From a Resident of Midian

I acted rashly. Out of emotion. Feeling that I was right and seeking to address the injustice rather than my own feelings. I was in what you would call a personal crisis, reflecting on something that had been stewing under the surface for a while but unwilling to address it head on. Until it came bubbling up in a single moment.

So now I find myself here. In this wilderness land. In a desert of my own making as I fled the consequences of my own sin. Of my rashness of judgement and severity of words. Of emotions and feelings that I allowed to be the controller of my thoughts and life. I didn’t realize how well I’d gotten at running until I took off outside the borders and the walls that I thought were trapping me in. That were attempting to confine me, rather than define the work I would be doing to bust them down.

I ran until I felt I was furthest away from the situations, the people, my emotions and sin, and the consequences of my words. Here I am at a well. In my moment of flight, in seeking to not be known for what has been done by me and to me, I find myself thirsting to be known. Thirsting for water that can wash over what I have dirtied. What others have cast upon me too. Not for just a moment’s satisfaction of quenching this thirst, like I felt my actions were…like my emotions led me to believe would satisfy the thirst for justice.

This desert has left me desperate for water that can only come from a well found in Him. Found in my desperate attempt to cling to everything but Him. To flee and hide, only to be found content in my desperate need for only Him. I came with nothing, only myself, and that’s all He has wanted of me from the beginning-just me. Now I am an alien in a foreign land, feeling as if I don’t belong and yet knowing to be content in exactly that. That wilderness is preparing me for the next season, the next step. Preparing my heart and my mind, quieting the voices of doubt and lies and letting me hear Him speak deeply to me.

I don’t know how long He would have me be here, in this land of Midian, but I know it’s not for me to question why I am here but to only present myself over to what He would have me see, prepare for, work out and understand…to be silent and content before Him alone. He meets me here, in the place of Midian. In the daily. To live out my life in pursuit of a desperate need for Him and not myself, not others, not my plan, my emotions, or my sense of justice.

Current Midianite

 

 

 

Emotions and Grief

“I’m just letting you know I’ll cry at your funeral.”

We were driving back to Knoxville earlier this week when we had this conversation. We had just been to the funeral of our uncle, heard the words of friends and family extending their sorrow and grief to our family. I had just had my grandmother, a woman not known for her compassion or emotions, gripping my back from her wheelchair crying into my ear that she loved me, she loved both of her girls.

And here we sat, going down the dark interstate, talking about how we’d cry at each other’s funerals…because this is how our family does emotions. I’ll be honest that I am the crier in the family. I’m the emotional one, my mom can attest to that fact, dating back to my tumultuous teen years.

As I listened to the stories of how my uncle sang in church, how he competed in an ice cream contest and won as a ten year old (and also diabetic), and how he was made new when he awoke in the presence of God Sunday I couldn’t help but be overcome with emotion. This family isn’t a close one…we don’t operate that way outside of my parents house. We fight and we nag each other. We judge and we cast blame. I think many families are that way, for better and for worse. We grow up in it and think it’s normal, we learn to operate within it and accept it. Then we arrive at these hard, grievous moments (two over the last 18 months in our family) and can’t quite figure out how to process life, death. We hear about our relative and didn’t know those things or we find out there’s another side to someone we thought we knew.

I am learning, at the old age of 33, that part of me is grafted and crafted by my family. I thought on this fact as my sister and I conversed in that car ride Wednesday night. She’s the analytical one who will always work in a process, where I am the wildly feeling one who is sometimes ridiculous with emotions and lives into them. But we both agreed that we would cry at one another’s funerals because that’s how family is, that’s how my family is…we process in conversation, in quiet, in our own way.

We choose our ways of feeling, grieving, caring and loving. For me, that means talking about it, processing out loud, crying (a little more than I’d like sometimes) and choosing quiet and alone. For our family, it means maybe not talking about it as much, about the loss or the grief. Instead we talk about memories, we break the awkward silence with moments of joy. It’s knowing that in our grief there is rejoicing. For we find going about our daily business is often easier than giving way to the reality of the absence of our loved one, their presence still felt even though they no longer are.

Airing of Grievances

Monday was a Monday for all intents and purposes. I had a bit of a rough day and then committed my big cardinal sin. I shared a vague Facebook status update about it. Normally I don’t do that. I don’t like when others throw these vague updates that are either passive aggressive or looking for empty platitudes.

But I had a moment. I caved and shared that I had cried in the office.

That’s when I gave myself a hard time…for not dealing with the situation better, not holding my emotions together over a frustration better, and ultimately not keeping it off of social media like I usually do. While I often delve into personal areas here on the blog, I try to keep it just above my nerve endings or talk about it once I am well past the moment.

However sometimes we do need to process immediately. We do need to share that life isn’t all roses and splendor. We need to remove the sheen we have so adeptly placed on our lives for others and go, “Yeah, I had a hard day today and could use some comfort.” While I don’t condone those who only complain or throw their “woe is me” attitude all over Facebook-you know who you are-I would say it helps to share in the safety of community at times.

For me, my community at that moment was friends on Facebook. In wasn’t in a group of strangers or my professionals group…and it also wasn’t too over the top to warrant a deep discussion in the comments. It happens, and we move on. We realize we are human, as are others that we interact with daily, and we find that sometimes our emotions need to spill over because our heart just cannot hold them in any longer.

For a very long time I felt sharing emotions was a sign of weakness, of instability, of a need for attention. Slowly I am realizing that when emotion flows over it is because I am human, and there are things I struggle with, and how best to rectify that tension within myself and within a situation.

I understand too that God is with us in those moments. He is with me, right there in that moment. He provides that safe shelter-a safe haven-while the storm rages, while the emotions overflow, while my heart gets frustrated with the tension that has no logic or reason to it at that moment. I take for granted He knows my heart, He knows the situation and that He knows my thoughts. Instead of me coming to Him, I just throw it off as “Well He’s the Creator of the universe, He knows the number of hairs on my head…I don’t have to tell Him this.” So instead I run and tell others, or I let it stay pent up until it explodes from my tear ducts.

Yesterday made me realize that I too quickly pick others over God to listen when I am hurting. While that is not a bad thing, it’s not necessarily good either. Yes, He knows my heart but don’t you like it when a close friend shares their heart even when you know it already? That’s what God is desiring of me more and more, if I would stop airing my grievances to others first and run to Him.

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentiveto my cry for mercy.

Psalm 130:1, 2

Anger Management

Last week I lost my temper in the worst possible place.

Church

Photo courtesy of Anger Management, the movie.
Photo courtesy of Anger Management, the movie.

Admitting that to you all is hard, because I had to admit it to the person I lost it with first, which was much harder. It wasn’t a pastor or visitor, it was someone who knows me pretty well at this point in life. They were attempting to call me out on the path I was headed down and I didn’t like it. In fact, I was seeing red and wanted to escape.

I tell you all this, to share this small piece of the story. In the moment as my anger began building I heard a small heart whisper. I don’t hear God audibly, but I often hear Him whispering into my heart and this small voice said “Don’t let your flesh, the devil, ruin this right now. Don’t give in to it.” Instead I shoved it aside and fell into anger and let my temper and emotions control the situation I couldn’t otherwise control.

That moment, that choice, had a domino effect for the last week. Not only on my life but another individual’s life. And several others if I am being really truthful. If I had stopped and listened to the sound of reason, of truth, straight from God, life would’ve been much more peaceful this week I believe. I chose a familiar road of anger and resentment, of piercing rage and emotions.

I had a choice, as we all do, in how I respond in situations. That choice has consequences that go far beyond that moment, or myself. Now I have to be the one to reconcile and seek forgiveness, knowing I had to first go before God seeking forgiveness for disobedience, anger, and so much more.

If you are facing anger or a temper, I pray this same verse over you that I am praying over myself. May we begin overlooking the slights and the wrongs, and start living with better sense. Of ourselves, of God, and who He knows we can be.

People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.

Proverbs 19:11