The holiday season was kicking off and I had just come home from an evening in downtown Denver. My daughter was sleeping off the heavy metal concert she had just gone to. My husband was sleeping off life. I was trying to find mine somewhere in the quiet. The quiet is a great friend, but even great friends are unwelcome when we know we are broken.
On this night, something was very, very wrong but I didn’t know what. It was the 40th or 40-thousandth night like it, a restless one because my soul was unsettled. I prayed the same prayer: “God, could I please have a different job? Could you please make my husband more like Phil Dunfee?* Could you somehow just assure me that the teenager downstairs will be a stellar adult? Your Will be done, of course. Just call me. Let me know what to do. After you fix my life, please.” Sometimes my prayer life is intimate bordering on the irreverant. I understand that, but it seems to work. Usually. Not this one. I’d said different versions of it so many times I was sure God just tuned it out like I did.
But this night I had nothing to offer. Usually, when I say ‘Your Will be done, just tell me how,’ I have some ideas about how I’m going to do God’s Will. And I let Him know. But this night self-loathing had won and I had nothing to bring him but a broken marriage, a wayward child, a failed career, and even more personal failures than I cared to count…but they were keeping me from sleep so I was counting them like sheep. Lots of sheep.
And then my restless soul stirred.
I know when God is using my inner voice because it doesn’t go away. It is loud in my heart. The voice may not thunder, but my heart does when I hear it and I never forget those thoughts. God was making it clear that He was the one who had stirred my soul. He was the reason for my restlessness. He was the one who would not let me settle.
It was up to me to reconcile my life with God’s will for me. There is only one way I know to even begin such a journey. I opened my Bible. I didn’t know what I was looking for, just…more. Immediately I got Psalm 127:2 and God spoke “In vain you get up early and stay late, eating food earned by hard work; certainly He gives sleep to the one He loves.” Then I got Matthew 7:12 “Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them,” and God let me know that if I am looking for intimacy in my marriage, I need to have the courage to speak intimate honesty to my husband. I can’t expect him to be open with me if I am not doing the same. And I wasn’t. When it came to my marriage, I just wallowed in my loneliness, the loneliness I built with a very stubborn heart.
I went to bed. I rested in the Word, expecting to wake up miraculously refreshed in my perfect life. So imagine my surprise when I woke up to the same messy bedroom, disheveled child, and detached husband. I was disappointed to the point of despondence.
I looked again at the verses I had jotted down the night before. They had less meaning in the morning, so I opened my Bible again to look for context.
I got verse after verse about seeking God. Psalm 34:4, Jeremiah 29:12, 2 Chronicles 15:2, Psalm 63:1…verses that I shared with you this week plus so many more. Not only did I have these promises from God that He would not leave, but I felt my heart changing. I felt it melting. I had gotten a glimpse of God and He was leading me, dropping breadcrumbs that were taking me to the full life I have always wanted.
In Bible study a few weeks prior, I had mentioned that I hated feeling like my personality in Christ was not my personality. I am not satisfied to smile at the woman who just jammed her cart into mine at the grocery store, while inside I am judging her pajama pants. My melted heart still saw the pajama pants, but also saw the pain in the woman’s eyes. My melted heart had compassion for someone who struggled to leave the house.
This I realized is what happens when we invite Jesus in, then take the next step and open the door, preparing a place to sit by the fire and hear His word and all He has to tell us. This is what it means to love God. This is the miracle that I hope for everyone to find.
*Being a huge fan of personal space, I’m sure that Phil Dunfee and I would last no more than 2 weeks in the same house. But there are days, like the one I’m telling you about, when an enthusiastic sycophant is just what a girl needs. Right?