Yesterday I shared over at Christians Read that years ago I struggled with what I knew was a call on my life. It’s not only come to pass, it’s more specific.
I gave advice on how to avoid taking over and failing because we are not equipped.
What I didn’t say is how hard I’m struggling.
Early on I was so guilty of trying to save everyone. It never worked because that isn’t my job, and my health took a hit. A friend said, “Keep it up and it will kill you.” I have to hand the burdens over to Jesus. He fights for me. For the women I pray for. Not only does it have to be enough, it IS enough.
This year, even with that wisdom, I have been overcome with how unequipped I am. I battle guilt. I want to have the answers, the resources, the magic wand when they reach out to me. But the call isn’t any of those things. I’m only to pray and say as I feel I’m supposed to.
And guess what?
The silence is deafening.
He doesn’t want me to do a lot of talking right now.
In its wake, come the taunts. It’s not God’s voice and it isn’t mine. It’s the true defeated one, the one with so limited resources that he’s trying to convince me I’m the defeated one.
And it is a battle, my friends.
Surrendering not to the defeat but the taunts is draining. I’m a girl that wants to know why, and often with this prayer thing comes two things I hate and grieve, and deal with often. Loneliness and rejection.
Those things have been so intense this year I’ve thrown myself on the ground and just cried it out. I’ve realized there is power in tears, those are prayers that transcend language and I’ve got to get it out.
But it takes a lot out of me.
And once it subsides, I want to process it. Is it something I’m going through for my own life, something within our family? Because this has been a year I feel like those are critical prayers where my voice is the only one. Is it for those I’m standing in the gap for? Because never before have I had so many women coming at once with heartbreaking needs that hurt to hear. I hate hearing women are hurting. I see so much potential and most of these situations are strong women believing maybe not today, but someday they won’t just survive, but thrive. If I have to go through the valley for them, I’d do it. But not knowing the why I am having these times is hard.
Trust me, there is a lot of good stuff going on. We pressed in hard for our son to find steady employment and gradate from high school. The Lord gave us a picture of what his life looks like to Him and it is happening. It’s a beautiful thing. Our daughter is enjoying a good stretch of health after a rough spring. I’m finally okay with my husband’s job change and working from home. There are two books out with my name on the front that God is using to speak to women. Those are amazing praises.
But I’m the one that vowed to talk about surrender and make sure before I challenge anyone else, I’m doing it first. To be authentic even if no one else wants to hear it, or understand. So here I am. Maybe I’m waving in your imagination. Maybe I’m collapsed on a rug with a mouth full of chocolate and tears. Whatever you see, I’m all in.
And by faith, I have to believe that’s got the gates of hell shaking.
I can’t help it but I have the song “I’m Henry the Eighth I am” in my head. Specifically, the part where Peter Noone shouted out, “Second Verse, Same as the First.”
I noticed the last two years there are life events popping out that look really familiar. It’s almost like Groundhog Day with Bill Murray where it feels like the alarm goes off and I’m living the same thing again. Thing is, I didn’t like those events the first time around.
Woundedness I received
Woundedness I dished out
When I first noticed the similarities I felt a gentle whisper assure me that although things looked the same, they were not. They were opportunities for me to trust God for a different outcome. It was not the proverbial Lucy from Peanuts holding the football moment. In some cases there would be redemption, justice, revelation, and just flat out better experiences than the first go-around.
Not easy, but better.
I’m blogging this today because this pattern continues with me. I’m seeing things that look so familiar. Names, places, circumstances. My first reaction isn’t what I know it should be. Instead, fear. Dread. Anger. Everything inbetween, including my mumbling things like, “Second verse same as the first.”
Yet in the middle of my personal GroundHog Day I’m experiencing something so different than I expected and I know it’s only the start.
People looking at the full picture, not just the small glimpse
During the first set I had experiences with literal dive bombing cardinals. Friends shared the same thing happening to them. I prayed and did research and found for me, one of the definitions I walked away with was that a cardinal is a loyal defender. To this day when I see a cardinal I claim it as a promise. God is my loyal defender.
These issues and circumstances appear like things I’ve battled before, things that nearly snuffed out everything alive and hopeful in me. But they are not the same. I’m not the same. Because of those things I’m stronger, wiser, and more discerning.
God willing, I’m surrendering to be more trusting if not of people, than of my God who loves me.
If you’re going through the second verse looking the same as the first, embrace your Heavenly Father as your loyal defender.
Because He is.
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I’ve mentioned a few times that I consider myself a Charlie-in-the-box with a home base called Misfit Island. This summer as I networked with other women for different social and ministry reasons I met a few people who were in agony and couldn’t pinpoint what was going on. I saw it immediately because five years ago, it was me.
These are folks who show signs of being a Misfit Island toy as well. Remember Rudolph’s trip there? They didn’t fit in, weren’t popular and to the world appeared to have something wrong. When Rudolph gets there being labeled feels like a death sentence. By the end he realizes the call on his life is special few could ever do.
That, my friend, is the life of a misfit.
I call myself Charlie-in-the-box because like the toy, I look like everyone else but there is just enough difference I never made the popular cut. My earliest memories are of me constantly thinking. My brain doesn’t stop. I’m not a genius but I’m always wondering. I discern things through God’s wisdom or He’ll give me a nudge to say something and it is so dead on accurate about the recipient that I’ve encountered cases where people back away. Or the fun one where people see me heading in their direction and they make a quick exit.
The misfit life is lonely like I can’t define. I can be in a crowd of hundreds and the ache I have to pray over something I sense about the environment or even a person is so strong it can be a physical ache. I know nine times out of ten I’m not meant to approach people and tell them what I feel or sense, it is just a prayer nudge for me. And the crowds are rarely talking about surrender, intimacy in Christ, how they are loved by God or any of the things that are on my mind hours at a time every single day.
That lonely feeling came back this summer but I’ve felt those fires enough to see them coming and know what to think about it. Don’t think I jump for joy, the tears still come, especially at night. But I can attest to this, like the misfit toys, it is a gift. The loneliness is a season of preparation for something SO much bigger than you are. Yield yourself to it, cry it out, pray it out, journal, and most of all, spend one on one time with God. He is drawing you closer for a reason.
When the preparation season ends the loneliness lets up in intensity. Then for me I seem to go on an active status of sorts where I’m called on a lot. They are “chance” meetings, planned meetings, events where I have no intention of serving but observing and I’m the last to leave because there is a woman in need who just needs a listen and a believing God prayer. I’ve learned to embrace that season too. It’s busy and you have to be flexible. You have to get your rest and take care of yourself. The people who come into your life are broken just as you have been not so long ago. It will be mentally draining without rest. Without Christ’s leading? Debilitating. Don’t even try to do a thing without Him. I miss warm dinners and favorite TV shows but I also have to keep boundaries to make sure my husband and kids don’t feel abandoned. It’s hard.
And honestly, still lonely, but in a different less achy way. I remember years ago feeling that way and I called on a mentor from church I could trust. I told her I wasn’t engaging with others. If I was invited to their events I fidgeted because the topics were too superficial for my constant freedom in Christ kind of mind. When people reached out I at best saw an acquaintance. I couldn’t make the leap to take the person to a deep friendship and I felt bad about it.
The mentor laughed, recognizing as I do now, another “misfit is leaving Barbie Island.” What I thought was abnormal was just another part of the process. She simply stated that I wasn’t mean to have tons of deep friendships, it would prohibit me from doing what God had in mind. He was molding me as a leader and for that, I would never be that girl socializing at every event with a big circle of friends.
That freed me. I didn’t use it as an excuse, but I stopped pushing myself so hard to make friendships work that weren’t meant to be a BFF kind of thing. My circle of intimate friends is small, VERY small. But they are misfits who get God (to the degree He wants us to get Him) and they get me. We can talk about those deep things and no one runs away or avoids each other. Our lunches last hours and usually involve a waitress or stranger stopping us to share a problem, ask for prayer or something we know isn’t random.
What gets me through the loneliness these days is a constant eye on heaven. I long to be there. I don’t want to shorten my life here, but I get what is coming to me for eternity. I’m done believing lies about heaven being boring with harps and sleep. I am convinced, full of faith, that my eternity includes a rockin’ mansion built by Jesus Himself. My job? I totally see me working a literal heavenly library inviting other misfits to hear my latest speaker: Paul talking about his shipwreck. Stephen explaining the stoning and why he treasures it. Randy Alcorn’s book on heaven helped me see my passions and gifts have eternal perspective. I reap heavenly rewards because of loneliness and misfit moments.
If you can relate, I pray this longer post encourages you. This is a calling and a gift from God, as hard as it is to understand and accept. Yield to it, allow yourself to draw closer to God in a relational way, not just Biblical or academic. Rest. Be flexible. And keep your eyes on heaven. It’s ALL worth it, every tear.