Shut Down . . . or Open Up?
I climbed into bed that night and revisited a conversation I’d only recently been having with God. It felt like a stream of consciousness—a dissertation of thought—one that got interrupted occasionally by life but was always there. Instead of bitterness, though, I felt sadness. Somewhere underneath that bitter sheen I knew that vulnerability was my ticket out of a hard heart.
My heart slowly shifted, reading the words of Psalm 18 as if I was the writer. I spoke what I hadn’t felt, hours earlier, until my heart warmed to feel. “But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears” (Psalm 18:6).
By allowing my heart to bleed, I was acknowledging with my life that he was safe enough to hold the frailest parts of me.
These ancient, inspired words gave language to my heart. Tears slid out of the corner of my eyes that were no longer fiery, but heavy, and onto a page that was already warped from warm droplets spilled earlier in that same spot.
I poured everything out and talked to God as if he was a friend holding my hand, not a leader forcing me into this waiting room where I’d wonder when I’d get my turn. This conversation, vacillating between his Word and my (now) sobs washed me. He was near and that was enough (it was better than any handbag or even a baby). Intimacy, in this moment, was not so much that I physically felt his nearness but that I chose to open myself and be raw before him. By allowing my heart to bleed, I was acknowledging with my life that he was safe enough to hold the frailest parts of me.
The waiting room was looking different already.
Pain and New Connections with God
I spent nearly a decade in the waiting room of infertility. My friend’s announcement was one of dozens I’d absorbed over the years. The painful baby shower became visits to the birthing wing of the hospital and first birthday parties. I was becoming experienced at being sidelined.
As I flip-flopped between bitterness and the vulnerability that was opening me up to growth in God, I continued to clamor for a new grid. Why all this pain? I couldn’t wait until it was all over and my womb was finally opened or when I was that fully grayed woman who put all that ache behind her as just “something of the past.” I needed some sort of understanding for what was to be gained from these months (turned into years) in the waiting room if my heart was going to survive this.
I’d seen many who became jaded with life and carried a cool cynicism—and it felt a lot like a hardened heart when I tried it on for myself. I was at risk of becoming bitter.
But my asking was raw and real and messy. Sometimes my sobs were shouts; however, I continued to ask him for perspective, still believing that his Word had answers. And he was responding with passages that had been long neglected. The Word became alive to me when I had nothing else, and it was full of whispers about who God was to the broken. This deer panting for streams of water from Psalm 42 seemed lyrical and mysterious to me when life was working, but when my body broke . . . I became that deer.
Saying his name evoked emotion and reading his Word felt less like I was approaching a historical text and more like I was tapping a vein. I was beginning to understand this ache and delay as God’s pursuit of my heart. He was awakening my insides while my womb lay dormant.
Pain had uncovered a hunger inside of me that I wouldn’t have otherwise identified. I wanted to know him and not just serve and follow him. I couldn’t both have this kind of encounter with God and be bitter.
Pain had uncovered a hunger inside of me that I wouldn’t have otherwise identified. I wanted to know him and not just serve and follow him. I wanted to be the woman sitting at his feet, unkempt and spilling all of my livelihood upon him. My priorities had shifted in the waiting room. My priority was simple: It was him.
Fighting Off the Bitterness
Joseph said words to his brothers in Genesis 50:20 that I’ve found myself saying to my own enemy: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”
Are you also in the waiting room? Don’t waste this moment on a bitterness that allures but leaves you emptier than your circumstances. This moment is his holy entrance into caverns of your heart never before explored. This moment is made for conversation with God, for you to open yourself to his Word and his whisper. He’s maybe nearer than ever because you are finally giving yourself permission to pour out everything before him. And he presses his once-flesh against the wounds of his children. He is nearer to the brokenhearted than we might ever allow ourselves to comprehend when our lives aren’t overtly broken.
Open up time and space to soak in his Word—not just at 3am when everyone is still sleeping or before your morning commute. You need him at noon and at 3 p.m. and 9pm., before bed. These broken moments may just be your most glorious . . . if you let them.
#teamblue #colourcombo #fortheloveofcolours #justbecauseiamhappy #bemotivated #beinspired
Photo Credit @salaamjamiu
Post Credit Sara Hagerty