Sunday, December 1, 2013

So I Guess I'll Write Something. . .

So, I've been in a hard place lately. I've been frustrated by things I couldn't even put my finger on. I'd just be going along fine, and suddenly, I'm so tense and irritable I could hardly see straight.

I've been frustrated at work, at home, in my writing, and in my relationship with God (and others).

I've been increasingly bitter about things that I would have sworn weren't even issues, but that I couldn't seem to get past--I'd just suddenly have something spark a memory and I'd be instantly angry and incredibly bitter.

I knew the problem had to be unforgiveness; all the signs were there. And I just kept getting angrier and angrier. I was snapping at everything.

It broke for a little while a month or so back when I was hit by the realization that I didn't know how to have joy in my walk with God. I mean, I experienced it when I was teaching, or prophesying, but to just walk around with joy? I had no idea.

My church had a combined meeting with several other churches that are affiliated with us--we do this twice a year--and when the meeting was over, our pastor called the pastors of the other churches up and encouraged everyone to come up and seek a blessing or get prayed for.

Well, I'd spent the whole service feeling like my heart had been weighed down by a tombstone. I heard the message--about how God wants to move in the Spirit and in Power in His church again--and I agreed WHOLE-heartedly. I knew it was true. And I knew/know that I can hear God, that I can feel Him move in the Spirit, that I have heard Him SAY that this is what He wants. . .

And yet.

There I stood, feeling like my heart was suffocating.

So I went forward. I went to a pastor and his wife that I knew fairly well, and explained the situation--briefly.  The pastor prayed for the dam inside me to break and for the life to flow in me again, AND I FELT IT! And then his wife looked at me and said that it was so good to see me smiling. She said that when they came in, she saw me, and I looked so serious!
Ever have one of those moments when someone says something and it hits you "right there"? I felt those words like a blow to the heart.
And I heard God. He said "You're trying too hard." and "You've forgotten My joy." Echoed softly by the quote, "The joy of the LORD is my strength."

And that's how the "funk" broke for a little while. You see, I had an answer, sort of. I at least had a direction to look. So I looked, and looked, and looked, . . .

And gradually, the funk came back. Harder and more brutal.

I thank God for my wife and for my children. My children are a constant reminder that I'm not free to allow myself to indulge in stupidity, and my wife is a constant, and the God-send that defines "help-meet" for me. She saw the turmoil in me and was understanding. She stood in the gap and freed me to back off when the strain and stress were pushing me to the breaking point. And, she sat me down at last and told me it was time to figure this thing out and fix it.

I wanted to fix it. I'd been trying to fix it. I knew all the advice that I would give to someone going through the same thing, and I KNEW it was the right advice, but it just wasn't working.

About a week before my wife had the "sit-down" with me (I'm smiling as I call it that, she was so kind and apologetic as she tried to explain it), but anyway, about a week earlier, I was at work, beating myself up about the rut I was in when God gave me an image of how I saw my ministry and my relationship with Him.

I was standing in a great hall. There was only one door, and I was standing right next to it. Meanwhile people were coming to hear from God, and as they came I would press my ear HARD against the door, hear what God was saying, and tell the people what I heard. It was great to be able to hear Him, and awesome to be able to help others hear Him, but, while in the vision it was satisfying, as I watched it happening, I immediately saw the problem, and then heard God put it into words. The problem was that I (and all of God's people) wasn't supposed to be listening from the outside; I was supposed to be in His presence. What God said was, "You've been working so hard at being the 'good and faithful servant' that you've forgotten to be my son."

I revisited that scene several times up to the night that my wife spoke with me, but as hard as I tried, I couldn't get through the door. I looked, and there wasn't even a door knob. It was heart-breaking.

I shared all of this with my wife, and she prayed with me, and I still felt miserable. (Sorry, but it's true.)

The next day--possible the day after--I was listening to a Christmas album by David Phelps. The first song of the album is Joy, Joy. It's one of my favorite songs of all time. It is so passionate, and I have always felt that it embodies the passion that God felt when Jesus was born. So I wasn't terribly surprised to find myself tearing up while I was listening, and then...

I suddenly realized that one of the reasons that I love that song is the abandon with which Phelps sings it. It's one of the reasons I love to play my saxophone in worship--I can pour out my heart through it.
And I heard God say, "You bottle too much up. You hold too much back. You suppress things that I put in you because you think that they aren't how 'things are supposed to be,' or that they don't fit your image of what you're supposed to be or be doing."

--I hate playing softly when I play my horn. It leaves me breathless; NOT because I've run out of air, but because I've held back so much that the air I have in my lungs is empty. I feel like I'm left with a lung full of wasted potential.

I've been working on a story about an interview that an angel has with someone. The interview starts as the angel steps in and runs off a demonic nightmare.

Well, when I sat down to write the story, I started at the beginning--with the nightmare. As I wrote, I drew from nightmares I'd had in the past. . . and they kind of took on a life of their own. I didn't want to sell them short; after all, I had actually experienced these, and I figured that I could just write it down and edit out anything that didn't work.

There ended up being a lot of it.  I really felt like it was too much, and that it took away from where I wanted the story to go, but I left it in and sent a copy off to my Alpha Reader, known in Blogger Land as "Rebecca at the Well," to see if she felt the same.  She did. She actually said it was borderline (if not crossing the line) horror. She had lots of other comments which were spot-on what I was already seeing myself, and I was initially encouraged, but then I got bogged down by the fact that I'd just poured so much into what I'd written, and it was all wrong.  I couldn't just edit bits out, I had to completely rewrite it, which I started to do, but then it didn't have the right "voice." And that's when the funk was already hitting hard.

I went to a men's meeting, from which I was supposed to go with a dear friend to talk some of these issues out with, but he got called away so I ended up staying and talking with an old mentor of mine. It was good. I got to talk about my writing, and my hope for it. I explained the trouble with the angel interview story, and, at the end of it, he told me a long (and fascinating) story, ultimately leading to this: "Don't worry about what you're writing. Don't make it HAVE to look a certain way, or fit a certain mold. If it's what you feel like writing--then write it."

Now, you have to realize that the last four paragraphs flashed through my mind in about two heart-beats. One second God's saying that I'm repressing myself, the next, all of that flashes through my mind, and then God says, "Yes, even the horrific nightmare stuff was supposed to happen. That wouldn't have poured out if you hadn't been bottling it up. It serves a purpose too."

None of this made sense to me. All I could see was me standing next to the door in that vision, wanting to scream in frustration at not being able to get through.

Then, in the vision, I heard a voice behind me saying, "I'm not ON the other side of the door."
"Then why can I hear You hear," I nearly sobbed back.
Then, in a voice so compassionate it hurt to hear, He said, "Because you WANTED to hear me."
I found myself arguing, trying to fight the implications in that. "But I've had to concentrate, I've had to try so hard to block out distractions, I've had to--"
"No," God interrupted like a gentle avalanche. "You didn't."

And all at once it made sense. I've been like the tree straining to bear fruit, caught in the lie that my efforts had anything at all to do with the fruit that showed up--I strained and fruit showed up, so I thought that I did it, but God was telling me that the fruit would be there whether I strained or not. I would hear Him whether I tried or not, whether I was distracted or not--as long as I WANTED to hear Him. It really had nothing to do with me at all.

I was free.

And then I heard in the song the lines "Jesus has come to bring, Jesus has come to bring JOY!"

I'm not going to lie to you: I cried. Right there at work. I cried, gasping for breath. Because I could feel the Joy. I could FEEL it. I still do.

Not ten minutes later something came up that directly related to some of the things that had been setting me off before, and it didn't even phase me. Imediately, several side issues jumped to mind, and I recognized them as spiritual attacks. And THEN. . . I realized that all of the "unforgiveness" I'd been beating myself up over wasn't actually unforgiveness, it was distraction and frustration that the enemy had used to beat me down and keep me feeling defeated, but that God used to prod me until I could finally understand.

So now I'm having to learn how to be me again. And to figure out what that means. I can do what I feel led to, however I feel led to. I can write whatever I want--God says He'll use what He wants to--I don't have to try to make it "fit."

I just can't wait to try out all of this new freedom. I don't know how to relax into this. I've always felt like I had to live up to "something." So this is so strange as to be completely foreign, but I have hope again, and I've felt joy. . .

And that's a start. :-)
Here is a link to that song. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I have never really felt there were any similarities in our lives until now (except for the whole bottling up thing lol - you know me I shout everything to the winds). I could have written so much of this. The more I read the clearer I could see exactly what God was trying to tell you. I am very glad that you "found" yourself again and I look forward to talking to that spirit filled joyful man again.