Written on Thursday, August 1, 2013 for Fifth Time a Charm‘s “Ordinary People, Extraordinary God” series.
I sat and reflected for a long time in front of the ocean on Tuesday about where I am in life and where I thought I would be. This was nothing new for me – I tend to become extra reflective each year as birthdays approach and then pass. But what I noticed is that every year it seems that the list for what I had not accomplished grew longer and longer than the list for what I felt I had accomplished. My countenance grew visibly heavy as I considered year 25:
- Got a [part-time] job (check)
- Got a car (check)
- Got an offer for a full-time job (check)
- Still can’t get to the point where I completely like myself (check)
- Love and [partially] lost (check)
- Struggled with faith like never before (check)
- Full-time job offer rescinded due to budgetary cuts (check)
- Living at home with parents and still can’t afford to live (check)
- Turned 26 and can’t be on Mom’s insurance anymore (check…OUCH)
…and these were just the major things that came to mind.
My friend kept asking me if I was OK and I lied. They knew I was lying. I knew I was lying. GOD knew I was lying. But I lied anyway because I knew that I would scream if I heard another platitude…”If God closes one door, He’ll open another…”…”God won’t put more on you than you can bear…”…”Everything will be alright…”. I had heard enough of those over the past year to seemingly last a lifetime. I felt like I was stuck in the possible place of impossible and all my crying and screaming did not seem to move God one bit.
Y’see, I have always prided myself on being the good girl – the girl who always did the right thing and said the right thing…and thought did the right thing. And somewhere along the way I made the connection that if I was good enough, things would go my way in life. Case in point – if I was the good child, my parents would be pleased. If I was the good student, I would do well and everyone would like me. If I was the good friend, people would always talk to me about their problems and I could feel helpful and people would like me. So I guess it was natural that I would lead myself to believe that if I was a good Christian girl who didn’t stray away [too far] and stayed in church and taught Bible Study and drafted the Announcement Sheets at church and ran the sound board and did every other “catch all” that comes with being a Preacher’s Kid that NATURALLY God would allow my life to be suh-weet. Tuh.
This was not the way that it was supposed to go. I’m supposed to be halfway through my doctoral program with a nice job and a list of accomplishments under my name, a decent credit score, and a nice j-o-b with benefits. Instead, I’m working (ehh…travailing) through my Masters program, no real accomplishments (to MY liking) since undergrad, a credit score battered by 10 months of unemployment, and no job and no benefits in sight.
The one thing that I was consistently reminded of during this time is that HE [GOD] is for me. Yeah, I know the way I just laid it out doesn’t make it seem that way but He really is for me. As young woman who has struggled for most of my life with how I viewed myself, I always felt like it was important for people to want me or love me FOR ME, not what I could do for them or give them. And though this was always my heart’s desire (or at least that’s what I said), that’s always what I presented as a basis for people to love me. Love me because I’m good. Love me because I’m smart. Love me because I’m well-spoken. Love me because I’m nice. Love me because I give. That’s all I had ever presented to people to love me based on – never to love me for me but always to love me because I am something, have something, or give something.
And as I reflected in front of that ocean, it finally clicked. God has been trying to show me that He is for me. He loves me for me. He is not for my accomplishments, He is not for my job, He is not for my degree, nor is He for my possessions. He is simply for me. I had spent so much time trying to convince God that He needed to love me in a specific way that I had missed His love, His way. Of all the “bad” things that happened during year 25, I never missed a meal, I never got put out on the streets, I got everywhere I needed to go, and I was still able to get some wants here and there. Him being for me meant that He loved me through those times when I didn’t know how I should feel about Him and He kept me through all of the crazy times and constantly stabilized my mind, which tended to wander a lot. If I ever doubted whether God is for me or not, I didn’t need to look much further than my life that day.
God is for us, He will continue to be for us, and He will always be more than the world (or ourselves) against us.