restless & wrestling

I generally have at least an idea of the kind of structure I want a blog post to have, but this time I feel like I have no boundaries, no structure, no expectations, and no ideas other than this one: word vomit. Sorry to use that phrase, I actually hate it, but it also pretty accurately describes what I’m about to do and why. The answer is because my heart and mind don’t currently want to cooperate; my thoughts don’t want to be expressed in the form of completion, the way I feel like they usually are the majority of the times I’ve transcribed them into another post. Oh well.

Welcome to my life at present. It is Friday, November 25, 2016, and nothing in me is organized right now. Everything is in restless disarray, but it’s totally fine. For once I really would like my words to seem a little chaotic, too. A little restless. I think a new approach to this whole blogging thing could be refreshing. I said from the beginning that I wanted to commit to full-disclosure, complete honesty and vulnerability anytime I choose to write, but as a writer, I forget how much I like to go back and fix or improve things. Yeah, I may be honest in what I say, but sometimes I worry too much that it doesn’t always make sense. This time I don’t want to be afraid of that. I don’t even want to care if it makes sense or not. Unfiltered is the goal right now. I usually like to write when I’ve just learned something, just come through something, that way I have what feels like a much more well-rounded perspective that’s so much easier to describe. I like to write when I feel like I’ve at least come to some kind of conclusion about how I should be living… thinking… breathing. This time I’m kind of in the throes of it all, as I write. I don’t know. Anyway, by the time my thoughts are somewhere other than my head, they feel more complete, regardless of how well-thought out they are or not to begin with. Enough rambling. Here goes. Okay, Jesus, what do you want me to say right now…

“for in Him we live and move and have our being.” Acts 17:28

What? Does that even mean… This is honestly just the first thing that came to my mind right this moment, so I’m gonna take off with it. I came across this verse the other day. I don’t remember when or how or if it was even from my Bible or someone’s Instagram post or what (and I actually had to google the reference just now, don’t judge me), but I remember it struck a chord in me that I totally ignored. Until right now… God clearly wants me to revisit these words, and for you, the reader, to join me in whatever that looks like. I’m as curious as you, to be honest. The blank space that expands beneath this paragraph will soon be filled with words, and it’s kind of thrilling not having any idea what they will be at this point. It’s hard letting my thoughts come out raw right now, and to process them as they are being written down, as opposed to organizing them beforehand. I get my love for organization and hatred for clutter and filth from my mother, and she from her father. Thanks, Grandpa! Seriously though, I actually enjoy being an organized person. But I think I like it to a fault because when it comes to what’s happening inside me, that kind of disorder makes me even more uncomfortable. I just want everything to feel perfect and put together all the time, and I start to think there’s something wrong with me when it doesn’t. I have to remind myself that there actually is a lot wrong with me because I’m a human being. But along with that reminder comes the fact that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness; He does more than just complete me, filling in the gaps where I fall short. He covers me completely, to the point where I can’t even see where my effort ends and He begins. It’s just all Him. That’s something I can’t really wrap my brain around, to be honest. “My goodness is nothing apart from You.” (Psalm 16:2).

I think it’s okay and even good to feel that way sometimes, like there’s nothing but chaos and restlessness and sadness and anxiety going on inside. Not necessarily for it to stay there, but what I mean is I’m learning how to properly handle it. There’s a sweet parallel I just discovered. I think that in the same way I feel an urge to be completely raw in what I say about how I feel right now, God wants us to approach Him that way with our whole selves. The disaster that may be my mind, my heart, God wants that, just the way it is. I think I haven’t been thinking like that. I think I haven’t realized the freedom of that truth until right now, sitting here, thinking out loud. I feel bad when I feel bad. Like, I feel guilty for not feeling completely joyful and put together and content and freaking perfect all the time. And then I try and do some soul-searching, trying, in and of myself, to fix whatever is broken inside me before I come to God, because I should offer him good things, right?? I can’t come to Him in a less-than-perfect state, ashamed by all of these doubts and fears and curiosities that I idolize… Wrong. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17). No pre-organization necessary in approaching the throne of the Living God. He does it all for us when we choose to come to Him just as we are. Praise You, Jesus. We deserve no such grace. Romans 8:1 says, “There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” I guess the real question then becomes, in those moments when disarray and restlessness seem to have consumed me, according to what am I walking? The flesh or the Spirit? I concluded today that I need to memorize more verses. Well, I didn’t just randomly come to that conclusion, I was convicted to memorize more verses after praying and being frustrated over how much my thoughts have wandered as of late. Can this not happen?? “Yeah, actually. Fill your mind with the Word of God.” Of course.

So, Acts 17:28, “for in Him we live and move and have our being.”

Alright Lord, I don’t know what to say about that other than I don’t really know what it means. And I don’t know if I believe it. I hate admitting things like that. Even though God already knows. I literally can hide nothing, so why even try? “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” Reading that through once or twice, it just sounds like some super poetic, whimsical metaphor for the Christian life; a reflection of the fact that as a follower of Christ, I live for Jesus, obviously. But how often do I actually consider the weight of those words, on every level? Literally, He breathed us into life. And because of that, my whole self and lifestyle should reflect His glory. This heart that is beating, these lungs that are breathing, these fingers typing, head spinning, it’s all happening both because of and for Him. So there’s that. Because of Jesus, “[I] have [my] being;” I have life, purpose, opportunities…

What am I doing with that? (Aside from not even fully comprehending what it means)

Maybe I’m just afraid to admit I haven’t lived up to the calling behind it, so claiming I don’t understand it is my cop-out.

Still trying to gain a better grasp here… I am literally alive because of Him. Physically able to move and breathe, and spiritually able to grow and transform and look forward to eternity with Him because I’m saved by grace and grace alone.

Now is probably a good time to address the restlessness and wrestling implied in the title of this. Audrey Assad sings a song called “Restless.” Some of the lyrics are “You dwell in songs that we are singing, rising to the heavens, rising to your heart… our praises filling up the spaces in between our frailty and everything you are. You are the keeper of my heart, and I’m restless, I’m restless ’til I rest in You…” Such a sweet song. I recommend looking it up. But anyway, that song came to mind when I wrote that title. I am restless until I rest in Jesus, but the truth is I don’t always know how to do that. I don’t know how to fully embrace his perfect peace that is freely offered to me. There’s too much to worry about and be anxious about, I don’t have time to rest!!! I don’t know how to give things up and really rest the way I am allowed to, called to because of His sacrifice. I get frustrated when I have to pray the same prayers over and over again, asking for Him to take from me the things I’m holding onto, asking for Him to grant me my requests, and trying, in the midst of that, to remember to always ask for His will above my own. God, this is what I want and I don’t know what your plan is in all of this, I don’t know what this is going to look like, and I don’t know what to do. Except I feel like every time I say I don’t know what to do, I actually do. Almost immediately He reminds me to rest. Okay, God, whatever, I get that part, but honestly that’s not enough for me right now. I need answers; I need promises that fulfill me the way I want to be fulfilled. Selfish. Who the heck am I to limit Him, to question His sovereignty like that, telling the God of the universe what I need, as if He doesn’t know infinitely more than me?  Who am I to place my security in things I expect Him to give me, rather than He Himself, the best gift I could ever receive? I live and move and have my being because of Him and His grace. In light of that, how is it that I can let myself be restless?

I put God in a box a lot more than I ever realized. He’s so much bigger than I make Him out to be. I am restless because I’m an impatient person who has dreams and hopes and desires, yet battles with the reality that God may have completely different ones for me, or at least different plans for how He will fulfill/meet those. It’s hard to submit to His will when it keeps me so very much in the present, waiting, resting, and not able to see very far in front of me because where would my faith be then? It’s so much easier to dwell on my plans that I can “see” in my future, in my head. I tell myself I can trust that God will always be faithful, no matter what that looks like, but what’s with all of this waiting and unknown nonsense, God? In the midst of questioning if God really is a good, good Father, who loves to give good gifts to His children, I have to remind myself that these moments of restlessness, chaos, whatever, are opportunities to practice and learn how to overcome one of my greatest weaknesses: patience. And to do that not in my own strength, but by drawing from His. They are also good reality checks. If I never get any of the things I hope to in this life on earth, will I be okay with that? If you’re asking me this right this second as a non-rhetorical question, my answer is no. I’m not okay with that thought. But I want to be. I’ve been there before, where God alone was all I ever wanted and needed, but currently I’m struggling all over again with understanding whether or not I’m even allowed to want other things in this life that aren’t God Himself, but gifts He may or may not choose to give in this life. God, I don’t freaking know how to deal. I don’t know what to do with what’s in my heart, on my mind. I was praying the other day that He would take it all away, basically so that I could instead just feel nothing. If what I’m feeling is angst and discontentment and restlessness, I would rather just not feel at all, so TAKE ME NOW, LORD. I was praying for an easy way out. But then I realized I was in the wrong to pray that, so my prayer instead became “No, actually, just change my desires to match yours; satisfy them however you see best fit.” I didn’t even want that; I want what I want, and I don’t want that to change (I’m kind of a brat.) But sometimes I have to pray things I know I should want, even when I don’t want them in the moment. That’s okay, right? To pray for things against my own will? It’s either considered super honest, or somehow wrong, not sure which.

Acts 17:28…. Anything else, God? I feel like I keep finding new rabbit trails every time I come back to “for in Him we live and move and have our being.” Not sure if I’ve really hit the nail on the head yet… if I’ve said all that I needed to say about those eleven words. I think I’m just supposed to meditate on them, honestly. Still trying to wrap my head around it, what it means, how it convicts me and calls me to action. I guess I can conclude with this: if all that we are and have is by Him and for Him, everything we experience and every action we take is and should be ultimately for His glory. I have found myself coming back to this conclusion during several different circumstances in the past. I have to relearn this all the time. It’s humbling. God, if everything is for you, if in You I live and move and have my being, then you deserve every piece of my life and who I am. Whatever that looks like, it belongs to You. I don’t willingly want to give You that right now, but I know You deserve all of me. My life is not my own; don’t let me forget that, no matter how much I want to deny it. The moments of joy and rejoicing, when I am content and happy, and the moments of anger or sorrow or fear, when I am discontent, restless and wrestling within myself, take those moments and magnify Yourself. God, when it’s hard to approach you for whatever reason, when I feel like I deserve so much less than what You give me, and You deserve so much more than what I have to offer, when what hinders me from being completely vulnerable before you is my fear of being a wreck and the misconception that I have to have my crap together first, be my help. Take everything. Remind me that, in any circumstance, You are more than enough for me and I am enough because of Your Son. Help me to understand the weight of that truth, and to really believe it. Because I’m having a hard time with that; with all of the above, let’s be real.

I’m caught in between so many different feelings. Unworthy of His grace; unwilling to submit to Him, to relinquish my life and my ideas; restless because I don’t know how to rest with so many things swirling around inside of me, occupying my thoughts and attention; frustrated that I would rather hold onto them and meditate on them instead of surrender them; confused because God deserves all of me, but all of me is not good and He deserves the best; tripping out because He still wants every part of me despite that, and what does that even mean and what do I have to do and why is it so hard to let go of myself? It’s a constant struggle, this life. & we’ll never “arrive” until we arrive at the gates of heaven. That will be a glorious moment. And that’s a whole other topic that I also can’t fathom.

I’ll say it one more time. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” For whatever reason that needed to be the focal point of this post. Like I prefaced this, I don’t know how much it all actually ties together/makes sense, but I wanted to run with it. And honestly, at this point, I feel like I always write the same things anyway; the same lessons and the same reminders about dealing with the unknown and entrusting my whole self to a God who knows me perfectly, but clearly I need to relearn this in different ways, and re-articulate the same things over and over for whatever reasons. In any case, I’m glad it’s all out on the table. I’ll admit I did a little editing here and there, but for the most part, I think I like word-vomiting. If you’ve reached this point, I’m glad you stuck around to see what became of the blank space after words took over.

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