I've been kind of hiding under a rock a bit. Some people won't believe that - I'm still doing all the stuff I've been doing. But I've been hiding from my blog because this is where I usually share my deeper thoughts, my experiences, stuff about my insides. And lately there has been stuff that I can't really share because I'm trying to figure it all out on some level.
And today, I got to do some figuring.
I'm part of the leadership of my church. My term is about to end as my time leading my particular ministry is coming to an end after 3 years. This weekend, our leadership team had our annual retreat. And I had something of an "ah ha" moment in a big discussion about our spiritual gas tanks.
I realized I wasn't full. I wasn't empty. I wasn't in the middle.
Or rather, I didn't know how to tell if I was full or empty or on the middle.
My gauge is broken.
I've been having some personal struggles. The kind of struggles that aren't easy to define. It isn't money or my marriage or stuff with my kids. It isn't depression or illness or a fight with family members.
In the midst of the conversation about our spiritual filled-ness, as I was pondering if I feel spiritually full or not, I realized that I simply didn't know. I know that I am in an internal struggle right now and I know that part of my struggle is church related and interpersonal relationship related and self evaluation related. And I also know that God is carrying me through this.
But it suddenly struck me that God isn't just carrying me through it. He brought me to it first.
As a dear friend and faithful mentor shared with me:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule." Matthew 5:3 (The Message)
I'm in this place for a reason. I'm in this place - where I feel lost, feel unsure of who I can trust, feel unsure of how truly loved I am, how much people actually like me - because it's here that I am vulnerable. And it's in this vulnerability that I learn to see where I am broken and learn to see that God loves me in my brokenness. And that the broken people I see around me aren't a sign that I have to pull back and protect myself. I need to step in and love them as they are, where they are - the way God does.
But it's hard. And I'm not sure that I fully know how to do that because there is still a lot of uncertainty and a lot of desire to protect myself and a lot of wondering about my selfish need to be liked and this jealousy I've found within myself.
And then I had a random conversation with another friend. About nothing related to any of this. It was about our kids. She's been through some hard seasons with her kids. And she's supported me through some of those hard seasons with my kids. And now here we are, both enjoying where we are in parenting. For this moment. Knowing hard times are ahead. And knowing that more of these likeable seasons are ahead.
And it struck me...
She's a friend that has stayed by my side... even if there had been distance between our sides... through a lot in the past year or so. That even though we've recognized distance between us because of life and lack of time and whatever else... we still have God's love between us. We still have a heartbeat that is in sync as we seek to be the hands and feet of Christ and we both have a spirit of desiring to love others.
She's someone who loves me in my brokenness.
And it made me realize that my life is filled with people who have loved me - even in my brokenness, in my flaws, in my pain, in the pain I caused, in the midst of my personal chaos.
My friend Cathy who stood by me through a lot of personal trauma in high school.
My parents as they supported me and loved me through a decade of nearly impossible parenting of my teen self who was terribly damaged.
My husband as he has suffered with me, loved me, sometimes maybe been a bit frustrated by me, encouraged me, and let me support and encourage him.
Friends who have sometimes faded and sometimes stood solidly by my side.
Friends who have prayed for me. Friends who have fun with me. Friends who hug me and hold me (and sometimes even pet my hair to calm me down).
Yes, there's been a garish light on some of this interpersonal difficulty lately.
But the light is starting to shine bigger and fuller and I'm seeing more and more that in this time of vulnerability and uncertainty... God has given me the incredible gift of people who love me. People who love me just as I am - even when it is nearly impossible, even when I am very unloveable.
There is beauty in the broken. Beauty in the vulnerable. Beauty in the pain. Sometimes it is hard to see it or feel it or know it. But it's true. And I pray that if you are in one of those darker seasons that there are points of light surrounding you so that you know that you are still loved.