When I go silent, it usually means I’m processing something.
Sometimes, it’s obvious to me and everyone around me, at least those who are close. Sometimes I’m not even sure what’s happening. However, in times when things are different, or they feel big, I often get quiet. I need time to reflect in order to move forward; I’m sure that’s common for most of us, especially those of us who fall more in line with an introverted build than an extroverted one.
That’s the place I’ve been in lately, not in a bad way, but, a thoughtful one.
As a family, we’ve made a few decisions that were big and maybe even dream-worthy, but, didn’t feel quite “right for now,” even though we were full-steam ahead, so, after prayer, we’ve put those dreams on hold. I’ve discovered a new half to my birth family that I knew very little about… I have additional siblings, aunts, and cousins, each with their own stories that I’ve been learning and with whom I’ve been growing closer (a blessing!). We made the decision to put our older children back into school, a choice that was filled with second-guessing and mom-guilt, but, that seems to have absolutely been for the best (teachers, you are serious heroes during this pandemic, we could not be more grateful!).
Holy week is upon us. This a time that has often been so full of emotion for me: the savior of our world stepped into our darkness (our nativity scene is still on display in our home, this year it’s been hard to walk from that place), showed us how to live, demonstrated the Father’s love in tangible ways, then took on our sins, died on a cross, remained in a tomb and then rose again. What love! Some years I feel this more than ever, and this is one of them.
Anyway, all that to say, it’s been a time of processing.
The Dark Side of Internal Processing
Sometimes though – and maybe you’ve been there too – when I start to process internally, I take things on my own heart, instead of leaving them with the one who already figured them out and has a plan. When this happens, anxiety increases, while fire feels like it decreases. Sometimes, this cycle leads to doubt, a feeling of distance, and even fear.
I fully believe that this is where accountability comes into play, why small group Christian community is so important, and yet – due to personal decisions, health concerns and more – that’s been sort of far away as well (though, I’m happy to report that we are now ready to face the world again).
We’re not called to live in solitude. We’re not meant to figure it all out on our own. We aren’t meant to write our own stories – we aren’t even meant to own them.
And yet. Here we are… sometimes doing just that.
Processing can be heavy, it can be hard.
And Yet: He Loves
I’ve always felt close to God. When I’ve walked the wrong way (I’ve done it a lot), I’ve always felt his gentle pulling.
Maybe you have too. Maybe you’ve felt something and you’re not sure what it was. That’s why truth matters: we have a God who loves, and who draws near to us. We aren’t left out there alone, even when we decide we have been. We are loved.
During this time, I’ve been reminded of this truth through scripture, and also through a song that’s meant much to me since college: How He Loves by David Crowder Band.
Some of the lyrics go like this:
He is jealous for me
Love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
And I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me
We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about, the way…
That He loves us
Oh how He loves us
It’s True for All of Us
Maybe you don’t go quiet and island-like-solitude-prone when you process things. Maybe you’re one to spill it with friends over drinks, or to search for opinions. We’re all wired differently. And yet, he loves. His grace and his plan supersede our fears and our doubts.
The world tells us otherwise sometimes. It paints a picture of restriction and hate… and lately that message has been loud. Sometimes we – as believers – contribute to that narrative in the worst possible way. When it happens, sometimes we even start to believe it, confusing worldly constructs and wrongs with the church as it sometimes is instead of how it was built – by our God – to be.
No matter how caught up in it we all are, or how far away something feels, or how much we’re trying to process on our own, the simple fact remains: we were all designed by our creator out of love. We’re meant to show that love to others, to be beacons of it and to shine brightly… we’re not meant to go into hiding or to process alone.
We are his portion and his prize, designed in love, and drawn to a redemption that could only ever come from him.
God’s the ultimate writer of stories, and that’s hard to come to terms with sometimes. Sometimes the plot is dark. Sometimes it’s heavier than we can bear… but friends, no matter how heavy, or big, or confusing, we are loved with a love that we cannot understand. We are not alone.
If you’ve been processing your own story lately, or a story that’s close to your own, or, struggling with the “big” you’re facing, remember that you are loved.
What a gift!