Tears, Tire tread, and trust

Sometimes it seems like the most profound things happen, but it isn’t until they are past that you recognize their importance. Such has been the last few weeks for me. Healing weeks, growing weeks, testing and trusting weeks.

We filed our taxes as soon as we were able this year, as we do every year. Of course, this year the refund was very small compared to the past ten years or so, and after paying our Georgia taxes, there was just enough left to do some much-needed car repairs. The Blue Beast (our family’s 15-passenger van) needed new tires and brake work.  Our local, beloved and honest mechanic had quoted me a price for the tires, and I had a general idea of what the brakes would cost–we have been round this bend before. I knew I was looking at between $900 and $1000.  When I called for the exact total, it was about $100 less than it should have been. I told him that didn’t sound right, and he chuckled and said, “well, we gave you a little help.”  He knows we have been out of work for over a year and a half.

I decided to swing by and pay the bill after my Wounded Heart class….but first I had to go to class. We were talking about shame….how it is the exposure of things we would prefer to not be exposed. Sometimes that exposure is of sin–and the right response is to run to God and repent. Often, though, we don’t do that; instead, we doggedly pursue the path of denial, remaining in bondage to it. Other times, the thing that is exposed is simply our dignity….and in those cases, it is our pride that is affronted. Pride has always been my major falling, and it has become clear to me that the root of pride goes way down deep into my heart. Shame. Repentance.  As I left my class, so many things were brought to my mind. For example, the argument the Handy Man and I had had that morning about some cabbage that had been left in the crock pot all night. I had worked the night before, after getting dinner in the crock pot for my family, and the Handy Man had left it on warm so I could eat when I got home. Only I didn’t eat when I got home, and thinking dinner was all put away, I went blissfully unaware to bed. I awoke the next morning to the smell of cabbage cooking, and that is not necessarily the thing one wants to smell first thing in the morning. I got angry…only I wasn’t really angry. I felt exposed. I cannot be everything I feel like I should be in my home, at least not when I am working four nights a week. I want to be able to run my home efficiently and frugally. I want to be in control. HA! I am not, and I cannot be when I am gone so much in the evenings. My exposure caused me to be angry, and I snapped at my beloved. I did go back and tell him it wasn’t about him at all–and that I appreciated the thought he had to make sure I had a warm dinner. Still, it was revealing to me to actually recognize legitimate shame (I cannot do it all!) and illegitimate shame (that I have to do it all) and how I reacted to it.

As I drove back to our hometown to pay my mechanic, the Lord brought other things to my mind. Like the fact that over the past 21 months, we have not been able to provide the things for our family that we have always taken for granted, and yet, God, in our inability, has done it. Shame revealed. Thanksgiving returned. Tears coursed down my cheeks and neck and soaked my shirt, gut-wrenching sobs engulfed my body, and a dam of sorrow and gladness, joy and pain let forth like a geyser from my soul. The rain pounded the windows, the radio played song after song that ministered directly to my wounded and healing heart, and I was laid bare before the Lord yet again. It was in the aftermath of this state–tears dried up, but the evidence of them still in my red eyes and flushed cheeks–that I went to pay my bill. I walked into the shop, handed my mechanic the check and asked him if I could share something personal with him. He nodded, and I told him this: “The past 21 months have been difficult and challenging. We have not been sure how the needs would be met, but God keeps writing us love-notes of provision, assuring us that He has not forgotten us. I just want to say thank you for being a part of that tapestry of love-notes.” Of course, by the time I got to the end of that little speech, I was crying again. He said something about it being good to be nice. But, you see, I know he is a Christian. So I said to him, “It wasn’t just being nice–it was being obedient. And I want you to know that it blessed us and that it mattered. Thank you.”  And then  I promised never to come cry in his office again.

This past week I had to drive about 60 miles to pick up my co-op order after class. Once a year the co-op gets grain and other supplies in bulk. It is a much cheaper way for me to feed my family. I took Little Princess, Lil’ Adventurer and Curious George with me as the Handy Man and the big girls had archery. The Handy Man called me as I was driving down to let me know that someone we knew had sent us a card and a check for $500. I began to cry and said that it was another love note from Jesus. The Handy Man agreed. On Friday, another friend called me and asked me to come by as she had something for me. It was money for half a tank of gas. And then a co-worker, someone I really do not know well at all, pulled me aside at work, told me not to ask any questions and pushed a folded-up bill into my hands. She later told me to use it for gas.

These gifts are significant. Not just the amounts, but as a direct voice from the Lord. You see, we had not been to our church an hour away in a month–the gas was simply too much to spare. We had done home worship two of those weeks, one week we had snow, and one week we had attended a local church where Star Child’s Christian drama group was performing. But we had so missed being at our church! God gave us gas money–with specific instructions from the givers to put it into the gas tank.

I am discovering that I have not really trusted the Lord. My heart is a deep cavern of doubt and fear–of sin. The Lord is revealing my shame, and I am finding that the things I fear are phantoms. Denial is a lie. He is showing me in the most tangible way that the security I crave is right before me–and it isn’t in a job, but in Him. It isn’t as if I didn’t know it already, but rather, He is penetrating that truth deep into my heart, driving away the doubt and the fear.

I am also learning to let go of other things I think I need. A week and a half ago, we had a scare when a fire got out of control down the mountain. It came within a quarter mile of our home, and I had about ten minutes to figure out what to pack if we were forced to evacuate. Dee and I had to be at work, and the Handy Man was on his way home after running some of the other children to their various activities. It is amazing what you pack if you have ten minutes to leave. I piled the stuff on the bed and gave him a list.  What did I choose?  The fire-proof safe with the home-owners insurance policy, a few changes of clothes, all the notebooks containing the transcripts and high school work of my girls, the silver my Tante Miep left me,  and a note for the Handy Man to grab the external hard drive from the computer. As I drove away with Dee, I realized it did not matter if our home burned. It is only a place.  If I have my family around me, we can make any place our home.  Yesterday, I had to confront another one of my fears. I had always had a slightly irrational fear that one day the hood of my car would fly up. Well, it did. And then it flew over the top of my car and cart-wheeled down the freeway behind me, coming to land at the side of the road.  I was scared  panicked for about 15 seconds, by which time I had pulled the car over and started to call the Handy Man. I picked up the pieces of my car-topper (the sign we use a the pizza place to identify our vehicles as delivery vehicles) and set them on the hood and then continued to deliver the pizza I was carrying. The Toyota looks funny with no hood. And I survived.

One of my favorite songs, You Never Let Go, by Matt Redman,  is based on scripture and goes like this:

Even though I walk through the valley
Of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle
Of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back, I know You are near

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming
For the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth

Yes, I can see a light that is coming
For the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You
Still I will praise You

Bottom line: I can trust the Lord. He is providing for us to go to church, for us to fix cars we do not yet know are broken, for food, for healing of the heart.  He keeps dropping little love notes of provision right into my lap. My heart is shifting. I can feel it. I can see it in how I am responding to exposure. I know so much more has to happen–we have yet to conquer contempt, and I know there is a huge boulder there. Now, though, I see that all the pain and heart anguish has had a purpose.  The Lord is removing the cracked cistern I built in my heart (Jeremiah 2, for those of you who want to know what I am referencing.) And it is good. He is showing me what it means to long for Him alone, even if I am not yet to the point of longing for Him alone, like  a deer pants for water after it has run a long, long way.

“The enemy is the same for the abused person as it is for those who have not been sexually abused: a determined, reliable inclination to pursue false gods, to find life apart from dynamic, moment-by-moment relationship with the Lord of life. For the abused person, however, the past grievous violation of trust and intimacy even more dramatically inflames her determination to live without the pain of unmet longings–and thus without the raging thirst of a soul that pants for God alone.” (pg. 57  The Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allender (emphasis mine)

My quest to cover my shame has left me bereft of knowing the Lord intimately and longingly. If God is with me (and He is!) then whom shall I fear?  Shall I fear being exposed, being weak, being powerless?  Shall I fear losing my home, my car, my life?  Shall I fear tomorrow because I do not know what it holds or the past because I do know what it holds?  Shall I fear what others think of me or what I think of myself? No. For my God is with me, He accepted me by the blood of His son, and I am His.  Is the pain worth knowing this? Oh, yes…yes, it most certainly is.

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