“I’ve been doing really good lately.” not sure who am I trying to convince.
“This is the first one I’ve had in a few days.” days? really? that’s embarrassing.
“I actually don’t miss it this time.” time #349,987.
Seriously. These are lines that I have said so many times that I can’t count. Can you guess what I’m talking about?
Coke. Ding Ding.
As in soda or pop. Not nose candy. Dr. Pepper, actually. But if you are from Texas, it’s all coke. Either way, that’s embarrassing. Bret and I laugh, (me, not him) that we had more fights early on about my Dr. Pepper consumption, than any other subject matter. Now THAT’s humiliating. Especially since it’s true.
I was actually sad when I found out you’re allowed to have caffeine while you’re pregnant, because I had always convinced myself I would give it up then. I literally thought about that in college, two DP’s deep in the day. Oops. Unfortunately, 200 mgs of caffeine a day would allow me to drink like 4 cans. Not that I did when I was pregnant…
Ok, so what’s the point? The point is that I do this with so many things in my life. Silly ones, like Dr. Pepper or waking up early. Eating better, exercising, meal planning, keeping the budget to a penny, no impulse spending. The list goes on and on.
I come up with some new plan, a new rule to curb a bad habit or develop something new. Then I cheat a day, or two becomes three, and next thing I know I’m full throttle back where I was. And typically worse. I go bonkers. Indulge.
It’s like if I can’t be perfect, I must be the other extreme.
I can’t make it with one Dr. Pepper a week, fine. I’ll drink 3 a day. I can’t resist gross McDonalds fast food, fine. I’ll take a double cheeseburger and fries. Oh and a DP with light ice. In a styrofoam cup. And then I feel such acute guilt and shame over my lack of willpower.
And here’s the icing…indulging and swimming in the guilt isn’t enough, I’ve gotta go hot tubbing in hiding.
McDonald’s bag goes in the dumpster outside. Wear exercise clothes, eat one decent meal in front of people, talk a lot about budgeting well. I’m so good at trying to hide where I fail. Because I’m embarrassed. Because I’m ashamed.
And so I step back 10,000 ft and see that I not only live in this cycle with these more insignificant things, but I approach God and my relationship with him the exact same way. When I feel like I can’t get my spiritual life together, so to speak. I’ve noticed this pattern, and I’m thinking I’m not alone.
I’ll go through my weeks, some days feeling pretty “successful,” others struggling pretty hard. The times I get so wrapped up in life that I look up and realize a significant time has passed since I have sought out time with God. Then I begin to really struggle. Days get harder, I drift farther, and as more time creeps by I begin to have these dialogs with myself…
“If I could just have a chunk of time to really sit down and spend time with the Lord, I’d get back ‘on track’.”
“I know I’m having trouble because I’m not pursuing God. Or I haven’t had time in the word lately.”
“If I could just discipline myself better, I know I’d feel closer to Jesus.”
On track? Trouble? Discipline myself?
This has been my backbone. By the grit of my teeth, the strength of my efforts. I have always had a bootstrap mentality. I. Can. Do. This. Must. Work. Harder.
And so as my plans at course correction fail, and I lack success in the whole disciplining myself arena, I totally pull back. (This is the indulge phase) If I can’t do it perfectly, there’s no value in it. The whole, only do it, if you can do it right, idea. And I feel like God agrees.
Because duh, He thinks just like me.
So He must not want to hear from me, be with me, certainly not bless me, if I haven’t put in the requisite time required. Required by whom, I’m not sure.
I’ve often talked about feeling like God is standing in the corner of my life like a boss in an office building. He watches me punch in and out. Looks over my shoulder to make sure I’m not logging too much blog reading time, and is constantly evaluating my performance for promotion and demotion purposes. And often, a very unemotional, disengaged employer…only concerned about reaching quota and meeting deadlines.
Sometimes, I can feel this struggle tangibly. Very aware of my wrong, twisted thinking. Other times inaccuracies are sneaky and tricky and even more deceptive. But the common denominator is they cause me to hide. To stay away from this God that feels distant. This boss I’ve underperformed for. This God who feels more distant the more I hide.
And the more I hide, the more I feel and think things like…Something is wrong with me. Broken. I can’t even feel a desire to pursue Him. Or I’m too deep in this hole, I think I’ll watch Netflix. Cue the shame.
But, here’s where this introspection lands me…my hiding place sucks.
Because the reality is, He has found me EVERY TIME. He has seen my hiding place and will break the door down in passion, or wait patiently on the porch, for me to come out. You see, since the first ugly sin entered this world, we’ve been trying to hide from Him, outrun Him, simply avoid Him. And yet, we forget. He knows.
He knows that we are selfish, greedy, lazy, envious, fearful. He knows that we get sad, and lonely, and depressed, and angry. That we long for a spouse or even just a date or baby or job or house or bank account or Madewell outfit to “fix” us. He knows.
He knows and he chases us. Following us into hiding. Pursuing us in ways we don’t understand or often times, even recognize in the moment.
And the most bizarre of the bizarre, despite all of the gross, scary, and heavy stuff that He knows about us, He loves us. Even crazier is that He knew it all before He chose to die in our place.
Have you considered that before? It’s not like we catch Him off guard. He encountered the cross fully prepared. He saw the worst of me, and said, “yes Father, for THAT one, I’ll die.”
Our Father wants us to come out of hiding. Take the first step. Ask Him to carry you. To carry your loneliness and guilt. Your embarrassment and shame. Your laziness.
After almost eleven years of marriage, I can tell you that the best part is being known fully, and still loved deeply. I never would have guessed that in exposing myself, I would, in turn, grow to know more of Bret and to love him more.
We have the beautiful luxury of not having to get it right all the time. To be 100%, to work our hardest, to never fail. That’s the job of the cross, right?
So when you enter your hiding place, if you are there even now, look around for Him. You’ll be surprised to find He is there.
Don’t be afraid to let Him know you fully. I assure you He will love you still.
Come out of hiding, you’re safe here with me.
There’s no need to cover what I already see.
You’ve got your reasons but I hold your peace.
You’ve been on lockdown but I hold the key.
Cause I loved you before, you knew what was love.
And I saw it all, still I chose the cross.
You were the one that I was thinking of,
When I rose from the grave
Now rid of the shackles, my victory’s yours.
I tore the veil for you to come close.
There’s no reason to stand at a distance anymore,
you’re not far from home.
I’ll be your lighthouse, when you’re lost at sea.
And I will illuminate everything
No need to be frightened by intimacy.
No, just throw off your fear and come running to me.
“Come out of Hiding” by Steffany Gretzinger