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I’ve currently been working through some books I’ve had laying around that I keep meaning to get to but don’t. Am I the only one with that problem? I have a “To Be Read” list that’s longer than me and I still end up reading books NOT on the list, and add ten new ones to said list while I am at it.
I have been trying to read at least a chapter of a non-fiction book each day, which has really helped me move along with some books that I didn’t want to commit hours to at a time since I knew they would be heavy. I finally finished The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman, I read through Ann Voskamp’s Advent devotional The Greatest Gift, I finished In Want + Plenty before it even was launched (perks of being on the launch team! I need to write something about that book for y’all because I highly recommend it [and not just because I helped launch it and saying that was basically my job. I say that because I mean it]), and now I am working through a book I had wanted thanks to the name. I knew of it but hadn’t wanted to commit a lot of money to it when managed to stumble upon it in Goodwill at some point last year. It then sat on my jewelry box for a couple months, not really having a home or a place to fit in yet, which is a little ironic because the book is Uninvited by Lysa Turkerst. The subtitle is “Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely” which is probably how I made that book feel sitting there neglected on my jewelry box.
I couldn’t tell you why I left that book sit there for so long without picking it up. I had wanted it, I got it for a steal (I love Goodwill book prices), but actually reading it…maybe it seemed to me like if I read it I was admitting I felt that way and that means being vulnerable and stirring up uncomfortable feelings.
Part of what I learned as I went through In Want + Plenty is that there are some things in our past (or even present) that are uncomfortable, but it is healthy to bring them to light, name the unnamed things (thank you, Emily P. Freeman), and not try to fight them or shove them back inside, but instead sit with them for a little while so you can process them better. I knew my next right thing to do after finishing In Want + Plenty was to read Uninvited, the book that I had in a way, uninvited.
Uninvited deals a lot with rejection and processing life and relationships with a more healthy look on rejection; we are fully loved by God so human rejection, while it still hurts, it doesn’t have to just hurt but can be learned from because we can be secure in God’s love.
It’s so much easier said than done.
Of course, since this has been my main topic of study lately, I am finding little things that connect it to things outside of the book. Rejection tends to cause trust issues, and even though God has never failed us, humans fail us, causing us to have trust issues with God. But He is our rock and fortress, our deliverer and stronghold, and we can trust that He will not fail us.
We may feel like He has failed us because we can’t see the whole picture. But He sees it all. We want to take control because we have a hard time trusting, but wouldn’t life be so much easier, so much better, so much less stressful if we gave it all up to God and didn’t try to carry that weight on our own? He will keep us safe.
I can be weak because God is all these things. It’s like when I try to do something on my own when Andrew is right there and much more able and strong enough to make a difficult task seem like nothing. For me, putting new sheets on the bed is a full out work out (not even joking). For Andrew, it’s as easy as putting on socks. I struggle with the size and weight of the mattress while it doesn’t even seem to faze him.
These things I hold on to that I am struggling with, Jesus is calling me to give up to Him because He can carry it and the weight is unnecessary on me. There are other things I should be focusing on instead of these, yet I want to have control and be in control, even though no matter how hard I try, I will never truly be in control. I can’t stop the sun from rising. I can’t change a diagnosis. I can’t see the future to know if this decision is the best thing for me or not. There is so much I can’t do, yet I try to take control when Jesus is here saying, “Here. Trust me. I will hold on to you and take care of these worries if only you will let me.”
And I try to let Him take the weight, but all too soon I find myself trying to carry the baggage again because apparently I have trust issues somewhere down deep within me. I’m reminded of a lesson I recently taught the kids at my church. We were talking about getting stronger as grow and how that’s one of the reasons the Israelites found themselves wandering for forty years – they needed to grow. (Awesome moment when this was right after I finished reading In Want + Plenty, and was actually two days before the book launched, and it went along beautifully with what Meredith McDaniel taught. Manna moment? I think so. God is good.)
To help the kids engage in the lesson, I filled a suitcase with a pair of four pound weights, several large cans of food, and a pillow so the cans and such wouldn’t make a lot of noise. The children were to try to carry it across the room. Most were strong enough to carry it, but not without difficulty. One by one they carried the suitcase across the room, each wondering what was inside and what the point of carrying it was. The boys pretended like it was no big thing, yet they waddled because of not distributing the weight well to make it look like it really wasn’t heavy.
Then it was my three-year-old niece’s turn. Thankfully, one of the older girls offered to help her carry it. My niece grabbed the shoulder strap while the volunteer grabbed the handle and did the hard work of actually carrying the weight across the room. My niece was so proud of herself for carrying the heavy bag that halfway across the room she let go of the strap. It hadn’t been easy for the young lady carrying the weight to do so because my niece had been in the way by holding on to the strap, making the walk awkward since the older girl didn’t want to accidentally knock into my niece. When she let go and moved out of the way, the suitcase managed to cross the room much quicker.
Trying to take up the weight again is about as useful as carrying the shoulder strap to a heavy suitcase while someone stronger is carrying the weight at the handle. If anything, holding the strap just gets in the way of the one doing the real work.
I have noticed there are things bubbling up within me as I go through Uninvited that I thought I had gotten over. Apparently I just stuffed these things down instead of actually dealing with them and there are rejections I am still in the middle of that I was ignoring that are making me ache.
I know my word for the year is joy, but honestly, I have been struggling with that lately. I think part of the process of finding joy is letting go of the baggage and rejections, so I am holding on to the promise that sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. I know beautiful things grow in the dark, so instead of fighting against it, I am trying to embrace it and see where it leads. I believe God has a plan, just like I believe there is a time for everything, and that God works in His own timing.
So here I am, a little melancholy and achy, uncomfortable and vulnerable. I have jars of words from a couple of years ago on my bookshelf I suddenly have an urge to go through and my keyboard beside my loveseat in the dining room, so perhaps I will be inspired to process these feelings how I used to process hurt – by writing songs no one ever heard but God and me.
But maybe that will change.