“So how’s your heart?”
The question came from a dear friend. Our conversation was nearly over, but it had been quiet on my end. I shared surface news and a few deeper things, but I hadn’t dived into the depths of my heart as was normal with our conversations. I just didn’t want to. I was actually feeling good (on the surface) for the first Saturday in a while. There wasn’t a whole lot of analyzing or beating myself up over how I performed this week. But that question instantly brought tears to my eyes.
“It’s still sad,” was my simple answer and for the last twenty-four hours I’ve been trying to figure out why. I’ve been trying to put into words what I’m feeling. The truth is I’m tired of being upset over the same things, so I don’t talk about it much. I just imagine opening up to people and them kind of rolling their eyes and offering some sort of half-hearted platitude because they’ve heard this all before.
What do you do when the pain lingers and you’re not sure how to overcome it?
I’m really good at coaching myself. I know all the Christian answers. Afraid of starting a new week at work? No problem! The Lord goes with you and He fights for you. These struggles are producing character and that character brings about a hope that doesn’t disappoint. Upset about still being single? No problem! Fall in love with Jesus. You did not choose Him, but He chose you. Give Him your heart and your all and it will all be fine.
But lately those things haven’t been enough. They sound empty and shallow and overused.
Relationships mean a lot to me. Over the last couple of years I’ve watched friends get married and start having kids. I celebrate with them, cry over beautiful dresses, pick out baby shower gifts, and enjoy the times when we get to hang out during this new season of normal. But it also sucks! Here I am, doing what I believe God’s asked me to do. I’m waiting, saving myself, praying for my future husband, and even still I’m just as single as I always have been. I know it’s normal to grieve what we don’t yet have as others move into that next stage of life, but too often I feel unwanted.
Even as I write this I picture some well-meaning friend thinking, “If only she would just press into Jesus more…” I know what I’m supposed to do and I’m doing it to the best of my ability. But sometimes Jesus doesn’t feel like enough.
Sometimes I just need someone to physically hold me, to tell me that I’m beautiful, and whisper affirmations to me in a way I can audibly here.
I love Jesus, I do. But my heart is aching for a dream that still feels very far off. I know marriage won’t fix me. I know it won’t solve my problems. I know that it’s not supposed to take God’s place in my life. But the longing is there and it just plain hurts that I’m still sitting here alone.
Then there’s this whole calling thing. For most of my life I’ve felt “called” to be a teacher. Now that I am and things aren’t working out the greatest, I’ve started re-evaluating. Am I really called to teach? Is writing really a calling? Or are those just avenues through which I can fulfill my calling? If I were to leave teaching at some point, would that mean I’ve failed in fulfilling my purpose? Is a call from God a call for a lifetime, or can these things change?
Through the last week of trying to sort this out, I really think my calling goes beyond the classroom and fictional manuscripts. My heart truly longs to help lead people into intimate relationships with Christ. I love mentoring and I love sharing God’s word through the power of story–whether my own story or one He’s placed on my heart.
Through the process I’ve had to realize that my calling doesn’t define my identity.
Right now this school, subject, and grade level are where God has me, and I want to be faithful and obedient with this. However, whether or not I teach or write doesn’t define who I am. Also, my faithfulness to my calling is not determined by the results. Some people may reject what I have to say. Some of my students may not score the greatest on the test. Still, none of that defines me.
Calling. Relationships. Struggles in singleness. People can throw all the encouragement they want at me. I can even throw it at myself in an effort to “fix” me. But the truth is, no matter how well rehearsed my answers are, sometimes it just plain hurts. It’s in those times we don’t need answers or even encouragement. It’s those times we need someone to come along beside us and just let us cry; to hold us and just let us hurt.
Today’s one of those days for me. My heart is sad and aching and I’ve tried to hide it because I don’t want people trying to fix something they can’t. Jesus knows the pain and He holds me, and He also brings people into my life that allow me to snot on their shoulders, people who go deep and ask how my heart is really doing. And for that I’m grateful.
So, how’s that for a vulnerable heart moment….Don’t be afraid to take one for yourself if you need one. Things may not get fixed, but sometimes just acknowledging the pain can make a difference.
Live in His love!