Friday, May 18

a little gilbert

Listen—you can honor him, respect him, insist that others do, and never actually love Jesus. This is not what he wanted.

False reverence is a choice veil of the religious fog. It will bring a shroud between your heart and his.

(Beautiful Outlaw, 165, 166, 167) --John Eldridge

A couple of weeks ago, we were invited to one of my new friend's house for dinner. She made this amazing pork tenderloin, veggies on the grill, and chocolate cake. We started this dinner around 6 p.m., and Alex and I didn't get home until nearly midnight. Six full hours of jokes from a man who spent 25 years in the army--plus, artifacts like a piece of the Berlin Wall, laughter with the neighbor and her ideas on "little people" (kids), sweet memories from a mom of two who are grown and gone, and revelations with a friend who is just like me. (We're walking-talking, people-pleaser replicas of one another.) Later, I told her I felt just like Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love, when she has Thanksgiving dinner in Italy. A table full of brand new friends, so open and inviting, with food abounding, you'd think we were in another country. One of the best nights of my life, to date.

So, this new friend of mine came over again last night. Half an hour by the pool turned into two hours, and a very late spaghetti dinner on the candlelit patio. Back in Rome, I called it. Because this friend has walked many of the same steps and drudged through some of the same battles and suffered some of the same wounds, she has much to say about my want to help people, and my constant struggle with feeling like it's all my responsibility.

"You can't help someone else if you haven't helped yourself," she said. "You've got to be whole--not all ashy, and stuff--if you want to help others."

And she's right. I can tell all of you that loving Jesus is the most important thing you can let yourself do. I can write to you about his love and kindness, his gentleness and forgiveness, but I can't really help you get all that if I'm having a hard time myself. Don't get me wrong, I read stories and passages and scripture on the heart of Jesus--who the man really was and why it's inspiring for someone like me, and truly love the kind of man he was. But I'm in this position of not really reconciling that he is still that person today.

Lots of people get asked if they could interview one famous person, who it might be, and mine would always be Jesus. Well, it used to be Princess Diana, but let's face it, her heart was pretty similar to his. Anyway, I would sit and chat with Jesus about the times he healed miraculously, ticked off the leaders and scoffers, and ran away from the obnoxious crowds. But I'd also ask him what happened when he encountered a woman like me--all broken and worried. I'd ask him how he comforted her and reassured her that it would be okay, hoping that the answers in his response would calm the stormy seas of my heart.

Truthfully, I want to love Jesus. Most days, I really do; even right now, I do. But I'm having a difficult time understanding that he loves me back. I keep asking him 'why this? why now? why no healing? why so abnormal and difficult? Because, really, I just can't seem to figure this garbage out. I can't seem to forgive all that has happened and move forward. I can't seem to be still and wait patiently, while he fixes and mends all the brokenness in my husband.

Oh, and my poor husband. Life for him can be no more smooth or comfortable at this point in time, no matter how buried a man's heart can be.

And I am losing stride. Losing hope.

“Faith is walking face-first and full-speed into the dark. If we truly knew all the answers in advance as to the meaning of life and the nature of God and the destiny of our souls, our belief would not be a leap of faith and it would not be a courageous act of humanity; it would just be... a prudent insurance policy.”
Elizabeth Gilbert

Apparently, I'm not going to get the answers. Which I guess I've always known. And that's okay, because I don't want to be God or have all His power, I just want to know Him.

“I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on the water.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

“Look for God. Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia

I want to know Him in a way that allows me to live totally outside of this world. I want to know how He cares for me and helps me, even when I'm asking when the hell I'll be out this mess. I want to know Him like a father--a true father--rather than just a power or being. I want to know God so well that doubt is no longer clouding my mind, so I can clearly follow His lead to wherever that might be going. Because lately, I'm slightly resistant with these tear-filled eyes.

“Do not apologize for crying. Without this emotion, we are only robots.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Well, alright then.

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