Well. Here’s a newsflash for all of you: This job, that I love, in the country, that I love, sometimes sucks.
Sometimes there’s one day when suddenly, nothing is okay. You get a notice of another upcoming goodbye, and it piles on top of the fact that you’re missing one of your best friends’ weddings. And your heart was still reeling from the countless other goodbyes and just a hard week in ministry and you just spent a week dealing with your ID card so when this happens it adds some extra weight and it just collapses. Shatters. Explodes. Whatever verbage you prefer. Life is all of the sudden totally unfair, unstable, and unpredictable. Yet, you chose it, so you feel like you’re not allowed to feel that way. Guilt. But you’re tired. Putting on an Okay Face does that to you. So the other day I forgot to put on my Okay Face. Oops.
Then a good friend reminded me in the midst of my meltdown that I was allowed to have those days. That she knew it didn’t mean I hated Germany, or my job, but that today I did, and that was normal. The way she sat and let me cry and said it was okay for life to suck kind of reminded me of the way Jesus hung out with the people he knew that were crying over his friend Lazarus dying. He was totally in control of the situation, knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, but he still had emotions. He cried. He understood the pain of loss. Not only that, but the whole time he was on earth he dealt with people who left him, or people he had to leave as he traveled around doing what God told him to do. How the heck did he do that??
I remember reading the gospels and being struck by how sassy Jesus was. Yep, sassy. (According to Mirriam-Webster, i.e. lively, bold, and full of spirit; cheeky.) He wasn’t afraid of anything and he didn’t let people dictate his reactions and just said it like it was (like a Northerner). There were so many times when he could’ve changed his plan to hang out with his friends or he could’ve let peoples’ critical attitudes toward him change how he felt about himself, but he was just. so. grounded. He constantly talked about what his Father wanted, and how that was his one and only purpose. He lived with direction and when he felt overwhelmed he retreated to talk to his Father. Sweating drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane he was freaking out about what God’s will was, knowing his purpose was about to be literally as painful as hell and just plain didn’t want it at the moment.
Some days I sweat drops of blood, in my car, on the autobahn, while I hit the steering wheel and tears I’ve held in for quite some time come bursting forth like they are coming up for air. Some days I just want to go home. The problem with that is, however, I’m homesick for a place that’s not my home anymore.
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”
He still has to hold me, as I’m driving with my sweaty drops of blood all over the car seat. He has to hold me while I’m kicking and screaming and wanting out. He calms me because he knows me, unlike everyone who has come and gone in my life, he knows every single thing that makes me who I am. Every place I’ve been, every person I’ve loved and lost. That kind of dedicated love is empowering beyond anything I’ve ever known. It’s amazing what you feel like you can handle when someone loves you that much. Even when you can get frustrated and mad at him and confused with where the heck he’s going with your life.
My Okay Face betrays me in this. It makes me look all calm and together and in control and perfect, when actually I am weak and exhausted and sad and failing and angry and have trust issues and blah blah blah.
My Okay Face keeps Jesus from wedging himself in and sitting there with me, in the dark, and letting me rest my head on his shoulder. His strong, strong shoulder. The shoulder of the one who is In Charge. I identify with this dude Job in the Bible, who lost everything, and ranted to God for hours. God finally gave him a talkin’ to…
Look, who made all this AWESOME stuff? Who put you in freaking Europe? Who gets to have this life?? Who gave you a friend for this moment of breakdown and who provides for your daily needs so you are never hungry? Who designed the universe in the most creative, specific way? Chew on that one for awhile.
And Job does and I do. The next morning I woke up to new mercies. I remembered that gratitude precedes joy, and that thankfulness is really all that God requires of us. It’s funny because not only does God delight in our noticing His gifts, but it delights us, too. How easily I forget.
A friend once wrote in her blog when she was having a similar day, something she heard God say– The perfect and glorious Ruler of the universe is your best friend. This means you never have to fight for my attention. You never have to wonder how much I might love you today; you never have to try to recapture my affection. I died for you. That is ALWAYS your answer.
That is always my answer. His Love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me. Even on the Not Okay Days.