In Between Victories
There is a section of my soul I’ve barricaded against God. I drew pictures of it long before I understood what it was. I studied my past, my pain, with a desire to redeem it and set me free. I stood in the corner of that space wearing armor with my fists up ready for war. Ever since I was a little girl I swore nothing was ever going to hurt me like that again.
Despite more than a decade of studying my past, learning from it, and trying to understand it, the events that shaped me haven’t changed. They’re the cracks in my pottery, haphazardly glued together and yet failing to hold any water or trap any light. Nothing has changed, and yet I guard that piece of my soul from everything with a desperate, fearful, ferociousness.
I’ve spent years in counseling, on and off medications trying to get better. Trying to put just the right amount of spackle on the jar to fill the cracks and holes. While counseling helps, it doesn’t restore the pot to its former glory. I’ve spent even more years diving into a relationship with Jesus Christ looking for a way out of the hurt that perhaps modern psychology couldn’t help with. And yet, ever guarding that piece of my soul from even Him.
The more I did the more I feared being in pain forever. One drink took away the edge. Two distracted me from it entirely… Meanwhile, with every hiss and pop of a beer tab, squeak of the cork from a glass bottle, I’d hear my name. Give it to me. I’d shake my head. Not going there. If I couldn’t defend myself against pain, I’d do what’s necessary to numb it. I didn’t trust God to take it without destroying me in the process.
The reality of what I was doing was brought to light through a couple of friends, and through worship, a powerful sermon, more prayer, confession, and advice, I decided to go on a fast.
Of course, the day I start my fast from alcohol I meet the exact situation that would drive me to a drink. I didn’t. I resisted temptation and took advantage of distractions. But the thought got bigger. The pain got bigger. I just couldn’t get around it. Instead, I went to bed with it still present, still large, and still hurting.
I went to God at sunrise and prayed through it. What am I supposed to do with this? No response. What are you trying to tell me? No response. I pushed through that morning frustrated with God for not telling me what to do even though I was seeking Him, and thought surely a life with this kind of emptiness and hurt is not what the God of all peace and comfort wants for me.
I listened to a sermon at work, determined to figure it out. I know what the Bible promises, I gave the drink to God, and yet I’m not seeing the fruit of those promises. Why?
The only time God’s promises seem weak, or God Himself seems small, is when something or someone else has become lord. When God stays at the center of everything, when His word is paramount and nothing can stand up to it, it doesn’t matter what you’re facing. It doesn’t matter how big the mountain is; if God is bigger then there’s nothing to fear. I know this.
My counselor then asked me, “So why are you angry, in the corner, with your fists up?”
I’d been protecting myself my entire life, never trusting God to protect me. While God waited for me to invite him in to take over, I resisted. I’d blocked off an entire part of myself, swearing many years ago to never let anyone an opportunity to hurt me again. If someone with minimal power could hurt me so deeply, what could an all-powerful God do? Suddenly, my eyes were opened to the question I felt ashamed to ask, because I know the truth. Still, my heart asked out of the depths of my pain, "God, are you good?"
In holding back, the pain got bigger, and I got more exhausted trying to protect myself from further hurt. When I got too tired, I’d have a drink to take the edge off. Lately I’ve been very tired.
I know the truth, but knowing isn't enough. Jesus redeemed me on the cross. Jesus went through far worse than I ever have. God loves me! He needs to be bigger than anything I’ve ever experienced. His word needs to trump even the things that say God is a liar. When trauma enters the picture however, especially years of trauma, it’s a lot easier said than done. I can say there is an all out war between my soul and spirit, and letting go has never been easy.
I wish I could say I humbled myself this week and let down my guard. I wish I could say I invited God in to take over protecting me, but not today. Faith is being sure of what we don’t see, and today my faith is weak. I know nothing we face is without purpose. Nothing we endure is in vain. Today I struggle to see the difference between the pain others inflict, those who are supposed to reflect the Father's character and love, and the actual Father I have in heaven.
God hasn’t been silent in all of this. He continues to call my name, knocking on the door of the section of my soul I’ve barricaded. He’s a gentleman, and He won’t break in but rather waits patiently. He continues to remind me of His promises. There is an ocean of pain, but He’s the life raft we cling to above it. Yes the mountain is big, but God is bigger. Yes the trial hurts, but God is the Healer. Yes the heart is grieving, but God is the comforter. And yes, the world is in chaos, but God is a God of peace.
I’m thankful he’s patient. I hope, soon, I’ll be able to write this victory down and share it with the world. Today, however, I’m right there with you in the struggle. Today is one of the days in between victories.