What do you do when you feel as if you have lost the right to have something to say?

My absence from writing was not because I lacked the time to do it or even the desire. What I lacked was something to say. I lacked the right to have something to say. Essentially, I lacked Jesus. Even writing that sentence makes me cringe because I don’t want people to know. {How could I maintain my image if people knew that I struggled with depression over break? That I lacked community by my own choice? That I hardly spent time in my Bible or journal?} Thank you, Jesus, for humiliation. Not the kind that is felt because a room full of people are laughing at you {Remember that time I knocked over 30 trays in the lunch room? Probably not.} I’m talking about deep, personal humiliation. The kind that comes from standing in front of God, in all his glory, and realizing I have been allowing myself to believe that He owes me. I dearly hope you realize how foolish that is and join him in laughing at me.

I wonder how the Pharisees felt when Jesus bested them over and over. I bet they felt similar to me–at least I hope some of them felt similar to me. I think if I tried to exercise my knowledge of God to Jesus, I would walk away with my tail between my legs and decide I should probably stop telling people that I know what I’m talking about. In fact, I feel like I’ve done that during this break. I think I’ve told Jesus what his “gospel” is several times, trying to convince him that I had done my part and it was his turn to make me feel better. I’ve had emotional explosions in every area except for God. {Something tells me this was done purposefully-life with Jesus is not about emotional highs. Emotion is important, yes, but so is intelligence. If we rely on certain emotions to keep us close to God, we will spend our entire lives running toward and then away from him.}

Over this break I remember thinking to myself, it shouldn’t be this hard! I know God! I desire to know him more deeply and to never return to the emotional mess I went through most of high school and college! Then I went to Romans Retreat {an LDI class that studies the first half of Romans for 45 hours} and we got to chapter 6. It was then that Pastor Steve pointed out that the war we need to fight in order to defeat sin and godlessness in our lives is vastly mental. We must be willing to experience the mental exhaustion that comes with following Jesus.

Then, in church on Sunday, Steve preached on godly womanhood. And my heart sank as I realized just how often I seek to be filled by those around me rather than by God. And how frequently I doubt the beauty of the woman God made me to be. I actually do not mean outward beauty. {My husband is awesome.} I compare personalities a lot. And am repeatedly dissatisfied with my own. I compare intelligence/depth of insight.

I lacked the nerve to confidently state {for example} that, no, I am not going to grad school and admitting that there is sadness in that because I love science and research dearly not because I am comparing my future with those around me and deeming my “fate” distasteful.

{I’ll explain this decision another day…}

Steve asked the women at Hope if we were living in “inner beauty.” As I reflected on that today I thought about how much more of an effective leader I could be if my identity was in Christ alone and I only sought to be filled by him. I realized this evening that I have been looking forward to starting back at Hope because I was desiring to feel adequate again and I thought being around the amazing people I work with would compel me toward wholeness and peace. I was able to come to this understanding because today I let God fill me. It was weird and didn’t really feel like that’s what I was doing at the time but as I looked back over my day {morning routine, coffee with a girl from Hope, longer nap than expected, internet surfing, cookie baking with a wonderful friend, and dinner with husband} I felt absolute joy. A joy that permeated me all day even as I sat by myself. And it’s one of those things that when I think about it, I know it was because today, God filled me up. I realize this sounds like I’m back to “feely” but here’s how that conclusion came to be: I thought about how excited I am to be back at Hope tomorrow and how that is not because I feel needy of affirmation that God really can use a pile of junk like me. I feel useful. I have something to say again {not in an arrogant sort of way but in a I can actually think and process through life sort of way}. I have not felt useful for this entire break. I have felt like a leech, sucking energy from those I encounter because I am famished and nothing is filling me up. I’m going to do this again tomorrow {rely on God…not be a leech}. And the next day. Because it is a mental choice everyday to recognize that God is the only thing that is “enough.” No amount of changing my personality or behavior will make me feel better about myself.

“I quench my thirst with You, my Lord. Sustained am I. Redeemed. Restored.”

A challenge I have for myself this semester is to learn what it means to empty myself completely. To pour out to others and trust that God will fill me back up. It’s not about the amount of “me” time I have or balancing the amount of time spent with strangers, friends, husband, or mentor. It’s about going where God calls me to go, when he calls me, and trusting that he knows what I need.