I didn’t want to go to church last week.
I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to fix my hair, I didn’t want to put on anything resembling pants, and I didn’t want to go through the whole stand-up-and-greet-everybody part where people awkwardly shake hands or clap each other on the shoulder, and ask “How are you?” in passing without always waiting to hear the answer. (And before you start wondering, yes, I am a socially adept person, but even I get weird during that part of a church service.) Mostly, I didn’t want to be convicted of anything else that Sunday, because I didn’t want to start my week with another thing to work on. I was already all too aware of my many shortcomings, especially because of all the New Year’s resolutions floating around, and I didn’t need anything else to add to the steadily-growing list. I didn’t want to go.
I didn’t want to go to church, and I think it’s because my enemy knew that if he could get me to stay home, he could prevent (or at least delay) me from hearing the powerful voice of God.
That morning, Daniel and I got to the church, put our stuff in our regular seats, and parted ways for a few minutes. I said some cheerful hellos to friends, made my way back to my seat, listened to announcements, and stood and read along as someone read the passage of scripture we would later hear preached. And embarrassing as it may be to admit, I wasn’t tuned in to any of it. All I kept thinking as I walked around, smiled, laughed, and even greeted new people I didn’t know was, “I don’t want to be here. I don’t deserve to be here. I’m so unbelievably fake – nobody would ever guess how insecure I really am.” I was relieved when the welcome was over because I didn’t have to pretend I was fine anymore; I could just sit in my seat and mentally check out for a minute. I was 100% on church autopilot all morning, until we bowed our heads before the first worship set and our worship leader spoke these words during his prayer for us:
“Lord, let us never grow tired of conviction.”
Cory finished praying and led into the first song. It was a hymn – Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. As the lyrics flashed up on the screen, I couldn’t help but notice how appropriate they were:
‘O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be..”
“Bind my wandering heart to Thee.”
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, Lord.”
My throat tightened. I knew He was talking to me. God always seems to pick the times when I’m in the middle of a church worship service to speak the loudest, and I think it’s because I can’t run away. I can’t get distracted by Netflix or food or laundry; I have no choice but to listen.
I sat down and hugged one leg to my chest, pressing my forehead into my knee.
“God.” It was all I could choke out at first. Words weren’t enough. I hadn’t talked to Him in so long; it felt awkward.
And then it all came out at once.
“God, I don’t like myself. I don’t like being the way I am. I’m tired of feeling so unsure of every decision I make. I wish I could just trust you instead of constantly doubting that You really are good, that Your plans really are better. Why can’t I just believe it?? I wish I was a better wife. I wish I was a better sister. I wish I knew what it was like to be a mom. I wish I was better at so many things – I don’t even know where to start. I just want to run away. I wish I could run away from my life for awhile and think about nothing. I don’t know how many more frustrating or bad things I can juggle without dropping them all. I wish I didn’t care what people think about me. I wish I wasn’t so wishy-washy, that I could just make a choice and be confident in it instead of overthinking everything. I wish I didn’t struggle with food. I wish I was more consistent. I wish I wasn’t so emotional all the time. I wish…”
I don’t remember how long I talked. It just kept pouring out of me, every drop of fear, anger, and insecurity that had been shoved down, and shoved down, and shoved down some more. It felt like a giant knot in my stomach was slowly unraveling, but not in a good way. This one-sided ‘conversation’ with the Lord was a culmination of years of negativity, self-doubt, and indecisiveness. I was tired of being me. Being me sucked. “Me” was a terrible wife, a terrible friend…basically just a terrible person.
I had no problem understanding that I was fallen and flawed, but I just couldn’t grasp the fact that God loved me anyway. IN SPITE of my mess. How could He?? Didn’t He know what kind of person I was? There’s no way I could ever deserve that kind of love, and I couldn’t get past the guilt and unworthiness.
Suddenly, before I was ready, Cory was praying again over the sermon, and worship was over. Our friend Ryan preached an incredible message about why God has called all of us to go to the nations with the truth of the Gospel and His plan of redemption, and why his family specifically has been called to go to Germany to serve long-term. It would be nice to say that listening to this moving sermon was what finally opened my heart to the Lord, and that I walked out of church that morning feeling much better about myself, but actually, the exact opposite thing happened. Yes, I was so excited for the work I knew God would accomplish through my friends, but guilt was gnawing away at me.
Something’s wrong with me.
Why don’t I have more of a desire to “go to the nations” with such great news??
I should want this more.
I feel like I don’t love Jesus as much as people who go overseas.
Are Daniel and I supposed to go live in another country someday?
I don’t really want to…I’ve never wanted to.
So does that make me selfish, or is that just not God’s plan for us?
But God calls us to different things in different seasons of life.
How are we supposed to know the difference between “No” and “Not yet”?
We left the church to go eat lunch, and I couldn’t stop thinking about everything that had happened. I’d spent the entire morning waiting for someone, anyone, to say a special, *anointed* sentence that would open my eyes and quickly make sense of everything, but no one did. I kept to myself that afternoon, quietly avoiding the nagging feeling that God wasn’t done talking to me. It wasn’t until that evening that I stopped withdrawing.
It started innocently enough. I was home alone, wandering through the house and straightening up rooms. I walked into the kitchen and noticed dishes that needed to be done. The dishwasher was already running, and for a split second, I thought, “Nah…I’ll just wait and load them in the dishwasher later.“ But the exact moment I turned to walk out of the room, I heard Him.
Come do the dishes with Me.
Come do the dishes with Me.
As I waited for the sink to fill with hot water, I searched for “In Over My Head” by Bethel Music on YouTube. This song was a special one for me for several reasons, and I sang mindlessly as I scrubbed dried food off of our dinner plates. YouTube’s Autoplay kicked in, and the next song, “You Don’t Miss a Thing,” started. [Guys. If you haven’t heard this song before, listen to it RIGHT NOW. I’m serious, I literally mean right now.] I had heard it before but never really paid any attention. I decided to let it play anyway because I wasn’t done with the dishes yet, and since I didn’t know the words, I just listened.
It was like every word was written for me.
“When You laugh, the storm around me ceases.”
I stopped scrubbing and leaned onto my forearms on the edge of the sink, daring to ask Him, “Do you see me? Do you remember me?”
“What a mystery, that you notice me / And in a crowd of ten thousand, you don’t miss a thing / ’cause you see everything.”
The soapy dishes in my hands became blurry.
His voice was like music.
Laura, I see you. I SEE you, and I KNOW you. In a crowd of ten thousand, I still see you. It doesn’t matter how many times you try to run away, or tell me that you’re not good enough for Me. You’ll never convince me to stop loving you. I’ll always love you.
I don’t know if I’ll ever view doing the dishes the same way again. That time with the Lord was so pure, and I’ll be honest with you – I still don’t have words to adequately describe what happened. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everything is completely fine now. But I took a giant step forward on that quiet Sunday night in my kitchen. The last thing I remember saying to the Lord was, “But WHY, God? Why do you love me??”
His answer was one word. “Because.“
God’s love for us DOESN’T make sense. It doesn’t! But we were never expected to earn it, which is awesome news, because even the best things we’ve ever done are like dirty rags when compared with the things our God does, all of which are truly good. The truth of the matter is, regardless of whether I understand it or not, He loves me. He really does. And that’s enough.