You know the phrase, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle”? People often forget the rest of it…or at least what I believe the rest of it should be–“without him.” God doesn’t give you more than you can handle without him. With God literally anything is possible. Without him, just about everything feels impossible. It’s a kindness that life doesn’t absolutely crush us, I think. He gives himself to us in so many forms. Recently, I’ve been able to find Jesus in the form of 80 degree weather, ocean waves, conversations with friends, a playlist made for me 6 months ago that I didn’t listen to until this week, Olive Garden alfredo sauce, running, cuddling with a dog on a couch…and my dad. Treasures along this weird and lovely road.
And that’s just it, isn’t it? Life is a weird and lovely road. Sometimes people you love lose their babies. Other times, some of your favorite people get married. Sometimes, your aunt dies of cancer. Other times, thousands of dollars are given to someone in need. Sometimes anxiety attacks in ways that are unexpected and utterly overwhelming. Other times you laugh until you can’t breathe and dance until your knees hurt and you stand in the sun and thank God for just being God. Sometimes a friend of yours is carjacked and shot multiple times. Sometimes that same friend miraculously survives and is getting stronger every day. Sometimes, you simultaneously question and trust Jesus and feel some typa way about it.
The lack of mutual exclusion between emotions is so jarring for me. I love to live in the gray, the purple, the green, the orange. If there’s a mixture of colors where you can be a bit of both/and, sign me up! I want all the colors and I wanna run the line, teetering on an edge what feels full because that’s where the magic is. Deep joy sparkles in the night. Gut wrenching sadness shines in an alley. Dangerous Hope gleams when you tilt your head. Wild Fear is lit, running on a road of unknown and curiosity.
“Feel what you to need feel. God created those feelings.”
I’ve had so many people tell me this over the years. I’ve heard it a lot this week in particular. I’ve said it myself, to other people. And I mean it. Yet sometimes, I don’t want to believe it. The joy and the sadness and the hope and the fear feel like they must be mutually exclusive and I get lost. My anxious loop starts. Turtles all the way down.
My prayer? Jesus, you’re here, but where are you? I believe, help my unbelief.
The safety I found in the mix of colors suddenly feels incredibly unfamiliar.
What do I…What if I…Why can’t I…When will I…I…I…I..I…. My anxious loop picks up speed. Turtles all the way down.
So I called my dad. My sweet, endearing, kind, sensitive, understanding father. I open my mouth and approximately 3 minutes into the conversation, I burst into tears and start cry-screaming. Are my words intelligible? Who’s to say, really. But how does my sweet Popsicle respond?
He listens. He doesn’t shame me. He doesn’t belittle. He just listens. In the midst of my uncontrollable tears and incessantly repetitive and muddled thoughts, he listens to me and gives me the space and freedom to be completely honest. He mixes the colors and allows me to add in whatever mess of a rainbow I am. He validates my emotions. He encourages me and then lovingly points me back to Jesus. Over and over again. Not in that way that just slaps Romans 8:28 on a Jeremiah 29:11 journal. For nearly two hours, he just shows me who Jesus is. And after having felt heard and seen, my father reminds me that I can’t do anything alone.
I was never meant to. Neither were you. He reminds me that Jesus wants to give me his easy yoke and light burden. He reminds me that the Enemy is real. He kindly calls me to humility and says “So, gird up your loins, Sweetheart!”
We both laugh.
He’s right though. Life is weird. People are a**holes. God is BIG. So, gird up your loins. Run to Jesus. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. If you can’t crawl, just lay there because Jesus was always going to come meet you anyway.
Before we hung up the phone my dad said, “Sweet Pea, the older I get, I mean seriously…the older I get the more I am convinced that God’s word is true. It’s the only truth.”
But let all who take refuge in You, rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may exult in You. For You bless the righteous, O LORD; You cover him with favor as with a shield. -Psalm 5:11-12
Sometimes it’s hard to believe the truths of Scripture. Other times, it’s not. All the time, God is kind and faithful. So, I’m gonna gird up my loins.
[Lord, I don’t really know how to do that. Help me. Hold them up. I’m a mess. I love you.]