I got in a fight with a jar of kalamata olives today. It fell off a shelf and I caught it with my face.
Olives = 1
Jacqui = 0
I'm not hoping for a rematch anytime soon, but it makes me wonder if I'm destined to leave this life with both of my front teeth intact. They've had many close calls over the years, through no direct fault of my own--they've been cracked off, glued on, cracked off again, replaced, cracked, crowned, root canaled… I have what they call PTDED: Post Traumatic Dental Experiences Disorder.
It also could be that I'm a wimp. That's a very real possibility. You see, I don't like to be uncomfortable in the least, and I certainly don't like pain. I hate being cold and not having a sweater. I hate having to sit out in the sun and be too hot. As a child, I literally kicked and screamed when doctor's visits required shots or wart removal. Ya, I was a warty kid. It went with the braces and rainbow glasses and overall awkwardness quite nicely. I cringe at the thought of novocaine, and I absolutely, positively, without a doubt got an epidural during childbirth.
And the wimpy pain stuff may just be me, but as a culture I think we've definitely bought into the idea that pain, in all forms, is bad. We are a generation who "deserves" to be happy, and we spend our lives pursuing that goal. We get rid of spouses who no longer meet that desire and replace them with a new one who does, for a time. We overeat, overspend, and overindulge in order to make ourselves feel better. We numb out, check out, and entertain ourselves to death to avoid the emptiness and pain. We work insane hours at jobs we don't like to buy stuff we don't need to keep up with everyone else who's doing the same thing because they must be happy, right?
And heaven forbid that our children aren't happy… So we give them all trophies and stuff them with sugar and pat them on the head and tell them that they're wonderful at everything and will grow up to be the President of the United States. We hover over them at school and on the playground so that they can be happy and safe and never get hurt by anyone, or worse, never fail at something and have to learn from their mistakes.
So we get sucked into this vacuum of this comfortable American life, this American Dream, that exalts happiness above all else, but what we're left with is entitlement, ungratefulness, and an insatiable desire for more stuff to fill the void. Again.
And I'm as guilty as the next wimp, er, guy.
Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
I remember the day that verse cut me straight to the heart. The day that I looked at my life and saw only comfort and safety in the place where faith and risk used to thrive. The day that I realized that I hadn't had true faith in a long time, because I couldn't remember the last time that I took a risk. A real risk, one where I couldn't reasonably calculate what the outcome would be. I couldn't remember the last time I stepped out beyond myself, off the ledge, into the space where God lives and let Him work in a way that He only could when I was in that place without the ground beneath my feet. With nothing left to catch me but Him. In a place where if He didn't catch me, I'd be in big trouble. That place is called FAITH. And I hadn't been there in a while.
Faith cried, GET OUT OF YOUR DADGUM COMFORT ZONE AND TAKE A REAL RISK FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE!
At least that's what it said to me. And I gotta be honest, it sounded a little like Tow Mater. We are Americans, after all…
But seriously. Maybe that's where you are today, too. It's so easy to get there. The world tells us to be comfortable and happy. To plan, to play it safe. To avoid pain at all costs. And those things in and of themselves aren't bad, but they are when they replace faith. God's thoughts are higher then ours, and they don't always make sense to us. He might ask us to take risks that defy logic and seem backwards, but when we obey in faith, He will show up because He is good and faithful. He will catch us. And we will experience the Living God.
The LIVING GOD.
"Don't dry their tears too quickly, for they need the pain to run to Jesus."
God wants to work in our pain and discomfort, but we need to let Him. And that's hard to do because that means we need to feel it and experience it and work through it and walk along the road called Pain until we get to Jesus. If we keep walking, we will get there. And He will use our pain to do great and mighty things for His glory. Not a tear will be wasted. It's a promise.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8
Disclaimer: The rant-like nature of this post is probably due to the fact that I'm running on very little sleep because of a cute toddler who shall not be named. I have no plausible excuse for the randomness.