I think one of the hardest things is to climb inside of your own pain and be okay. To accept it finally so that it no longer has so much power over you. It almost feels like climbing into bed with the enemy. You want to remain mad at society, at your culture, at your parents, your pastor, at God. We’d rather lash out and seek vengeance on what hurt us. But the only way to be free is to climb inside your own pain and forgive them all.
And if one day you can’t find
a single star in your black night,
’tis only due to their eclipse
by your own beatific light.
Come one morning upon waking
you’ll find that life’s unsteady shaking
cast up diamonds in its wake;
And ‘twixt their birthing and your death,
when all the world held its breath
the Master quietly brought forth
His own Soul for you to take.
*I generally dislike rhyming poems but for some reason this one was birthed in my mind and I didn’t fight it.
Depression will often make you believe that you want to die, when what you are really craving is to feel alive. There have been so many times over the years that I desperately wanted to put an end to my misery and I mistakenly thought that looked very much like suicide. I couldn’t find my way out of the darkness and pain I had fallen into—yet my overwhelming desire to end it all was a response to my inability to obtain life and joy from everything that used to bring me fulfillment.
I would gaze in bewilderment at the people around me, going about their everyday lives, and I would scream at them internally, “Don’t you feel it?! Don’t you feel the disaster of my existence, the utter annihilation of my very soul? How can you not stop and stare in shock and horror at the destruction of everything I once was?” I was bleeding out my very essence into the universe and yet no one had the slightest clue. They blithely kept on living while my life had come to a sudden and unexpected halt.
Being on the outside looking in engraved some of the most brutal lessons into my shattered soul. Mainly, how important it is to notice the people around you. Not just their outward appearance or the expressions painted on their face—but to really see the person underneath. Being forced to a complete stop in a world that constantly rushes forward at the speed of light showed me how often I would trample over people in my climb to the top—never once noticing or even caring if my actions hurt someone in my rush.
Learning the simple act of kindness came with a terribly steep cost and one I am loathe to ever have to learn again. But unexpectedly, I was also left with invaluable gifts that could not have been obtained in any other way than making my way through that darkness.
Sometimes God places us in tumultuous waters not to punish us, but to push us forward into a better place where we wouldn’t have ventured ourselves due to being complacent with the status quo.Continue reading “Suffering as a Christian”
I’ve been doing this kind of roundabout study on some things in the Bible that pertain to women, and what I’ve found has blown me away. I didn’t set out to study this, actually, I sort of stumbled upon it over the years through various other studies. What has really taken me by surprise is that God created the woman with incredible power. The reason this surprised me as much as it did when it was fully revealed to me was because religion and culture has claimed such a total hold on women that it has effectively stunted their full potential and growth.
Ever since my teen years, I was completely fascinated with the Proverbs 31 woman and fervently prayed to God that He would transform me into her. (Little did I know what, precisely, that transformation would entail.) But over the course of the years, as I was put to the test and subjected to battle upon battle, I was bewildered and confused and disheartened, and there was many a time I cried out to God, “God! What is the point of these exercises?! All I do is continue to fail harder every time I try harder!!” (Strangely enough, I was failing up towards success–but that is a different topic altogether.)
One day I was listening to a sermon on Hebrew roots in the Bible, and the preacher stated that a word in the Proverbs 31 chapter had been incorrectly translated–the passage that asks, “A woman of virtue who shall find?” The Hebrew in that passage is actually, “A woman of VALOR who shall find?” Okay, at face value, that seems kind of odd. Valor means to have great bravery in times of war or an intense battle or danger. A courageous warrior displays valor when he performs feats of great bravery in securing victory in a battle. So why would a woman have valor? Better yet, what would she need it for? So digging deeper into this question, I uncovered the roots of the formation of woman, and what, exactly, was in God’s mind when He was creating her. When God said, “Let Us create a suitable helper for Adam,” the Hebrew word for “helper” there is ‘ezer.’ Loosely translated, it vaguely means “helper.” But that is not the actual and correct translation for that word. The roots that are used in the Hebrew to make up the word ezer mean “strength” and “power.” In other instances of the Bible where ezer is used, it is describing an encompassing power that surrounds the godly person to protect and shield him from danger and harm. With that being said, I am pasting this passage from an article I read that summarizes everything up quite neatly:
“Therefore, could we conclude that Genesis 2:18 be translated as “I will make a power [or strength] corresponding to man.” Freedman even suggests on the basis of later Hebrew that the second word in the Hebrew expression found in this verse should be rendered equal to him. If so, then God makes for the man a woman fully his equal and fully his match. In this way, the man’s loneliness will be assuaged.
The woman was never meant to be an assistant or “helpmate” to the man. The word “mate” slipped into English since it was so close to the Old English word “meet,” which means “fit to” or “corresponding to” the man which comes from the phrase that likely means “equal to.”
What God had intended, then, was to make a “power” or “strength” for the man who would in every way “correspond to him” or even “be his equal.””
Okay, back to my own voice *wink* –After I realized the full spectrum of intent that was in God’s mind when He was creating the woman, I understood fully why the Proverbs 31 woman is a woman of valor. If she is to be a power and a strength unto her husband, (coupled with the godly mandate to be his protector) then she is supposed to come equipped with the courage it takes to head into battle and overcome it with victory. We are all in the war, and we each also fight our own personal battles. Our foes have many faces–fear being chief among them. The fear of social rejection, stigma, what other people will think, being branded as this or that, etc. etc. etc. I listed those fears specifically because our culture has made those fears into an Olympic sport.
“A woman of valor, who shall find? Her price is far above rubies.”
*Note–I carried this over to my blog from my personal journal. I apologize for not citing my sources, I was pouring this down into my journal and simply copied and pasted there.
“Let me share with you the riddle of the vine, mistress. The vine needs to suffer. Going down into this earth-fighting to survive among the stones, among the lime rock–this is what gives it its aroma. Its taste. Its unique character. These grapes will create a wine few other vineyards can compare with–not because their life was easy, but because they had to struggle to survive.”
-Tessa Afshar (Harvest of Rubies)
To wrestle with God
is to prevail in the face of adversity.
It’s to have hope when there is none.
To keep striding forward
when all you want to do is lay your weary soul to rest.
To wrestle with God
is to battle your very self