Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Talking Honestly

Something different for today. I had a good meeting today with our "here" pastor which is a relief. I don't have to make all the decisions today, so am taking one day at a time. I was talking to him about talking honestly to God - a habit I have developed over the last four years. I used to think we should bow our heads, close our eyes, and speak nice words to God. Over the last few years, as someone has shown me the beauty of transparency, I've learned to talk honestly with God.

I thought I would dig into the past for today's entry. This was a journal entry from about four years ago. It was the first time I began to talk to God honestly about my past and my struggles. From this time, God has begun to work in my life and I'm so thankful for the things He has done - although it has not always been easy!

(For those of you who read this and think you are missing something, I have offered to share more of my story in an article I wrote, but you will have ask for it and give me your e-mail.)

This was the title I put on this one:

Why, God? Why did you let it happen? Why do I look out at others who laugh and talk with smiles on their faces, and why does my heart cry? You say You love me, but would anyone let this happen to someone they love? Where were You? What were you doing when someone took this child aside to hurt, to use for their own sick needs? Do You not hear my pain, can You not see what this has done to me? Is there any hope? Will the pain ever go away? Why God? No one will love me now; there will be nothing the same. I have to carry this forever. People look at me different if they know. “Oh, there is that girl.” What am I to You – a piece of garbage lying on the street?

I hear in the path behind me echoes of another pain.

Why, God? Why did you let it happen? Why do I hear others laugh and play in the sunshine, and I sit in the dark? What did I do? Why would you do this to me? I sit in the garbage thrown at the side of the road. Is that what I am? All day people tease me, talk behind their hands. “He must have done a really big sin against God.” “I wonder what his parents did that God would judge them with a blind child?” Why would You judge me before I even knew how to look for milk at my mother’s breast? You say You see Your people and carry their sorrows, but where are You? I can’t see You anywhere.

Time heals all wounds, they say. No, it does not. It heals some. Some fade. Some things I learn to compensate for. I learn to go on. But some wounds never heal. I try to walk knowing God loves me, that He has forgiven me, washed me, and I am His. There are days I do fine, days I forget the pain for a moment. Then a shadow and searing pain fills my heart again. Where, oh where were You, God? You say to walk with You now and trust You. Trust a God who did not keep me safe before when I was even too small to keep myself safe?! How, Lord? How am I to trust You now? Why? I need an answer to why. Under all, it sits unanswered. People try to fill me with nice answers. None of them are nice. None of them even touch my pain. I need to hear from You. Why did You let it happen? Oh God, how am I to follow You when I can not trust You?

God, where are You? I sit all day in the dirt, hoping no one will kick me today. Hoping people see me. Perhaps pity will move them to give me a coin, something for bread. This is what I am - a blind, dirty beggar. Why, oh God, why me? What did I do that you would do this to me? Years and years of darkness, ridicule, pity, scorn and no end in sight. Never to know love; at the best only pity. No future, no real past either. Just one long day of sitting with the other garbage on the side of the road.

Again comes the pain. God, I know I have no right to demand answers from You. I know You are God and I am just Your child. Your thoughts are above mine and Your ways higher than mine, but Father, why? You say You know the future. Why did You let this happen to me if You knew I was going to follow You? Why did You let me be hurt? Why did You not stop all those horrible things that happened to me if You knew I would be Yours? I don’t understand.

Then one day, a crowd goes by. New voices. They stop in front of me. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” Not again. Not a lesson again! Does anyone see me down here in the dirt? I do have ears. How could this be fair judgment for my sins - I was not even born yet! What could I have done to deserve this? I was too small. Wait. What is that answer? A new one? “Neither this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

What? Oh yuck, now what? Mud on my eyes? A gentle voice, but why this? Is this some sort of a cruel joke? “Go and wash.” What am I – just garbage that people do these things to me? Wash. Yes, wash that mud off. Then I will feel better. Wait! I see light. I see more than light, I see water, a pool, people!! I see!!!

You chose me before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before You. In love, You predestined me to adoption … to the praise of the glory of Your grace which You freely bestowed on us. The reason I am chosen and made a child is to show Your glory. Is there in that perhaps an answer – maybe one I do not understand or always appreciate, but still an answer? Maybe You let us go through horrible things and suffer before we come to You so you can show your glory. Maybe You show it in two ways, first in choosing me from out of the garbage to be called Your child, and secondly, in transforming me into Your likeness.

I hear the echo of the man blind from birth. Jesus said that he was not blind because of his or his parent's sin, but so that God's glory could be shown. And it was shown. But that says nothing about the man before that great moment when he gets his sight and goes bounding around in great happiness. How many years did he suffer blind? How much did he hurt when he sat and heard the other kids playing stick ball in the streets, and how many insults did he get tossed at him?

Did he suffer?

Of course he did. But nothing is said about that. It is for Your glory.

See, now that we are Christians, we say happily, "Do anything with our lives for Your glory." But should I not have the same attitude for my life before You? Do You not have a right to do anything with my life before I knew You for Your glory? I do not understand all the time how You are glorified in things, but I don't know if that is important at all. I do know it is my job to glorify You, and if You choose to be glorified in my life in ways that I may not have chosen myself, that is ok. How much glory could You really have if I say, "You can be glorified in my life, but only this way or that"? If You can be glorified in it, maybe just to Yourself or whatever, then let it be, and I will be content.

I do not think that this is enough to answer all my questions and all my pain, but perhaps it is something I can offer to You - the hurt, the pain, and the shame - and say, "If You want to have it, then it is for You. Take it and glorify Your name through it. Show through my life that You are a God that can take a piece of human garbage, call me Your child, and make me in Your image - whole and complete."

When the people saw the man who had been born blind, they asked each other if this is him who was blind or not. One answered, "It is him." Others said, "no, it just looks like him." Let me so live that people say, "It can not be her; it must be someone like her. Let my life be one that I can say, 'I do not know everything, but this I do know - I was blind, and now I see'."



Shilo said...

Thanks for sharing, Ellie!

~ asianside ~ said...

Good morning, Ellie. I have been there too. Thanks for the reminder God so loves an honest heart. The real us. Grateful for God's love to me. Praying for you today.

Karis said...

I completely agree about talking to God transparently. It is freeing and besides, he already knows my heart when it doesn't have "nice" things to come to Him with.

You mentioned an article you wrote that you could send by email. I would like to read your article if you would be willing to send it to me. My email address is danandkaris@gmail.com

P.S. This makes me really want to get back to journalling -- to be able to go back and see what God has done over the years through the good times and bad.

Shan in Japan said...

Hi Ellie,
Thanks for sharing this. I am praying for you and your family. Keep up the honest prayers and reminders to the rest of us!
PS Thanks for crunching leaves with me:)

Cindy said...

Hi Ellie...

Thanks for your prayers...I have not heard anything as of yet...hopefully later today.

Love honest prayers with our Father!


Ellie said...

Hi Cindy,

About talking honestly... before all happened with my brother, I thought we are the only missionaries in the whole world who have family facing a problem like that. I'd never heard anyone talk about it.

But then you talked to me, and then later yesterday, I had some business to do with the head of another mission on a project I had been doing with them, and I just shared about the emotional blow of my brother's recent events. He then told me about his brother-in-law who is facing similar charges....

Ah, but we have such perfect lives, don't we? That is what people in churches think. Of course you have to be prefect and have amazing faith to be a missionary! "I just don't have the faith to do something like that." Hey, well I don't either! I don't know how I got in this position doing these things. No one gave me a faith measurement test first! I think I would have failed...

I still look up at God and ask Him, "Do You REALLY know what You are doing?!" I mean there are some a lot more put together people out there He could be using, not me!

Alan & Beth McManus said...

A couple years ago, I was telling God how He was failing here on the mission field. We had a couple who was going through deep depression and counseling due to both having been abused as kids (he is an MK). We had another couple where the wife was on complete bedrest for pregnancy complications and then her husband and daughter caught chicken pox so she had to be removed from the home for fear for the baby. All their work in the church was put on hold for months and the church people had to care for them. I had been recently diagnosed with depression. Another couple was having serious health issues. Another couple had children who were not adjusting at all to the field. More problems . . . and more problems. . .

As I was railing at God, "This is so inefficient. Why do you bring us down here if we can't even work? Why didn't you bring people who are "good"? Why didn't you fix these problems before? Why are you sooooo inefficient?" He said to me, (not audibly, but in my heart), "Efficiency isn't the point. Heart change is." It stopped me in my tracks.

Now, years later, we see SOME of the why. The couple dealing with depression shared publicly their past with the national church. The leaders of the church reacted with love, shock, and a heart-bonding that was amazing. One man said, "I always thought that to serve God I had to be perfect like the missionaries. Now I see that we are all human and God uses broken vessels." There were other good results in the other churches and some of the missionaries and churches that are still struggling and the result remains to be seen.

My heart has changed. Instead of asking why (as much) I'm learning to ask what, "What are you going to do? I wonder what somebody needs to learn from this. I wonder what You are moving me toward." No, it doesn't change what happened or the unfairness of it. It just changes my perspective.

Ellie said...

Karis - Journaling is tough when you have little kids. I tried, but it is hard. I wish I had more, but it is hard to find time. So go ahead and do it, but give yourself grace not to be good at it... it is good enough to do it - messy, shorthand, disorganized, sporadic, doesn't matter... doing it is an accomplishment worthy of respect when you have little ones underfoot!

I liked that verse that says God leads gently those who have little ones. I felt in many ways when I had four under 6, that God was gentle to me then. He didn't expect as much from me. He didn't bring all my sins up to be dealt with. He met me faster when I prayed and when all I had was "quick quiet times" interrupted by childish chatter or major emergencies (like, "He hit me on the head with his sippy cup!")

It isn't that God isn't gentle now, but there was a extra gentleness I can see, looking back, that I received as a mom of so many little ones.

Now - well, now comes growing times... what fun!