April 25, 2010

Decision to Stay

[I am adding a blog note here because I have re-read this post several times, and each time, it is right after a serious head-on collision with some aspect of the "plan" I think the Lord has for my life. I cannot say how many times I have made the decision to stay in Phoenix (versus moving to IL) -- but it has been at least three times since January. Each time, the Lord brings me back to this post where I see my decision to stay, and then read my update saying that I am to go. Oh, when will I remember that a decision is a decision, and that the Lord takes our word very seriously. I said I would go to IL, I said I would go there because I believed He was directing me to go there. I promised I would not change my mind, yet sure enough, I did. Several times, in fact. Now, I have suffered the consequences of that change of mind again; yet this time, the hurt was harder, and not just on me, but on my son as well. I learned my lesson the two times before; but I guess this time, I needed to really feel the smack of it for me to realize that my word counts -- at the least -- it counts to God.]

Today was a good day for me. Our church is continuing on in it's series called, "Quarter Life," and today's message focused on liberation and freedom (Isaiah 58:1-12.) It is a funny passage, whereby Isaiah preaches to the Israelites about their false sense of religion, and about how they "think" they are doing what God wants, when in reality they are not. I liked our Pastor's message, it was good and simple (honest and direct). The point being that often we remain trapped in bondage to things or to people simply because we refuse to do what God wants us to do. Instead of doing what the Word says is right, we choose to do things that we "think" look right on the outside (while deep on the inside, we are doing our own thing, getting our own way). It is the opposite of what James called "pure and undefiled religion."

In thinking about today, and then reflecting on where I am at in my life (at present), this thought popped into my head, "Lord, I am in a really weird place right now." It is often this way, thoughts will pop into my head at the strangest times (I was driving home from church). I was thinking about my life, and how I am living in my home, with my husband and son, but have no real confidence that my life will ever return to "normal." In fact, I believe the opposite. I have not seen anything that would give me confidence that my husband plans on sticking around, or that he even desires a relationship with me. The weirdness comes in this way: every Sunday we drive to church and then sit together. I mean right next to each other just like every other married couple. If that is not Isaiah 58 -- I don't know what could be any more similar!!

As I thought about my situation this is what came to mind -- why is this happening? I mean, I have given options, made ultimatums (in this case, set boundaries as to what I would accept). I have patiently waited for him to do something positive, to choose to want to remain part of our family. Instead, he chooses to do what he wants, to go his own way--all the while living under this roof, eating prepared dinners, and wearing freshly washed clothing (that I have washed). It is like he has no intention of do anything other than what he wants to do, and IMHO, that is keep the "appearance up" of being married. It is so darn weird.

Yes, it is unfair too, and our Pastor spoke at length about injustice, and how we are to treat one another with respect. I find myself scratching my head all the time because on the one hand, I am in this limbo state of not knowing what tomorrow will bring. On the other hand, I have made my decision that I will not live this way forever. I have been waiting for the "shoe to drop," so to speak, for him to say: I am moving out or I want to try and stay together. One way or another, either would work now. I just cannot continue to live in unresolved tension, which is what I have here in my home.

I have blogged about the plans that the Lord has for me, and I am confident in them. The issue has been whether to stay put or to move somewhere else. I have done all the research, factoring in every detail, and had made up my mind that the best choice was to move someplace else. Part of me wanted this simply to do something to end the stalemate. But, then there was another part that felt that it was more about "running away" and less about doing the Lord's will.

After much thought today, I realized this: I am presently doing the Lord's will. I am seeking Him with my whole heart, I am following after Him with great zeal, and I am focusing on Him alone as my source and my provision. I am also being attentive to the needs at home. I am being kind and compassionate towards my spouse. I am patiently enduring this trial, trying "oh so hard" not to give in to anger, bitterness or wrath (none of which will Glorify God). I am waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more -- hoping that the Lord will show me clearly which direction to go or move in. Until then, I am doing what I can do that is part of His will. I have applied to graduate school, I am continuing to home school my son, and I am focused on the work He has for me. By all accounts, I am doing everything possible to satisfy the Lord's requirements for me -- I am being submissive to His will and trusting that His way will be revealed.

Through all this mess, there has been wonderful Grace, and that Grace has enabled me to do things I would not normally be able to do. I have been able to rest securely in His Hand. I have been able to trust Him completely, knowing that my days are accounted for, and my life is planned and prepared for His Glory. I am standing in His Grace and soaking it up, and I am giving it back out as best I can. I am doing all these things, er, rather He is doing them through me, and the result has been tremendous spiritual growth and development. I have not been happy at the waiting part, and I have grumbled a bit (well, a lot), but I am still here--waiting for Him to move. I am sticking to Him and I am looking solely for Him to provide a way out.

Twice now, He has shown me the way out. Twice now, I have tentatively received it, only then to reject it. Partly this is because I have wanted to bring Him Glory, and I know that through my suffering, He is glorified. However, He has consistently told me that there is an open door for me, and stubbornly I have refused to walk through it. I kept trying to pry open the other door, the door I thought was better. He kept pointing me towards this open door, and I refused to go where He said to go. I did promise to go, don't get me wrong. I actually said "Yes, Lord, I will go where ever you send me." Yet, in truth, I did not go. I kept sticking to my guns and waiting for Him to open that other door.

So today, epiphany in mind, I decided to take the easier way out, and walk through the open door. This is the way that has been offered to me. It is the way that is right here, right in front of my eyes, and it is the way that seems clearly applicable to my life right now. I guess I just didn't want to take the easy way, fearing that it would be somehow not good enough. I finally decided that every door that God opens is GOOD. Every way out is Perfect. I chose to exit out of my struggle, my turmoil and choose the way that clearly points me to stay right where I am. This means that I will not be moving away from my home, just yet. I may be moving to another home, but I won't be leaving this city. I will stay here until I finish my graduate study and am better prepared to take on a full time job. Right now, I have too many "what ifs" in the fire, and the pot needs stirring. I cannot dump the pot out because it is critical to keep it cooking for a time longer. I must wait, yes, I must wait--and then the Lord will open up that other door. For now, I will do what He is telling me to do, and I will rest in the knowledge that I am doing His exact and expressed will for my life.

I am pleased, I am relieved, and I am glad that this decision has been made. I still don't have all the answers, and I am still living in limbo, but perhaps that is the next piece of the puzzle to be found. Perhaps this decision was critical for the rest to fall into place? I think so, at the least, I want to think so.

Update:

Ok, so much for making a decision to stay. I have to say that I was greatly relieved of the pressure to choose the other day. I spent most of the day thinking about staying put, thinking about finding a job, and then thinking about how I would be able to make a living here in Phoenix. The more I thought about it, the more I started to get that "sinking" feeling -- like I was trying to keep a boat afloat after it suffered a small hole in the bottom. The boat was sinking, but I kept on bailing the water out. It was like I was getting no where, except sinking into the water deeper and deeper.

Today, I woke up and went through my normal routine. In doing so, I sat down at my computer and felt the Lord press on me to go and check the status of the positions I have applied for at the local community college system. I did it and much to my chagrin -- two of the remaining jobs (five in total) were being interviewed for internal candidates. Drats! That can only mean one thing -- the jobs were posted and were expected to be filled by people already employed by the college district!

So, snag in the road, and what do I do? Well, after feeling really lousy for a few minutes, I prayed and then said, "Lord, I know your will for my life, and that the plans you have for me are good. Please direct my steps and lead me to the job of your choosing. I accept the reality of my situation today, and know that I must find work now."

It didn't really take that long to see Him do this. As usual, the Lord did things in His own way. My son crawled out of bed (the blessing of home schooling), and came out all disheveled and looking grumpy (not normal -- well, the disheveled part is pretty normal). I asked him what was wrong, and it took a while to get him to tell me how he was feeling. After some Q&A, he said how much he wanted to move away from here. I took that to mean that he just wanted our life settled (yes, he fell in love with TN a year ago -- but he is only 16 so I think he gets that you cannot just pick up and move, willy nilly). I know that this present darkness, this awful time in our home, has taken it's toll on him. He has acted very bravely. He has told me that everything is OK, but I have seen the signs. I have noticed his lack of interest, his unwillingness to do everything he normally would do. I have seen his attitude change, and even his relationship with his dad diminish. I have tried to run interference as best as I can, but the affect of our marriage crisis has indeed hurt him. It was to be expected. I was prepared for it. I just feel so awful about it.

We talked some more, and then my son (the prophet -- just kidding) said something very wise to me. He said, "Mom, how can you expect God to send you to Africa, if you are not willing to move across the country for Him?" Ouch! From the lips of babes, you know. He was right. God isn't calling me to Africa, but I do believe He is calling me into International Ministry. I have shared with my son what I believe the Lord is going to ask of me (down the road), and told him that I am ready to go wherever the Lord leads me. I thought it was funny, though, that at this point -- when we were both in crisis, my son would utter something very profound. In truth, he hit the nail on the head. I have waffled over making a decision to move, any move, simply because I have never ever had to make such a huge life choice. I have analyzed this situation until I want to throw up, considered every option, and prayed over every single little aspect (whether real or imagined). In the end, when push came to shove, I chose the easier way out. I chose to not do anything at all. The Lord used my son (I think) to remind me that I had made a commitment to Him, a commitment that said "Yes, Lord, I will go where you send me." You see, I uttered the words of Isaiah many times: "Here I am Lord, send me." The Lord took me at my word to Him and has been preparing my heart, my mind and my life for service and ministry. I have known this for a while now, I have seen the work happening in my life. I just wasn't ready to accept the reality of my life.

My son is ready to go (my greatest fear was that I would be ruining his life, changing things so much, asking him to leave friends and family behind); he wants to go. I want to go too (when I really confessed it). I guess I had hoped for another outcome. I guess I wanted everything to magically disappear and return to normal. The problem, of course, is that the Lord has told me that I cannot have my "normal" back. I cannot return to the life I had, not the way it was, to be exact. I had to remain as I am now, with clear head and heart firmly focused on the Lord. My DH, whom I have waited to return to the Lord, has chosen to go his own way (in a semi-religious way, but not really doing what the Word says he must do). I have lived in QUASI-land, as I like to call it--this half married, half separated state, for almost 9 months (longer if I really admit it -- more like five years). Now, I am faced with making a life changing decision and it is so hard to know what to do. Do I go or do I stay? My heart says "follow the Lord, of course;" but my head simply questions "How can I do that? My hands are empty -- I have no job, no income, no way to go or even buy a home?"

I cannot tell you how this has stressed me out. Then add in all the difficulties here at home (personalities, relationships, spiritual oppression) and it has been one horrible journey from discovery to acceptance. I just cannot tell you how very much I want all this to end. I pray about it every day, I ask for it to end. His word to me is always "Soon. Very soon."

I do not know what I would have done without His Marvelous Grace at work in my life. I cannot tell you how often I wanted to just run away from everything and everyone, how I wanted to hide and not come out, how I wanted to pretend that everything was OK (just tell myself lie after lie). In the end, the Lord has had His way (again!) I want so much to please Him, to be used by Him, and to bring Him glory. I want so much to do His will, and to know that my life is planned and purposed -- even when it looks so bleak and smells really, really stinky. Yes, the Lord is Good to me. I love Him with all my heart, and my heart's desire is to be in relationship with Him, to be united in body, in soul and in mind. I live for Him because He lives for me!

"Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass." Psalm 37:4-5

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