– Dana Smith, Women’s Equipping Coordinator
They say there are two ways to get in a pool
…by slowly dipping your toes into the shallow end, testing the waters and allowing your body time to adjust to its potentially icy temperatures, OR by diving into the deep end with reckless abandon. With summer coming to a close, soaking in as much pool time as possible is definitely a priority for this summer-loving teacher. Although let’s just say my approach for getting in the water usually depends on the day.
When I started the Battle Process about this time last year, I was eager to dive in, longing for greater depth in community with others and with God. I was in a unique place of transition from a very tight-knit Christ-loving community where I lived and served overseas for 4 years. As much as I was given the title of “foreigner” throughout my years of living abroad, I felt more like a foreigner in my own culture during that year between returning to the States and beginning the Battle Process. I definitely had my moments of wrestling with God throughout the process of being uprooted. Difficult questions and doubtful thoughts of where is my identity now, Lord? Why don’t I seem to be connecting to You or others in the same way anymore? I trusted You when I felt You were leading me back to my hometown, but now that I’m here, I’m honestly not sure why. Let’s just say the rubber had met the road and I couldn’t help but feel the sting of what seemed like questions unanswered and longings left unmet along with the down-right messiness that transition can bring.
I put a lot of weight into the importance of figuring out what I would do, the calling I would fulfill, and pressured myself to “not let God down”; a tell-tale sign of a life-long perfectionist! While I’d come to a true understanding of a life of faith based in relationship with Jesus versus having to earn His love by good works emphasized by the faith tradition I grew up, I hadn’t realized how much that mentality of performance still impacted the way I was relating to Him. Then, there I was, after having jumped into the waters of the Battle Process, becoming deeply aware of the depth of my perfectionism and its own subtly sneaky way of pride. I began to realize that many of the things I had been struggling with through transition were not just a “transition thing,” but a life pattern I’d been operating in. While I was once eager to be all-in, the ugliness of how I’d more often than not been operating out of duty, rather than love was almost too much for this perfectionist to handle, and I began to wonder if maybe I should have stayed in the shallow end a little while longer.
maybe I should have stayed in the shallow end a little while longer
Fight better, not harder
I first felt guilty for having missed this crucial distortion that had kept me from deeper intimacy with my Father and allowing it to wreak havoc in the way I went about relating to Him and others. But, in my nakedness and shame, He covered me with His kindness as He pulled me in and gently whispered, “there, there” when the distortion became blaringly apparent. “We miss the point when we simply try to do what He tells us to do or merely try to follow the pattern of His life. His life points us back to His own Source, the personification of divine love (Benner 2015).” As I’ve begun to allow myself to just “be,” embraced my brokenness, and opened myself up to His transformation, He has brought me in to His divine love. I am beginning to see my brokenness not as something I have to cover up, but rather believing that transparently offering it to Him is received as a gift: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17, ESV).
The Battle Process may not have always been pretty (insert many-an-ugly-cry here!), but I can tell you it’s been worth it to have jumped in. I’m grateful for the courage that’s been called out of me by the power and grace of His Spirit in this precious Battle space; I believe the intensity of the process is not only going to propel me into this next season in a much more joyful and grounded place, but the more right-view of me in Him I’ve gained (and daily need to be humbled and reminded of) will have long-lasting and eternal impact in my relationship with God and others. He’s responded to my question of where is my identity now, Lord? and shown me that He cares so much more about who I am than what I do and I pray I never lose grip on the simplicity of that Truth. “It’s something you discover in the silence, in the groundedness, in the sacred risky act of being exactly who you are – nothing more, nothing less. In that still holy space, the love you’ve been frantically hunting for all along will bloom within your ribs.” (Niequist 2016). I’ve tasted true love and freedom that can only be gained when we choose to engage in our experience of Him, not just what we know about Him. While the fight is not over, I’m convinced I now know how to fight better, not harder, as it actually looks less like “doing,” and more like resting in the woman He’s created me to be. May His glory meet you as you dive in to the Battle process today and may we trust Him evermore to the deep waters He calls us to!
ONE STEP FURTHER:
- How is God currently shining a light on your brokenness, not to cause you shame but rather to invite you to surrender it as an offering to him?
- Where might God be calling you to less DOING and more BEING…being the man or woman he created you to be?
- What would it be like for you to rest on God’s shoulders in the silence? What might he be longing to whisper to you there?