Interspersed throughout this post are lyrics to songs (links to videos included) as well as portions of conversations I’ve been having with God lately (italicized). As always, my hopes for sharing these thoughts and being vulnerable is to be a source of encouragement to others facing their own battles, whatever those may be.
Riding the struggle bus of learning to embrace my hair mixed with countless other life experiences these past seven months has made me realize there’s a lot of healing still to be done in my life. Conversations and experiences as of late have pressed on wounds of the past in ways that have revealed these old wounds of mine to be a bit deeper than I’ve cared to admit. These conversations and experiences exposed me to the fact that I’d grown to believe some of my fears and insecurities to be an inherent part of my identity, specifically regarding my ethnic identity. Walking around with burdens weighing me down with every step had become my reality.
“Help me let You go
Help me give up control
Of the god I have made you
When my fear has contained you.”
My fear has contained you, O Lord, and I repent.
I repent of limiting your ability to work in me. I repent of living in such a way that I believed you could work through me, but not in me.
My fear has constrained you, O Lord, and I confess.
I confess to not inviting you into my brokenness.
If I am completely honest, I think I’ve enjoyed remaining on the struggle bus. A book I’m currently reading puts it like this, “Our bondage is familiar. It is a way of life that makes sense to us given the level of understanding we currently have.” I’ve found strange comfort in the pain and carrying of specific weights. I’m more scared to imagine life without certain struggles than remaining in brokenness. I’m scared to accept the possibility that maybe, just maybe, God never intended nor asked me to carry some of the burdens I’ve held onto for so long.
“Cause all these walls I’ve built are comfortable
And the world outside is loud
When the voice I trust is fear and doubt
I don’t need Your guidance now.”
O Lord, I confess to having deemed the brokenness I’ve experienced regarding certain areas of my life as untouchable.
“Carried on but your heart was tired
Feared the worst and felt the fire
Lay it all down, lay it all down
Filled with all those anxious thoughts
All your doubts became your God
Lay it all down, lay it all down
At the feet of Jesus.”
O Lord, I confess that my doubts have become my god.
The other day I visited an apartment Tim and Marilyn (friends from church) are looking to rent out. When they brought me up to the third floor, I thought it was a decent space. Yes, there were cracks in the walls and not-so-clean carpets; yes, some rooms were awkwardly positioned, but to me, it was what it was.
Not to Tim and Marilyn.
Tim and Marilyn had such incredible vision of what the apartment could become and what it would become. They shared with me their plans to break down an entire wall in order to convert a small room into a living room. They saw beyond the wall and imagined the small room opening into the kitchen. They thought about the ways in which the sunlight would flood in through certain windows and dreamed of ways to capitalize on that light. Under the ratty rugs they knew existed beautiful hardwood flooring that they wanted to expose and highlight. The dingy and off-putting colors of the walls they imagined being completely different, planning to repaint with colors that would bring more life and energy into the apartment. Tim and Marilyn had vision. They saw a completely different reality than what my eyes could see.
I might have imagined switching up the paint colors, but I would have never thought to tear down walls or pull up carpet. Shoot, I didn’t even know there was beautiful hardwood flooring underneath those carpets in the first place! I would have just tried my best to clean the current rugs with some ratchet vacuum cleaner (like the Dirt Buster vacuum I have at home now, that barely picks up anything and honestly just redistributes the dirt #ineedanewvacuum).
“He is different by far than our broken conclusions
You are not the god my pain has conceived
You are deeper and stronger than my eyes can see.”
God, I ask you to be the Tim and Marilyn of the areas of my life I’ve withheld from you for so long. I know it might be painful, but knock down those walls so that the light of your love can shine more fully into this world.
I know letting God specifically into the room of my ethnic identity will be hard. It’s gonna hurt as He throws out false ideas, beliefs, and identities I’ve held onto for years. He is going to clean off the dust of bitterness and hopelessness that has settled along the walls and floors. To this room I’ve grown to be proud of as I’ve eagerly shown off the cracks in my walls and the holes in my ceilings, He wants to bring complete restoration. There is nothing inherently wrong with the existence of my struggles, but when I’ve begun to idolize those cracks and show off my battle scars in a way that writes off God’s ability to heal and transform, that’s when it becomes dangerous. That’s when I’ve begun to spread false narratives of a god incapable of transformation.
“All my walls and my defense fall
Fall to the ground
When the warmth of your light
Shines all around.”
God, I give You permission to enter the room.
But I’m ready.
I’m ready to face into the pain, struggle, and heartache. I want to wrestle with God and not let go until I’ve been changed by Him.
“…So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, ‘Let me go, for it is daybreak.;’
But Jacob replied, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’
The man asked him, ‘What is your name?’
‘Jacob,’ he answered.
Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.’”
I trust your vision, O Lord. Today and every day I commit to opening the door. I give You permission to move things around. I even give You permission to take things out–to remove the fears and doubts I’ve hoarded for so long. I’m opening the door and ready for the the (re)construction to begin.
O God, come find me, for I have lost myself.
Let your Spirit move mercifully to recreate me from the chaos of my life.
My prayer is to change, O God, not out of despair of self but for love of you, and for the self I long to become.
Let your mercy move in and through me now.
Amen. (Modified prayer by Ted Loder)