Eight months ago, I wrote about God not doing what I want, and promised a Part 2 “soon”. At the time I fully expected to have it done by the end of the month. That was cute.
I do everything the hard way, which means I learn incredibly slowly, which means I shouldn’t be surprised that the second half of the lesson didn’t take root until a few weeks ago.
At the end of Part 1, I knew I was wrong to be as mad at God as I was, because I knew that God was good. I knew he was bigger than me and that he knew better than me. So I spent my energy trying to forget about the things I asked him for. Forcing myself to leap forward and put my hope in the unknown good that he had for me.
In October I found myself once again longing for one of those things he’d said no to in June, and for a long time I refused to pray about it. Until I had this miniature breakthrough. (I say “miniature” not because it wasn’t a big deal but because the resulting post is impressively short) The TLDR version if you don’t have time to click that link: God wants us to ask him for things the way toddlers ask their parents. Frequently and expectantly.
So I started asking.
What I found was that the more I asked, the more content I felt with what I already had. The truth had finally made its way from my heart to my head*: God is good and wants good things and he himself is the best good I’ll ever have.
Then came the true test of whether I fully believed this with every part of me.
(Apologizing in advance for how vague this story is about to get; it isn’t only mine to share. It’s tricky to share your own heart while guarding someone else’s)
Two months ago God gave me a really, really good gift.
And then in March he took it away. Except that makes it sound like there was some sort of sudden, unexpected loss involved. That would have been so much easier. What he really did was ask me to let it go.
I knew I had to, and I understood exactly why…but it turns out that doesn’t always make it easier to obey. I felt as much peace and clarity as I felt overwhelming sadness and loss.
For six days I spent equal amounts of energy begging God for the courage to do what I needed to, and for him to just change everything so I wouldn’t need to do it at all. If it was okay for Jesus to ask not to have to go to the cross, I think we can ask God to change his mind too. Provided it’s coming from the same heart of wanting God’s will above all else. And as many times as I’ve heard that said, I’ve never grasped it as deeply as I did that week.
I genuinely wanted to do what God said and knew that everything would someday be all right if I listened…but part of me just wanted him to say something different.
I felt so seen and known and cared for and protected by God in every minute of the awful. I’ve also had to go back and reread these words several times, because as expected, I’ve started to slip and forget and say that it was only awful.
As I spent so much time crying and praying in the week right after(more often just crying and silently feeling God sit with me in my sweater of tears), I wondered how it was possible to have so much hope and simultaneously be SO SAD. I was and am perfectly at peace, but also haven’t cried so much in so few days since May 2014.
Here’s the big missing piece:
It isn’t wrong to be disappointed in our circumstances. We just can’t let them lead us to believe that God has disappointed us.
I thought that being sad about the things God said no to meant I wasn’t trusting in God’s goodness. If I really believed that what he wanted was better, then I wouldn’t feel the need to grieve over the lesser good that I had wanted.
Look at the Psalms, y’all. They’re full of people bringing all their hurt and anger to God and in the same breath thanking him for who he is and what they know he’ll do.
We’re human and limited and have real emotions and real desires and God gets all of that BECAUSE HE MADE US THAT WAY. He knows we can’t see what he can see, so he isn’t condemning us for hurting.
He knows how you feel anyway. You may as well run to him with it.
Ask him for what you want, then let go if he wants something different. Even if you can’t yet see what the something is. Because God will never give you less than his best and we aren’t always big enough to imagine what that is right away.
To tie a bow around both parts:
God does do what he wants.
What he wants is good.
Because he IS good, and what he wants for us more than anything is himself.
And you can be sad even when you believe all of that, because God is ready and waiting to hold our broken human hearts.
This is the rock of truth on which I’ll be flopped like a beached whale until I’m okay again.
*Most people seem to talk about truth making its way from their head to their heart. This probably has something to do with being a 100% F on the Myers-Briggs, but for myself it’s always felt more like the truth first hits deep down in my heart, and then it takes time for it to work its way up and start changing how I think and behave.
Final thought: God isn’t done with me here, so this story doesn’t feel finished…but also it definitely feels like it’s time to write it. This girl I stumbled upon once(can’t remember how I found her but she’s a World Race alumni and a really gifted writer) calls this writing from the middle. I fell in love with that phrase from the second I first read it, and now I’m trying to get better at doing it myself.