“We were never meant to be completely fulfilled; We were meant to taste it, to long for it, and to grow toward it... The secret to living life as it was meant to be is... to befriend our yearning instead of avoiding it, to live into our longing rather than trying to resolve it, to enter the spaciousness of our emptiness instead of trying to fill it up.” (Gerald May, The Awakened Heart)
It was just last week that I sat on the porch with my mom in the pre-dawn and watched the fog rolling into our valley. Fog is a lonely weather, slowly, stealthily surrounding us with the mystery of mist instead of the flesh and blood, solidness of our real surroundings. It feels almost like a pillow you could fall into. But if you try, try to have it swallow you completely, you will find it a fickle friend. It will soon leave you to stumble through the harsh sunlight of a real world you no longer recognize.
We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! (I Corinthians 13:12 MSG)About 9 months ago, just before I walked back into the fog of depression, something began to sneak up on me just like the fog. It was an old and familiar temptation, but I hadn't faced it in over a decade. As the vines grew in and began to entangle, I frantically hacked at the stems wrapping themselves around my feet, my hands, my eyes, my mind. At the same time, I told no one. I was embarrassed. The shame kept me walking in the dark.
Quietly this temptation came to the breaking point. A friend asked me a question deep in the two worst weeks, quietly - as if she were almost scared to ask: "Do you want to walk away from God?" It was almost a whisper through the miles of phone line. My answer, from the deepest places of my soul, buried under all the confusion, was No. And so, with one confession of His name, the Living Water trickled back in, drops at first, and soon a torrent. It washed the twisted weeds from around my limp and lonely form. I was able to move, to speak. To bring those I loved back in. To let the light in.
My mother's voice read with conviction, punctuated by my father's interruptions with another version of the Word, a word that made a difference.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man... (Romans 1:18-22 KJV)The whole chapter read like a script of what I would be choosing if I chose to revel in temptation, engage it. Almost as powerful as a bolt of lightening came the realization that my choise was really very, very simple. The choice was between darkness and loneliness or light, joy, and my silence peopled by the children, husband, family I've been blessed with.
In that moment, I knew it to the core of my being: there is no one I love more than my husband and children. There is no thing I love more than them. To ever leave them behind to search for happiness in this vast and lonely world is foolishness. I am not alone. I am gloriously surrounded by the ones I love best. Would that I could give that gift to others trapped in the in-between.
And so, easily, the decision was made. The temptation was emptied of all temptation. I was turning around - that sacred act of repentance - from the wrong and toward the right. For me, at least, the path is sure and the choice simple.
Are you dangerously close to walking away from your life or your beliefs in some way? Do you know someone who is? Perhaps you can glean some helpful Truth from things realized through my walk through the valley. Can you ask yourself (or your friend) the following questions?
- Is the temptation threatening the very foundations of your life and routine?
- Why would you want to give up your life as it is now? Do you even want to?
- Do you think you might be able to "have it all", and that's why you keep pondering the temptation? Do you know anyone who has successfully balanced the two things you're deciding between and managed to keep both?
- Are you acting in a way that's congruent with your normal personality or are you acting like someone you can't even recognize (or even someone much younger than yourself)?
- Can you look backward to those "monument" moments of faith in your own life? Is this dilemma congruent to how you've acted in the past or is it contradictory to other seasons of your life?
- When you really get down to the core of yourself, do you think God is in this with you, or do you have that sinking, sick feeling that He will withdraw if you choose the temptation?
- Who will support you in the new life if you choose to change it? Can you manage to lose the people who would leave your life? Would there be anyone left? Would your choice change even those relationships that remain?
- Can you walk away from God? Do you want to? If so, why now when you haven't before?