In the last year I have discovered the beauty of being honest with God. Honest about everything I think and feel in my heart. I can assure you, my honest to God thoughts are not always nice, pretty or flowery. Most of the time these thoughts and feelings are blunt, brutal, harsh, selfish and ungrateful. For a long time my writing was brutal and quite dark–it was a reflection of the state of my heart as it processed and reacted to things I was experiencing and feeling. I remember writing a post about how I was angry with God. A year ago I was undergoing an incredible homesickness and personal crisis. I was feeling the strong stirrings of calling, yes, that may seem beautiful, but to the planner that I am–it was God asking me to open my hands so God could take out the plans I had crafted for myself. Pft! I didn’t want God to take away my plans and my vision I had crafted for my life. So I balled my hands into tight little fists and did a lot of stress crying on the floor in my room. (I am super thankful to the beautiful and patient friends [one very lovely lady in particular] who dealt with the drama that is Margaret acting like a toddler).
My writing during that time reflected my heart. The heart of a woman who was in the dark, who was scared, angry, bitter and resentful. I felt like God had asked me to go back to Scotland, to only abandon me (which isn’t actually what happened–key here; this is what I FELT, God was there I was just closed off to God’s loving and faithful presence) and when God did seemingly show up it was to only take away the thing I really wanted. I was truly lost in the dark and could not sense any clear direction. My writing reflected it and I received some criticism from some of my readers, wanting me to return to my lighter more hopeful self. But the thing was I couldn’t write happy-go-lucky posts because my heart wasn’t in a place to do so. I had to write what I was feeling, because the reality of being a follower of Christ is that it is NOT happy-go-lucky all the time.
My relationship with God is something I am grateful for with every single breath I take of every single day I am blessed with. Relationships are not always easy–especially our relationships with God. I distinctly remember laying on the floor of my bedroom in my apartment in Scotland and telling God to “Bugger off” (I used a much nastier word than “bugger”). Not my finest moment but it is one I tell people about because guess what, it strengthened my relationship with God. God is tough enough to handle me saying “Bugger off” and faithful enough to not actually bugger off. During those dark times I had a vision of God and myself. In this vision I saw myself sitting in a chair enclosed in a box of glass I had created to keep God away, the glass box was in a room where Jesus sat in the corner diagonally across from me. I remember telling the chaplain about this image, he asked “Does Jesus try to come to you?” I thought about it and when I returned to that room again I saw the anguish on God’s face, the anguish I was causing. Jesus was always there, desiring nothing more than to comfort me–the spoiled, bitter, selfish, pain in the butt child that I am. This is the first time I have thought of that room with the glass case in almost a year; that vision brings tears to my eyes. Tears of regret, sadness but also tears of thankfulness.
You see, my faith is not always strong. My heart is not always open, I am a spoiled, temperamental, selfish child of God and yet God shows up. I was hurting God with my actions–I was pushing God away and still all God wanted to do was take me in God’s own arms–comfort, love and bring me back to life. How truly incredible; God wants to love me back to life over and over. How utterly thankful I am for that. I learned during that time it was better to be real with God–to lay it all out, no matter how ugly, nasty and hateful my feelings may be. Honesty is key to healthy relationships, especially a relationship with God.
I am currently re-reading the book that led me to admit that I was feeling a call to ministry. It is a book that was given to me by the wonderful and grace-filled chaplain of the University of St. Andrews, Donald. The book led me to recognize my sense of call a year ago and is now guiding me, again, through the terrifying feelings of discernment. It offers me hope and reassurance about my hesitations and the fears I have with my call. I recently read a section of the book, Hearing the Call: Stories of Young Vocation, that discussed why it is best for us to be honest and open with God-even though God already knows how we feel and think. I think the passage quoted below gets to the heart of what I am discussing:
“Why talk to God about things, when he knows everything already? Barry’s answer is both simple and profound: we don’t just suddenly ‘create’ intimacy. Intimacy comes by sharing ourselves, our whole selves with one another. So talking to God about what matters to us builds the intimate relationship with God for which God yearns.” (Jonathan Lawson and Gordon Mursell, Hearing the Call Stories of Young Vocation, pp. 65-66).
I just think this is gorgeous, God yearns to be in intimate relationship with us. This, my friends, is why I share my heart–all the good and all the nasty, with God. I want God to know everything because that is how our relationship deepens. Sure God knows everything already but I wonder if maybe, just maybe, God relishes the time when we come to God and bare our hearts no matter how ugly our thoughts and feelings may be. I have another beautiful vision about this, I now envision God and I sitting at a table drinking steaming cups of tea. I am usually holding God’s hand and I watch as God’s face lights up when I share my heart. I see God’s face fill with joy when I gush about something that is bringing me joy and I watch God throw God’s head back in joyful laughter when I try to talk myself and God out of things I don’t want to do. It is this image that I have now come to, I am no longer in the glass box. Instead I sit and share the things that lay on my heart, even the things that I know may hurt God. And even though they may hurt God, I ultimately know that God will continue to hold my hand across that table, will love me through these feelings and in the process of sharing my heart my relationship with God will be strengthened.
We are making our way to the cross in a world that is so full of darkness and fear. The pathway isn’t always clear, it isn’t always straight and it almost never is easy but I cling to the hope I have in Christ. I cling to the hope that if God can love me when I am really blunt, harsh, selfish and hurtful that God still loves this incredibly broken world and is present here amongst us–working to love us right back to life. When our journey comes to the cross and we reach the cross where our loving Savior laid down his life–I hope that I am one of the women at the foot of the cross, being present in that moment–trusting that morning will come and we will one day see a world of peace, love and joy.
As we make our way to the cross, as we follow the paths that God is laying before us I pray that we all are brutally honest to God–trusting that when we bare our hearts to our Lord we are deepening our relationship with God, so that we might have the strength to continue on our paths.
May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, my beautiful brothers and sisters. May you bare your hearts and souls to the One who knows all and still loves us with an everlasting love.
Peace, Joy, Blessings and All My Love,