I wasn’t going to write about this. I was going to keep it inside and lock it up and throw it away.
And then I realized that by doing so, I would be essentially living a lie. I would be hiding behind a facade and I don’t do facades. If you ask me how I’m doing, I’m going to tell you. If I’m great, I will tell you. If I’m hanging by a string, I’ll tell you that, too.
The thing about writing a blog like this is that sometimes I feel like I’m sharing too much. But then I remember Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore and how they share their stories and their testimonies and I remember how they make me feel “normal” again. I know there are men and women who read this blog because of my honesty, so I’m just going to be real with you. It’s easier than avoiding it altogether and writing like nothing’s been going on. Because something is definitely going on.
Maybe you can relate to this:
A few weeks ago, I forgave Ryan. It was freeing and lovely and it brought me more JOY than anything else has in a long time. It was like an entire semi-truck had been lifted off my shoulders. And every Sunday after that, I sat in church and heard these messages:
“God loves ALL men.”
“God can work miracles.”
“God heals ALL who seek Him.”
“God transforms lives.”
“God heals families.”
“God can change any life.”
Isn’t that awesome? God is amazing isn’t He? He can do all of these things and MORE.
You want to know how I felt about hearing these messages after I had forgiven Ryan?
And not just angry. I was MAD. I was so mad at God that this happened:
I have been writing a paper on the Good Time Law. The law that is essentially freeing Ryan from prison about 119 days too early. (Hear me when I say this: I forgive Ryan, but that does not mean I excuse him from his wrong doing.) Anyway, because God is who He is, He placed someone in my path who for all intents and purposes was Ryan. He committed a crime, he got out of prison early because of the Good Time Law, and is now free to roam about the country. (But rather than being a dead beat, he is actually taking care of his family and righting his wrongs.) He shared his story with me one day and agreed to let me use the interview in my paper, which was super generous of him. The paper is now being published, which is a whole different blog post.
Last Sunday, we had church “unplugged.” No lights, no speakers, no microphones. Just people. I can’t explain it, but I walked into service ready for a blessing, but something was just… off. I had no idea that my world was about to be flipped on its side. I wasn’t sitting with the people I normally sit with. I felt uncomfortable and really self conscious. I couldn’t even sing. This is not how I feel when I go to church on a regular Sunday. (Maybe self conscious about the singing thing, but again… different post.) So, there I was, feeling like I had walked into church naked with my hair in a mohawk, and the pastor began to speak on Acts 1-11. And so it went:
Acts 1: Become a witness.
Acts 2: Come together as one to worship. (In other words, recognize that gay, straight, black, white, criminal, saint… we are all forgiven by the Blood and your sin is not greater than my sin.)
Acts 3: Maybe we aren’t “all in.” Maybe we’re half in. We don’t recognize the power God can give us if we’re bold for Him.
Acts 4: No one has it all together, but with Jesus, it doesn’t matter. Do people still see God through you?
Acts 5: Quit playing games with God. He knows.
Acts 6: Be faithful with a little and God will bless it A LOT. (Stop short changing God.)
Acts 7: I have no idea what he said because I had just been smacked upside the head about six times.
And here we go…
Acts 8: God loves all people.
Acts 9: God can change any life. (lump in throat, stomach in knots)
Acts 10: God’s grace is for everyone. (tears)
Acts 11: We are called “Christians” for the first time in the Bible. (My thought: I am not worthy.)
I sat through the testimony of the man who had told me his story earlier that week, and as he spoke, my heart became heavier. My eyes filled with tears. My stomach was literally throbbing. He spoke about his trials and how his wife stood by him, and he cried when he spoke about his wife and how much he loved and appreciated her. They hugged and we all clapped, and I just wanted to get out of there.
We were to get into groups and pray and have communion. I just couldn’t do it. I could barely hold my tears in before I reached my car. I was so angry at God, and feeling so unworthy and broken in that moment that I didn’t want to accept communion. I have never in my 31 years of being offered communion refused to accept that blessing. I cried on the way home, texted a couple of friends to please pray for me. I got home and dried my tears and walked into my house like nothing had happened.
But something was happening.
I was raging inside. I was screaming at God. Why?
Because where was MY blessing?
Where was MY reward for standing by Ryan?
Where is MY miraculously healed family?
Where is MY transformed husband?
Why isn’t HE shouting from the rooftops about all of the things I have done for him? That his mother has done for him? That ANYONE has done for him?
Why didn’t God bless US?
Why is God rubbing my nose in this message week after week after WEEK?
Why do I have to SEE the message played out in front of me?
Why, after I forgive Ryan, do I have to see what I prayed SO hard for played out for someone else?
Why, after I say out loud that I’m ready to move on, does God have to rub my nose in this?
Did I make the wrong decision in not supporting Ryan?
Am I supposed to pray for Ryan to come back?
BUT GOD! WHAT!? That can NOT be right! The man threatened to kill me! I thought I was being the strong woman! WHAT!?
OH, was I angry.
And really, really selfish.
Then I felt guilty.
Shouldn’t I be rejoicing with these people? God healed a beautiful family! He worked a miracle in someone’s life, and we are blessed to be able to see that. And I’m MAD at Him?
And then I wondered: Is it okay to be mad at God? Are we even allowed to be angry with Him?
I have a few friends, some old, some new, who really “get” me. So I spoke with a few of them. I didn’t know what else to do. I had to be honest with someone. I felt like I was being spiritually tortured, and after feeling ELATED about forgiving Ryan, this warfare was an unwelcome surprise.
I have wise counsel. God covers us when we don’t even know we need covering. When we’re lost without a map, he throws us a compass and a guide.
I can’t rehash every conversation that I had, but the people I reached out to had some wonderful insights.
First of all, YES, it is okay to be angry with God. Jesus was mad at God!
Anger is not a sin.
One of my friends said, “You think He can’t handle it?”
Another said, “Let Him have it!”
Stun gun number one. I can do that?
So I did. I cried to Him and I prayed and I read scripture, and I allowed Him to comfort me when I wanted to push Him away more than I ever have. I bathed in music and took in everything He could throw my way. I wanted answers. I didn’t want to be angry with God. I didn’t want to feel jealous or selfish or negative.
I told one of my friends that I wanted God to be angry at Ryan with me. I wanted Him to be on MY side.
She said, “Maybe He is! You not seeing His wrath doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.”
Stun gun number two.
I forgave Ryan. Why do I want God to be mad at him?
And why in the world was I mad at God FOR Ryan?
I saw so much so much of Ryan in the man’s testimony. Ryan is a talented and intelligent individual. He can build anything from scratch and make his own plans. He’s hilarious and sensitive, but so so broken. I watched him reach out to people, only to have things fall apart again. I hurt for him, as his wife, I really did. I tried so hard to help him when I could, and hoped he would pick up his end of the stick. It just seemed like the world was against him. Always having to get back up again. I can imagine how frustrating that must be. My question for God was, why did this man receive God’s favor when Ryan didn’t?
But I have amazing friends and I have an amazing God and this message changed my attitude a little more:
“If Ryan wants forgiveness from God it is there for him, and God will be faithful to complete it. God used this man during his brokenness because his heart was fully ready to receive. When Ryan is fully ready, we will praise God.”
Ryan wasn’t ready. Ryan could quote scripture and he knew God, but he wasn’t ready to receive what God had to offer. Ryan was angry with God.
And then one of my pastor friends reached out and this message came at exactly the right time. All day I had been fighting with God over this, and had I received this message earlier in the day, I would have shaken my fist and said, “OH WHATEVER!!!” But it came when God had softened me up a little bit. People were praying, and giving me wise counsel, and I ended the day with this:
“I get it, it is hard to sit through something like that. I’ve been there. Different story but similar emotions.
It’s one of those things we simply continuously have to wrestle with the Lord about and be honest about our emotions and feelings to Him. Then rest in the fact, “Thy will be done.” He knows what’s best and why He does what He does.”
People, I don’t know how many times I’ve said the Lord’s prayer, but I have never in my life found peace in these words:
“Thy will be done.”
Not until last Sunday did I fully comprehend what in the world that meant. I’ve always believed in God’s plan. I’ve believed that He would guide me if I asked for His hand. I have understood that His will was greater than mine, and that whatever happens He would be there to help me through it or rejoice with me in it. But I was always sort of afraid of His plan. His plan is a mystery, and I am a control freak. The unknown terrifies me. Do I have faith in God? Absolutely. But I have never once thought that there is PEACE in God’s plan. Why? Because I don’t know what it is!
But… hello. What have I said so many times since Ryan left?
I have peace.
I feel peaceful.
I am at peace.
My life is peaceful.
And whose plan was that?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
Why did God keep “rubbing my nose” in this message?
Why did God remind me of His love and mercy and grace for all men?
Why did God keep reminding me of His power to do miracles in families?
Because HE’S DOING ONE IN MINE!
It was right under my nose!
And I didn’t see it.
Who wants more honesty? Well…
Sometimes I feel guilty for being married and divorced more than once. And God says, “I forgive all people who seek me.”
Sometimes I feel afraid for the future. God says, “Don’t you worry. I’ve got a PLAN for you!”
Sometimes I really screw things up. God says, “My grace is yours.”
There is a relationship in my life that I am struggling with. God says, “I will heal it. Give me time.”
These messages were never, EVER about Ryan. Satan made it about Ryan. I let go of the burden of Ryan when I forgave him, and Satan used that against me.
I have compassion for Ryan. I think about his life and I cringe at what he has to go through day in and day out. I’m not an idiot to think that all is well, and I am taking precautions to protect myself. But I can pray for him, and God CAN heal him, not for me, but for Ryan.
I was jealous. I wanted that testimony to be ours. I wanted us to get through our tumultuous few years with a happy ending. But God knows to give us what we NEED and not what we WANT. I had a temper tantrum with God, like a child in the toy aisle.
But He is so loving and so gentle that He let me beat Him up without fighting back. I ripped Him apart.
And then he gently reminded me to take a look around.
I don’t check under my bed for bottles or check my internet history for drug searches anymore, because He gave me peace.
I am a 4.0 student and a published author, because He gave me freedom to leave my home again to be successful.
I am 120 pounds lighter than 2 years ago, because He gave me HEALTH!
I have dreams again. I love myself again. I have friends! I have the happiest little two year olds (even though they have totally lost their minds due to toddlerhood, let’s be honest). I have confidence.
I am HAPPY.
Because He had a plan. And even though it wasn’t what I WANTED, it was what I NEEDED.
There’s an awesome song called, “In Christ Alone.” Google it if you’re interested. These words from the song have been my meditation the past few days:
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.
Please know this… (we say this a lot in the Christian world) I have not arrived. I am still working through this. I am reading and studying and trying to work this all out.
His plan is PEACE.
This is a completely new concept for me. I have always thought His plan was scary because of the unknown, and now I am starting to see something else. He has led me through an unbelievable journey the past few weeks, and I wish I could share it all with you. My school work piled up higher than ever, but He carved a path through it. My girls reminded me how important it is to be thankful for the little things like postoms (opossums) and music. And God reminded me that He has given me an amazing and powerful testimony that can help someone else–the miracle of a fresh start filled with grace and love and success, but most of all PEACE.
Today’s verse is so fitting that I’m going to end with it:
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. Luke 9:23-24
Give up what you want, and He will give you what you need, and it will be greater than ANYTHING you have ever wanted. He promises.
I need a nap.
Have you ever been mad at God?
Have you ever been jealous of someone else’s testimony?
Have you ever received a gift without realizing it?