Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Voices in your Head

At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. John 6:66-68

Do you ever hear voices in your head? I’m not talking about the schizophrenic type, I mean thoughts in your own voice, but sometimes more than one, different sides competing to be heard. Life found me there recently.

Overwhelmed with the transition back to full time teaching, my body displayed so many stress symptoms I couldn’t keep count. The physical manifestations mounted while the emotional slide spiraled deeper into confusion. Suddenly I found myself so paralyzed with fear I truly could not think straight about anything.

On one side a voice shouted, “You have no idea what you’re doing!”
“You are on your own.”
“You are going to be found out.”
“You can’t do this!”
“You are a disappointment.”
“This is too hard!”
“You should know this!”
“You’re a fraud.”
“This is impossible!”
“You are failing.”
“They will regret they hired you.”
“Is this really where God wants you?”
“You don’t have to do this.”
“You have options.”

On the other side a voice was calm and steady, and although appropriate in volume, could barely be heard beneath the shouting.
“God’s got this.”
“God’s with you.”
“You are not alone.”
“God will help you.”
“God can do this.”
“God provides strength for weakness.”
“God has the answers you need.”

My spirit and head knew the truth. But my emotions had taken over.

Finally, it all came to a head. After two weeks of tears in the classroom, a seven pound weight loss, consistent nights of little sleep, something had to change. As emotionally sick as I’ve ever been, I could not go on.

I cried on the phone, vented, ranted, and raged. I cried out to others for prayer. And finally I recognized where my fears had lead me.

I stood at a crossroad and had to decide which road to take. The path ahead did not look the way I’d expected. From where I stood the path revealed bends and curves and dark places ahead.

The path I wanted, the life I wanted, remained behind me. I wanted my sons back. I wanted “normal” – what this earthly life typically held for most people. But I couldn’t go back, no matter my longing.

My fears tempted me to turn aside from the path ahead. We had options financially. I had other gifts and talents. I could easily start an entire new career even. Why did I have to pursue hard once again? Hadn’t I lived HARD long enough?

But when I really stopped exploding and erupting all the emotion inside and dealt with the truth of where I stood, I knew I could only go one way. Once I recognized where I stood, I could pray for my “want to” to align with God’s will. It took 24 hours, but I knew, though I had options, only one choice would take me where I truly wanted. Only one choice kept me in the center of God’s presence. Finally, I reached the point where I could say,

“God I’d rather do hard WITH you, than do anything or go anywhere WITHOUT you.”

All weekend I battled. But I finally surrendered and said yes. The emotions didn’t ease all at once. I had to reaffirm my yes again and again. But saying YES stopped the spiral descent. That next day I finally stood honest and humbled before God. I admitted my fears. I admitted my confusion. I admitted my weaknesses and brought each and every one of them to God. Singularly and collectively. I finally declared like Peter, God, to who else would I go?

I had shouted at God about my confusion. I had whined about my weaknesses. I had gotten angry at God about what I faced. I had resented God over my loss. But I had never truly asked God for help. Using the words of Ann Voskamp, I came to God close fisted in judgment, instead of open handed ready to receive.

I find the most amazing thing about God to be his infinite grace and mercy. No matter how many times I make the same mistakes, no matter how many different mistakes, EVERY TIME I turn to him, he receives me with open arms. Oh who can fathom such a love as this?

Yet, God also handles each return uniquely, designed each time to match my greatest needs. This time, his actions were immediate, blatant, and surprising as he used several unexpected situations to reveal his truths to me and provide the answers I needed, everything from Canadian Geese to a math in-service! What a creative God.

Each day, one by one, he dealt with the issues and by Friday gifted me with the smoothest, most productive classroom experience with my students, graciously showing me not only the possibility, but also how close it was… just a few more bends down the road.

Friends, I share all of this because I am not the only wounded soul on this planet. You alone know the deepest details of your life. Those darkest places leave the greatest wounds which create the strongest fears and loudest voices in our lives. Can I suggest, that when the voices are screaming the loudest, you retreat to the quietest place and intentionally take a stand? When you hear shouting, diligently look for the still small voice. If you cannot find it, look for it in God’s word. Ask others to pray for you and stand with you. God promises to be found when we seek him. Pursue Him and his truth. As you resist the shouting voices, his Word will rise up within you. It can be done. When you most want to flee, take a stand and declare, To Whom would I go?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Juli... I needed to hear this encouragement today.