I have been wondering over the last few days at how so many things have been hitting me like a physical pain deep in my heart. Here are a few examples:
- Carrying a sleepy Jude to the bathroom last night. He cuddled right up and pain shot through me to think that he may not grow up with the personal experience of knowing how much his mother loves him
- I was looking at old photo albums yesterday that I had not seen since before we left for China. Physical pain shot through me as I looked at our wedding pictures and pictures of the first few months of Ari's life.
- Pictures of James and I together looking carefree and happy. What if the boys look at these pictures as if they are a far off dream and not something they have ever personally seen. What if they don't ever get to witness the carefree dynamic and James and I have with each other? What if they never get to see for themselves how mu
ch we love each other?
- The boys watching Peter Pan and being so excited when the children learn how to fly. "They can fly! They can fly! They can fly!" They are so precious, such gifts!
- Seeing any picture of myself before three months ago.
I have been really shaken by the fact that any little thing these days has the ability to send me rocketing deep into a pit of pain. What is wrong with me? Where is my faith? The Bible tells us that our faith is to be used like a shield and it can protect us from all of the fiery darts that are thrown at us by our enemy, Satan. It is his goal to deceive us and to cause death in our lives, more than just physical death. Why are these darts racing right past my shield and hitting me in my weakest parts?
I woke up this morning with a song in my head, with these words (based on Philippians 3:7-10):
All I once held dear, built my life upon
All this world reveres and wars to own,
All I once found gain, I now count loss*
Spent and worthless now, compared to this,
Knowing you, Jesus, knowing you
There is no greater thing
You're my all, you're the best,
You're my joy, my righteousness
And I love you
I realized today that I can sing less than half of these words honestly. Actually right up to the part that I have marked with a star. I have mentioned before that I have led a charmed life up to now. I have never struggled with self confidence (those of you who have fought this losing battle for many years officially have permission to hate me). I have held dear the person that I am, and I have built my life upon the things that this world longs to own. I have known and experienced things that many people never have had, but long for: a happy marriage, beautiful children, university education, opportunities to live in another culture, a nice appearance, many friends etc.
It is humbling for me to admit that it has been easier for me to believe that God is good and that he loves me when I come from the charmed life I have lived. It is even more humbling to admit that part of my faith has been built on these things. Why else would those darts be hitting me so hard? Perhaps the most humbling thing to admit is that I am not yet at the point where I can call these things worthless. I love them, I want to hold on to them. But I will never truly have faith until I can truthfully say that the things of this life that change and do not last, have no worth compared to Jesus. He doesn't change.
When I look at myself three months ago and myself now, I want to cry. This family picture pretty much sums it up for me. It is a physical representation of what I once "counted gain" but now feel I have lost. Look at that happy, beautiful woman with a happy handsome husband, two happy beautiful children! Look at their shining future together! Look at their adventuresome spirit!
That is the only me I have ever known. I don't understand the me that has taken the place of the woman in that picture. The new me is a stranger. The new me has ugly patches of hair, a puffy face (notice that I have not put up a comparison picture), and acne. She sleeps a lot, can't see very well or hear very well. She can't concentrate. When her husband says he loves her, she can't help but wonder if he is lying (the new me must be as much a stranger to him as she is to me).
I literally feel stripped and my faith is part of what has been stripped from me. I see now that I have placed a great portion of my confidence and worth in the things that I have had. Now that I have lost them or at least feel like they are slipping through my fingers, I see how shallow my faith has been. No wonder these darts are hitting me so hard! I am not ready to let go of this "faith" I have held yet, even though it has/is being torn to shreds in front of my eyes. It reminds me of a verse in Isaiah (64:6):
We are all infected and impure with sin,
When we display our righteous deeds,
They are nothing but filthy rags,
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
And our sins sweep us away like the wind.
My faith and my righteousness has been built on a foundation that does not last. Beauty, relationships, being smart, independent, helping people etc. These things do not last, and if I seek to make my life valuable and righteous through these things, I will lose... I HAVE lost. The funny thing is that I would never have known that I was basing my faith and my value/righteousness on these things unless I lost them.
There is not much comfort in what I have written. There is not much comfort in knowing that I am shallow enough to prefer my rags of righteousness over the real thing that is offered by Jesus. But there is the hope that this can change. There is the hope that I can learn to place my value in things that last forever and are true and not in "leaves that blow away in the wind". Look at how easily it happened! Three months and my life is unrecognizable!
Thus closes another rant. Why anyone would find this interesting is a mystery to me, I do it for my own mental processes. Eventually it all comes pouring out whether I want it to or not.