Monday, September 19, 2011

a weekend with Him

   "The darkness hides the true size of fears and lies and regrets," Jesus explained. "The truth is they are more shadow than reality, so they seem bigger in the dark. When the light shines into the places where they live inside you, you start to see them for what they are."
   "But why do we keep all that crap inside?" Mack asked.
   "Because we believe it's safer there. And, sometimes, when you're a kid trying to survive, it really is safer there. Then you grow up on the outside, but on the inside you're still that kid in the dark cave surrounded by those monsters, and out of habit you keep adding to your collection. We all collect things we value, you know?"
   -The Shack, Chapter 12, In the Belly of the Beasts

As I read those words the tears immediately began to flood and would not cease. I had to set the book down and let myself have a good cry because I had just read what perfectly describes the emotions and pain that I am struggling with in my life right now... and for almost forever.

I have been seeking counsel regularly for the past 6 months or so and in my most recent session a couple of weeks ago I described to my counsellor how I can't seem to let myself let go of all of the feelings and emotions that I have carried around with me for the past couple of decades. I told him that it felt like I had been carrying this backpack around for all this time, full of the weight of my fears, my anger, my bitterness, my pain. The weight just seems normal and comfortable to me. How can I set that backpack down and move forward with my life without the constant companionship of those dark friends? Who will I be without them? I am too afraid to leave them behind...

He challenged me to let them go. And to try and find a way to content with who I am in Christ without the influence of anything and everyone around me. He placed a heavy rock inside my purse and challenged me to keep it there until I am ready to let go of the backpack, ready to let Christ abide in me fully, to let the Spirit give me the peace to be who I am in plenty and in want.

It's easier said than done.

And then a few days later Kacie urged me to read The Shack. I've had it in my possession for a few weeks already because my mom bought it for me at a newsstand in the JFK airport, but I had been avoiding reading it. I don't know why really, except maybe because it's a faith based book.

When I think of faith based media (books, movies, music) I sometimes cringe because growing up they were never quite up to my standard of what good literature, film and music can be. This sounds very pompous and stuck up, but if you grew up around the time I did and you grew up in a Christian environment, you would probably say the same. Although, Christian musicians have come a long way since the 80's and 90's, there are even a couple of bands/artists that I kind of really enjoy. I can even admit that I've read about 3 or 4 faith based fiction novels and absolutely loved them, but out of all the books I've read, that is a small percentage. Film, on the other hand, seems to be a lot slower to catch up. To this day, The Passion of the Christ is the only faith based film I have ever watched and not rolled my eyes at. To be fair, because I've had this point of view for so long I have avoided watching, reading or listening to anything faith based, as a result there might be a whole slew of fantastic films, musicians and books produced by people of faith that I am not taking into account.

But I digress...

I definitely did not read the book because of all of the controversy surrounded around it. I actually have no clue what anyone has negatively said about the book other than they believe it is Scripturally unstable/unsound, that the book is flat out heresy or that the author is Satan incarnate... I have to laugh at that last one because I strongly disagree.

First of all, it is a work of fiction and therefore cannot and should not be considered 100% Biblical. Second, in no way did I ever feel that my faith were being jeopardized or completely altered by reading this story. What I will say is that it changed my heart. It's as if before I read the book, when it came to my understanding and my vision of God I saw only black and white, but suddenly the Spirit touched my sight to reveal a multitude of colors with which I can better understand the nature of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. There are questions I have asked my whole life, and questions I have been battling for the last year that were answered as I read this book.

It wasn't until the last half of The Shack that I really began to break down inside. I wasn't too fond of the first few chapters because I felt that the author didn't need to go into as much detail in explaining things that did not need as much explanation or attention, but not long into the book that changed and I found myself really wanting to read more.

By the 11th chapter, the book stopped speaking only to my logic and spoke straight to my heart. Pain I've harbored and repressed for years was bubbling up to the surface. All of the walls I built up around my heart began to crumble and it was as if the Lord has been peeling back the layers of my heart like an onion making me vulnerable to every emotional element. I feel exposed and raw and fragile... and I could not stop weeping.

With every barrier that is being broken down and with every memory that is resurfacing I am feeling slightly closer to uncovering why I am who I am and how to make myself content. With this sadness comes the unexpected tinge of hope I never had felt before when faced with such depth of sorrow. A shattered heart needs sutures rather than gauze to heal and though each suture is like another stabbing of a partially healed wound, at least the bleeding will stop seeping through the cracks, eventually.

Since this journey is far from over, I have no ending to offer. The only bit of hope I can give you is the hope that He gave me through David, who read to me this Psalm when I felt lost and alone this weekend.

Psalm 34

1 I will extol the LORD at all times;
   his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the LORD;
   let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the LORD with me;
   let us exalt his name together.

 4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
   he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
   their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
   he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
   and he delivers them.

 8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
   blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the LORD, you his holy people,
   for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
   but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
   I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Whoever of you loves life
   and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
   and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
   seek peace and pursue it.

 15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
   and his ears are attentive to their cry;

16 but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
   to blot out their name from the earth.

 17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
   he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
   and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

 19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
   but the LORD delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
   not one of them will be broken.

 21 Evil will slay the wicked;
   the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD will rescue his servants;
   no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

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