It’s so good to be planted near friends who are growing, and are dedicated, committed, and willing to help you grow too. Today’s blog is brought to you from insight I received from my dear (and fierce) friend, Kim…. mixed with my personal vulnerability.
Before we start, will you take a moment and really listen to this song. When you listen undistracted, reading the words, and letting them soak into your soul… it’s powerful and stirs conviction.
Okay- honor system here, I hope you really listened, because the song is a set up!
What prayers, dreams or hopes do you have that beg the question: “What if he doesn’t answer? What if it never happens? What if things never change? What if this isn’t His will?”
Today I am writing about me, but feel free to make this about you.
I have two. I have two big “even if’s” and honestly, I am at peace before the answer comes. Likewise, I cab have my statement of faith ready, even if the answer never comes.
He didn’t promise me answers, He promised me peace.
When I started this blog back in June, one of my first entries talked about unanswered prayers, and how altogether too often they become idols we seek before God.
When I was a sophomore in college my hair started falling out. I mean, serisouly just by the fist fulls- unexplained- without pain- just falling out. I was not pulling it out. This was in 1998, and not much was known about this auto-immune disease that surfaced in me, alopecia areta. It’s effects were very apparent, but the cause was unknown.
Within a few short months, denial lead to a demand for the shaving of what was left of my hair, and the disgruntled, bitter, defeated purchase of my very first wig.
I can painlessly talk about the journey now, but then? Oh it was messy. It was riddled with anger and questions, laced with plenty of guilt and shame. Somehow my faith led my to believe this disease was no disease at all, but a punishment for sin. Convinced this was a lesson to be learned, a mountain to be conquered and a faith-battle to be won. So I fought. I fought from a place of defeat.
Over the next 15 years, I chased it, I pursues it and I never could grasp healing. Every sin was a reminder of just how bad I was and how bald I would stay! Having an unknown, uncommon and barely named disease was exceedingly difficult. No one knew or understood what it was. The doctors (then) were not much help, telling a 21 year old patient that the cause was “stress” translated to: “this is your fault.”
One desperate evening, I called my hometown pastor. Without much warning, I unloaded my story of college life , all the emotional conflict of divorcing parents and custody battles, all the mess of empty relationships, and the stress of loosing my hair. — I told him about the lost identify, the wrestle of the emotions wrapped up in feeling physically stripped of beauty. I summed it up, and basically waited for him to tell me how bad I was, and how I needed to change so God would heal me. He didn’t. He was quiet. I am quite sure I caught him off guard, but he simply answered with a verse: “Those who put their trust in the Lord will not be put to shame.” Isaiah 49:23
That was in 1999, and absolutely I was full of shame. I remember claiming that I trusted God, but knew in my heart I really didn’t. I clung to that verse, yet I couldn’t reconcile with it as truth. It just wasn’t true for me. For almost 20 years I struggled with acceptance. Surrender. Peace. I had to win the fight of insufficiency and performance mentality. Everything was manipulation, it was always an undertone of me trying to get the equation right. I was trying to behave right so my genie God would release my miracle healing. I frankly didn’t know who I was.
But, today, I do.
Today, I went back to the doctor again. I willingly endured numerous painful injections, and all the while, I was happy to have them. I am hopeful they will work. I will pray my hair stops falling out. I pray it doesn’t continue. I will get the help I can, and ask God for what I really want. But sincerely, this time it’s different. I am different. I am okay. Even if He doesn’t heal me- I learned what it means to trust God. I have no shame! That verse is finally truth to my soul. Sin didn’t cause this. This is not my punishment. This is not a lesson. This is not a test. God can heal me, but even if He doesn’t, I am okay. Does someone else need set free in this way? When we go through real and raw stuff like this, we stop hearing about God and start seeing Him for who He is… He is Sovereign.
In college and when I first moved to Joplin, I tried to hide the fact that I wore wigs. It was like some little secret that made for a strange piece of gossip. People sure didn’t know how to react and me trying to keep it a secret made it all the more awkward. Shame made it something it wasn’t.
This time? If I go bald, I will go BOLD! I will get wild wigs in different colors and I will take them off when I workout! Why? because they are super hot and itchy and uncomfortable!…. Oh, but really-why? Because I refuse to be held hostage to something I can’t control!
What do you need to let go? What is outside your control? What has inadvertently put you in time-out and crippled you from making progress? What “if – then” situation has you in a holding pattern wasting your time, and dulling the joy from your every day life? Unanswered prayer?! Yep. I have several. But don’t let unanswered prayer steal your ability to trust God and walk in every day joy! I am not trying to make light of difficult situations. But I am willing to humble myself before the mighty hand of God and say: you don’t owe me anything! You don’t owe me answers, and I don’t have to always get my way. You are the King of this world, and You ARE working this for my good!
Even if you don’t, my heart is fixed on You alone. Let’s learn from Joseph, Job, Naomi and Ruth, Moses, David, Esther, oh, and Jesus. The Bible is full of real life examples of good people that didn’t always get their way. “Nevertheless Lord, not my will but thy will be done.”
I am learning, the right perspective can make any situation beautiful. It just depends how you look at it. With or without hair, I am okay.
I said I had two “even if’s”. The other one is a little less complex. It’s my statement of faith to the dream of ministry I am believing to happen “Even if I don’t get to speak to thousands of women, I will prepare like I am.” For me, I am living ready. I am preparing for my answers, and living in the promise and expectation of hope. If they come to pass, yeah God and thank you Jesus! If they don’t, I have a real relationship that brings me peace and comfort. I have a God who is with me in the troubles.
I get it now, I really get it, understand it, believe it. “Those who put their trust in the Lord will not be put to shame.”
That is truth.
No matter what.