Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Unmasked

I have been really challenged today while reading three other blog posts to be more open in my writing. I usually only share the safe stuff. Some lovely little thought or devotional writing based on a truth I've just encountered as I've experienced God's Hand in my life. But, what about all those silent days? The days I question, wonder, and search to find myself. They make up the majority of my journey and I need to admit I'm so far from perfect.

Thought I'd begin by sharing my most recent quest. It all began in November after attending a Women's event out of town. Instead of being encouraged by the speakers testimony, this ladies walk with the Lord only magnified the fact that my life was so far from where it should be. As I compared myself with her, I saw only failure and I fell into a pit of discouragement. My days became full of doubt and confusion. All my faults were highlighted and Satan began to heap condemnation on my heart. Unfortunately, I listened to him. I withdrew into a very dark place. I began questioning my salvation. Did I understand true repentance? Was I, like Oswald Chambers describes, just simply sorry for having made foolish mistakes - a reflex action caused by self-disgust - or had I really experienced God's saving forgiveness? If a life of faith was characterized by freedom - why wasn't I free? Why was I living with tremendous fear? Where was my "joy of the Lord"? I saw my life as a "sounding gong and a tinkling cymbal" - a song played on a cheap instrument - a cheap, fake copy that wasn't real.

I fell prey to some very dark days. I lost sight of the Lord. My life felt so hypicritical. Here I was leading 2 Bible studies - teaching truths I was struggling to believe. So much of my life has been set on performance mode and I was living a life of evangelical overload. I thought if I could just push all the right buttons, then God would be happy with me. Everything I was doing was because I was trying to maintain this image of who everyone perceived me to be. I felt like one of those actors who gets cast for a certain role over and over again because the public see them as that character they portray, when all along it's been a performance - it's not who they are inside. I felt like a carbonated beverage that had been all shaken up. The pressure and foaming inside had reached capacity. There was no room to breathe. Because of time, the lid on the bottle had fused and shifted in such a way that I was left trapped inside. I was desparately wanting to be 'found'. As I listened to the song, "Where are you Christmas?" on the radio, my heart was crying out, "Where are you Joy?"

An unplayed song was writing itself across my heart. I began to journal all the thoughts that I didn't have courage to voice. Unspoken cries. Silent pleadings in dark, lonely places that I was too afraid to share. Whispers of my heart that resonated and echoed in secret hideaways. Looking in the window of my soul would have revealed a stranger to many. It was winter there. The cold had wrapped me, confined me. I was frozen and numb. My heart needed thawing. My life had become a shell - a pretty shell to some, but when you put me to your ear, there was nothing - no symphony of waves - only silence. My life had been battered on the shores of time.

What I longed for was love. To experience a fresh romance with God. FINALLY, I cried out to Him in my anguish - but this time I listened and waited for His response. I faintly heard God shouting the childhood call from afar, "Olly-Olly-Oxen-Free, Come out, Come out, wherever you are". I realized that God had not lost sight of me, but just like when He called to Adam in the Garden of Eden, "Where are you Adam?", God wanted me to admit that I was hiding and needed to be found. I prayed, "Lord, I want to come running back to You."

At this moment I picked up a devotional and read, "JOY MAY SEEM TO PAUSE AS GRIEF TAKES ITS COURSE, BUT THOSE WHOSE BROKEN HEARTS ARE BOUND BY HIM WILL EXPERIENCE IT AGAIN."

I read that and instantly knew - JOY WILL BE FOUND! The following verse from Jeremiah 31:4 continued to speak healing to my lost heart - "You will build me up again and I will be rebuilt. I will take up my tambourine and go out to dance with the joyful!" I immediately wanted to go tambourine shopping!

Life didn't suddenly, magically do an about face, but I began to fix my gaze on the Author and Finisher of my faith. God's love began to fall fresh on me and as I uncovered my life and became real, He covered me with His mercy, grace and love.

I'm still on a journey. The darkness at times calls me to retreat again, but I'm holding on to the Light.

It's frightening posting this. I'll probably waver over that "Publish Post" button for awhile. So many friends and family have no idea of the inner battles I have fought. The costumes I've worn have fit perfectly and fooled many. I'm unpacking my "tickle trunk" (remember "Mr. Dressup"?). In fact - thinking I'll destroy that chest completely. Will you join me?

5 comments:

Renee Swope said...

Powerful post and so beautifully written. I pray that He will continue to show you Himself in sweet and powerful ways.

Blessings,
Renee

Julie Stiles Mills said...

We have all struggled with doubt. You just had the courage to be authentic. Whenever we are honest, we let each other see our similarities. And when we do that for each other, we are stronger. Together. I too hovered over the "post" button a few days ago, but not for something this meaningful. Thank you so much.

Michelle said...

I was led to your blog by your comment on Lysa's post yesterday. I applaud you for your action. I realized through Lysa's words and was reminded again through your words that I had not posted anything on my blog in several days because I was not sure I wanted to take any risks. I too am on a journey to uncover what is beneath the masks. Thanks for your post!

Shari said...

We don't realize the inner spiritual battles going on in each other, because we usually want to keep them secret. As more Christian women are honest, I think we all will begin to realize that these struggles are a natural part of the Christian life. It sounds like in your weakness, He made you stronger. You seem like you are even more closer to the Lord now. I appreciate your post.

swile67 said...

Thanks for sharing...we find comfort in each other's honest, vulnerable journey of faith! Hey Joy,over Christmas, I took a tour of the CBC museum in Toronto and saw the Tickle Trunk! I have a pic I will have to send you!! I actually have my own tickle trunk because I was inspired by Mr. Dressup!!:):)