8/05/2009 11:49:00 AM

#11, 15, 39, 40

Since I have some time to reflect on all the things that's happened since last August, I think I will actually take a rare moment of introspection and really force myself to put into words how far (or not far) I think I have come.

I don't particularly look forward to doing this since I have a tendency to remember pain quite well while forgetting the happy parts of my past, but here goes:

Last August: I was completely crazy. Unmet needs/expectations coupled with desperation and a mostly immature kind of love makes a really really bad combination. I did a lot of things that now I wince at and wished I had not done so that I could have preserved even just an ounce of dignity. While I think it is true that choosing pride over love is probably the stupidest thing a person can do, there is a fine but clear line between pride and dignity. And I totally threw away my dignity. When I sacrificed my dignity and received nothing but a mutilated mess formerly known as Self-Respect in my hands, that was the start of what I am going to call a "MAJOR POOP PERIOD" of my young adult existence.

August - December: I remember having enough strength to play the strong 'Christian woman/church intern' on the outside, but constantly crying every time I met up with PW to discuss my spiritual progress. Anger eventually replaced some of the grief as I railed against the people who were making my life even more miserable by their opposition to the vision I had for my internship, for the church and for what I thought was the best I could offer to the congregation. That was a REALLY hard period of my life. I think I lost some weight then. :P The good parts: Discovering the divine joys of running, being forced to lean on nothing, no one but Christ, because I had no choice, the development of a deeper faith as I chose to believe in Christ despite the turbulence in my heart.

Jan - March: The upswing! Working hard at the internship, and starting to be less judgmental and more patient with others. I think I still suffered some bouts of insecurities and loneliness then, but it was nowhere as bad as the previous months. Praying more to God, discovering the joys of learning more about him and returning to a more consistent mode of QTs.

March - July: Promising rise. Things seemed to be falling into place. The future was uncertain, but I was excited. I enjoyed praying for others and sharing with others what I've learned. And by this point I was definitely over last August. I knew by this time what I was ready for and felt like I knew more about myself. In ministry I will always be driven, discerning, preferring to cut to the truth and sharp "like a surgical knife" as PW puts it. I probably do that to a lesser extent with my friends. And I definitely do that at work. But I know I do not want to do that in my home life. I am a psychologist and scientist in work and ministry, but at this point I know that what I am looking for in a marriage and family is an opportunity for me to just be a supportive partner that simply delights in letting the man lead and pampering him. Yes, pamper. Of course there is partnership, but I don't want to lead in a marriage, only to serve. I don't know if this is 'biblical,' but that is what I realized about myself. That there is a clear difference in what I value in ministry (in myself) and what I value in my future home life.

Now: Deja vu! Deja vu! And not in a good way. I smacked my face against the proverbial wall of reality. I was totally ignorant of it until it socked me in the gut, leaving me breathless and wondering just why I seemed to be thrust in such a similar position as I was last summer. Different, but the same. But God is so good. I don't know why things happen the way they do. I would hope this did not happen just to 'test' me. I like to think that this was going to happen anyway, but that in God's grace He allowed me this time to react differently. Classy, not crazy, as Greg Behrendt would put it. Even if you think the other person is BSing you (or BSing themselves), or if you think they have hurt you unfairly and treated you without courtesy, act classy. For me, classy = be like Christ. Humble, suffering without hysteria, compassionate, just in His criticism of flaws, but always loving. Always wanting the other person to grow, to know God and to be filled with joy. Disappointment may abound, but my dignity is intact and my soul is right with God as I strive to focus on the good, on forgiveness, and whatever is 'praiseworthy' instead of what is sad and angry. And learning to respect a person's divine ability to choose, even if I do not agree, is one of the hardest and most precious lessons I've learned thus far. I learned it last year; I practiced it this time. Instead of losing myself in that dark hole again, I'm going to hang on to the cross and lean into the dip. The more I allow myself to wrestle through disappointments and doubts, to lean into this dip, the more momentum I'll gather for the upswing. And the peak will be higher than before.

The only difference between a lump of coal and a diamond is this: A diamond becomes what it is through time + pressure. It is funny, because I heard that in a sermon I listened to on Sunday. And a month ago, PW remarked that whether I believe it or not, I am a jewel that God is refining in the fire. I have faith that he is right (but maybe a cheaper jewel, like cubic zirconia :P) That's why I've been saying, it's been one of the most disappointment times I've had recently, but probably one of the best weekend I've ever had in my whole life. I think I still struggle with what people say about my calling, about who I am, and my fears that although I'm frequently called 'unique' or 'special' (not THAT kind of 'special,' OK) that actually works against me in some areas of my life. But I just gotta have faith that I was made by God this way for a reason and that I will be loved this way. I think there are some negative aspects of me that I have to work on, but I hope I resist the temptation to change ME.

Thanks for all of my close friends who have prayed for me, who love me and have been so encouraging. I hope to talk to you face-to-face in the future and share in more detail (a semi-public blog does not encourage me to get all Oprah tell-all about some things out of respect for others.) As Pastor Tim says, "Lean in!"

P.S. So to add to my conviction that God is totally shouting "I AM HEEERRE!", as soon as I finished this post, "Everything Is Beautiful" starting playing on my iTunes. That's the song that got me through last year's MAJOR POOP PERIOD. Listen to it if you haven't already. :D


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