If I Were Completely Honest . . .

. . . I would have to admit that I hoped things would change in my house when I quit working.

They haven’t. Not much. The house is still messy, the kids still fight with each other (and us, occasionally), we’re still busy running to and from school and church and scouts and errands and everything else, we have no more or less income than we had before since I wasn’t really making anything, and I still need to restart my exercise routine and lose some weight.

If I were completely honest, I would have to admit that I might not have left my work for totally unselfish reasons.

I didn’t. It’s true that the biggest reason was to hopefully restore some sanity to my world, but there were other reasons as well. I was frustrated with the direction of my field, confused about my direction and purpose in that field, irritated at the mixed messages and feedback I got, and sad that I couldn’t seem to generate an income doing the one and only thing I have any talent for.

But if I’m to be completely honest, I have to admit that whatever else I told people, whatever truth there was in the other reasons I gave for leaving my work, the truth is, I was beaten. My confidence was shattered. I had lost the will to persevere. I didn’t see any hope of ever really succeeding at what I did. I couldn’t compete, and even more, I just didn’t want to try anymore. I had nothing left.

Sometimes, the Holy Spirit has to sneak up on me, I think. I’m not very perceptive when it comes to discerning God’s voice. I don’t believe that God “speaks” to believers nearly as often as believers think He does, so if He needs to get a message to me somehow, whispers and nudges won’t do. I frequently need baseball bat therapy.

I have been praying that God would deepen my devotion to Him, that I would feel more toward Him, that I would develop a heart like His. And I realized that perhaps the reason I didn’t sense any change was because there was still some unconfessed or unrecognized sin getting between me and the Father. So I asked Him to show me.

That’s a dangerous prayer.

There were things–some small, some forgotten, some big, some recent, some distant. But I still didn’t feel cleansed. I asked again, and then the tears started.

That was four days ago. They’re still flowing.

If I’m to be completely honest, I’ve been lying to myself, and as a result, I’ve been lying to everyone around me. I have not been honest about why I quit my work.

I quit, quite simply, because I was not good enough and I finally admitted it.

That was a hard thing to say. It was a hard thing to admit. I don’t anticipate the tears will stop for some time.

But here’s the amazing thing.

I drove out of my neighborhood today, and as I turned right onto the main road, I saw a woman I don’t know smoking a cigarette outside her house. There was nothing particularly significant about this–she didn’t look like a dangerous person or a stranger to the neighborhood or a threat to anyone’s safety. She wasn’t dressed oddly. She didn’t have pink hair or a wheelchair or blue skin. She was just an average, ordinary woman smoking a cigarette outside her house.

And somewhere, deep down in the furthest, darkest, most cobwebby spot in my heart, something stirred: compassion.

I had compassion for a stranger. Not just an average, ordinary compassion–one that might move me to donate to a food bank or knit a hat for a homeless person. No, I felt a compassion that stirred a desire to share the gospel with her. I have no idea who this woman was–for all I know, she could talk circles around me concerning the most significant issues of the faith–but I saw a glimpse of what Jesus sees when He looks at us.

“These are the ones I came for. The Son of Man came to seek and save what is lost. And if you see it, you are developing a heart like Mine.”

There was no earth-shattering result to my epiphany. I didn’t stop my car and go speak to her. The flutter of compassion passed on, and I was once again my short-tempered, nasty self with my kids later in the day. But something broke inside me–some resistance to seeing the world the way God sees it.

If I’m completely honest, I have to tell you that the tears are still flowing. When a dam bursts, it takes some time for the riverbed to manage the flood, I think. And if I’m completely honest, I have to tell you that my shattered confidence can’t really imagine initiating more than small talk with a stranger. I am still too weak to be of much use to anyone. I know that someone will say that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, but really–I am healing, rebuilding.

But if I’m completely honest, I have to tell you that I am grateful and relieved to know that God is starting to grow more than just dandelions in the soil of my heart.

Till next we meet . . .

J M

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