The past few weeks have been some of the hardest of my life, mentally and emotionally. I suppose that speaks to how privileged I’ve been, since I still have food to eat, a cozy home, loving family and friends, and many comforts that the rest of the world is lacking. But still. Heartache is universal. It stings. It races. It aches. It swirls. It pounds.
I think a lot of us, as Christians, do a really great job of hiding what’s going on inside. It isn’t that we’re trying to be deceiving to the rest of the world; we just feel obligated to appear strong and untempted, as part of our testimony. And I get that. But this is where I’m torn.
I’m a mother, a teacher, and I have a heart that hopes to represent God and the Bible in everything that I do (though I OFTEN fail). Because of all this though, I feel like I have a lot of (sweet, young) people in my circle of influence, so I tend to find myself putting on a smiling face in the midst of my struggles, as if it’s my sole responsibility to display God’s goodness to the world. I want to show that Jesus is enough… that no matter what we face, no matter the internal turmoil, no matter what we’re going through, our joy can be found in Christ.
This IS true… but sometimes, it isn’t that simple. Our joy CAN be found in Christ, but it doesn’t always happen instantaneously; we still struggle. Living out Christ's word in our lives is a lifelong process, a moment-by-moment discipline, a daily task. It takes time and commitment. And we WILL mess up.
Sometimes, we have to pray CONTINUALLY (1 Thessalonians 17) to find our joy, our patience, our hope, our grace, our strength. It’s not like we just become Christians and then suddenly we never experience regret, suffering, hurt, spiraling emotions, anger, jealousy, or pain.
Sometimes, clinging to God’s word looks more like fighting off attacks from all sides. It's wild and tiresome. Sometimes, seeking God looks more like lying down in the floor, after having spoken words from a quick-tongue of anger, than it does standing on a stage speaking words of truth. Sometimes, trusting God looks more like a face smooshed into the rug, a heart beating 120+ BMP, and reciting bits and pieces of scripture alone, praying HARD for God to pull you out of this internal turmoil, than it does an inspirational Insta-post.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we become immune to human impulses and emotions and desires; it means that we choose to fight the good fight, over and over again.
1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV) Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I’m finally starting to recognize that my masking myself is more of a pride issue than anything else. It is through my weakness, not my strength, that God shines.
2 Corinthians 12:9-11 NKJV: And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
So here I am, peeling off the mask. Sometimes, trying to do the right thing, to be strong, and to simply carry on, is flipping hard. It’s work, and I'm tired.
Some days, I admit that it would be so much easier to just allow myself to sink into a bout of depression… to let the comfort of my own sorrows swallow me whole. It would be MUCH easier to numb the pain with a prescription or a drink, or to just distract myself with some other rush. I could suppress my aching heart by masking it with some other false love, something easy and worldly to build my ego back up.
It’s harder to just stay with the pain, and continue walking on the path that God has called me to. Sometimes I just want to trade it all in, and take the easier route. It’s hard to be patient and kind, prudent and diligent, when all I want is to lash out, or to sink and hide.
But this is what it means by our strength coming from Christ. His grace truly is sufficient; when I think I can’t go on, staying the course, He gives me just what I need each day to keep trusting, to wait on Him, keep choosing truth, and to just carry on- even when it just seems too hard.