by Carrye Burr
I have good news and bad news. The good news is, this summer I finally published a book I’ve been working on forever about embracing our worth in God, and learning to be “moons” that reflect all of His glory to light up our world. I wrote that God can even use our weakness and suffering as powerful agents of His light in the darkness.
The bad news is...today I might burn my own book, because I’m having a hard time believing what I wrote.
Yesterday I could have rattled off a million ways that God has used my weakness for His goodness. Yesterday I would have told you that chronic illness has drawn me closer to my Maker and given me compassion for others who suffer. Yesterday I would have told you that God wants to leverage the unexpected detours of our lives into a more glorious destiny than we could have imagined. Yesterday I would have told you that God wants to meet us in our dirt and doubts and damaged decisions.
But it’s easier to believe that God is good when we’re not struggling, isn’t it? It’s sort of convenient to believe that God can make a masterpiece from our mess when we’re looking back in hindsight AFTER the floor of our souls has been swept and mopped up.
What do we do when we’re knee deep in the grime of unanswered prayer, the stains of guilt, or the layers of sticky depression or anger? What does faith look like then?
My faith today has felt a little more like an argument with God than a praise out of the pain. Maybe this is the crusty pasta sauce from the floor talking, but I think maybe that’s precisely what faith should look like sometimes.
When my doubts and fears force me to actually be honest with God, I look to my right and discover He’s sitting right next to me. In fact, I’m pretty sure He’s been with me on my disgusting kitchen floor the whole time. And all the while I’ve been flailing about and flinging the dirt around, He was willing to wait with me and take my stains and listen to my hurts.
Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV) says this:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
I have to believe that the God who became a human to BE with us, fully understands our very human doubts, struggles, and temptations. I have to get over the lie that faith is having it all together (whatever “it” is!) and that I need to get past my problems so God will listen to and love me. All the while, I imagine God is patiently waiting for me to see that faith is a process, and the suffering and weakness isn’t something I’m just supposed to get over and be done with. I don’t think faith is forcing myself to snap my fingers, find God’s magic lesson, and stand up strong again.
I’m not sure if I’m ready to get up off this floor yet and let God help me clean my heart up. But I will say this: I’ve been in this dirt so many times, and I’ve never known God to waste a mess in my life before. I’m not sure what He’ll teach me about Himself this time, and I don’t need to know right now. I can be honest with God about the places I feel disappointed and discouraged, and linger in the process.
Faith might just be believing that there’s holiness to be found right here in the dirt and doubt. And strength might just be admitting how weak I really am so God can show up stronger.
What about you? When do you most struggle to trust God and believe in His good plans for you? We’re all human, and even the best of us can’t escape days or seasons of struggle and doubt. How have you learned to invite God into the midst of your mess even while you’re wrestling? If you have a story of meeting God in your own mess, I hope you’ll share your story with the rest of us to help us walk this journey with more courage!
Carrye Burr is a millennial, extrovert pastor's kid, and mom to three through birth and adoption. She's addicted to great coffee and deep conversations. As a speaker, author (Gray Faith and How to Be a Moon) and blogger (www.lesstobemore.org) she's passionate about initiating honest dialogue, and helping people encounter and reflect God in tangible ways.