I thought of this letter over the years, wondering if I’d see it again to remember its message. One day, I went through boxes upon boxes of paperwork, page by page. My garage is an overwhelming disarray of various-sized boxes stacked against walls, random unused furniture that should be tossed (but even that costs a lot), a scary amount of bedding and clothing (mine–the thrift store connoisseur, at an all-time low, I became practically immobilized and the task of laundry was unbearable; my daughter’s–the stylist and fashionista; and my son’s–with the highest score for rapid growth spurts), everything that I could get away with holding on to through many moves, two kids, and forty-two years. I’m a collector of material items that elicit memories and a collector of material items that I hold onto by an overwhelmed default, thus to be thrown into random bags and boxes at impulsive moments of “get this out of my sight or I will scream!” Okay, enough about my garage. It is the last place you want to see, so you’ll have to trust me.
I found the letter in a giant, heavy box of at least a decade of paperwork. Now that it’s scanned safely into the cloud, I want to share it with all of you because I know I am not the only one needing to grab ahold of its truths. My friend was given this message on my behalf, which is one of the wondrous ways God communicates with us. Now I know, with a given urgency in my heart, this is God’s message for you too:
I wish I could say that immediately following this letter, I walked right into the camp and lived knowing that I belonged there because God said so. I did not. It took many more years of being broken down, stretching, learning, trusting, and failing, in order to build the woman I am today. One who is thrilled by long-awaited moments of clarity when life begins to make sense. Like the ocean, sometimes still, dark, and deep, while other times big rolling waves throw themselves into each other in constant movement, bringing the treasures to shore.
The first time I read this letter from my dear friend and mentor, I was so lost, hanging on to every word she said, searching for answers to the questions which plagued my mind, seeeking validation for my brokenness. Once, I heard that upon meeting a person that you admire, identify with, and want to be like, you study the way they live their life. These are the things that drew me to her. I had never met anyone who moved with such grace through incredible responsibility and still held space for a stray like me. If I say more, I might give away her identity <3. I remember it vividly, seeing in my mind’s eye, the images she speaks of and knowing they were for ME. A fleeting moment of peaceful ease to just “own it,” but then I’d swirl right back into the confusion, unrest, and committed striving.
Every single week I walked into church as an outsider who didn’t belong. I went anyway because I was desperate to go wherever God was most active. During song and worship, I was filled with an overwhelming ache in my chest, a longing that never seemed would come. Big, rolling tears would fall, and I’d raise my hands to the sky, stretching, pressing as far up as they’d go. I’d imagine God would see that I was reaching to touch Him, weeping. Sunday after Sunday was exhausting. This pattern wiped me out for the rest of the day and most often I had no more peace than when the week began, only growing resentment for most Christians and a staggering tally of all the times God didn’t come through.
The number of times I stayed after service to pray with someone, anyone, looking for a person who knew how to save me from myself. I figured a Spirit-filled person like that must spend most of their days within the walls of a church building. All-consuming heaviness and fear were suffocating. It was humiliating. People tried to help me with human comfort and answers, but I could turn the most well-intentioned of them into a lunatic with my rebuttal or reason why all the things they believed of God weren’t the answer for me. I had actual evidence that “this” didn’t work for me or “that” obviously wasn’t it. I believe some were bewildered and I may have caused them to question some God-in-a-Box beliefs.
Do you remember the elementary cult-school kid I mentioned a couple posts back? That was me the whole time. I felt BIG feelings that were usually too heavy for any audience I was grasping for. It was a curse I couldn’t escape, yet I despised myself for it. And I held a grudge against God for “just watching” me flounder so excruciatingly in it. Why didn’t He pluck me up out of that hell?
From cult-kid to excommunicated cult-kid, to the Emily I was a decade ago, I was a regular church-goer. In the recent ten years, I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve sat through a church service. The reason isn’t because I stopped needing God, but because God started meeting me right where I need Him. That’s not to say He doesn’t regularly come to us, but there was some work I needed to do before I was able to see Him.
Everything about my current life would be laughable by society’s standards, by most opinionated humans. God knows our struggles. He knew I had too many voices talking over Him with their opinions and ideas constantly swirling around in my head. He wanted me to get in a still and quiet space where His voice could be the only one I heard.
I used to be on a regular cycle:
I was on constant repeat because I didn’t trust my God-given intuition. That skill was broken in childhood. The thing about that is I’ve been led by the spirit since childhood, so how does that add up? –a child programmed from a young age to agree with their only caregivers (no outside “rescuers”) that the child is incapable of reality-based thinking, therefore the child internalizes this and begins to believe their perception on all platforms is unreliable.
Let me close this by saying that God will move the mountains that stand between me and Him. I’ve seen tremendous castle walls fall. He has climbed the highest tower for me. My fear of heights looking all the way down from the top of the tower is terrifying. He reaches His hand to me. Will I grab ahold of it? You bet your sweet bippy I will!