“The emotional pain from the last chapter was also something brewing for a couple of years. But I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t know exactly what I was dealing with. I discerned that something wasn’t right, but discernment doesn’t always give details. Once the truth surfaced, the pain was so intense I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I had to do something about it. I needed God’s help.
And God longs to help us.
God longs to help me.” —pg 42, It’s not supposed to be this way by Lysa Terkeurst
As I read and re-read this paragraph, tears pooled in my eyes as I reconciled the memory of India with the anxiety of yesterday, today, this week—
I’m so afraid of being disappointed again.
Of being led to something that “doesn’t work out.” Of finding a trap-door underneath my feet, exactly where I think that I’m supposed to be standing.
Honestly, I didn’t think that this was still haunting me. That the emotional pain of that season remains an undercurrent of my day-to-day, far removed from that place and the pain of it all. I didn’t think that is what is fueling this anxiety building in me like toxic waste, a hand around my throat, arms tight around my chest—trying to self-protect, trying to not fear all that is very frightening to me.
On one hand, I’m glad it’s not a past trauma here, gripping me tight with its grubby hands of suppressed memories.
But on the other hand, it’s almost harder. It’s not an event that holds my attention to all these lies. It’s a season. It’s a chapter of my story. It’s my story itself, twisting upon itself, ripping itself from the steady truths of how God has scripted it out so well, so beautifully, unlike anything I could ever imagine—even the transitions from expectations to reality, from old season to new. Just as Lysa’s colon ripped itself from the security of the abdominal wall, my heart is trying to wrench itself out of Jesus’ hands, out of his control, out of his love.
There’s discernment here, for me. Thinking about the future, I can feel hope. I can discern that God is up to something. But without the details, the minutiae of what’s-to-come, I grow cautious. Expectant not for hope to show up, but for disappointment to come crashing in.
I am afraid. “There is no fear in love, for whoever fears has not been perfected in love”—those words haunt me and somehow tell me I’m not enough. Tell me I haven’t made room in my heart for love, as the message paraphrases it.
And yet, I am still loved anyway. And his love is still trying to banish all that fear. I need God’s help. To stare old disappointments in the face and say,
“You don’t define me anymore. You don’t own my story.”
And, likewise, to stare at the new hope, desire brimming in my eyes, and say, “God is faithful. No matter what. There’s no trapdoor here. He has my heart, and that is enough. There is nothing to fear here.”
I wasn’t afraid last time, when I left for India. The plane descended to the airport in Delhi and I whispered from my window seat, “I’m home.”
But then the circumstances and my calling that was intrinsically wrapped up in them—were shattered. And I with them.
I felt broken. Oh so disappointed. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. I lost my teammate, my team, my sense of purpose. I lost desire. I lost joy. Depression set in and I struggled to get out of bed. I sat with Jesus, mostly on a beloved balcony, and read words that felt stale, cold. If I’m called here, why does it all feel wrong? Why do I feel like everything is shattered and changing? Why do I feel like I don’t belong here, in this place that held my identity, literally, for years?
I questioned. I cried. I called out for help.
Discernment set in then, too. I knew things were changing. I was changing. This wasn’t going to be forever. India was no longer my calling; maybe it never was, truly. India was no longer my identity, and I knew it never was meant to be. But discernment, like Lysa said, didn’t give me details. It gave me teenie-tiny baby steps, one-word plans: Stay. Watch. Wait.
Just as it does is in this season, too: Hope. Receive. Follow.
And maybe, with his help, that can be enough. God longs to help us. He delights in helping us walk through hard things, not because he delights in the hard things, but he delights in us. He delights in seeing us become more like Jesus. He delights in us.
What teenie-tiny baby-step words are you hearing in this season? Receive them, receive his help, and receive others in your journey along the way. You are not alone.
PS–I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or email me with your words and I will be praying for you to walk in them.