In order to better see where I’m going, I find it helpful to remember where I’ve been. January has been such a month of remembering for me. I’m always in awe at God’s merciful grace during a rather graceless season in my life; a season where I came THIS close to throwing it all in and calling it a day. –
I can remember feeling hopelessly alone and forsaken of God. I felt disillusioned, disgusted, and disappointed in everything – only to find out that my hope had been placed not on the one who tore the curtain (Matthew 27:51), but rather the ones who hide behind them. I had learned far too much, far to quickly and as disheartened as I was by that, I was even more heartbroken to realize that I myself am no better. I looked great on the outside, but inside hid the bones of dead men.
The bones were those of the church. They belonged to the men (pastors) who would not let me join their churches when I was a child. It was in their denial of my requests that I built my walls of protection and sought to prove them wrong. In my anger and hurt, I’d built an altar in my heart to their approval. Every time the bones screamed out for attention and healing, I poured on a salve of sweetness and honey hoping to silence them.
Those bones rattled with a deafening noise that manifested itself in physical shaking and panic attacks. I suffered for years with pastor-phobia – especially if they were dressed all in black. As time went on, rather than face the bones and seek God’s healing hand, I found myself becoming disgusted by the very men I was terrified of and yet I continued on with my painted on smile and false kindness. I erroneously believed that it was these men that held the life blood of my salvation and when discovering that those that had disapproved of me all those years ago, lived no better lives than I, the holes in my heart filled with rage and the bones began to shake.
I had become a liar. You can’t really love or serve people you are afraid of, no matter how hard you try. I wanted to believe I was a nice person, full of mercy, love, kindness and grace but I had grown to hate the very people I felt called to serve. The paradox was killing me. The day finally came when I could not contain my pent-up rage and rather than be honest in it, I blew up on a sweet bystander.
It was then that I knew that I needed help.
Up until that point, I thought my motives to be pure and of God. I was a little off on that perception. It was really heartbreaking for me to discover that I hadn’t jumped into ministry to serve God, I’d gotten into ministry out of my own selfish need. I needed to belong. I needed to prove “them” wrong. To me, the little girl no church would allow to join, being a paid staff member in a church was like winning the lottery. I’m in! — Take that you hypocrites.
Never once did it occur to me that this was an issue of my heart and never theirs. Live as they may, rightfully or wrongfully; full of Grace or full of bones themselves, they are neither my problem nor my cure.
God silenced me for two years after I blew up in that church office. In that silence, he gave me music. In that music he taught me how to pray. In those two years he also gave me new friends, and a new hope in Him. A hope that doesn’t rely on anyones approval but his.
While I am no longer a paid church worker, I am today pursuing His will for my life and his heart in my soul. Once I opened the door to my internal tombs for his healing touch, I’ve found that he’s opened doors I never dreamed possible.
I’ve held several funerals for those bones over the years, and I’m sure there will be more. In the meantime, I’d like to share one of the people and the songs that pulled me through. — While my breakdown occurred in 2004, I actually had discovered The Gaithers back in the 90’s and fell in love with Mark Lowry. I’ve never met him and yet when the time was right – God used his voice (among many others) to speak to my heart.
This particular song was actually written by one of Bill Gaither’s daughter’s. It say’s a lot. Enjoy.
“I’ve seen a lot of crazy things done in your name. I know the tricks behind the magic show. I’ve almost thrown the towel in a time or two and walked away from everything I know….”