“What are you going to blog about tomorrow?” Lavina asked me at church Sunday morning. Lavina is fifteen, so I am almost twice her age, but we are good friends–both of us word people who read and write stories and slip big words into normal conversations.
“I don’t know what I’ll blog about,” I said, grumpily. “Probably how discouraged I am right now.”
I immediately regretted saying that. She looked discouraged herself, sitting alone on the bench in the vestibule, dabbing at her red nose with a tissue every now and then.
If I am discouraged, why let that attitude hang out to discourage everybody else? There is reason for the age-old lie, I’m doing just fine, thank you. “I’m not that discouraged,” I added, lamely.
Which was true.
There is nothing substantially wrong with me. I am young and healthy and passionate about life. I have family and friends who love me. The sun is shining most days now. Winter outside is over, or at least pretends to be.
I am trying to understand this winter inside of me. I want it out. I’m ready for spring.
After church, I went home and had a sandwich–ham, tomato, lettuce, the sharp taste of mustard–wrote a little, cried a little, talked to friends who were visiting, slept a little, bestirred myself and went on a walk.
What are the reasons for my discouragement?
A feeling of being overwhelmed. An inability to deal with conflict and with the insurmountable differences in how people think. Guilt, because I haven’t maintained my devotional life and God seems far away. Doubt.
I feel as though I am continually pulled in two directions, one toward God and one toward my eternal list of things to do, my goals and ambitions, my eternal, analytic reasoning.
I feel as though I am fighting a battle I have no clear idea of.
On my walk, sitting at the edge of a field on brown weeds, I went over the options, the same that I’ve been over a hundred times before.
I could give up being a Christian. I am weary of trying to reconcile opposing world views, weary of this conflict between what I think should be right and what the Bible teaches.
Doubt is real.
But if I gave up my faith, I would live the rest of my life with guilt and depression. Belief is in me so strong, I could never let it go completely. I would be going against conscience and better knowledge, and life would become a living hell. Like the old song says, “I’ve come too far too look back.”
The second option: I could continue my struggle to reconcile opposing world views. I could continue my struggle to live two lives–on one hand putting priority on my dreams and ambitions; and on the other hand trying to follow Christ’s command to “deny yourself daily, take up your cross, and follow me.”
But I am weary of the struggle, weary of the grating–like fingernails on chalkboard–of one life against the other. I cannot live them both.
And so I come to option three. I could give my life over to God.How many times haven’t I done that, or thought I had done that, previously?!
But I could try again. I want the peace that passes understanding and the fullness of joy the Bible talks about, and the only times I have experienced that are those times when I felt myself surrendered to God.
I think in order to keep that joy on a daily basis, I need to learn to walk with Him. To abide in Christ.
Why is that so difficult? Impossible, even?
Last evening, Lavina and I and my younger sister Elizabeth hung out together. Lavina wrote in the dust on the side of my car.
I love you Luci. (Her ‘u’ ran into her ‘c’ and my name came out ‘Luki.’) Don’t give up.
I won’t give up, Lavina.
I am not discouraged this morning, but fresh and hopeful. “Winter is past; the ‘snow’ is over and gone, the time of the singing of birds has come.”
I will try again to learn what the Bible calls abiding in Christ, to do this thing that is like flying, like picking up strange wings and jumping from a cliff.
I hope very much the wings will open and glide, that I will be soaring before I reach the bottom.
Pray for me.