Thursday, January 12, 2012

On Being Broken By The List - Part One

I have to couch this post by saying there is some amount of grieving happening in my home right now. It's okay, it's even a good and beautiful thing to be able to do that - but it is what it is: a lot of sorrow and sadness. It's within that context that I am trying to bring words to what I am expressing below.

Also, a lot of the sorrow that we are facing I have carried for a long time. I have fought for and rallied and crusaded for certain things to happen and they finally are. I'm not saying that was right to do or wrong to do. But I have done it and it has had - there is no doubt - a great impact on my body and my health. For example one thing that has suffered tremendously has been my sleep.

So, again, in that context for the last number years I have felt an emphasis inside me to prioritize about eight to ten things in my life. Simple things that I kept sensing I should make top priority in my life. Things to do with caring for my body, caring for my family and how I use my time.

But after trying to keep this relatively simple list now for quite a few years (and writing it in new and pretty ways every new year in my journals) I had come to refer to it as my screwed-up-insanely-frustrating-list-of-personal-awful-failures.

I have come to really, really not like this list.

I have chosen every choice I could. Abdicated, let go, wrestled and it's taken me all these years, but I had started to see this list as a mirror. Not of who I am (I'd like that) but of all the things I am not but long to be. The list has been a call to obedience, I know that deeply. And as I've tried and tried to do just that, it's really become much more of an exposure.

I've asked as I've prayed - almost daily - to be let off the hook. But time and again I look up from pleading my case and there is that list, right there in front of me, and a whisper, again, to pursue it.


Besides the fact that everything on this list is healthy, good for me and a gift to myself and those I love - it's also become a measuring stick by bullet points. It displays pretty finely all the important ways I don't meet up. And the fact that I value these things so deeply, only serves to do so more. It's a combination of expectations having me by the jugular, and Jesus having me by the hand. I'm forced to admit I can't and He keeps saying I can.

That, I promise you, does not feel great.

It's confusing, too! I am a pretty dedicated person. I lost over 65 post-pregnancies pounds when I set my mind to it. I know how to run double digits through pain. I have been sick for seven years unable to walk unassisted and looking at a grim future when I was in my twenties. I've survived a coma, post-partum depression and trauma - but why, really, were these ten simple things continually bringing me to my knees?

I take a lot of comfort in these words:
"What I don't understand about myself ," Paul writes, "is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. [I wonder what his list was?] So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it's predictable." (from Romans chapter seven)
It seems relevant right now as everyone has been making lists and coming up with words for the new year. (Both of which are practices I actually really love.) Because I think we all have lists inside of us. Some are part longing, part obedience. Some are one or the other. But my question becomes are we just destined to wrestle with them? Why do we sometimes conquer and sometimes break? Are we simply human and that's part of the deal? Do some things just stay insurmountable? And if so, how on earth do we keep going? It's exhausting.

One of my greatest epiphanies about my list came when I heard God whisper something truly shocking to me about it. "You know," He mentioned, "this list is actually all things you want. It's your heart."

That hit home.

I have fought hard for these things. Reorganized and changed my whole life to be committed to this. But this list - more than anything else in my life - has made me feel empty and broken. It has exposed me as incapable. It reminds me I am - at my deepest level and will -  personally powerless. My list, my new year's word, my goals, my plans - my very own longings - have proven over and over again, day after day, that I am weak.

 - To Be Continued -


WordGirl said...

This entire post is so beautiful, but here's the part that really made me catch my breath: that your list is the things you want. I need that list for myself. I have been praying for that. Because God tells us he will give us the desires of our heart and I don't know what my heart desires. And it makes me sad that I don't know. So as humbling as your list is, I am thankful you have it.

KristiW1 said...

You are strong.

tonia said...

i know this brokenness so well. to think you have reached the bottom and that all your bones are shattered and now, finally, you will start moving up...only to find that there is more shattering to go. yes, i know this.

weakness leads us the right place. can you lay down and surrender even more?'ll never fall out of His arms, friend. i promise.

Chelle said...

oh friend, I hear you... thank you for your breathtakingly beautiful heart and honesty...tell me, how do we "delight in weakness" as 2 Cor. 12:10 says...when it sounds like such a contradiction.

dawnielle said...

Hi Misha,

I have been following your blog for almost a year now, you remind me of myself in so many ways. I agree that weakness, as you describe, can be a mean to make us stronger. Even in your pain, you are inspiring. Thank you for sharing.


Corli said...

I am reading, listening, learning ... from your post and the comments.

Sarah said...

I have discovered a freeing truth about Romans Paul's argument to the jews in Rome he is using Romans 7 to describe the jewish life without Christ and to allow them to sympathize with the struggle. They were law abiders like we are. Then he shows them the real way to freedom and 8 which says what ch 6 says which is we are the dead but alive in Him. Now His life and power etc is mine...if I let go of it.
I have missunderstood ch. 7 my whole life until I realized, when I indentify with Ch. 7 I have lost sight of the gospel (ch 6 and Ch 8) and the provision Christ made for me to lose my life to gain one in Him. When I pick up my faith to trust him that my loss is really my great gain. Then I begin to win.
Paul says it is by faith. And so it is. I love your following post where you have a date with Jesus each day. I am sure he waits by your bed waiting for you to awake just to be with you and do all those things on your list. They are sooo easy for him. Have a blessed journey as you prove His faithfulness to do the list and more. My dh always says he expects God to do more than we ask. I have found it true.
Love the new blog motif by the way.