Silence

I get really irritated when God is silent.

There, I said it.

We were doing really well there for a hot minute. Thoughts were churning, mind was turning, heart was burning… then POOF. It all went a bit flat. Maybe it’s my fault. I can be a tad manic with projects. I’ll get really, really excited to begin and then just lose all my oomph. Perhaps the product of never training myself out of procrastinating? In college, I was always a wait-til-the-last-possible-moment kind of girl. Deadlines–and nothing else–made me move.

Now, without enforced due dates, without anyone to impress, and without grades to earn… I kind of fail. Unfinished blog posts in my queue. Ideas for businesses, non-profits, and books. I have not finished one of them. (Although, to be fair to myself, once this is finished, I will have a finished something. Yay?)

Admittedly, the majority of the responsibility rests on my shoulders. But on top of that, the past week or so, I’ve just had a sense of silence. I had moments of, “Ok, here we go…” that felt like the precursor to a “big” moment. But, no. I was wrong. It’s been quiet. Quiet with no indication the Big Thing I’ve felt approaching is any closer.

What does it mean when God is silent? He’s not less present. He’s not punishing me (I think) and He’s not abandoning me. So what is this about?

I don’t know. Honestly. I don’t get what this is about. What lesson am I supposed to be learning? Trust? Faith? Perseverance?

Are my desires getting in the way? I have a deep, deep longing for a home right now. A little house with a big yard where I can plant a big ol’ garden and have play-dates and sleepovers and dinner parties. I’m also just really, really losing my interest in working a traditional job (call me crazy, go ahead). It’s time to start thinking about where Eva will go to Kindergarten (cue mommy tears). I’ve sort of come to terms with staying in North Carolina (now you can really call me crazy). There’s a lot of stuff to think about right now!

Is it that none of the stuff matters? No, I don’t think it’s that extreme. The details of life can be just as meaningful in our interactions with God as the big picture is.

Is that I am going the wrong way? No, I don’t think it’s that either but it could be that I am getting ahead of myself (happens all the time).

Is it that I just need to be still? Yeah, could be that.

Am I not listening hard enough? Maybe? Ok, ok… PROBABLY.

I don’t think God begrudges me my irritation but He probably does take issue with my worry….

Man, that really bites me in the butt every time! Worry! (insert lightbulb clip art here)

Worry gnaws at joy, ruins productivity, stifles creativity, and is just an all-around buzzkiller. Who’s got two thumbs and is guilty?? This girl!

Worry also interferes with worship. Do I believe God cares about all the little details in my life? Absolutely, without a shadow of doubt. Do I also believe that He is way bigger than the  details? Absolutely, without a shadow of doubt. Worry is like making a to-do list for God. “I need _____, _____, and ______ dealt with and while you’re at it, could you please take care of _____ and _____, as well? Thanks.” That has been the majority of my approach to Him lately.

Worship puts everything in perspective. Worship is that part where I step back, lay my concerns aside, and just wonder at the splendor of creation, the unfathomable depth of grace, and the limitless reach of love.

When I think about Him that way, I feel kind of silly complaining about… all of it. And when I think about silence in terms of worship, it all comes together. Be still and know: be silent and learn.

Alright, Lord. I see where you’re going with that. Well-played, sir.

I’m going to go enjoy the sounds of crickets chirping now, thanks.

Enough

I’ve clicked through a lot of blog links on Twitter in the past few weeks. Especially the ones that seem geared towards feeling overwhelmed, making big decisions, or being a single parent. I’ve been struggling with writing and just wanted some direction, a filter to make all this nonsense in my mind coalesce into a cohesive post. A flint stone to throw myself at until I spark. I have 8 unfinished drafts in my queue. Not joking. This is the ninth attempt at saying what I’ve been agonizing over for two weeks.

The most significant issue in the mix is my career. One day, driving on the highway, I was so struck with an achingly painful certitude that God made me a writer, I started weeping. Not the pretty, romantic kind of weeping, but the ugly hyperventilating, pull-off-the-side-of-the-road kind of weeping. And as much as I know that’s what I was made to do, I am equally struck by the weight of my responsibilities to provide for Eva. I’m not exactly in a position to drop everything and make it happen. It’s not an impossibility, it just can’t happen today. But I desperately wish it could happen today.

So I kept reading other posts, hoping that maybe someone has said something that will help. Lots of people have said things, good things, but none were the words I needed.

Sunday I arrived at church starved for hope and comfort. I was relatively confident I could find a bit of each while there. Mark, our pastor, passed out a stone to each person before he began his sermon. They were small, smooth black stones, probably something you’d normally use in a decorative water fountain or floral display. He gave no explanation except that we needed to hold on to them. I chose a triangular stone with a little crevice on one side. I held it in my left hand, calmly nestled in my palm through the whole service, as I listened to Mark and tried to sift through everything on my heart.

I’d really hoped that the sermon would be an easy answer to my problems–some variation on “Do what God made you to do” or “Go where the Holy Spirit calls you,” something I could latch on to and run with. But it wasn’t. It was about love. God is love, not just that he loves us, not just that we love him but that everything about love is God and everything about God is love. So my job as someone that follows God is to love. (Yes, the Moulin Rouge soundtrack did just start playing in your head–“The greatest thing you’ll ever know is to love and be loved in return.”)

At first I thought, “God, this is not helpful, this is not an answer.” But then I realized it was an answer that made my question obsolete. To some degree, it doesn’t matter what I do, I am still able to love on people–Eva, my family, my friends, you readers. It doesn’t matter what I do to provide financially, I can still be a writer.

I am already exactly the woman God made me to be.

I’m not perfect, I have so much learning to do, so much faith to grow into, but I am just as capable of living a life set apart for Him now in a job I hate, without a home of my own, with Atlas’ burden on my shoulders, as I would be if I had my dream life. In fact, I might even be better off this way because I am reminded of my desperate need for God every single day. If I had a cushy job, a house, a dog and the stability I crave, would I crave God’s grace so much? Probably not.

So if I am who I need to be, if I have everything I need to love and fulfill that purpose, what is stopping me from feeling fulfilled?

Mark finally told us what the stones were for as the service ended. Each stone represented a fear, just a single fear, and we were supposed to place the fear on the altar and let God deal with it. (Yes, some objects lessons are simplistic but no less meaningful in action.)

And with a rush of clarity as strong as the day I wept in the car, I knew that the only thing holding me back is my fear of not being enough. Not good enough to succeed, not smart enough to make the right decisions, not in tune enough with God’s plan to go the right way, not woman enough to ever be a wife, just simply not enough.

I know exactly where those feelings of inadequacy originate. I know that even though they resulted from real situations and feel like legitimate worries in my mind–they are not legitimate. They are damaging and debilitating. They prevent me from loving myself and loving others because I am too scared to try. They stop me from feeling fulfilled.

I laid the stone of that fear on the altar; I didn’t fully relinquish my fear to God. I acknowledged it. I said to God, “I know this is getting in the way of…everything, help me give it to you. Help me see the opportunities you give me to heal.”

I will struggle to place that fear before God every day. To truly be free to believe I am enough requires a daily overhaul of how I think about myself, but I am going to try. I’ll probably fail more often than not, but I am going to try.