"I was angered, for I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet."
~ Chinese Proverb
I never used to be able to cry in front of people. Yes, there were definitely times in my life after months and months (or even years) of emotions building up when I would finally explode and let it all out in a huge crying session in my room alone (emphasis on the word alone). I’m not sure why this is, but I think it’s the part of me that doesn’t want anyone to know I’m the one with problems, or that I need help. I’m so used to being the “fixer,” the one who is always OK.
Funny thing is, I’ve cried more this past year and a half than I probably have in my entire life combined. Ironically though, this past year has also been filled with some of the greatest joys I’ve ever experienced. And isn’t it just like God to work things that way? The upside-down kingdom…wading through your deepest pain, you will find your greatest joy…to find your life, you must lose your life…becoming less on earth means becoming great in Heaven…and on and on it goes.
So last night, I had a total meltdown. It all started because I was feeling sorry for myself that I wasn’t able to go to the beach last year with my girlfriends, a tradition I’ve had for almost 10 years now. And it was looking grim that it wasn’t going to happen this year, either, for financial reasons. So my flesh that usually lies dormant in the land of “I’m Okay” reared its ugly head in front of my husband, and it wasn’t pretty. I was feeling sorry for myself for having to give that trip up for now, but on a larger scale, just struggling with the idea that I can’t just do what I want to do anymore…and that my life isn’t as cush as it was when I was single.
So much of my life I’ve been spoiled and been able to travel the world and have lots of “mountaintop” experiences. And while those times have shaped me greatly and have allowed me to enjoy many glorious places on this earth, it’s almost a curse in a way. Because…really….how long can life go on that perfectly? At some point, something’s got to give. And reality is, life is hard. People get sick, people go bankrupt, friends get divorced and lose their children. And for some reason I cling so tightly to the world that God has to give me some pain in order to make me release those fingers that are tightly holding my dreams.
I don’t mean to make it sound so grim and hopeless. I do love my life, and I’m blessed with the most amazing husband a girl could ask for!! Steven wants me to keep that dreamer side alive, perhaps even more than I do myself! But he challenges me as much as he loves me, and he won’t let me stay in my cozy world without risking a little bit…without doing some things that I’m afraid of. Yes, it’s a risker life. Its different than my life before, but is that so bad? Is it so bad to give in to change, to let things morph and beautify, as God makes me more like Him?
So last night during my meltdown, and even after I said mean things to him, Steven held me and let me snot all over his arm and told me he loved me so much that he wouldn’t eat for 6 weeks so we could make my beach trip happen,..which of course, made me cry harder! I can be so selfish, and I hate that part of myself.
The Apostle Paul said: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” (Romans 7:18-20 ~NIV)
So back to the quote I put above…"I was angered, for I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet." It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the things I’m missing out on, the things that are removed from my life, whether for a season or forever. And I can get angry with God for that and wonder why I have to give up things in order to gain wisdom, peace, or true joy? My selfish nature just wants more. I want the beach house and the plot of land outside my window and the ability to paint things for people all day, and 3 kids. And you know, He might give us some or all of those things. But that’s completely missing the point. The point is, what is my heart in love with? And what does God have to do to show me that my heart is really just searching for true intimacy with Him? I’m over here whining about not going to the beach for two summers of my life, and it sounds quite ridiculous in light of people who have never left the slums or had a clean place to sleep.
The emerald coastline of Destin will still be there six months from now. However, what I hope will be on its way out in some form or fashion is my utter selfishness and that part of me that so easily falls in love with the things this world offers. Why can’t I enjoy Creation without putting my hope in it, without allowing it to dictate my moods or my outlook on life? Why can’t I have that Kingdom perspective? Then I hear my Father whisper, “I’m not finished with you yet,” and I think perhaps I'm harder on myself than God is. I’m just glad I can have that smallest seed of courage now to start letting myself feel.
So I’m posting this publicly on my blog to be open about my weaknesses and to say that I’m working on these things. I want to be a better version of Christine Bailey as I walk through disappointments, joys, highs and lows. I’ll always be a dreamer and an idealist…that’s how I’m wired. And honestly, it’s one of the things I like about myself. I just hope that little by little, I can embrace God’s dreams for me even more than I enjoy this beautiful world I live in now…and that I can be as joyful knowing Christ as I am running into the ocean He created.