I happened to hear Pastor Matt Bays on my favorite radio show yesterday (Live the Promise with Susie Larson) and was really taken with what he had to say. He spoke with shocking honesty about the wretched pain of his past and his turbulent path of faith- fraught with doubts and addiction.
His pain spoke so much to my pain. I (being the impulsive sort that I am) bought his book, Finding God in the Ruins, with amazon one click.
Tonight I sat down and read through a third of it in one sitting.
It really speaks to where I am, the dilemma I face.
I’ve loved and followed God (not always well, but I’m still here) for ten years and yet I still feel broken in so many ways. My son still deals with daily pain as we struggle to keep the eczema and resulting staph infections at bay. I still deal with so much internally that never sees the light of day.
I, like Pastor Matt, got to a point where I just couldn’t pray and believe anymore. How could I tell people about a Great God that loves them and has a great plan for them- when I found those promises so lacking in my own life?
The truth is that so many of us struggle with a disproportionate amount of pain. A quick, pretty verse isn’t going to bandage wounded hearts sufficiently. The faith formulas don’t always add up as they should.
I went to a MOPS meeting recently and… felt awful the whole time. The women there were really nice, they were genuine believers. But I got the sense that these were the type of women that came from great families. Women that have never labored under the shame of utter brokenness. Women that knew how to match boot socks to their purses. I felt so horribly out of place.
See, there are those of us who don’t come from the best families. Those of us who deal with the anguish of shame. Those of us who need much more than an inspirational service or two to get us out of our funk.
I think my theology has been woefully inadequate to address my reality.
God is good but a significant part of our journey here, our walk of faith, is going to be hard and at times, agonizing. Much more so than we’d prefer.
Early on in my faith journey I was a good faith-filled believer and believed 100% that God was going to quickly and miraculously deliver me from my emotional pain. That definitely hasn’t happened. For years I thought it was because I was falling short somewhere. The teaching I listened to had me worried that there was some hidden sin or offense lurking in me that was keeping the tidal wave of healing and deliverance back. Maybe that wasn’t it at all.
Maybe there are just things that got broken so badly and profoundly early on, that healed so wrong, that they only way to get it right again is to re-break it. To wrench away what is wrong before it can be set right and begin to truly heal. Not a bandaid but a surgery.
So I am embracing the pain in my life and looking for God’s purpose in it. I still believe.