Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Free Falling

I am a realist.  I think sometimes I come off as if I don’t have faith, or I’m not as spiritual as some because I just like to tell it like it is…  If I hurt, I hurt.  No sugar coating, "glory hallelujah everything is fine" from me.   Sometimes I wish I could be less like this… I read Merlin Carouther’s Prison to Praise when I was younger but somehow or other, I’m more like Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof.

I’m more willing to tell my details too.  May not be wise and certainly isn’t the best route for most of us, but… it’s me.  One of the biggest compliments (at least in my mind) is for people to tell me I am real.  Now that doesn’t mean if you don’t tell the details that you aren’t real.  It’s just I am either stupid enough or brave enough (there is a fine line between these two) to tell details.

I’ve said a lot in my blogs about these times, these struggles, the pain, etc.  I have found that it has been good for me and from what I hear from readers, many have been blessed and helped too.  When I am in pain at the end of my rope, about to slip, I write.  My writing serves as a prayer.  Writing however, is a newer approach for me.

There have been times, when I’ve let go of the rope.  I used to think you had to have white knuckle faith and persevere - holding on to the end of your rope.  I remember writing about this before here on Kingdom Bloggers.  I remember it sort of had a mixed review.  People thought maybe I lacked faith then too I think.

A lot of people don’t want to hear that you can sometimes let go and go into a free fall.  Trust me, it is scary, even terrifying but you know what? You never hit the ground.  I think sometimes when we are at the end of the rope we hold on in our own strength thinking we have to be strong, we have to have faith, etc., etc. and in reality, we can let go.  Why?  Because Jesus wants us to know that when He said He’d never leave us or forsake us He meant it.  You can let go and Jesus will catch you. 

Okay, here’s the skinny on one of those times.  Several years ago I went through a house fire, serious illness in the family, being without my family through Christmas, death of a grandchild (story starts here), son seriously ill, false accusations and investigation at work, and a very serious problem in our marriage – all these things and more – in less than a year.  I finally gave up.  Formerly the “spiritual spark” in my church, I dragged myself there and sat on the floor during most of the service as if I were Job sitting in sackcloth and ashes.  

It was horrible.  No one truly understood – some would come and try to “raise my hands.”  Some would pray – some would just shake their heads – most loved me anyway – one dear woman sent a card to me in the mail without her name (I knew who it was anyway) every week for almost two years… I lost a tremendous amount of weight as everything in my life also disintegrated because I was starving myself and by all accounts, I looked terrible.  And I almost died. I was free falling.

But Jesus never left me.  He sat in sackcloth and ashes with me.  He never stopped loving me.  Even though I almost died several times, I didn't die.  He walked with me through the dark night of the soul.  I didn’t crash and burn.  I never lost faith – I had to stop – I had to grieve – I had work to be done inside.  

Right before I finally let go and started falling the Lord spoke to me and said I had things in my life that had to be dealt with, He said it would be difficult, but He also said, I’ll never leave you, I'll be there all the way  – I thought it was sin.  Why is it our mind always goes there – I thought what did I do?  I couldn’t imagine what it might be – it was sin, but it wasn’t my sin.  The sin had been committed against me by a neighborhood pedophile when I was about 8 years old.   If you haven't read my series on Sounds of Hope about this time in my life, it actually starts here and goes forward.  You'll read about a child bride of 16 who marries an abuser and what God has brought her through...lots of details, painful details.

I’m whole because I allowed myself to free fall so Jesus could catch me.  I am free because I was willing to go through the dark night of the soul and be honest about hurting.  It was hard.  Foolishly I thought it was the only time I’d go through such an experience.  I thought dark nights of the soul were a onetime deal – they aren’t.  So when I am not always seeming to be “happy” and full of faith it’s because I’ve learned the value of being real and honest. 

As the Spiritual says …
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
Nobody knows my sorrow
Nobody knows the trouble I've seen
Nobody knows but Jesus

Sometimes I'm down
Oh, yes, Lord
Sometimes I'm almost to the ground
Oh, yes, Lord

And yet, I stand today as a testimony that you never free fall without being caught by the Lord.


Kerry Luddy said...

Wow. Powerful piece, Joyce.

Linda Maynard said...

Joyce, I read the following this morning and I thought of you.

"This has been/continues to be so very true in my life...
When I honestly choose to look at what I am feeling...
Then dig deeper to uncover the thought that motivates that feeling...
I can then reveal the belief that powers my perspective...
It is messy...like an operating table...
For me...it is in these places of vulnerability that I can expose my wounds and commit them into the hands of the Master Physician..."

I was shaking my head, remembering when I read Prison to Praise. I shuddered at your saying that people tried to "hold up your hands" Yikes!!!! Boy, we can totally miss it sometimes.
Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability.