Monday, February 18, 2013

Help my Unbelief, or why Facebook is annoyed with me

I've been a bit annoying on facebook. I know. I'm sorry. I've been annoying myself. For the last 49 days I have driven myself batty. For those of you who are not friends with me on facebook, or who have hit the hide button, we have made an offer on a house and (Shockingly) were accepted. I have since been bonkers. This is so much more complicated, stressful, challenging and emotional than I ever thought it would be. We are supposed to be closing on Friday and to say I'm at a precipice... well that would be accurate. But I promise... even though my facebook statuses are about garages and fences, paint colors and fabrics, gardens and armoirs, there is something much bigger happening here. A something so big I feel like I'm on a cliff and about to get pushed off. A something so big it needs a really big and honest and long blog about it. So skip, skim or ignore as you will but for my own sake this needs to get worked out.
I was always a good girl. I may have given my parents hell, but In high school I was a pretty good girl. I only went out on a few official dates. My biggest rebellion involved having a bible verse on my letter jacket, and the only boy who got past holding my hand didnt get past one school dance. I looked the part of the good Christian girl, saying the Christian thing, acting the Christian way. My transition to college was fairly smooth. At least on the outside. I still looked the roll; joining not one but two Christian organizations. I hosted bible study in my dorm room and led impromptu worship nights with my guitar. My friends knew me for prayer. I would stop drop and pray with anyone, anywhere. One friend likes to remind me of my dragging her into a bathroom stall and praying over a toilet. I was good. Or at least I thought I was. Because of my goodness I expected God's blessing.  I expected life to work out in the way it did for good girls. Graduate high school, go to college, meet handsome man, get married, graduate college, have lots of beautiful babies in my beautiful house and go to a beautiful church and sing every sunday. (to which people would tell me I had done a beautiful job.)  As long as I was good. The trouble was that college made it a whole lot less easy to know how to be good. And the bad was not as clear either. The difference between the two became complicated and challenging. There was a series of boys. A series of lies. A series of compromises. I slowly replaced prayer with me. I turned to emotion and desire and decided I could make my life what I wanted. The bad, otherwise known as sin, snuck in; the problem was it was beautiful, cloaked in roses and romance and accolades. I was the center of my own universe and gave myself the blessing I wanted, even if it was far from blessed. My prayers grew small.  My third summer started with a nasty breakup, and then a (mostly drunk) trip to italy, and then a loss. A loss that shook me. She could have been my sister.  In the chaos I was left ungrounded because I had replaced my Father and the Son  with a son of man. You know the saying if you don't worship the Lord you will worship anything? I had made an idol of a relationship. A broken unrepairable relationship, but that summer It was my idol, and at any cost. By the end of August my senior year of college I came face to face with the most unthinkable outcome a good girl could ever come to face. I would name him Ayden. And he would become the first of the many true blessings I have ever understood as such.
Two years a later a boy I met in the chaos of my unwinding that summer would become my husband. A bystander, a witness to my breaking, he has become my "kindest gift." A wise title given by a friend who knows me now, in the after. It helps that he knew me in the chaos because when times like now arise he is not surprised. He knows my heart and my idols. He knows exactly why I no longer see myself as good. The truth is, I now understand that I never was good at all. I do not question that God called me early. My youthful faith was real. I knew that I was a sinner and needed Jesus. The problem was that no one told me I would always be a sinner. Yes, with a new heart, but we will always live in a broken world. The year I received Ayden was the year I finally started to understand... Jesus wants us not for our goodness, but because He is good. Flipping the coin on myself I have spent the last ten years exploring my depravity. Acknowledging and bearing witness to Gods ever present hand on my life. Any blessing good or difficult has been a gift from him alone. I know that now. The problem is that I now have trouble accepting blessings. We have never owned a home. We have never lived at one address for more than two years. We were married after both of us were a year or more into graduate programs that we both in turn did not finish. My non English masters degree was trumped by his non M.D.  We moved in with my parents. No matter how hard it was we knew God would provide and he did. I took Ayden gratefully if even embarrassed to WIC appointments and we were thankful for every gift we had.We had Balin and shortly after Lucas began his engineering career. We were happy he had a good job even if it did mean weeks apart at a time. Life looked good so we applied for a pre approval mortgage loan in Louisiana. We were denied due to our lack of a constant address. A month later he was laid off. Again, blessings abounded. Meals, creative gifts to help us earn money, checks from near strangers. The easy stuff to believe in. We moved in with my parents again. Then we came to college station the first time and found ourselves expecting our third child. We were happy to have dinner. We were happy to pay our bills, or to find ways to avoid them. Our level of expectation for blessings was quite low. Our marriage thrived after we again moved for an even better job. Soon after we first moved to Victoria Tx I joined a bible study about Abraham. I was struck by the verse about how Abraham lived in tents "waiting for the city with foundations, who's architect and builder is God." (Hebrews 11:10) God called Abraham out of his city and sent him on a lifelong journey. He never saw that city with foundations on this earth. I accepted that God had called me into a life of permanent fluctuality. We ARE an oil field family. We move to keep dinner on the table. God has blessed us with this. When we were again transferred back to College Station I cried. We were sad to leave but expected it; we know Gods plan for us, right? We are a family who lives in tents. Rentals. When we got word around Thanksgiving this year that yes we were approved for a mortgage. We were surprised but giddy, and then reality set in. We are buying a house. I am not just pinning pictures on pinterest for a dream. This is real. I'm not watching reality tv, but experiencing my own version of property virgins. I've been overwhelmed by the process. Every step of the way I have found myself completely captured by fear. I was sure the mortgage lender would say no when they looked at our credit history. Namely our student loans that are still hiding in forbearance. I was sure we wouldn't find the right house. But everything has been yes. yes. yes. ok. Everything has honestly gone very well. I have panicked this week because closing is coming and the home builder has a bunch to do before we can close. The things thy have done have caused bigger problems. I'm terrified that it will all fall apart and end up not happening. But the sad truth is that my fear has nothing to do with the house or closing or Realtors or granite or paint. My problem, my sin,  is unbelief. Now to clarify: I AM NOT saying this blessing, which most certainly falls in the financial category, is a blessing in the "prosper" category. I am 100 percent against prosperity teaching. God will not absolutely give you anything for being good or giving money to a church. Not financially anyway. What he gives come from His own goodness- for His own Glory. In my life the good from God has come in the form of trials. The hardest moments were the closest moments with him. I learned more about God from struggling with him over the past ten years than I ever did from getting what I asked for. To now get what I asked for scares me. I'm sharing this because i wonder how many other people feel guilty about getting a blessing from God and cover it up by obsessively crafting- or talking about everything going on except the goodness of our King. We are still an oil field family, but to be given the chance at knowing this is home, if even for a little while, is everything I have ever wanted physically on this earth. My babies, my husband, in our home. I know full well that houses burn up in an evening, or wash away in a flood. But this is so much more. I'm not freaking out about a stove top- i'm worried about the dinners I've imagined preparing for my family. The meals spent around the table. The lessons we can learn together. It's not sod- its a play ground for my children to learn to laugh again. Its not the eves over the garage- its the entry to our home. These things are the very tools to live the life I've sought for my family for so very long. They are indeed blessings. To have them so close puts my emotions on their sharpest edge. To find them damaged plummets me into fear that the entire experience will be damaged.  But the truth is, God can undamage anything. A stove can be repared, the meals will still happen- here there or anywhere. The Sod might grow in lumpy, but he he will make us lie down in green pastures.The garage might not look perfect but we will enter his gates with thanksgiving in our heart. If my posts on facebook have annoyed you I'm sorry. Know that they are just this sinners heart being worked over.
So facebook. Blogland. Bear with me. We will close on this house. Possibly on Friday. God has not put me in TWO bible studies on prayer this semester for no reason. I'm starting to get the point. And I'm starting to believe. Or at least strive to, but only with His help, only with His blessing.

Words: John Newton (1725-1807), Music: Clint Wells (2005)
Recording by Red Mountain Church
From the album “Help My Unbelief”
I know the Lord is nigh,
and would but cannot pray,
for Satan meets me when I try
and frights my soul away.
And frights my soul away.
I would but can’t repent,
though I endeavor oft;
This stony heart can ne’er relent
till Jesus makes it soft.
Till Jesus makes it soft.
Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief.
My help must come from Thee.
I would but cannot love,
though wooed by love divine;
No arguments have pow’r to move
a soul as base as mine.
A soul as base as mine.
I would but cannot rest
in God’s most holy will;
I know what he appoints is best
and murmur at it still.
I murmur at it still.
Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief.
Help my unbelief.
My help must come from Thee.

1 comment:

  1. The entry to YOUR home will be wonderful. It will be kind--because your kindest gift lives there :-)
    it will be gentle because you live there.
    and it will be graced because HE lives there.

    I love you, Emily. and OH, how I miss you.
    Trust Him. You will look back -- and you will be so grateful. SO grateful.
    and then-- as always-- you will remind someone else who needs it, too.
    love you,