Where else could I be?

Two years ago today, I left my job…wait, let me back up. Two summers ago, I was burned out and completely empty inside. I ran away to the mountains, my escape of choice, to be with Jesus. I spent most of my time sitting under the mist of a waterfall or reading in a cold creek. There were few thoughts in my head, just the silence of mental and emotional exhaustion. God called me to fast that weekend, but we agreed that mocha frapps were still fasting. So when I wasn’t in my creek, I was journaling in a coffee house. To this day I can’t remember what I wrote to Him. Most of that weekend is a blur now. I just remember Him calling me there and His quiet presence with me. But He did say something as I scribbled my chaotic and weary thoughts.

I would rather you misstep in faith than stand still in fear.”

A few months later, I decided to leave my job, one at which I was very good, and jump into the great unknown. People thought I was crazy. I should only leave on job when I had a back up. But I felt peace. The morning I went to turn in my notice, I asked God to stop me if I was being impulsive or if there was rebellion in my heart. He just asked, “When have you been happiest this year?” “With you,” I said.

You get me either way.”

So two years ago today, I served my final day at the only life I’d known as an adult. Looking back, I thought God would provide a new career within a couple weeks, thus showing the world that I was in His will. He didn’t. That was one of the first idols He was destroying in my life – the need for people to affirm my relationship with Him. What God had in mind was two years, so far, of stripping me of my demand for respect, my need to feel competent, and my proclivity to find my worth in what I do. He also had plans to teach me that I trust in Him, not in the ways I think He will provide. I can sleep tonight because He promised to care for me, not because I have a check coming from a wedding the upcoming weekend. Weddings get cancelled.

About the time I thought He and I were coming to an understanding and that I was finally over my idols, He took it to another level. You see, I had even become prideful in the way I was “surrendered” to His correction. So He took away my ability to respond to Him.

He left me collapsed, unable to offer up my list of spiritual resolves. Dirty, empty, broken and without defense, I was prostrate before Him – and not the pious prostrate. Lifeless, unable to reach out to Him, left only to let Him hold me. Destitute.

He sat there with me for longer than I would have chosen. Since then He has lifted my head and touched my tear blurred eyes. I’m still in no condition to sprint, but I feel air in my lungs again.

I was asked by my heart friend, “If you knew then what you know now, would you have left your job?”

That’s one of those impossible questions to answer. There’s a reason He doesn’t show us what is coming. We would run screaming in the opposite direction. And I feel I’m a different person now. But here’s the center of my truth. He was there. It was His hand that did this to me. One morning, in the midst of my deepest groaning, He showed me His hands tossing me back and forth and He asked, “Will you let me do this?” Where else would I go? How can I say no?

I can’t say that the hardest times were also the sweetest. They weren’t sweet. They were lonely. They were dark. There was no end in sight. There have been more than a few moments of doubt. Ruthless questions, “Are you doing this to yourself?” “Is your life just one bad decision after another?” “You know people think you’re out of your mind?” Sometimes I can go exactly where He is leading me, and it can be a great big disaster, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t what He wanted. And while He hasn’t chosen to end this season, He is always letting me know that He is with me, even if it’s just a fist gripping determination to proclaim what I know He has promised – to carry me through it, brutally but deliberately tossing me between His purposeful hands.

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4 Responses to Where else could I be?

  1. A Low says:

    Seriously, write that book already!

  2. Dana Wood says:

    I am touched. Thank you for sharing a small sliver of your heart. It beats pure and true. Keep persevering! Love you!

  3. tammy says:

    Cheryl–amazing! I love how easily you can be honest and share your heart with the blogosphere. I find that it is very rare to hear someone express their heart this honestly. It is truly moving, and I was even moved to pray for you.
    You should submit this piece to a magazine. I’m sure they would pick it up in a heartbeat–even though I know that isn’t why you wrote it.

  4. Hope Clark says:

    I love it. I think you’re starting to sing. The strength HE is building in you is greater than you know. You may find it difficult now to identify with people who have never been scorched by the fire. The potter pulls his pots out of the fire and checks to see if they are ready by tapping them. If they’re not ready, they thud. Once they are strong and ready, they sing. Imagin being the piece of clay who sat on the shelf and only watched others be fired, and finally sing.
    “There comes a time when the risk to remain in the bud is more painful than the risk to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin

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