Monday, February 20, 2012

The Day I Quit

The beautiful clear blue skies and the warm air of the northern Florida coast that November mocked the heaviness of my heart. 

The place, the time (1997), even the room where the large congregation of my peers were assembled is a clear picture in my mind 15 years later. I even remember my reaction. She—it’s significant that it is she—was on the platform speaking. I don’t remember her words. Was she giving a message? Or maybe giving announcements? It didn’t matter. I was mad. She had the opportunity to be on the platform—the proof of ministry in my mind—not me. My husband remembers smoke coming out of my ears.

I desired so much to minister to women; and I was failing. I made a significant and sad decision that night—I quit! I’m going to put on a mask, no, the mask was already in place; I’m going to cover the mask and all of me with a suit of armor. I’m going to protect myself from the hurt and pain I was experiencing. I’m going to bury my desires and unmet expectations and let you think all is ok. I’m going to grin and bear it.

But there were two BIG problems with my decision:
1)  God gave me my desires.
2)  I buried the desires alive. They might have been hidden but they didn’t disappear.

I knew I had an issue with comparison. I was tutored well to use comparison as the measuring stick of success. Most of the time, I wasn’t happy with what the measuring stick revealed, but I continued on my path.

As I grew in my friendship with God, I began to learn Scripture. I memorized II Corinthians 10:12 and it was a red flag for me. I used that verse as a springboard for Bible study on comparison; I gave devotionals on comparison. I knew it was an issue—a not good issue, but for me it was reality. What I didn’t realize was my issue of comparison was really a symptom of a deeper issue, not the root cause of my unhappiness and frustration. All those good things I was doing in the hopes of curing my problem were only burying the issue deeper and deeper. I was piling good things on top of my pain compounding the issue not addressing its root cause. My suit of armor was protecting me from all that could help.

I lived that reality for over two years.

Finally, thankfully, the armor developed a crack. Like the crack on the windshield of my car, it spread and spread; the armor became weaker and weaker and could no longer protect.

It was scary to experience the armor falling away. God used a new friend, a confidant to lead me to a new place. He helped me discover the real issue (I have no memory of his speaking to my comparison symptom). But would this just be a mountain top experience and not make a difference? That’s what my history told me. This time history was wrong.

He became a safe harbor. As I told my sad painful story and allowed not only the armor but the mask to drop off, I found in my new friend a heart that felt the pain with me and a person who did not condemn; I broke in the light of his wisdom as he addressed the issue, not the symptom. He affirmed the desires God gave me—the good desire to minister to women; he imparted hope. That was twelve years ago.   

The journey continues; the trajectory is different.

About a year later, my husband and I were returning to the same place on the Florida coast. As we drove in, I commented, I wonder how this week will be. We’re returning to the place that is the low point of my life. He responded, or was it the high point?

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, …
Full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14

1 comment:

  1. ... or was it the high point indeed.
    I've been noticing lately how brokenness seems to work. I don't think God "breaks us", but he allows us to break ourselves against those things that stand in the way of His love and transforming grace. So that.. the low points are often the high points if, in the low time, we allow the Spirit to begin to do His work of healing and reconciliation. God said to Paul ... 'my grace is sufficient for you." and Paul understood that "when I am weak, He is strong, His strength is made PERFECT in weakness." Wow. I'm not able to get past this lately. Everytime I see a weakness in myself, or projected on my, I am taking it to Father "Christ, here is a weakness. Show YOUR strength." I've stop asking him to make me stronger - because he doesn't want my to be strong in my flesh.... and neither do I.
    Hugs to you. Thank you for this very insightful blog.