We have always heard that those who follow God are rewarded for their faithfulness. But what about the times when it feels like your faithfulness is being overlooked?
What do you do when you’re following God but you don’t agree with a single step that you’re taking?
It’s an idea and place that we try our hardest to avoid. We have become so used to the idea of saintly people being perfectly happy with the change that God can (and will) bring, we lose sight of what it actually looks like to be a sinner saved by grace, in the process of being remade by a perfect God.
I found myself in a very similar position not too long ago.
I was exactly where I knew I needed to be for the time being, but I still felt absolutely miserable. I heard many well-intentioned cries telling me what I was or was not doing wrong or how I had misinterpreted God’s will for me. That was just the thing though; I had done exactly as I was told and still found myself in this uncomfortable, unfamiliar place.
Comfort is not always what we need, and a lack of comfort can at times be the best teacher.
It’s just the season we’re in, and while it is easy for us to play the blame game, that’s the last thing we should do. Don’t blame yourself; if you really are following God’s direction, there is nothing you can do to avoid this season. And don’t blame the season; it’s going to teach you far more than you could imagine.
It’s the season of waiting, the time in which we grow the most and get spent the most emotionally.
My problem, however, was that I didn’t understand that it was okay to not be happy in the interim period. My prayers had begun to reflect just that though. Instead of being full of life and filled with all the hallmarks of a healthy conversation, they grew into increasingly conservative wish lists, sounding more and more like a drive-thru run than a conversation with the one who calls Himself the Lover of my soul.
I would be lying to you if I said that I knew from the beginning what my problem was, nor did I fully realize it until I had come through the other side.
In a season when I was thirsty, but conveniently starved for rain, I had learned how to scream. Desperation sets people into motion, and it took desperation for me to realize that sometimes it’s okay to be vocal with God about the fact that you don’t feel okay. That’s probably the biggest “perk” about having a Savior who had the same emotions, insecurities, and thought processes that we have.
I was coming to a place where I just felt the need to ask “why,” not so much for an answer but because I needed to know that God was fine with listening to my heart, which was aching with hurt and confusion.
Instead I remained silent, proud that I was able to hold it in. Meanwhile, God wasn’t so much impressed by my pious silence as He was depressed by it. He was seeking my transparency, my honesty with Him. All the while I was kicking and screaming out of fear of telling God what He already knew in the first place.
Like so many before me, I had mistaken transparency for ungratefulness and rebellion, and in doing so, had shut myself off from the one thing that could heal me.
We were never asked to be perfect little “drones” who understand everything we’re told to do; we’re just supposed to do as we are asked. There is freedom for us when we realize that we have the right to come to God messed up, ugly, and hurt knowing that He will fix us.
Ultimately, it comes down to the same decision we have to make in any relationship: trust through transparency or distrust through cynicism.
God would rather hear our honest complaints than listen to our forced pleasantries.
A student at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, Tyler Jones is pursuing an English major with a minor in graphic design. He serves at his church and in a local multidenominational young adult ministry, 318Live. Tyler is an avid reader, and he’s willing to bet he knows far more about The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien than you do. He prefers to think of himself as a well-dressed nerd, and you can follow him on Twitter @tyler_jones92.
*Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik