“The way we see the problem is the problem.” -Stephen R. Covey
I recently started Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. As I reflect on so many of the disappointments, frustrations, hardships that I’ve experienced and seen others experience, I couldn’t agree with Covey more. I get disillusioned when the problems in my life and the world are my focus… they seem big and God seems small. But, when I see my life and this world through the lens of the Gospel and the truth of who God is… and therefore who I am, everything changes. Covey calls it a “paradigm shift.” But, coming to this realization is a process and one that I often can only come to through writing out my questions and thoughts. Lately, God has reminded me that He is faithful and can handle our questions. Wrestle with Him, ask Him… Wait expectantly for Him to answer. He will.
“Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, and so in him I put my hope.” (Lamentations 3:21-24 GNT)
But that’s the shiny part… Here’s my process, my wrestling, that the Lord used to help me understand….
My identity feels like it’s slipping away, or maybe it’s being washed away… either way I feel away… Away from my self that I knew and grew comfortable consoling for the woes that seemed to wind through the music playing in my car stereo, my headphones, my laptop, my life. Who knew I was clinging so tightly to the distress in my life? Who knew that a season of joy instead of sorrow could usher in so much strife?
We talk about how to handle the trials, but how do we accept blessings in this world wrought with sin? How do I smile and laugh when so many souls are suffocating beneath their suffering? How do I say yes to a life of joy without worrying that it will all be taken away because it should be taken away… I mishandle every good thing, yet You insist on giving me good things. Should it be this hard to accept a gift? No, it shouldn’t. And it truly isn’t that hard when it’s one gift… but then You keep handing them to me, and unwrapping them for me because I refuse to do it myself. I run away from love because I know I don’t deserve it myself. I don’t function on love although it’s right in front of me. I fuel myself on hardship, expecting it, welcoming it, familiar it is. The loneliness, the tears, they’re fast friends with no end and always on time and never fail to show – I can count on them…
Love I can count on too, but love hurts more and means keeping the door unlocked because it’s always showing up unexpectedly, but consistently for me. I can count on love to bring the most pain, ripping out my self-centric self-centeredness… and I feel myself slipping away. But maybe it is Your blood on my hands and in my heart. I put my hand to my chest and Your words are already there, inscribed like an autograph on a piece of art. Yes, I’m being washed but not away…
What I thought was my pain was really Yours… But I can feel it, the sledgehammer of sin with a sharp pointy edge that starts with a wind-sucking smack across my back and finishes with a paper cut slice across my face, chased by a salty sav meant only to searingly sting into eternity, eternally. Yes it’s ugly, it’s painful, it’s real but everything I feel,
You already felt.
“Love covers a multitude of sins.” -1 Peter 4:8
“My philosophy is: Life is hard, but God is good. Try not to confuse the two.” -Anne F. Beiler