Lately I have been a real mess. Not a quirky, things-will-come-out-right-in-the-end kind of mess, either. A gross and ugly mess that you’re sure will yield rotting surprises. I have seriously questioned my mental health and the wisdom of even interacting with other humans. My heart and mind have been dark and confusing. Even just last night, all of the worst lies came out to taunt me as I tried to go to sleep.
When I woke up (after very little sleep) I felt that same raw and twisty anxiety, but as I sat down to spend some time with God, he came quickly in just the way I needed. He didn’t soothe me with “No, everyone really loves you, it’s okay,” but instead pointed me to how incredibly faithful he is, has been and will continue to be. I think it’s only after I recognize how big and good he is that I am able to feel comforted by what he then says about who I am.
Then, at the end of class today I had a good dose of “hindsight” as I finished up my last teaching in the School of Biblical Studies.
What I got to see at the end of my teaching is how all the things that God spoke about this season before it happened (this season being my involvement with SBS since the beginning of 2012) have taken place…
Even before I knew I would have anything to do with this Bible school, a woman gave me this really detailed word from God about what it would look like. (I don’t know what you think about that kind of thing, but if this is a sticking point in my story, please feel free to seek me out to talk!)
Here is how I now know that what she said in 2011 was from God: All of it was written down and as first I read it, I thought to myself, “This hardly makes sense, I don’t see this.” Today, at the end of my teaching, as is SBS tradition, the staff and students poured out encouragement and love to me. What they said matched what that woman wrote down over two years ago.
All of it was really beautiful things that God did through me for them. I’m baffled by how we think things will be, versus how they turn out in reality. The most remarkable things the students and staff said were, all of them (except one), gifts that have come out of my total brokenness. This makes sense when you think about past lessons learned, but the craziest part to me is how this has also happened in areas where I’ve had no clue what’s going on- areas of current brokenness.
I don’t like being vulnerable in front of people. Before I open my mouth to speak the words, I am sure that everyone will simply agree that I suck and either give me unwanted advice or write me off as crazy. Every time, before I start, I feel fear on my skin like acid.
But somehow? Somehow when I choose to confess the real state of my heart, God shows up to reveal himself to any willing to see him (and I am nearly always desperate to see him). What does he reveal about himself? Not that he’s disappointed it took me so long to confess, not that he wishes I’d done everything differently – (those are the things I think about myself) He shows up in the room with us and reveals his immeasurable goodness, love and mercy. Most miraculously, he shows up, he takes the mess in his hands and he rearranges it to show his participation all along.
God himself goes right into the biggest pain, the deepest insecurities, the most clinging and needy places within us. When we’re nose deep in sin he doesn’t turn away, but offers himself as a way out.
There’s this arguably wonderful movie about what it might look like for Jesus to show up in a modern day small town (it’s called Joshua). In one scene, a woman who is grieving what a broken mess her life is, grabs a nearby glass vase and smashes it on the ground. That’s my life, she says, nothing can be done to fix such a mess. Later, after the Jesus character leaves town a friend comes to this woman and says, “Hey, he left this for you.” It’s the vase she had smashed, but formed into a beautiful figurine.
The hardest part of the brokenness/blessing equation is the part where we’re broken. I can’t minimize this because, for me, this season has been so difficult that even after walking with Jesus for so long I still (again) felt sure that nothing beautiful could come from it. No, this time it’s all molded into a stinking heap and I’ll be lucky to make it out alive. But I’m telling you, Jesus always wins this one-upping game and I can just see his playful smile as he rearranges my perspective.
So now my plan is just to keep losing it all. My reputation, my self-respect, even my mind. It’s not what I expected to lose for the sake of Christ, but if he is glorified through my broken confessions, then I will continue to confess.