Sunday, February 19, 2017

"Running From, Running From" or "Chasing The Uncomfortable"

End of May 2016

I don't feel pulled in any direction in life at the moment. So many desires in my mind and so many opportunities coming to me from every which way. It seems every new door I think God is opening for me is then shut to reveal a new and more glorious door to walk through, only then to have that one shut as well. I don't know what I'm doing and I don't know where I'm going, but I know God is preparing me for something amazing. Maybe I become a manager of a cafe, or a DJ, or I just move to Texas where my childhood best friend, we'll call him Blake, lives...who knows.


Beginning of June 2016

Sunday night I email my boss and put in my two weeks at the cafe with know back up plan. I just know it's time to move on from this point in my life. 
Monday I receive a text, it's an opportunity to work as a DJ with regular gigs. I think this must be God working in the amazing ways that he does, providing me with a new job that provides for my needs and that I'm excited about. And moving to Texas had only just barely been a serious thought for me, besides, there were people up here in Pennsylvania that I had been investing in. Those going through heartache, stress, disorders. Those who needed someone to talk to, who needed emotional support, who needed help starting a new life. Why would I move to Texas when I had so many important commitments here. And with such an immediate provision of a new job, obviously God was telling me to stay. Doors shut and doors open.
Tuesday night I get call from Blake, he cries as he explains what's going on. He's made a mistake. His wife, who we'll call Anne, has been on vacation with her family but recently called Blake expressing her hurt for how he had acted the other day. She explains that he had too much to drink and said some horrible things to her. She's scared and can't imagine staying with him and any hope of working things out looks bleak. The moment I heard his quivering voice on the phone I knew I was moving to Texas, I was going to drop everything and go help my friend. 

From here on I made my plans to move. Slowly I told my friends and family that I was moving, just giving the loosest details as to why I was going. It was incredibly hard, but I did my best to remain as calm and resolute as I possibly could. I knew now that this was the door God wanted me to go through.
I settled on July 4th as the day I would start my trek. The days leading up to my move I stayed in touch with Blake as much as possible, getting more details and updates about the state of his marriage. I learned that for months the marriage was straining and trust was weak. As I asked more questions I began to realize there was a complex spiderweb of lies and miscommunication that had led to this moment. Even the night described by Anne that had made Blake to be the leading reason for the upcoming decisions was called into question by his family and friends, including myself, having been skeptical from the beginning that Blake would say anything to push his wife to this point. I took each new piece of information with a grain of salt, I was becoming less sure of anything being spoken to me apart from the heartache and the impending collapse of a marriage.
Week after week there'd be an inkling of hope that'd be dashed the next week by a change of mind or a new revelation about one or the other. I prayed and prayed, pleading with God to save their marriage, crying some nights and falling to sleep in a fit of anger other nights. 
Many supported my decision, and many wished for a change of mind but understood my reasoning. One steadfastly opposed it, saying very hard but very true things. As much as I knew them for myself, hearing them spoken was needed, only God could make any difference in Blake's life, not me. I respected these words, but they did not deter me from going.
Each new day was a new push, a new stretch in my resolve, another opportunity to lean harder upon God, there was no way I was about to do this without him and come out of it whole. And I realized that all those doors that had seemed open only to be closed, my not knowing what to do with this chapter of life and my uneasiness with where I was in it, even all the reasons I could come up with to stay, all these things were God telling me to move from comfort to discomfort. For all the good I believed I could do if I stayed, it simply would not reconcile my decision to not go. I had to go because staying was too easy. I was running from God calling me Texas, but all those reasons were the very things I had to run from.

The story is long and many lessons were learned. Five months of impromptu ministry, five months of growth, of pain and great emotional stress, of my heart being wrenched and torn. I cried, I was angry, I dwelt alone. 
As I look back, for every single moment that I failed, or feel that I have failed, I know that I did exactly what God had called me to do. To be a friend, to be a shoulder to lean on and a servant leader to follow. I planted seeds and that's what God wanted me to do.
I learned that so much of this pain that Blake was feeling, pushing him to make many questionable decisions, could easily lead back to the months before he moved to Texas with his family. We both shared in incredible trauma 10 years ago. I handled it one way, and Blake another way in Texas. Emotions were boxed up and pushed aside, and 10 years of this turned it into a habit. This pain being made clear during those five months.

Two weeks after arriving in Texas, Blake and Anne were divorced at the start of his birthday week and it took about a month for the initial pain to subside. Much of his family has a serious health issue of one kind or another, and each had developed a habit that makes it hard to deal with the issues in their lives. Add in financial issues, the death of a childhood dog, the resurgence of other past relationships, and drama upon drama, and dealing with these things becomes harder ten-fold.
This is not what I had expected at all. What had God put me in? I was confident in his plan and trusted his leading, I know that I can do all things through him, but the pain I would experience so deeply and personally I had expected the least.

Just as much as I am able to healthily handle emotions I am also able to internalize the emotions of others. And for all the pain Blake was experiencing, by his own hand or from someone else, this pain was multiplied in me by knowing that what I was seeing in him was not the whole story. His pain goes back those 10 years to that trauma we experienced. Every negative emotion since then has been pressed down atop that and grown, and started directing his decisions. This made even the most seemingly innocent decision he'd make rip at my heart because I knew why he was doing it. I know what he's trying to cover up. I've wept over these things. I know the temporary happiness he receives will just as quickly pass until he deals with what has been hidden in his heart.

But God works wonders, I still pray for him and his family and friends. For every time of turmoil there is a time of growth, and I have surely grown in this. Blake has grown in this. Even though I believe my time of sharing in his experiences is over, for however much as that hurts to say and that I wish it weren't so, I know God is still working in him. 

I've returned a different person. I feel shredded and tired, even after 3 months of being home. Pieces of me were torn off and left burned in Texas, and now God will use those spaces that he chiseled out of me and fill them with his glory. And being patched back up still hurts, but there is solace and a new type of rest in it. Now I look forward and know that I am being prepared for something amazing. Unspeakably amazing.

Yes, the story is long and many lessons were learned. If only I had the time to express every detail and explore it from every side. If there is ever anything to learn from this, it God's Love, Mercy and Grace. He leads, provides and protects. 

"We have come to know love by this: that Jesus laid down his life for us; thus we ought to lay down or lives for our fellow Christians." 1 John 3:16