I’ve not been in the best state of mind over the past nine months as I’ve remained in a place that I don’t want to be. I’ve not wanted this time. I’ve not enjoyed it at all. It has, however, caused me to reflect on my life and how my walk with God, doesn’t remotely resemble Footprints in the Sand, but more closely resembles an obstacle course.
I realize the Footprints in the Sand poem is comforting, and for many people, it is probably an accurate reflection of how they feel. I also realize that what I’m about to say will rub some folks wrong, but I don’t really care. The obstacle course I went through last November was brutal; 31% of people did not finish. It was approximately 15.6 miles (with penalty loops), 38 obstacles, 2700 ft of elevation gain, river crossings while suffering hypothermia, all in continuous cold rain and mud. A quarter mile in, I twisted my knee when I lost control going down a steep, muddy slope, but continued. At mile 9, I broke my ribs on an obstacle, but I still finished. That’s pretty well how I view my walk with God as I look back on my life.
In my mind’s eye, I can see people uncomfortable with me for claiming that God would put me through such hardships in my life. Before those of you with such opinions go climbing up on your perch, perhaps you should continue to read before drawing conclusions.
So very few people in this world know me. I’m really very quiet and I have quietly helped people my entire life. I’ve never really talked about the things I’ve done for people, and unless you’ve been on the receiving end, then you likely have no clue about me or what I do. I’ve physically helped people, financially, emotionally, etc., all my life. I think that’s been my primary purpose.
I don’t believe God puts more on us than we can handle, but I believe that some of us can handle a lot more than others. Just like 31% could not finish the obstacle course, but even after breaking bone, I completed my mission. At one point in my life, my back was so badly injured that I didn’t walk for nine months. I was very bitter about my situation, but if anyone looks at what I’m physically capable of now, they’d never guess that I was ever crippled. Since then, I have helped several people with back issues; people who I don’t believe would have had the life skills to handle it on their own. I fully believe God gave me that experience and then sent me into the lives of others.
What I have been through politically has been awful on me and my family. I have constantly been demonized for things I’ve never done but several people who I consider friends, know my God story associated with politics. They know why I walked in when I did and the remarkable things that happened. Those same few also understand that I’ve fulfilled my role there (at least for now) and had to walk away.
I could handle all that political crap because, other than those I love, I don’t care what people think of me. I could walk into that dirty, filthy world and have people fabricate endless crap about me, and I could brush it off and keep working to get (real) godly folks elected. Recently, I was under attack for something that I wasn’t responsible for. I took the arrows and kept my mouth shut about what was really going on because I didn’t care if people wanted to blame me. I could have publicly explained, but not without crossing a line that I wasn’t willing to cross. I attempted to explain to two people, but in having to leave out a key piece of information, the explanation just didn’t work.
I think I could fill a book about my walk with God, but yes—I believe God has put me through a lot of rough times, making me wiser and stronger, and more capable of serving Him.
Now, my haters probably have such a twisted view of me they can’t even imagine I’m the slightest bit worthy of God calling on me to do anything. This is the thing; if you know the real me, then you know that I am far from perfect. I have not even come close to living a perfect life or doing all the right things, and I have never claimed that I have. But what I do is try very hard to live my life right. I’m like an alcoholic in that way though; I backslide, do something stupid, distrust the path God puts me on, and I want things for myself when I know better. I also realize the Bible is full of imperfect people God used, so I don’t believe I have to portray myself as being anything special when I’m not.
I believe there is a voice inside all of us that tells us what we’re supposed to do. I think too many people ignore that voice and justify things they want that’s bad for them. I know I’d make a lot of terrible choices if I didn’t listen to that voice. When we make bad choices, our lives become a wreck and we feel lost and there’s not a feeling which is much worse than continuously feeling lost.
I’ve now felt lost myself for months, but for me, it’s not because I’m not listening to that voice. My issue is nothing short of faith (lack of). I feel like I have blindly followed the path God wants for me, my entire life, so you probably wouldn’t think faith would be an issue for me, but it is. For months, I’ve felt that God has a new path for me and that I’m supposed to be patient. I’m not good at patience, and patience requires some serious faith. I’ll tell you right now that I never could have wondered a desert for 40 years… I would have cracked.
I’ve hidden away for a few months, waiting on my circumstances to change. My lack of faith has caused anxiety and serious depression. I’ve had several people question me regarding suicide. I tell them I’m fine, but they keep questioning. I have a close friend who remains convinced that I need to be on medication to help with my anxiety and depression. I know she means well, but that will not fix what’s broken in me, and I know it. I have finally hit a point where I feel totally and completely broken. I have reached a place where I completely understand some hideous and dark things in life.
I now completely understand how someone can feel:
– Tortured while being torn between two things.
– So lost that you feel you’re drowning in despair.
I now completely understand how:
– You can make the wrong choice based on selfish desires instead of doing what you know is right, and the train wreck that brings into your life.
– Anxiety and depression can cripple your life.
– Someone thinks they deserve bad things to happened to them.
– Someone can think they are undeserving of happiness.
I now completely understand why some people commit suicide.
And probably the biggest lesson so far: I now completely understand that no matter how strong I have always been, that even I need help. I’m the one who has always played the role of someone’s rock and for me to realize the value of having someone who anchors your life has been huge for me. I wanted to get better on my own, but despite the incredible strength I knew I had in me, that just wasn’t realistic. I’ve HAD to have someone who loves me, be there for me, to help lead me from the darkness.
In my selfishness, I’ve felt I needed to understand WHY God would put me through this, but I couldn’t have that answer until I finally understood that what I’ve really been lacking is faith. Knowing God has put me through many very tough times in my life to strengthen me, to help others, should have been enough to comfort me, but it wasn’t. I was being told to be patient, and that everything would work out, but I still just kept letting my selfish desires get in the way. Does that mean I can just turn on the faith and turn off the anxiety and depression? Nope… it is something that I continue to wrestle with, and my guess is that there are a few more lessons coming out of this that I need to learn.
Do I get to know WHY, now? Not exactly, but I know this growth was necessary in order for me to tackle something coming my way. If it’s anything like what I’ve experienced in the past, this will all have happened so I can help someone who really needs it. Someone who has become so broken that they will need me to help lead them out of a dark place or they may never find it on their own. The list above of things that I completely understand now, are mostly things I believe I seriously lacked empathy for before. It is entirely possible to understand situations and be compassionate and help someone, but it is through experience where we gain the greatest insight. To be completely honest; my tolerance for people who couldn’t leave something behind and move forward, was low. I had almost zero patience or understanding at all for it, as I’ve always been one to move forward, regardless of the situation. How I was I to gain empathy for the things I listed above unless submersed in it to the point of feeling helpless?
So, to reiterate; I’m not saying anything bad about God, that He would put me through a lot of really rough times. I’m note complaining at all-I’m observing and serving. I haven’t spoken about the rewards in my life, but those have also been plenty, and more than I feel I deserve.
Lesson learned: Keep the faith and remain strong, because when life gets rough, He is sending you the help you need or making you into the help He needs to send to someone else.