Sunday, June 29, 2014

Dare to Believe

When I woke up today my thoughts immediately jump kicked out of bed and began karate chopping away at the peace to which I so desperately wanted to cling.  In response I pulled the covers up over my head and purposed to fall back into a deep sleep.  Ordinarily I would be surprised if the burial of my head under pillows and covers worked post-sun rise, but lately I've been going two and three weeks without a day off so when I woke up another two hours later I wasn't surprised, just pleased.  Inevitably, however, I did eventually have to emerge from my pillow cave and let the day begin, but this time I reigned in my mental martial artist and decided to take the day off.  I've struggled with the decision ever since.  As I've unsuccessfully attempted to shut out thoughts of my next two psych report write ups, taping a case formulation on a client I don't yet have, and finishing the proposal chapter for my dissertation, my mind has also wandered to the doubt and insecurity I've felt over certain decisions I've recently had to make. While most people would see the circumstances I'm in as the opportunity of a lifetime, for me they have been a source of excitement and courage meets despair and cowardice.  In my last post I wrote about taking risks and being brave, and at that time I hadn't decided yet whether or not I could handle making the tough call to step outside the borders of what I know and trust.  To leave my comfort zone for even one day is a huge test of faith and undertaking for me, and as I've spent time trying to dig up the roots of my fears and anxieties, I realized something about the ill way in which I sometimes perceive God.  First, He's not out to get me for the things I've done wrong in my past. He truly loves me and wants what is best for me. The words of Jeremiah 29:11 that say His plans are to prosper me and not to harm me, to give me a hope and a future, really are true.  I just have to dare to believe...

I've never doubted God's love for me, nor have I disbelieved in His unlimited forgiveness and grace, but what I've come to realize over the years is that it's one thing to know these truths in our minds and another matter all together to understand them in our hearts.  I've had head knowledge of His love for me since the day I first came into a relationship with Him many years ago, but getting it straight in my heart hasn't always been so easy.  I could read Jeremiah 31:3, Romans 5:8, Romans 8:39, or any other number of Scriptures on God's love, but if they didn't penetrate my heart and soul my awareness remained void.  It's important to remember that if the Word of God doesn't touch the deepest parts of our being, it's not because His Word is somehow faulty or unable.  We are.  His Word doesn't fail to penetrate, we have resisted to lowering our walls.  We acquire many layers throughout the years, starting at birth, and while some of these are healthy others are not.  I can't speak about your various colors, but as I've tenderly tried to pick through my own for a deeper understanding of self, I finally saw why so many things scare me.  I haven't been trusting and believing in God's goodness. 

Given how truly good the Lord has been to me over the years, this was a startling self realization.  How could I not be assured of His goodness towards me?  He has blessed me so abundantly even though I've sinned against Him so grievously.  In my mind, I've trusted Him completely, but when my faith has been put to the test, the uncompromising reality has often proven otherwise.  Instead, I've frequently put my faith in the hurtful or traumatic things that have happened in my past.  For instance, when my son was born it was an indescribably difficult time.  He was born two months early and I was already a single mommy.  The whirlwind of first time motherhood is gusty enough, but add to it a premature delivery coupled with trying to be both mother and father to a newborn baby who isn't even guaranteed by doctors to live, and things get immensely more scary.  I lived in a state of constant anxiety and fear, which was exacerbated one morning when I walked into his room and saw a large needle protruding from his tiny head.  Hot tears sprang to my eyes and I asked the staff what was happening. Gently, they met me where I was and explained it all, but it didn't dissipate my fears.  I scarcely left the hospital, and the one night I did leave to get some sleep at home, I was ripped from my bed by an urgent phone call in the middle of the night.  It was the NICU staff informing me of a visitor who had mistakenly been allowed in to see my son against explicit instructions that he never be granted access. I lost it.  Overcome with terror and anger, I raced to the hospital, heart pounding, to make sure my son was still there. It was in that moment that I would begin to associate separation from my son as something to be feared, as something that opened the door for bad things to happen. Our minds are fascinating in how they process situations and information, and in that single moment of a phone call from the hospital, a pattern was formed in the relationship dynamic between mother and child.  It has only been recently as I've picked at my own layers that I've begun to understand why I experience such intense anxiety and fear at the thought of being away from my son.  Though the years have come and gone and he's almost 10 now, my mind has never stopped associating separation from him as something to be feared.  Today we have a wonderfully close and loving relationship, but as he gets older I'm reluctantly aware that it's not always going to be cool to hang with mom.  Part of loving him means giving him space to develop his own identity as he grows not only as my son, but also as the boy and man God created him to become.  For me, this is where I must dare to believe.  I must dare to believe in God's goodness instead of traumatic memories. I must dare to believe in God's plan for the future instead of fears from days passed. I must dare to believe that being away from him doesn't mean something bad will happen. I must dare to believe in God.    

This was only one of several toxic roots identified in recent days of self analysis.  One of my instructors recently told me the following: "You need to start believing in yourself."  As tears ran down my cheeks, I silently nodded my head and tried to grab hold of the words she spoke, but I wondered one thing.  How?  How could I just suddenly believe in myself at her instruction when insecurity and doubt surrounded me?  How does a person come to believe in him or herself? What does that process look like? I rhetorically asked my husband in frustration on the way home that night. In the situation with my instructor, I didn't know what I was doing and it felt like everything was moving too fast for me to catch on.  Believe, I felt the Lord telling me as John 20:29 surfaced in my spirit.  The world will tell you to believe in something only after you've seen, but God tells us that in order to see, we must first believe.  This believing often happens through a succession of many small steps that eventually progress into a larger leap of faith when we're finally able to risk trusting that God will catch us.  We must only dare to believe.
 I don't have all the answers for tomorrow and I certainly can't control all the details, though I often love to try.  We each have our own issues to overcome as we walk with the Lord, but as He gently shined John 20:29 and John 11:40 onto my circumstances following my instructor's advice, I realized that in order to resolve any problem, I must first believe in the solution.  To walk in my calling I must first believe that I've been called, and to heal I must first believe that I will.  Sometimes all we can do is reach out, ask Him to take our hand, close our eyes, and let go.  In his book on heuristic research, Clark Moustakas quoted Michael Roads when he said this: "Let go and fall into the river.  Let the river of life sweep you beyond all aid from old and worn concepts.  I will support you.  Trust me.  As you swim from an old consciousness, blind to higher realities beyond your physical world, trust that I will guide you with care and love into a new stream of consciousness. I will open a new world before you.  Can you trust me enough to let go of the known and swim in an unknown current?"  Is it easy?  That depends on what you bring to the table.  For me, I've often brought anxiety and fear, so taking the hand of Jesus in any leap of faith has been terrifying and anything but simple.  You, however, may bring anger issues to the fork in the road.  Or, depression.  Maybe your struggles have been rooted in self-injurious behavior or drug or sex addiction. Perhaps you're a convicted criminal with a long list of mistakes that you feel helpless to move beyond.  I can assure you of one thing.  Your own crossroads will be perfectly tailored by Him to help you overcome whatever it is you need to overcome. You can rise above your past, your hurdles, and your sins.  You just have to dare to believe.

"Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?'" - John 11:40

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1 comment:

  1. Heather! Your writing is FABULOUS and inspiring. You are definitely blessed with the gift of sharing with others. I love your insights and I love YOU! Keep writing. I will read. :)