I’m a mess right now. I may not look like it from the outside (or maybe I do – who knows?), but inside I’m a screaming, crying, writhing ball of restlessness, fear, insecurity, discontent, grief…all the Things that have no business being in me.
I’m supposed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Not the Things.
So when did this all start? When did the Things move in and He get pushed out? I don’t know, but I’m sure it happened little by little:
- An uncontrolled emotion I chose to dwell on for a while.
- A moment of self-pity that I allowed to linger.
- A fear-filled thought that was left to fester.
- A tiny seed of annoyance that I nurtured until it grew into frustration, then anger, then resentment.
Soon, my soul was a rotting pile of trash, rather than a spotless palace in which the King of Kings was seated on its throne.
Several months ago, one of my pastors did a talk for our young adults group about the “tattoos” we walk around with. He asked us to think about the one tattoo we’ve allowed to define us. I knew mine immediately. How could I not? It’s been there for as long as I can remember. He asked us to write it on our arms.
This past week, we started a new series with our High School groups, talking about the thoughts that repeat themselves over and over again in our minds – the thoughts that have no business being there. We asked the students and leaders to write down some of these thoughts.
Like so many other opportunities I’ve had recently to be honest with someone else, even if anonymously, I sat out both of those exercises. In both cases, I hid behind a wall of busyness and of doing things to make sure those events were running well. And it occurs to me that I’ve been sitting these things out all year long.
My job has provided so many opportunities to speak up about the Things: staff retreat, Life Group, leadership development group, worship nights, staff meetings…
I’ve been there physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I’ve checked out. I’ve stayed silent.
Why? Because of the Things.
They tell me to be terrified that the people I spend the most time with will reject me when they find out what’s been hanging out with me this year.
They pressure me to stay quiet and just do my job. (And oh, I have to do that job perfectly because what if someone else comes along and does it better?)
They constantly remind me that my job, my friends and my church are all the same place, and if I lose one, I lose everything.
The Things thrive in Silence.
I try to talk about them with God. It’s not like He doesn’t already know the Things are there. In fact, He knows even better than I do exactly when they started moving their stuff into His throne room in my soul.
It doesn’t go well. The Things invite their friends over to party. Shame shows up with a veggie tray. Regret brings chips and dip. And the next thing I know, I’ve given up, walked away, and Silence wins again.
It’s a pretty vicious cycle as far as vicious cycles go. Which is why the Things are still taking up space, and why I feel like I’ll never be freed of them.
So I do the only thing I can still do: I write. I at least get them out and onto paper (virtually speaking). It seems that the Things don’t feel quite so threatened when I just write about them, maybe because they don’t realize that written words can be just as powerful as spoken ones.
Maybe if I keep writing, I can lure them out into the open and someday, the Holy Spirit will be able to slam the door behind them and lock them out forever.