In my all-too-often, all-too-fast-paced corner of the world, I find most days are filled with a variety of battles.
Who or what will win my time and attention?
Will exercising win or the donuts?
Will I conquer Mt. Laundry or will it conquer me?
Will I venture out before or after coffee? And makeup.
But do you ever, like me, feel like the battle you’re really fighting is the one between stepping out and hiding out?
Here’s what I mean…
With social media of all varieties, it would seem there are ample ways to engage with those in our circles (and those on the fringe).
But what I find most often these days is a ‘faux’ engagement. One made up of either putting our best face forward (even if it’s not authentic), or erecting a fence that can only be scaled by those proving themselves completely safe and totally worthy.
The quest for connection, but the fear of what's at risk when we actually finding it, rub against each other like skin on a cheese grater. The result?
Bloody knuckles. And inedible cheese.
Yet, we continue to fight the battle. We hope for better. We want better.
Dare I say, we need it?
I do, because that’s really the most accurate verbiage I can find.
Because it would seem we’re designed for true connection with others.
Science proves it. Whether we’re talking about the importance of healthy relationships in combating stress and shame, or the brain-healing properties of chemicals like oxytocin; the Science is pretty clear.
I see this same message confirmed in my faith. And as a person of faith, I see ‘designed’ as a synonym for created.
Yep. I said it.
I realize not everyone will agree with that statement.
And that’s ok.
But it’s one I’ve put a lot of time into studying.
Admittedly, there was a time when I didn’t really believe it either.
Except, the strangest thing kept happening.
Every time I would seek a way around it I would inevitably find something that pointed right back to it.
“It is not good for man to be alone.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“So encourage each other and build each other up…”
Much of the time this confirmation of Science in my Faith was the last thing I wanted to believe.
If I did, it also meant that I would have to come to terms with irreconcilable ideas like all the hate, violence, sickness, and various forms of brokenness in the world existing simultaneously with a God who, according to the information found in the same place as the quotes above, “is love” and yet would allow such things.
Although at times, a miraculous or inexplicable intervention would suggest that He doesn’t.
Yet, regardless of my struggles with such things, time and again the deeper I dug, I found there were (are) many things in Science, particularly the Science of ‘us’, that dovetail right into what my new-found faith was telling me.
And it was difficult to admit.
In part because I knew this would make me the ‘fringe’ to some others.
That many would disagree and the very connection I was created for would be threatened because I believed I was created for that connection.
But the bigger rub came for me in accepting what faith in this Creator would mean in light of the abuse and trauma I endured in my own life.
Admittedly, I still have questions about all of that. I feel like I have some answers.
And I want to be clear that they are my answers that work for me. This isn’t me telling anyone what to believe nor is it an attempt to give some placating response to the deep pain some have endured.
I'm not suggesting that finding answers in the context of faith alone is sufficient to help you heal and grow, either. (I am a strong advocate of getting the mental and emotional; clinical help necessary to work through what has harmed you in this life. I certainly did.)
Rather, what I desire most is to offer for consideration what may give hope and help to others.
In the interest of space and time, I’ll share just a snippet of what’s helped me.
One concept that brought new perspective for me was the idea of free will.
That this ‘Creator’ I was exploring was not some sort of giant puppet master in the sky.
From the beginning He gave us free will. Which, if any of you have children (or teenagers) have experienced first-hand, isn’t always a good idea.
In thinking through this concept, what I came to realize was that others abused their free will in order to harm me and rob me of mine.
It was wrong. And it grieved the heart of God. Right along with me.
I came to understand that what happened to me was not my fault. It didn’t change my value; or determine my destiny. Those events were chapters in my story, but they certainly aren’t the whole story.
And they will not define its ending.
That has helped me heal and continues to help me grow.
What happened to me (and what has happened to you) has not been forgotten by God.
And one day, it will all be answered for.
But more importantly, what I have experienced on the side of healing, as a result of choosing a relationship with God is far greater than anything I attempted to experience outside of a relationship with Him.
It brought a holistic perspective to the healing I needed. And considering I would label my young-life experiences as ‘holistic trauma’, this made the most sense to me.
Now…do I still have questions? Yep.
Do I still wrestle with what happened to me and what continues to happen others? Of course.
Do I have all the answers for all the bad in this world? No.
Do I ever struggle to trust God? More times than I care to admit.
And are there times when I still find myself struggling with the difficultness of life and the unanswered questions about brokenness in this world?
It’s just that I’ve decided to wrestle and struggle with all of this under the umbrella of a relationship with Jesus.
Yep. I said it.
Because ultimately, when I can’t figure it out, I’ve learned a perhaps ‘over-simplistic’ answer.
(Full disclosure: at a closer look, it isn’t really simplistic at all.)
And while that doesn’t fix everything in the moment, it helps me.
It's my port in the storm. My calm in the midst of chaos.
So, in spite of what feels like a fight at times, I’ll press on to stay true to how I’ve been created.
I’ll continue to step out instead of hiding out. Practice my empathy and vulnerability instead of my wall-building skills. Because I think that’s what I’m created for.
What about you? Do you ever fight the battle between stepping out and hiding out? Do you ever feel disqualified because of your past? Because of what you’ve done or what’s been to you?
Do you ever feel anxious? Exhausted? Not-enough?
Are you tempted to put on the got-it-together show so the world won’t know?
Or to resurrect the wall of judgment and self-protection to avoid the very connection that you so desperately need? That you are created for?
Perhaps there’s room for you to consider stepping out and stepping into a relationship with God and even a community of others who really ‘get it’. (I promise, they’re out there.)
You just might find some of the hope and healing you were created for too.