A few weeks ago I felt convicted that I needed to share more – write more. And I knew that to some degree it would be a humbling experience because my life is messy, crisis-prone, exhausting, and somewhat embarrassing.
Last night something happened that tends to happen a bit more than I’d like lately, and I prayed, “Lord, how honest do I really need to be? Do I need to share this?”
I believe I know the answer although I’m typing this with no real intention of posting… if this gets posted, you’ll know that God absolutely, without a doubt, showed me clearly that I needed to.
Days are busy and nights…well, the moment I slow down everything crowds in. Every failure, whether real or perceived, weighs heavy on my heart and mind. I’m crushed by emotions and questions and just all the things.
As I climb onto my bed, moving pillows and blankets so I don’t melt in my mid-life sleeping, I can feel my eyes begin to water. Soundless tears begin to fall. An ache forms in my chest and my breath catches. My mind races with all the questions no one but God knows the answer to and I don’t know if He’ll ever tell me the reasons I long to know…if He’ll speak the truth to my heart because maybe that will break it more, which honestly is a bit inconceivable.
But the truth is…the truth I need to know..the truth He wants me to know…the truth that will hold all my tears and listen patiently and compassionately to my questions and laments…the truth is that He loves me.
I’m weary to my core…like no weary I’ve known before…but I also feel that God is carrying me closer to Himself than I have felt in so long. I almost can’t explain it.
Maybe it’s a little what Elijah felt when he ran for his life from Jezebel. God had used Elijah in mighty ways, but something happened and Elijah despaired. He felt like a failure. He sat down under a bush and begged to die. Elijah says words I’ve spoken many times (not the kill me words though, the other ones), “I’ve had enough Lord. I’m no better than all the other people who sinned and failed before me.” Elijah succinctly pours out his heart to God and then falls asleep. That’s pretty much me every night.
Father, I can’t do it anymore. I feel like an utter failure.
Just a moment later, at least it seems that way, an angel touches him and instructs him to wake up and eat. Elijah sees that there is bread and water. He eats, drinks, and then goes back to sleep. Again, the angel of the Lord touches him and says, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.”
Father, I do feel like Elijah. Lord, what you have called me to feels like too much; please strengthen and sustain me.
Elijah was strengthened by the food and then traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached a cave and there he spent the night. Then the Lord spoke to Elijah and asked him what he was doing there. I think the question was more like, “What is going on dear one? Why are you here?” God already knew, but maybe He wanted Elijah to admit and face his fears. Elijah answers with what he has done for God, the disappointments and probably what feels like failures, and how he thinks he is the last one left following God.
Father, I have tried to follow you and do what I believe you have called me to and yet nothing seems to work the way I thought it would. I feel so alone in this struggle.
Boy, is it easy to feel alone in our battles, particularly when we feel like a failure. This is one of my biggest struggles. I sometimes don’t want to ask for help because I need so much of it. Sometimes I look at things and just feel like an absolute and complete failure. If I was good at things we wouldn’t be in this place dealing with these issues, facing these crises. The phrase I fight the hardest in my head is “I’m such a failure.” And I know that is not from God because He does not see me as a failure, just as He didn’t see Elijah as one.
God tells Elijah to “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” (1 Kings 19:11) As Elijah was standing there first a “powerful wind tore the mountain apart and shattered the rocks,” but that wasn’t the Lord. Then the earth quaked and fire blazed, but neither of those was the Lord either. Finally, a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he moved to the mouth of the cave to hear God better.
Lord, I want to hear you better.
Have you ever had someone whisper to you? Your natural inclination is to lean in to hear better. I believe this is what God wanted Elijah to do. I think it is also what He wants us to do. Lean in closer.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8
God didn’t get angry at Elijah for being afraid, feeling like a failure, and despairing. He met him where he was with comfort (and food which is always comforting). God prepared Elijah for what was ahead. It wasn’t easy, but God was with him. God spent time with Elijah. Spoke to Elijah. Showed Himself to Elijah.
My time sitting on my bed quietly weeping is not always a bad thing…actually I don’t know if it ever is. Sometimes it’s freeing. It’s quiet, solitary time with God. And I believe it’s healing. I’m finally dealing with some deep hurts and sorrows, grieving losses and betrayals, laying my heart bare before God.
Before now life has to some degree been too busy to feel things deeply. Being a single parent doesn’t allow for a lot of self-reflection or feeling deep emotions for more than a minute. I’ve spoken with enough single parents to know that we all walk a path of self-sacrifice and our focus is usually on others…the to-dos are never ending – work, home, school, sports, activities, appointments, and broken things (not just hearts and homes, but appliances, cars, plumbing, etc.) can make life move at a ridiculous pace. You wake early and go to bed late and can’t figure out when exactly you took a breath or sat down for a minute before you needed to do something else.
Please know that in any given day, in fact most days, the good far outweighs the bad…but that doesn’t negate the overall effect of running on empty for years and years. My empty tank is bone dry and I’m finally finding time to fill it back up…some of the filling is with tears. I’ve cried my share of them over the years, but I would never have called myself a weeper. Now is a different story. Tonight someone came to pick up my dead car from my driveway and I almost cried in front of him. Two weeks ago in my small group someone said, “Hey, you know there are people in church who will help you with your house”…I cried the whole way home. (Now if I could just humble myself and call…so embarrassed about all that needs fixing.) The first time I loaded the new dishwasher after being without one for about four years…tears welled up in my eyes. Silly, I know, but I was just so thankful and blessed by it. Other times, it’s a thought that crushes me, a feeling that stabs my heart, a hard memory that I feel deeply…it’s okay though. I believe it’s important for us to work through those things and lay them at the foot of the Cross with all the other junk in our lives. It’s a process. Sometimes I lay it down and pick it back up again…only to repeat the process several times…sometimes all in one day.
I think maybe I’m supposed to share this with you because I don’t believe I’m alone in it. This mourning what was lost that can never be again. Grieving the pain and hurt caused by someone I loved deeply, faithfully, and completely. Processing the thoughts that besiege me at my weakest moments. I can’t stop thoughts yet, but I’m learning to replace them. To trust that as I continue to replace them eventually God will erase them to a distant memory that no longer stings.
There is hope even in the end-of-day fall apart time. God meets me there. He sustains me with His love. He asks me questions that reveal my heart and mind in that moment. His word holds healing truths for me. His willingness to listen to me assuages my loneliness. And when I lean in to listen, He speaks love over me.
“Weeping may last for a night,
but joy comes in the morning.”
One thought on “How Honest Do I Really Need to Be?”
Thank you for sharing this. I know being raw and vulnerable is scary and hard…but I appreciate you sharing anyway. I grapple with alot of the same thoughts of failure you expressed but I don’t lean in to God much these days. I think bc I spent so much time doing that and still felt like nothing changed. I remember this story about Elijah—it used to be one of my favorites I went to when I was seeking comfort. I wouldn’t have voluntarily sought out scripture but perhaps reading your piece was a way that God brought it to me.
I’m sorry you are going through so much. I hope you continue to take it day by day.
All the best, Shay