That this may benefit others, inform those who love us, and would encourage the body that He is here.
I’ve noticed that I haven’t written in a long while since I last communicated the lowliness that had seemed to fill my life. And that hasn’t changed too much, but I have grown in a great amount of ways since I last wrote those words of discomfort and sadness. Being here has served to place both Alec and I in a position where it is difficult to cling to ourselves and our buried hurts, and where our wrong thinking is being brought to the surface to be done away with. We are, and I can at least speak for myself, in a season where we are seeing the Lord pull up and out the weeds in our hearts and minds, the things we haven’t seen before, or the things that we ignore to believe we are good enough. I am not only in a place of disorientation, but one of having the things I’ve believed taken and lifted up to the light of the Son of God. And like a counterfeit bill, my sin and thinking will just not suffice.
Over this week, from last weekend until now, God has done an amazing work of teaching me about myself, and it has been ugly. I’ve shed countless tears, felt overwhelming anxiety, and struggled with “Why, God?” Through conversations with friends who love me and family who knows me, here are some things I am learning, by God’s grace:
- I am an anxious woman. I say this to say that beyond feelings of control or needing safety, there are days that I feel overwhelmed and almost crippled by the anxiety I feel. I can be flooded with this endless list of to-do’s, ways I don’t measure up and can’t measure up, and fears of the future that make me want to huddle in our house and never leave. Through talking with someone who is very much like me, I have learned about how this is okay. That though anxious and afraid, I am enough where I am standing right now. That anxiety is a real feeling, and that it’s okay to not be okay. That the Lord is with me in the very thick and thorny center of it, calling my name in the wind.
- I tend towards being good enough, and this is unhealthy. I bury my own insecurities, and even who I am, in an effort to be accepted by others at all times, and to be strong enough when others are weak. I struggle to be accepting of not being at my very best, because the reality is that my best is pretty terrible anyway. My actions of performing a role of being good betray my beliefs that I don’t think the Lord is strong or able enough to handle all of my, my husband’s, and my friends’ baggage. He cannot be, He must not be, therefore I must be. When really, my friends and husband want me to be myself, who I am today, baggage and all. They do not want good Madison, or the Madison that is better than everyone and everything. They do not want the Madison that makes herself to be a god who rises above all of the petty problems of disheveled humanity. No. They, and the Lord quite frankly (because He made me who I am), want the Madison that struggles and cries and loves Lės Mis, because all those people love me. As I am on any given day, I am adored and sought after by the Lord.
So, honestly, I am in a season of learning myself, and re-learning myself. I am starting to be aware of anxiety as it comes and goes, starting to analyze the things I do to test them as whether I am doing them to be accepted, or if I am doing them because it’s part of who I am. I am in a season where old thinking of not being good enough and needing to control everything is being ripped up as weeds, and replaced with the way God’s thinks and feels about me and about this life. I am realizing that hey, I do try to control the things that naturally make me anxious, and I don’t have to. God is enough.
So if there are things about the Lord Himself that I am learning, it’s that:
He is in the middle of the story with me, this middle where it’s neither beginning nor end, and so I cannot see the future or how it will conclude. And that makes me anxious. But, He is in the boat with me, not ever to abandon me.
He does not steer us, His people and Beloved, around heartbreak, but heals the brokenhearted (see Psalm 147:3). That is a piece of news that isn’t so good and palatable, so we try to steer ourselves around it by performing and not getting into the dirt of relationships. We save ourselves in the season, but we are killing ourselves in the long-run. Heartbreak proves to be excellent and fertile ground for us to blossom in our Lord.
He has chosen the cycle of death and resurrection for the life of the believer, not a life of self-preservation. This is the same as the above truth, but sounds different. Jesus allowed His sweet friend Lazarus to die. He allowed it. He allowed it, so Lazarus could then experience the life of being personally called into resurrection. God is not pointless in our experiences of death and despair and struggle, but is always and evermore walking through those things with us to be able to resurrect us. “Madison, come out,” are words I will one day hear as He draws me into a season of resurrection, which maybe He is already doing.
There are many various details I have omitted, but know this: God is loving me here, in Chicago and in this season of understanding myself and understanding Him. He is loving Alec here too, as he and I both struggle to make and walk in friendships with others. He is here because that is what He has said He will do. He is leading both of us into a place of blooming, but He has to address our hearts in that process. How can He cause us to bloom on the basis of our pretending? It won’t work.
If you read this far, thank you. Thanks for loving us, for caring for us and praying for us. We are a couple of real ragamuffins trying to figure it all out, and being proven that hey, we’ve got nothing to offer. And that is exactly, exactly where God wants us.