My mom asked me about writing the other day. She told me she wanted to learn how to write, because she loves it. She told me she wanted to better at just sitting down and writing, without worrying so much about perfection, like me. Hey. Guess who has been having trouble just sitting down and writing. Guess who hasn’t blogged anything since February * sheepishly raises hand *
I don’t know why it’s been so difficult. At school I had some legitimate excuses of studying like mad and endless coffee dates and club meetings. But since I’ve been home for the summer those excuses have disappeared. The truth is, I have been having trouble being honest with myself. I came home and in many ways felt like a different person. I was face to face with the reality that everyone changes and friendships look different when you’ve been away for a year. That adult responsibilities mean trying really hard and still overdrawing your checking account by mistake. That I was less comfortable being the single one in my friend group than I had ever imagined. That I felt like my life was a boring routine of getting up, going for a run, listening to NPR, drinking a cup of tea, going to work, watching NCIS, and going to sleep. I wondered why I couldn’t have a summer jam-packed with adventures like those all my friends seemed to be relating via Instagram. I struggled with the feeling of distance from God and from likeminded people who were dedicated to the growth of my heart. Admittedly, I spent a whole lot of time feeling sorry for myself. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say there were weeks at the start of the summer where I pretty much wallowed in discontentment.
One day I picked up a book that my RD had given to me at the end of the year, called The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. Almost immediately, I came to this paragraph:
“We also need to be faithful, even in the dry periods. It is during those dry spells that God tests our love for Him. We should take advantage of those times to practice our determination and surrender to Him.”
Dang. Dry periods? I could relate to that big time. But had I been faithful? Not much. I could count on one hand the number of times I had prayed since leaving school. Had I brought any of my discontentment to His feet and sought to surrender? Heck no. I thought I was perfectly capable of powering through it on my own. The same night I read that, I had randomly reached out to a few of my friends from school to see how their summers were going. The conversations with them that followed reminded me of all the wonderful people God has put in my corner and gave me some serious clarity. He wasn’t working in a way that was earth-shattering and impressive like I always seem to expect. He came quietly through the people and the circumstances that were right in front of me. But it changed everything about my perspective all the same.
Last week I read these sentences written by Mark Buchanan that shook my outlook even more.
“Spiritual robustness doesn’t happen by accident. It doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen by wishing or trying. It is a long obedience in the same direction. It is forged in the daily and tempered in the ordinary.”
First, I have to remember that I need to seek God and bring everything to Him in surrender even when I feel like He’s not close to me. I need to push for that, even when my emotions aren’t feeling it. Second, all of those things I felt were mundane and unexciting about my life? He is working through those things to grow me. Always. I can’t expect for all of life to be praise songs and hands lifted, filled with spiritually moving experiences. I have to forge through some tough stuff- feeling lonely, experiencing change, and waiting on Him. Here’s the thing, though. When we trek through that stuff, one baby step at a time, He allows us to see His rich goodness along the way. He gives us small victories to celebrate and joy in every single day.
I am really stinking grateful that He stays with me through the dry seasons, the daily and the ordinary, even when I forget about Him. He is faithful to me even when I’m not faithful to Him. Tony Ingram said, “I am a girl still learning God.” Me too, Tony. I let my feelings get the best of me. I forget His power. I neglect giving Him the whole of my heart like He deserves. But thankfully there is grace.
If this brain dump of mine has meant anything to you, if you are or have been here, remember: don’t try to force the water during the dry spells. Don’t give up and think the water will never come either. Because it will come, babe, it will come. Romans 12:1 MSG says “Take your everyday ordinary life- your sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life- and place it before God as an offering.” And that’s what it’s all about. Keep taking small steps. Be faithful. Everyday.