Exactly Where You Want Me

The other night at Bible study, someone got brave enough to confess she was “just done.” She was frustrated beyond the point of inviting God into her daily life and hadn’t read her Bible in months.

She shared that with us. In Bible study. And I thought back to the many Wednesday nights I’ve sat quietly in my chair while feeling much the same way.

Rebekah, Rebekah, let down your hair…

So I’m sitting there beside her, feeling my heart completely break. Like, I just wanted to wrap this girl up in my arms and say, “I know exactly what you’re feeling. I was there not so long ago, myself.”

Then I started thinking about what it took to work myself out of that funk, because obviously if I know the way out, I want to share it with her. I don’t think I realized exactly how it happened until I wracked my brain trying to find answers last night. And I hope to God He has an easier way out for my friend.

Last fall, I was struggling pretty hard. The way life was meant to look in my head and the way it was panning out in reality didn’t exactly match up. I was in transition, and if you asked me, the transition was lasting way too long. I needed guidance, I needed direction, and, mostly, I needed the assurance that the place God had brought me to wasn’t the place He had intended for me all along. Because I was scared to death God had me exactly where He wanted me and I would just have to suck it up and get on with life according to His plan.

Then there was The Guy.

I reconnected with an old friend and we started tossing around the idea of a lifetime together. Suddenly everything made sense. Suddenly my discontent fell away and this transition became bearable. I could stick it out for another year if I had forever to look forward to.

“Forever” lasted about three months. That’s how long it took me to wake up from my fantasies and realize this guy wasn’t actually the best thing for me (and I probably wasn’t the best thing for him). It didn’t make sense at first. When I walked away from this relationship with absolutely nothing, I didn’t understand what God was doing.

You see, my first relationship wrecked me. Instantly and completely. Beautifully and poetically. There’s the Rebekah from before her first date and the Rebekah from after she said goodbye for the last time, and the two are pretty incomparable. (To the friend who told me “None of this will matter in a year or two” …you were wrong, and I am thankful.)

So of course I assumed that this more recent relationship wasn’t meant for me at all. Maybe God had something He needed to do in my boyfriend’s life, and I was just the vessel He chose. Because, yes, sometimes I am that narrow-minded.

But because of the honesty that greeted me the other night, I’m seeing that once again, the Rebekah I was before the first date and the Rebekah I am now that all the ties have been severed are not the same. Maybe it wasn’t as dramatic as the first time. Maybe it didn’t grow me in grace and redefine my worldview to the same extent the other did, but it was just enough to pull me out of that prison I had built using misplaced expectations.

God had to give me everything I thought I wanted so He could show me just how wrong I had been.

And it was hard at first. I felt like I didn’t have anywhere to put my feet because the path upon which I had been walking had been ripped out from under me. I was treading water, unable to discern up from down. And then finally, finally, there was the calm.

I stopped being scared God had me exactly where He wanted me, and simply accepted that, yes, this is His plan for my present. When I finally stopped refusing to see that God had a purpose for me in this space, I was able to catch a glimpse of what that purpose might be.

And for the first time since I moved home last summer, I can say I’m truly happy here.

While I want an easier path for my friend, I’m willing to pray for whatever it takes. Because, though the journey may be hard, it is nothing compared to the emptiness of trying to make it on your own. And I have a feeling she, like me, is going to have to do it the hard way. Because she knows all the Sunday School answers, but when the heart has wandered, answers are never enough.

Sometimes we silly sheep have to wander off into the woods because it’s not enough to hear the Shepherd’s voice echoing through the valley. We want to be found. We want to be lifted. We want to be cradled in His arms and carried out of the dark so we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that, yes, this is exactly where He wanted us all along.

Give Me Some Time to Kick That Door Down

“It’s okay. I’m going to get you out of there,” I promised. “Just stand back against the wall so you don’t get hurt in the process.”

(BOOM) My foot connected with the solid wood of the door as several, small bystanders stood back and cheered, “You can do it, Miss Rebekah!”

(BOOM) Jared picked a… (BOOM) bad day to… (BOOM) be sick. (BOOM)

But I did it.

Even though my co-worker wasn’t there to help.
Even though it took me the better part of ten minutes.
Even though the door didn’t actually shatter beneath the weight of my blows.

Somehow I managed to jar that door just enough that the doorknob decided to become unstuck, and my student emerged from the bathroom of no return and into the arms of her sympathetic friends.

And just like that, I was a superhero, congratulated with high-fives and “I knew you could do its.”

I don’t typically feel like a superhero for trying to kick down doors.

In fact, it’s one of those habits that make me feel a little guilty. Sometimes a lot guilty.

So what’s the big difference between literal and figurative doors? Why is it not okay to kick the figurative ones down while it’s just fine and dandy to go all kung-fu on the real ones? Why, when they both lead to something I fully want to free?

I think it all comes down to permission from the boss.

When my student got locked in the bathroom, the first thing I did (after trying the lock on my own, of course) was call my boss. “Dave, what do I do?”

“Kick it in,” he said. “We need to replace that door anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you break it.”

Why does God never give me that permission?

Seriously. I’ll be standing at this door, jiggling the knob like, “Hello. I need to get in here. Hey God, do You mind?”

But He never tells me to kick it in. He just stands back and watches as I try to break it down and finally says, “Rebekah, what are you doing? Don’t you think I’d leave that door open if I meant for you to pass through?”

Oh. Um… I thought maybe You needed the reminder. This door was supposed to be open.

But it’s not.

It’s not because God knows better than you. It’s not because there are other doors a little ways down the hall that are just begging to be opened. Better doors that lead to greater opportunities.

And you miss them. You miss them when you’re kicking at doors that won’t budge beneath your weight. You miss them because you’re spending too much time jiggling a door handle that doesn’t twist when you flick your wrist.

You were never meant for walking through that door.

As much as it hurts to confess, that door wasn’t made for you.

And I know this isn’t what you want to hear right now, but there is something better waiting.

There’s a door you won’t have to force because it was made for swinging open at the faintest touch. But you can’t open a door that God has purposed to close. It’s simply not possible, no matter how long and how hard you kick at it.

So maybe it’s time to stop fighting. Maybe it’s time to pack up and move on. Maybe it’s time to find the door that has always been waiting, ready to be opened by the one who would surrender to the call of her God.

through that door

 

The Art of Surrender

If there’s a stubbornness gene, I got it bad from both sides. This isn’t always a bad thing, but more often than not I find myself fighting things that were maybe never worth the fight… Like Beyond Waiting.

It took me forever to surrender to this book/blog thing. And maybe I could justify my hesitations by pointing out that Beyond Waiting was what we like to call a “major life decision,” but the problem with that argument is that I never had a single doubt that it was God’s will; it was simply not something my storytelling self wanted to get into.

This last weekend I heard not one, but two messages on asking God to make His will your priority. Stubborn or not, I did get the message the first time; the second time was merely driving it home.

Because I’m doing it again. The stubbornness thing. I’ve been so caught up in what I want to write that I’ve been resisting the story I’ve known I was meant to write all along. And until Weyman Howard offered me the invitation to make a choice, I thought I had already made it.

Turns out, I wasn’t surrendered to the story after all; I was merely resigned to it. And there’s a bit of a difference in the words resign and surrender.

re·sign 
1. To submit (oneself) passively; accept as inevitable

sur·ren·der 
1. To relinquish possession or control of to another because of demand or compulsion
2. To give up in favor of another
3. To give up or give back (something that has been granted)

I’ve been complaining about all levels of stuck-ness and it all finally makes sense. Because it’s hard to find inspiration in something you view as inevitable. There is no passion in passivity.

What I need is to walk away from resignation and fall headlong into surrender.

Because once upon a time, I was compelled to relinquish possession of my words.
Once upon a time, I gave up the story I yearned to write in favor of the one I was called to write.
Once upon a time, I placed my God-given gift back in my Father’s hands.

And the words flooded from my fingertips and came to life on the page. And I started receiving messages from young women I have never met saying, “Thank you for your words. I’ve needed them for so long.” And it was miraculous. The surrender was nothing short of miraculous.

Because it is only in the surrender that I find His power flowing through me.
Only in the surrender do I find that the words come easily as if they are being dictated as I merely write them down.
Only in the surrender do I finally capture that elusive ninth chapter that has haunted me for so long.

So, yes, I think it’s time we relearn the art of surrender.

 

Finding God’s Will For Today

Yesterday, someone walked into my office while the staff meeting was still going on. As he sat on the couch and waited for my co-worker, we struck up a conversation about following God. See, my unexpected visitor was a pastor who is constantly being asked, “How do I discover God’s will for my life?” Naturally, he does what Jesus would do and answers with a question: “Are you following God’s will for today?”

That question really got to me. Knowing what God wants us to do with our lives is a big deal. That’s why we strive so hard to discover His will for our futures, but the bigger question really is, “What is God’s will for today?” That’s what life is made of. A whole bunch of todays. If you start walking in obedience today, it will come a little more naturally in the future.

We tend to easily get caught up in the “someday” mentality. Maybe we think we know God’s will for the future, but that future never comes because we don’t start stepping toward it today. We never do anything to make it happen because it’s God’s plan for “someday.” Someday… after we get all our ducks in a row. Someday… after it falls into our laps without us having to expend any energy. Someday… after we’ve exhausted all our excuses.

Today I encourage you to let go of your “somedays,” stop focusing on the future, and simply ask God what His will is for today.