I am crazy, head-over-heels, completely and totally in love and it’s so much fun!
I used to keep joy, and consequently potential bringers of joy, at arm’s length, without even realizing I was doing it.
Now, I’m letting it in more often than not. It’s wildly, insanely good.
Unfortunately, I’m finding I have never really dealt with all the hurt I have experienced in the past. Just as I was numb to the joy, I was also numb to the pain–an emotional defense mechanism operating like a well-oiled machine.
But one cannot let in the joy without letting the yucky stuff in with it. Of late, I have been feeling some of that long-buried hurt and anger. It has been taking me by surprise. Sadly, I have found myself unleashing it on any handy target.
Guess what? My sources of joy are way too handy. I end up unloading pain and anger on the people I love the most. Blaming them for things they had nothing to do with. Responding with anger that is way disproportionate to any perceived slight.
I’m not used to accepting this gift Father lavishes on me. It brings to mind the saying, “give her an inch, she’ll take a mile.” Give me a little joy, and I try to put it in my pocket, keep it for myself, cling to it, demand more of it. Since experiencing this level of joy is new for me, I need Father every single hour of the day to remind me from whom it comes. I need his constant reminder that I can’t control it, and by trying, I dilute it or push it away.
I cannot remember an Easter when I felt anywhere near as grateful as I do today to be a child of my Father.
And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain,
and your faith is also vain. ~1 Cor. 15:14
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.
Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
Father God has been incredibly generous with me lately. Inexplicably, he has doled out a great deal of joy to my undeserving self, even just in the last few days alone.
Yet, right alongside that joy, he’s disciplining me. He has clearly pointed out to me that I’m not all finished with my recovery process, begun a decade ago and inexplicably abandoned. He has shown me how grasping and controlling I still am, how effortlessly I can default to manipulative in all my relationships, how quickly I can take the joy Father hands me and grasp it so painfully tight that it cannot grow, be shared with others, or even stick around for very long.
Therefore, it is not surprising that when faced with a difficult, ass-kicking devotional this morning, my first instinct was to go hunting down scripture that would buttress my position on the matter, such position being of course that I deserve the incredible gift I’ve been given and am justified in hanging onto it tightly and doing whatever I like with it. This is the shittiest behavior ever in response to a gift – especially when that gift is the trust and company of a special person. How offensive to Father!
I don’t want to be that person. Nobody does, of course! So my response to that yuck inside of me is paralysis. Since my tendency would be to manipulate scripture for my own purposes, I am afraid to go to scripture at all! Instead, I want to escape into a sugar coma and the distractions of the internet and television.
But today, I want to be different. Faced with my paralysis, I heard my friend telling me how I’m afraid to be quiet with myself. That I’m not comfortable in my own skin. That I need to be still and let Father do the surgery he needs to do. I also heard that same friend ordering me to clean out my disgusting car!
Consequently, I knew what I needed to do. I needed to pray, then go clean out my car in silence. No music. No audiobook. No distractions. Only Father God and garbage bags.
I had cleaned out the entire front seat area and most of the middle row before it came. I was beginning to think Father was going to let me twist in the wind a little longer, but my faith is small. What he told me today isn’t anything I didn’t already know, but simply was precisely what I needed to hear to end my paralysis and move closer to him.
Really, Father? I walk through life constantly being told by friends to relax. Now that’s what I’m hearing from you? That’s what you’ve got for me?
Relax. Slow down. Shut up. Breathe. Stop frantically trying to figure everything out perfectly. Stop anesthetizing with sugar and media when you can’t handle life on your own terms. Stop being afraid of losing what you are grasping so tightly. Let go for a damn minute and just listen to me.
Know who I am! Creator of the Universe. Perfectly just and perfectly loving. Eternal. Omnipotent. Set your mind on things above, where Christ is, seated at my right hand. Focus on me, not yourself. Focus on me, not what you’re grasping so relentlessly. Let go! I’ve got this. You can go to scripture if you go focused on me and only me.
Remember how much I love you. Remember what I’ve done for you. Remember that historically when you throw up your hands and surrender, I immediately reward you with joy and abundance.
You don’t have to look back through your journal to locate the times when I’ve lavished love and joy onto your undeserving ass! Try yesterday. Try the day before yesterday, and the day before that. You cried out to me, you handed me your life, you surrendered to my discipline and felt your pain instead of running for the hills, and in return I immediately handed back peace and joy.
If you remember this, then you can trust me to give you everything you need, and lots of things you want, or don’t even know yet that you want! If it is perfect, if it is right, if it will bring you joy and glorify me, I want to give it to you. I want to lavish you with crazy, unbridled joy because I love you, daughter. I have shown you my love for you over and over again. Get your head out of your ass and recognize it.
Trust me enough to let go of what you’re frantically grasping, knowing that it will stick around if it’s right, and if it’s not, it’s OK. More joy is just around the corner. That’s how God rolls.
Respect this same process in the people around you. You know how long it takes you to get where I want you to be. This is no different in your friends. Meet your brothers and sisters right where they are, rather than trying to drag them by the ears to a different place. Your friends are too heavy to drag, silly!
If you remain intimate with me, daughter, you will have no need to manipulate other people in your life. If you begin to feel that need to manipulate welling up inside you…RELAX.
Thank you, Father. Amen.