It’s a wierd place to be in where I don’t have words for all the things running through my head. Repentence is something the Lord has been bringing me to face for a few days now, and I am just now able to put all the thoughts to words. But all the other things in my head…I have no words for. It is a very very strange feeling. So now, as I embark on the day where I have to be in complete extrovert role all day at graduation and end of the year parties, I will only be desiring time to be alone, with a guitar, take a long run, something in order to process all the heavy stuff in my head. Dang it..I guess that really does mean that I am an introvert huh?
In Acts 5:31, we read that Jesus is “exalted to give repentance AND the forgiveness of sins.” These two blessings come from that sacred hand which once was nailed to the tree, but is now raised to glory. Repentance and forgiveness are riveted together by the eternal purpose of God. But in order for forgiveness to happen, repentance must occur. It cannot be that pardon of sin should be given to an impenitent sinner. If the Lord were to say, “You love sin, and live in it, and you are going on from bad to worse, but, at the same time, I forgive you,” this were to proclaim a horrible license for iniquity. If we believe in the holiness of God, it must be so, that if we continue in our sin, and will not repent of it, we cannot be forgiven, but must reap the consequence of our obstinacy. According to the infinite goodness of God, we are promised that if we will forsake our sins, confessing them, and will, by faith, accept the grace which is provided by Jesus , God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
My problem lies here. In order for forgiveness to occur, repentance must also occur. Hatred of sin and a sense of pardon must come together in the soul. My soul – a heart of stone. In a counseling class, we talked about how children who grew up in hurtful environments learn how to emotionally disengage and shut down to protect them from pain. I did that..and still am that..In order for me to feel the repentance that is so necessary in my life, my heart of stone needs to be re-engaged. I know what is wrong, I know what is sin in this world, and my heart breaks for the manifestations of sin all around me, the way it works in my friends and family. But for myself, I do not experience the same brokenness for my sin. Lord, I beg you to dissolve my heart of stone and bring me to the brokenness of sin in my life. The will, the affections, the emotions, all work together in the blessed act of repentance for sin; and yet at the back of all that is our personal act, there is a secret holy influence which melts the heart, give contrition, and produces a complete change. Please melt my heart God! The Spirit of God enlightens us to see what sin is, and thus makes it loathsome in our eyes. So much of my life, I do not realize the sin that I live in. Since I am not living in really “horrible” sin (so I think to myself) I feel like I am ok. But the depravity of myself is so extensive! The Spirit of God also turns us toward holiness, makes us complete to appreciate, love, and desire it, and gives us the impetus by which we are led onward from stage to stage of sanctification. Lord, melt my heart, open my eyes, bring me to hate my sin, and bring me to holiness!
I sit here with a strange feeling tonight..an empty feeling..a feeling that I have never had after a tv show. I graduated from seminary in May 2008. The next week, I began a journey through a TV series that would be like none other. For the 3 months of that summer, me and 2 friends watched 4 seasons of Lost. My every thought that summer was Lost..I was scared “the others” would jump out of the bushes in front of my house in Highland Park. Lost was everything. Then came season 5, then season 6 – the last season. Once a week, the past 2 Springs, I have watched Lost. Then ran home and read blogs, listened to podcasts, read articles…I studied for a tv show! What was this thing I was watching? This year, Lost Talk at the YL office on Wednesday at 10:15 am – time to process, think and discuss. Dorks, yes I know.
Then tonight happened. The end. 4.5 hours of Lost. Now, Jimmy Kimmel talking about Lost. The finale, it’s over. 6 seasons, 6 years, hours of studying, processing, discussing, missed sleep because of thinking and wondering, 6 seasons of confusion = right now. And I am left now with an empty strange feeling…because this world will never satisfy.
It’s a feeling like I have after all the wonderful Christmas presents that costs hundreds or thousands of dollars have been unwrapped and you think, “Is this it?” The things of this world will never satisfy. There is a longing and a desire and a deep knowing that there is more to this life. Its like what Solomon says after acquiring all the world has to offer and says that it is all meaning less.
Is Lost bad? No! By any means! This tv show has been wonderful! But it is a strange feeling to have after a tv show is over.
Paralleled with boys – they will never ultimately satisfy. I long for love. But when I find out a boy that I am close to (or so I thought), is visiting my state but didn’t tell me about it, I hurt. May 11 – I talked to this boy and at the end of our discussion, knew I needed to write him off in my heart. And I did, or so I thought. But then I find out he is in my state but he didn’t tell me..even though I asked him about coming here when we last talked and he said it didn’t look like he was coming. That was 2 weeks ago..maybe he bought a last-minute ticket, i don’t know. But it just hurts that I wasn’t even important enough for him to even tell me about it. So again, this world doesn’t satisfy. Boys, tv shows, books they all leave me with an empty feeling when they are over…
There is only 1 thing that can fill me completely. The Lord is all that will ever completely satisfy. Why do I consistently try to pour myself into other things while knowing they will not ultimately satisfy me? Will I ever learn or will I always be looking for the things of this world to fill me? Lord, take my heart and make it yours!
Community is something I crave, and something all believers have been called to. I absolutely agree with Dietrich Bonhoeffer as he says: “Therefore, the Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. He needs him again and again when he becomes uncertain and discouraged, for by himself he cannot help himself without belaying the truth. He needs his brother man as a bearer and proclaimer of the divine word of salvation. He needs his brother solely because of Jesus Christ.” And also when he says “Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called, the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone, even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you.” Without any reservations, I know this is the way the believer will find the most joy in the life and in their walk with the Lord. However, a few months ago, I discovered that I was an introvert and that’s when things got confusing.
Up until September of 2009, I was living life as an extroverted person. In September, when my world was shaken and everything that I thought I knew about myself and my walk with the Lord was questioned, I began to discover things about myself. I discovered that 2 of my top 3 strengths were intellectualism and input, which basically means that I am a dork and I love to read and study. From this discovery on, and still continuing today, I am discovering things about myself that I never realized before. Not really new discoveries, but I am realizing that it is ok for me to be a certain way, that I don’t HAVE to make myself one way just because I think a person in youth ministry HAS to be a certain way.
In relation to community, up until September, I had been a part of a small group through my church for almost 4 years. This group has changed, has grown, has divided, has grown again and in September, was up to almost 25 people and still growing. Not really a small group by any means. I never quite felt like I fit in with this group, I never felt really known and understood in the depths of my core, even though I had known these people for almost 4 years. I just wanted to be known. I wanted someone to ask how I was doing, I wanted to be authentic with someone, but no one ever asked. I am a horribly depraved human being who puts on a wonderful facade of “everything being ok.” I just wanted someone to notice my facade and call me out, but it never happened. So, I continued living in the facade of “i am in ministry and have a degree from seminary so I am walking solidly with the Lord” and just the facade of mental and emotion well-being of “yes, i am all put together and loving life.” When in fact none of that was true. So, when my world shattered in September, I pulled back. I lost trust in everyone and pulled back emotionally and socially. I was alone and overwhelmed by the inner monologue running endlessly through my head.
So, in my discoveries of being an introvert, I realized that introverts rarely feel known and connected in large groups of people, and would rather be in a group of 3 or 4. Less width, but more depth. So I quickly shrank my circle of deep friends. I pulled back emotionally from everyone in our group, besides 2 people. I still love them, still want to hang out socially with them, but realized, trying to give myself to that group was more draining than beneficial, and I desperately needed help.
So today, I have 4 girls that I consider deep solid friendships – friends that the Lord has blessed me with and that I love so very much. 2 are in ministry themselves, 1 in school, 1 working..all different stages of life. I love this, I love how the Lord uses them to teach me and show me new things about me and about Him. But still….I find myself back to the same thoughts I had in our big “small” group – I want to be known. I often think of Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together and his caution above that I often remember – Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. What is alone and what is real community? Often, I am in a group of friends and having fun but still feel alone, because I am not really known. The facades I put up hide too much. Is my community of 4 real community. We never all are together, these are 4 girls in different parts of my life. So, is that real community, or not because I am not really known?
I want someone to know my struggles, know what I have been through, know my daily/sometimes hourly fights. I don’t want to be fake, I want to lose the facade, I want the deep inner yearnings of my soul to come out. I want to be authentic, but I don’t want to volunteer this information without someone wanting to hear it. So, if your reading this, ask someone. Ask a friend how they are doing, how they are really doing. Ask like you truly care about them. Ask how their soul feels. Who Jesus is to them today? And if you know me, ask me. Ask me what is really going on under the facades I wear. I want to be real.