The passage below was written in the past few years of my life. It was written at a time when I, undoubtedly, struggled at one of my weakest, most vulnerable, or most shameful points. For that reason, it is valid. It is honest and uncomfortable and the truth. I will make no excuses for who I am or where I’ve been or the things I have thought, desired, or done. I will simply thank God that I am still here. I am thankful that harsh days do end. I am grateful that tear stains can be washed clean. I am thankful that empty hands can be filled when we find the right source. I am grateful for the pain that made me, the Son who saved me, the grace that kept me, and faith enough to believe in miracles.
I am now aware that wholeness rather than happiness is the miracle I needed the most. I am relieved to know that the God that loves me has never overlooked me or the moments I needed him most. I pray this truth also belongs to you.
It’s Friday night. My face is painted, hair pinned just right and matte maroon lipstick applied perfectly to match the new blouse and perfect boots. I’m dressed to kill, but I’m here…at the house…in my Jesus seat. *sigh* Not the plan.
To be honest, I’ve fallen on my face before God twice already this week and praised and worshipped him so freely every day in-between. Freely!!! Not like I bumped my Lecrae and thought about him…I worshipped. Not only that, I’ve prayed. I’ve prayed for people that I love and people that I’ve hated (which truly stretched my selfish little heart to the max last night). I’ve prayed for the ones who have helped me and the ones that hate me, have mocked me, laughed in my face, thrown dirt on my name, and discarded me. I’ve given. I’ve given to people around me. Not just things or money but time. I’ve given them time and patience and energy and grace and advice and direction and the Word. I’ve worked. I’ve been so productive and been more focused than ever.
Now, it’s Friday night and I’m tired. I’m tired and worn out. I’ve been good and humble and generous and patient and reasonable, soooo slow to anger ALL WEEK LONG. It wore me out and I’m empty. I’m hurt and I’m sad and did I say empty? I’m so empty that I’m not even sure what I’m empty of, but by the looks of the perfectly glossed lips on my tear stained face, I was going to fill the spaces with whatever felt best today. Food, sex, laughs and entertainment. Friends maybe. Maybe not. Romance….possibly…probably so. It’s Friday. Who cares what we choose as long as we’re out choosing. Right?
Anything would do. And yeah I know I’m a believer but when emptiness has truly arrived and made itself known anything that will silence this silence becomes negotiable.
Thank God I’ve learned. Thank God I’ve learned that it is better to be broken and empty and scarred and alone standing beneath an overflowing fountain of grace than to be full and happy and touched and lost in the darkness that sin and the stubbornness of our own will brings. I’ve been lost there. I’ve made my bed there, wrapped my arms and legs and heart around that darkness and embraced it with all of me. I stayed their long enough to let my eyes adjust and fool me into believing that it wasn’t so bad after all. I opened my life to my own will and let the pain of selfishness and the shame of pride and the misfortune of delusion in. It left me on my death bed. It left me alone in the few glimpses of light that I would experience in those years. It left me on stage with a crown and a broken heart. It left me on a pedestal of praise too proud to admit that my foundation was a fake. It left me on a cold table bearing life and begging for mercy. It left me at the altar confused and hanging on by a thread. It left me. Thank God I’ve learned.
I’ve learned that the fountain of grace that flowed steady in those moments has not yet waivered. I’ve learned that regardless of the steps I’ve taken forward it is inevitable that I will still feel pain. I’ve learned that my flesh and most times my heart will be naturally inclined toward selfishness but He understands. I’ve learned not to move even when there is an opportunity to avoid the silence.
The silence is beautiful but it holds the truth. The truth that says I am not completely satisfied being so independent but I have learned to cope on my own because I fear that this season of aloneness is actually my destiny. The truth that also says that if I’m crying I’ve even failed at coping, so what have I actually accomplished here? The truth that makes my tear drops echo here. The lumps of pride and a counterfeit abundance of strength in my throat live here in this silence. I live here.
I live here in the silence and it may be one of the bravest things I have ever submitted to. My Jesus seat. It is not a timeout that is forced upon me or welcomed as punishment for my currently overwhelming laziness and pettiness. It is an opportunity. With ten thousand unnecessary places to be and even more empty people to see, it is an offer. It is an out. The most brutal out I have ever taken. It is my Jesus seat, the corner of my couch in my small living room where the silence abounds. MY Jesus seat.
With plans spinning and preparations being made for yet another night of a time consuming trail of events providing just enough excitement to distract my ear and consume my heart, I see him there…right beside me….SILENT! And like the young man I wish I were falling for at this very moment, he pulls out my chair, as politely as he knows how and he waits. He waits for me to accept. I have one foot out of the door on the way to my favorite types of noise and he pulls out my chair. It is small. It is weak. The table it sits at is not full of my favorite foods, in fact there’s no food at all. He feels no need to pretend that he’s interested in my flesh. He’s not, and I know it. I’m hungry and I’m ready and no one has seen my outfit, but he waits, with that small humble chair. It sits alone. In the center of a room with just me and him. There is no music or laughter here. Just me and him. And I accept.
I accept and I see him sitting beside me, but I can almost hear the music playing behind Door #2. But I accept. And this brag worthy makeup job is completely going to be wasted on these four walls. But I accept. And there’s not even much to eat here, but I accept. I accept. I accept my seat today.
I fear that this seat is much too small to support the weight of me, my fears, and all of the possibilities, but I’ll sit. I’ll sit and wait for you to say something or move something or paint something or create something in this room. Or maybe this room will always just be way too bright and white and seem slightly dull. Maybe there will never be speakers with lights shows to match or a meal large enough to satisfy me. Maybe I will starve here and the strength of my flesh will begin to fade. Maybe my constant desire for more than this will never change the room but, possibly, the consistency of the silence in this room will change the desires that are inside of me. Maybe. Maybe as my flesh starves more and more the weight of it in my life will fade and this small, now un-sturdy chair of faith, will soon be able to hold what is left. Him. Maybe even if he never buys a new chair my seating issues will change when my flesh does. Maybe my Jesus seat is just right for the woman that dies in this room. Starved of communication and excitement and fleshly fulfillment maybe she just dies here, and maybe if she obediently accepts his kind offer every day of her life she will die….daily….in her Jesus seat. Maybe.
Maybe this empty room is changing me. Maybe.
It feels like death, death of my will and that sucks.
Unfortunately, my will has led me to the counterfeit versions of so many amazing things: love, joy, friends, success, stability, financial security, health, safety, patience, and maturity.
If you kill a tree the fruit dies too, and all those things have seemed to die a thousand deaths along with my will. Thank God they were just the counterfeits. God please bring what’s real to life.
I’m rambling. I’m lonely. I’m afraid that this will never change. I’m afraid that I will never be able to convince someone to stay around. Even as I type that I know that that fear is validated because I know that I will never be able to convince anyone worth having to spend forever here with me. Only God can do that.. That does not comfort me…it scares me even more considering my struggle with him and my pain right now. I wonder if I have to get past the pain and struggles for him to move on those things. Or, if maybe in his infinite grace and power he will just send any of those things that I long for to bring relief to the inevitable struggles of my flesh.
I know what you want out of me, Jesus, but I don’t know how else to let it go. I can’t make my heart not want him or them or this life I dream of having. I can’t tear my heart from needing love and stability no matter how hard I try. I can’t remove myself from loneliness when there is truly no one around. I don’t know how and wouldn’t have the strength to try if I did.
I’m so tired. I’m so tired from holding sorrow in long enough to pour God virtues out. I’m hurting so deeply. It’s cold and empty there and I don’t know how to let go today. Yesterday I did, but today I don’t and I need your help. I need you to show me a new way, a new level of trust in you because this has gotten to be too much. You’ve asked me to sacrifice so much and I’m going into to shock from cutting off so many limbs at once. I am pruned at every turn and it is ugly. It is ugly and shameful and it hurts. Like a cavity in my chest it hurts. It ruins me until I am nothing, not Word, not patience, not goodness or kindness or meekness or joy. It breaks me until I am obedient and grieving. I am cast down and unworthy of instruction in my darkness. It aches. It threatens to take my freedom and peace and my plans. I am hungry, starving for a nod of appreciation or simple acknowledgement. I am thirsting for relief and guidance, omens even, to lead the way. I am desperate for a touch of love or simply the sight of an outstretched hand. I am afraid, afraid to accept the hand reaching out to me as a sign of love or compassion rather than an invitation to doom. I am afraid of not pouring out. I am currently overdrawn on the goodness I have passed along but I anxiously contemplate halting my pouring out of fear that none of it will be restored at all to my account. I am sad. I am sad for my heart and the places it has been led. I am confused on what is next. I cannot see through the thick fogs of possibilities and opportunities around me. I am silent because there is nothing left to say. You have heard these cries ringing in my soul for months. I am still because you asked me to be and I don’t know a better way. Please move here in my Jesus seat. Pour out your spirit here.