Have you ever been in a spiritual slump? God's Word seems dry, like shredded wheat. Prayer feels like you're talking to yourself. Relationships are on edge. Life feels monotonous and empty, even though it's crazy busy. That's pretty much where I've been. But as a pastor's wife, ministry leader, and a parent, I often feel that I cannot admit that openly, because, of course, what will people think? Often times, I am in a slump because there is something in my soul that I know God wants to deal with, but I don't want to go there. Like a Pandora's box of evil, I fear that stopping long enough to let Him deal with the sin that lurks, poisons, and ultimately deadens my soul, will undo and unhinge me. And so, I paste my smile on and keep going, sometimes filling my life full of things--good things, of course--to keep myself from having to face what is within. I figure that if I'm busy enough, it can distract me from the pain that is in my heart.
But that becomes a vicious cycle. As I hide from God in my work, I also find that I am less able to receive from Him all the life-giving strength, purpose, and vitality that He desires for me. To make up for it, I work harder, trying to imitate in my own efforts what only He can give. I expend more energy to compensate but find my soul becoming emptier and emptier. And because I have cut off my communications with Him, I really feel alone with no where to go.
And so, I am finding myself realizing that at the bottom of my pit of despair and discouragement, I have a choice. I can either continue on this path or take a deep breath and face the truth of my sin with Him. It seems that if I run away from Him long enough, that is usually the choice I end up having to make. Both of them are painful. Neither one is appealing. But only one will bring the relief and the restoration I long for.
I had realized that over the past 18 months, a great part of my struggle has been trying to reconcile the reality of Anah with the vision for building up Mom University. The question of my soul was: Why did He seem to lead me in one direction, then allow another, completely different (at least in my eyes) one intercept it? It made no sense to me.
But if Anah is God's step towards that vision---and even if she wasn't---she is here in our home and family to stay. What He is putting His finger on in my heart is that I have not accepted that reality. I am still trying to carry out the plans I thought He had for me before her arrival. In clinging to my old plans, even if they were good ones from Him, I effectively remove myself from the present moment. As a result, I have become bitter, angry, and resentful at her intrusion in my life and in my future.
Here, I am caught short by who has taken center stage in my life: me. Even if God did have good plans for me through writing and speaking, I have limited my effectiveness because I have not been willing to fully enter into the life He has given me now with Anah. Instead, I have rebelled against it, and Him, and with it, the blessings He desires to pour out on me through Anah.
I mentioned yesterday that I was reading Alan Fadling's An Unhurried Life, and as I was reading, I realized that while I long for my old life or even a different life, I am missing out on what God is doing here today. By focusing on what I do not have, the future that I have lost, and how hard life is now, I am revealing to myself my lack of faith in the heart of God. As I look to the future, I have cut Him out of that picture. No wonder it is bleak.
After today's reading, I realized that if I desire to restore any spiritual vitality--and with it, spiritual effectiveness, I needed to let Anah into my heart and commit myself wholeheartedly to her well-being and care, as if she were my own flesh and blood. I admit I have just gone through the motions out of obedience to God but often with a grumbling spirit. There have been moments when I have truly enjoyed her, but that was only when she made me happy or did what I wanted. But God is showing me that if I am willing to not just grudgingly obey and actively embrace this new life, He will be able to do more than I can ask or imagine.
And when I think of it that way, the choice is clear.