Last week I had a gut-wrenching conversation. It was ugly. There were tears. There was guilt. There was shame. This was all me. This is how I responded. All of my insecurities, the ones I knew about and the ones I didn’t know I had. All of it showed up. I was defensive. I was trying to play she shame and blame game.
As hard as this conversation was. This truth was spoken in love. It may not sound like it with the tears and the initial defensive reactions, as if I was being attacked. I needed this. I was a wreck. An emotional, swollen-eyes, no-longer-wearing-any-make-up mess. And get this. This all happened the day before my vacation. Yeah. A great way to start the journey to rest and relaxation. I believed it was perfectly timed by our perfect God.
After much reflection and repentance, I realized this was an answer to prayer. God answers prayers. It may not look like the answers we would like. The answers may not come wrapped up in a cute little box and a big pink bow. Nah, these answers come in the yuckiest and messiest of moments sometimes. Right?
I pray and repent of my sin as much as I can. I pray and ask God to search my heart, to reveal the sin I may not see, so we can get down to business and get it cleared up. He knows our heart better than anyone in this world, and boy, did he answer. I’ve been praying for months to put my heart in check in a particular situation. As I processed my feelings, trying to figure out if there was any truth to it or if it was the enemy trying to twist my mind about things.
God doesn’t answer our prayers with an audible voice or through an email or text. God often answers our prayers and shakes us up a bit through the wisdom of people that love us and the people that we trust. God answers us in the most inopportune times. In the times when you don’t have a script ready to respond. We don’t have the right words prepared for rebuttal, for negotiation, or even for a good argument with him. No, he gets us in times when we think we’re asking someone a simple question. He gets us when we’re the most vulnerable. He gets us when we’re the most ourselves. The person he created and loves. Our real being. Stripped down. Exposed.
The proud do not receive counsel or correction easily. Defensiveness is used by them to justify and rationalize
their frailties and failures.
– Ezra Taft Benson
It’s not that he purposely blindsides us or manipulates us into conversations like this. I trust that God was working in this situation. I believe he let me have these feelings, to get through this pain or frustration, to grow me. To mature me. To bring me to a point of surrender, even if I wasn’t quite ready to do it myself. He used the wisest person I know to help me bring all that was in my heart to the surface. To process through. To work through it. Was it pretty? Nope. Was it expected? Nope. But you know what? I’m thankful. I’m thankful to be kicked in the shins or throat-punched because I didn’t like how my mind and heart was handling this situation. I wasn’t liking myself. I’m pretty sure God reeled me back in because I was straying from him. I was letting my pride, judgement, and assumptions, based on my weak flesh, to blur my sight of him.
As ugly as this hard conversation was, there was also beauty. There was love. There was prayer. There was encouragement. The door was left open for me to come back if I needed help or needed someone to listen if I need talk through something. I’m thankful for the shedding of the snakeskin I had wrapped around me.
It’s true. The truth hurts. But God doesn’t put us in situations like the guy in the movie, A Few Good Men, saying, “You can’t handle the truth!” We can because that truth is spoken to us from God himself. He uses other humans to speak it to us sometimes. The people that know us well. The people that love God like we do. The people that know God. And the people who are human just like us and know we need the truth as much as they do.
Instead of being defensive, try lowering your guard to actually take life’s punches and learn from them. The people who care about you most may snub you to wake you out of a funk. A co-worker — or your whole family — may feed you some harsh, direct advice that’s hard to swallow. You can choose to deny or counterpunch, or you can absorb some truths, and use them to adjust and grow stronger. Handling rejection is challenging, but it can also lead to the most profound and positive personal changes. – Anonymous
My encouragement to you…if you’re dealing with a rough situation or you’re feeling that your heart just isn’t sitting right in your chest, find a safe person to talk to, to pray for you and with you, to listen as you process your feelings. By all means, give it all to the Lord first. Listen for his response. Be open to hear the hard things from the person he chooses to speak to you.
I’d also encourage you to not let the pain and ill feelings fester in your heart. The longer you let it simmer, it comes to a boil when you happen to ask someone a simple question, and then, BAM, the lid flies off. It blows up. You’re not ready. You don’t have any pot holders to handle the heat. If your heart happens to be revealed in this manner, don’t run. Don’t cower. Take it all in and be thankful. This is one of those times to “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It may not feel like tickles and farts, but it is so worth it. Pain brings growth, baby girl. Surrender brings intimacy with God. This kinda ugly brings nothing but beauty. The beautiful glory of God working in us.
Hugging you so tight,