain of failure before his Lord.

Within the church, we don’t like to talk about our struggles. A friend of mine who told me she was a Christian has struggled so much lately. She thought all Christians were happy and care-free because so often, we portray the message of hope of Christ but fail to mention that struggles and sins and addictions can continue throughout the Christian life and rather than disappearing, sometimes even intensify. The Christian life is difficult. Sin is painful. But we are doing no one any favors by hiding behind our plastic smiles. I am the worst of these. By refusing to ever be honest about struggles and pain in my heart, I often portray a very unrealistic happiness which is in no way genuine. I don’t mean to undermine the great joy and hope and peace and grace of the gospel. God’s grace is sufficient. But I think that it would have done my friend a great service to tell her that the gospel doesn’t make problems disappear. I don’t believe she is truly saved. I believe she latched onto this hope because her life is falling apart and she is lost. I don’t blame the Christians who shared the gospel with her. But I do believe we bare a heavy responsibility to accurately portray the gospel and the Christian life, not only to non-believers but to one another.

I know the statistics of pornography. I know how many people participate. I also now know, firsthand, the devastation it can cause not only to an individual, but within a family. I don’t write this to punish my father. I still respect him immensely and love him dearly. I pity him and his struggle which he’s felt the need to keep a secret for so long because it is somehow still considered taboo.

I want the Christian community to be genuine. I want there to be openness and honesty and no judgement. I want there to be love and forgiveness and repentance. I know this may be unrealistic while we are here on earth. But I also know that there are countless people who feel hopeless even within the gospel because they think their sins are too dark for the blood of the Lamb to cover. If no one else will tell you, don’t lose hope. Take courage, dear heart. The battle has been won. You can still finish the race well. The Lord does not require perfection. He desires a commitment of the heart. I hope that you find the hope of the Lord and know that despite our failures, his grace is enough.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. [Deuteronomy 31:8]

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. [Psalm 73:26]

update: I talk to my dad regularly. We laugh and talk and everything is fine. I still cry to think about it but the Lord is the restorer of that which was broken. My dad is going to meetings and fighting this addiction. And I am so proud of him. People are broken and the closer you get, the more that brokenness affects you. But by that point, you love them. And so, their pain is your pain. But their victory is your victory. I’m glad all of this happened the way that it did. I really am. My parents continue to amaze me. My mom’s forgiveness. My father’s fight. They are such strong, amazing parents through it all. God is so good.

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