On Beat Up Faith, Re-Focusing My Gaze, & Resetting My Mind

So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

This scripture jumped out from behind some corner of my mind this morning while I was trying to sleep, which led to the following confession:

My faith is taking a beating.

The events of this summer have left me asking God about 5 million questions. Some I've received answers to, others I have not.  And I am yet sure that there are still even more that I won't get the answers to-at least not in this lifetime....and I'm learning to be okay with that, because since God knows me better than I know myself, He already knows that as strong as I might try to make myself appear, I probably wouldn't be able to handle the reality of those answers. At least not right now, and like I said, maybe not in this lifetime. So they're left hidden from me, and He leaves them unanswered.....

My faith is taking a beating, but not in the sense that I'm giving up on it. Or Him. Unlike what I went through last summer, where I questioned this thing called Christianity, I'm not in a spiritual crisis, I'm not rejecting Him or what I believe to be true...I'm not in a state of doubt....at least not about Him being my Father & Jesus being my Savior. What I am questioning, what I am doubting (a little) is this place I'm in. I feel like I've been relocated. A couple of months ago He told me on the altar that I've turned the page into a new chapter in my life, but just as soon as those words gave me some peace, some hope, and I was starting to feel like things were settling, the ground I had been standing on....shifted. Drastically. Changed.And left in the aftermath of the quake were some things I knew without a shadow of a doubt would sustain the shaking and then there were others that had fallen, left completely dismantled from it's sheer force....leaving me to wander among the rubble, wondering if they ever really belonged there in the first place....wondering if what had been erected in my life over the past couple of years was built up out of my own selfishness, my own desires, the consequences of my own mistakes....or placed there by Him. Had I been holding onto and fighting to protect things & people that didn't belong in my life? Had I been hearing wrong, those things I thought He told me in secret? Those promises that I had been holding so close and so tight to my heart-were they born out of His plan for my life or my plan for me? Or are they a part of the plan, but I sabotaged them somehow because I have a hard time giving up control?  If I was wrong, and had been erecting buildings out of my own selfish desires or because I was too afraid to just let Him do the work, then I understand why the earthquake came. I get it. I understand why some have fallen away and what remains has stood strong. Afterall, the bible says, "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain." (Psa 127:1) But if I wasn't wrong....and if this is all somehow part of the plan, how things should  be going....then I don't understand, and that is why I am having some doubt.

So yea my faith-it's taking a beating. It's being stretched and pushed and pulled in every direction, causing everything in me to strain & bulge from the pressure, pushing me to go deeper, stretch out further and reach out to Him in response. And as painful as it is, I don't mind really. Because I believe that despite the pain that can accompany it, growth is necessary, especially when it comes to faith. Maybe that's what it maybe that's what it means to go from "faith to faith, & glory to glory?"  Perhaps.....So even though I don't understand some things, right now, faith in Him is what I'm holding on to.

The hard part about standing in the rubble though, with beat up faith, in this new, unfamiliar place I don't recognize is that I don't know who to trust, who to confide in on a human level. I've learned the past 8 months and pretty much my whole life that people don't like mess, and they can take but only so much of it, for varying reasons, all of which I understand and don't blame them for. I know first hand how going out of your comfort zone can take a lot out of you, making you uncomfortable and uneasy. Dealing with others & their "stuff" is icky, especially if you have your own "stuff" to deal with.  But as Christians, aren't we supposed to bear one another up? Aren't we supposed to be loyal to one another, even when it's tough, when it's messy? I have, over the past months had a handful of people who have stuck it out and waded through the muck & mire of my "stuff" with me. I've also had amazing support from an online community of Mamas who are always a tweet, FB post, or direct message away. And I can't even put into words how grateful I am for them-for all of those who have chosen to remain close inspite of my "messiness".  But I've also had others who have backed off, walked away, stopped calling, texting, have pretty much stopped being my "friend." I'm sure they have their reasons, and I don't blame them. But that doesn't change the fact that it hurts. It doesn't make the loneliness I feel any easier to bear, especially during the moments when I feel as though I'm losing it, or now that I've been diagnosed with something that freaks me out to a degree. Maybe being a Christian and having a mood disorder or being bipolar isn't a that big of a deal. But if it isn't, then why aren't more people in the church talking about it? Why don't Christians reach out to those who are suffering from such things? Shouldn't the response be different? On a human level, I understand the desire to retreat for self-preservation purposes, but on a spiritual level, I'm struggling to grasp how that can even be an option.

So while the beating my faith is taking isn't making me retreat from God, it is making me retreat from people. From Christians. From church. For the reason I mentioned above and for others as well that involve some shame and embarrassment about the things that have happened this summer. Even from my family. People's responses or lack thereof just leaves me pretty uncomfortable & gun shy. I don't know what to say when they ask "how are you? what's going on?" , because quite frankly I have a hard time believing they really want to know. Or even need to know. Or should know. I have a hard time believing that if I do tell them they can handle it. From what I've seen so far, most can't, it's too much for them to bear....so....I retreat.

And I'm starting to welcome the retreat because the lesson I'm learning through all of this is that I've got to rely less on people and more on God. I've been letting what's happened & the actions of people get under my skin & cloud my vision.  I've got to refocus my gaze, stop paying attention to how beat up I'm feeling, how freaked out I am about some things, how lonely I am & how hurt I feel & just focus on what's above the clouds in my skies-Him....His purpose for me....my kids....my health, my goals...I've got to take some time & work on me. Let Him work on me. I need some time to find the treasures He's got laying in the darkness I'm fumbling in. (And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches.I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord,the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name." Isa. 45:3)

That's why I'm glad I'm in a new apartment, gearing up for another semester at a new school. One with an environment that I know will challenge & stimulate this growing process I'm in.  I'm glad I'm "away" in a sense. Glad I made some tough choices to let go of some responsibilities (ie no more consulting).

So I'm hoping that being in this new place, despite it unfamiliarity & despite how beat up I'm feeling affords me the chance to push the reset button on my mind, & help me zero in again on what's important.

Here's to looking up and seeing the bigger, more beautiful picture He's painting of my life. Here's to taking the beating.