I like to think I know where and how Jesus will show up. He likes to remind me that’s silly.
On Friday I traveled back to Orange County to be in another wedding. (For the record it was a dang good time and I am immeasurably stoked for the couple. I love them to bits.) A short twenty minutes after I landed I found myself sitting on the floor of my friend’s apartment watching her sweet, 8 month-old girl scoot across the floor giggling. Kelsey is one of my closest friends. At 26 she’s one of the wisest people I’ve ever met and truly one of the most loving too. She’s one of those rare life-giving humans and she’s super in love with Jesus. I’ve been lucky to have her as both a mentor and a friend.
We were sitting there on the floor when she asked me how I was doing. I told her I was okay. But then I decided to be more honest and changed my answer to “sort of lonely.” At that point I figured I was really on a roll and thought I might as well get even more real about how I had been feeling the last few weeks.
“Here’s the thing: It feels like I’m in the ocean and there’s this kraken and it’s surfacing. A giant, freaking kraken.”
I love Kelsey because she rolls with the weird analogies I use in a subconscious effort to deflect and avoid actually sharing my emotions. But this time when I caught myself ranting about a stupid mythical leviathan instead of my actual feelings, I figured I’d make my therapist proud and quit that nonsense. So I got most real.
“I am so afraid.”
And then came the stupid quivery lip I hate so much and I kept on talking.
“I don’t believe that’s ever going to work out for me.”
By “that” I meant the thing I want most in the world: to one day find a companion–a best friend–and choose to love him for the rest of my life, stake my claim, marry the crap out of him and have babies with him. No biggie. And of course, by “no biggie” I mean yes, it’s a big deal to me.
And what I’ve learned about this desire of mine is that it mirrors my deepest fear: being alone.
But why am I so afraid of that? Why would Jesus not have companionship in the works for me? Why don’t I trust that He does? Because humans have broken my trust? Because I’ve had hurtful relationships and healthy relationships and nothing has worked?
Or is it just that I’m still reeling from past hurt?
Regardless, I was going off on all these things that scared me and all the good reasons I had to justify my fear when Kelsey spoke up and wrecked house.
“Do you ever sit down and think about the promises Jesus has made you?” She asked. (She’s spot on every time I swear.)
“No.” I laughed a little because it hit a nerve. And it hit a nerve because “promises” was a word that had kept coming up lately and I kept kicking under the rug because I didn’t want to deal with my doubt.
I mean, it’s pretty ridiculous to doubt that Jesus is moving in this area of my life, right? Look at the crazy, crazy things he just brought me through! I have post after post about His tangible and relentless and specific and radical love for me in the midst of pain and surgeries and hospital stays and cancer scares and I’m over here having trouble believing he has a companion for me?
I need to be slapped.
(This is where Kelsey would laugh and tell me to be gracious with myself. Another reason I love her.)
But it’s real. The slowness to trust in this area of my life is so real. It’s the desire closest to my heart and I’m huddled in the corner with it like “don’t touch me, this is mine.”
(Is anyone else thinking of Gollum right now? I’m pale enough–I’m halfway there.)
I sat there on the hotel room floor surrounded by bridesmaids, the bride reading something aloud from Ephesians. It was a passage on love and marriage. And I was supposed to be listening but I wasn’t.
Instead, I chewed my pen, engaged in a staring contest with the blank pages in my lap. I was about to have a sit down with Jesus I knew was long overdue. And I was reluctant to start because I knew it was going to be a gut-wrencher. All because of that stupid kraken.
So I wrote:
“Today Ivy gets married and I’m learning (because I’m ridiculous) to trust that your story for me is going to kick ass.
I don’t have to believe people are good, but I can & need to believe that You are powerful and loving enough to make someone wonderful for me.
So as much as it feels like my heart wants to crawl out of my mouth–as much as it hurts to say it because I’m soul-deep in kraken-sized fear because I have no idea what this is going to look like–I thank you in advance for him.
I thank you for knowing better than me. I thank you for holding my hands while I toddler-trip all over the place and hit the floor and doubt your love for me. I’m sorry for not trusting you with this. I’m sorry for not believing that you will grant me the desires you’ve given me. I’m sorry for disregarding the miracles you’ve done in my life.
(At this point the tears happened and all these apologies came exploding out of me.)
I’m sorry for deeming this hurt too deep and this need too real for you to handle when the reality is you know it more completely than I do.
I’m sorry for not loving you. I’m sorry for not trusting you. I’m sorry for pushing against your relentless & radical love.
I’m sorry for not believing that you love me. I’m sorry for not believing you.
Jesus, I give you my fear and my loneliness. Go ahead and hulk-smash them. Blast them to bits. (We’ll do the robot on their remains.)”
When I put my pen down it hit me like a ton of bricks that this last season of heartbreak and exhaustion and health problems and major transitions was just training for what is next.
I think I laughed and pooped my pants at the same time.
And that’s when I felt the familiar nudge and heard the familiar voice that speaks my language so dang well. You know why I go off on how Jesus has particular love for each one of us? Because it’s real. He loves us all so immeasurably he even goes the extra mile to speak to us in the terms our unique souls understand best.
So while I sat there nose to nose with my biggest fear and said, “umm…yikes,” Jesus went all A-Team on me.
“Kid, we’ve done this before. Now, let’s do it again.”
He extended his hand and invited me to kick my fear in the pants.
And I said okay.