"It pleased God... to reveal His Son in me." Galatians 1:15,16
It is always futile and dangerous to advise people to leave one thing until they have a revelation of the fuller, and only such a revelation will accomplish the true emancipation....
By T. Austin-Sparks from: Spiritual Maturity - Chapter 6
Along the journey there are many things we leave behind. We start out so full…full of expectation, desire, hope and folly. Little by little, with each step we begin to have the layers of our heart peeled back like the crisp, aromatic layers of a Sweet Texas onion. The rending often elicits tears, a fleeting blurriness of vision and that all-too-familiar urge to stop, drop and run as far away from this painful process as possible. But that is where He Who Keeps us shows Himself strong.
God in the Mess
I have been sick. Six weeks sick. Not deathly ill and not just a sniffle, but that nether land in between. I’d begin to get over one bug only to take a flying leap into the next. From hacking to hugging toilets I think I’ve run the gamut. So after another night of foggy-brained heart searching spent contemplating the mysteries of the universe juxtaposed to the glistening interior of my freshly-scrubbed commode, I found myself asking God some real questions.
Where is all this going?
Is God pleased with my life?
Why is what I want not satisfying me?
Am I still hiding?
Will I ever embrace life and live?
God, what are You looking for?
Now sickness can do some funny things to the mind. I don’t recommend making any important decisions until you can hold your cookies down. I often found myself thinking and feeling things verging on the fringe of crazy. My dear friends just kept reminding me, “This isn’t forever.” I did find a trend emerge out of the crazy, though – I seem to have quite a preoccupation with ME. My betterment, my comfort, my pain and a whole lotta everything else ‘ME’. Nothing like a good long sick-spell to trigger those survival instincts! This is only natural, though. Right? But then again so is this sickness. Completely natural, yet I certainly can’t call it good.
Amidst the drudgery of sick-days, I began to notice a quiet rebellion in my soul. I was getting tired of the natural, getting tired of me. Netflix cartoons and YouTube videos just weren’t cutting it. After several days of bleary eyes and popsicles, I began to feel a gnawing hunger deeper than the one coming from my mid-section.
Turning on the Light
Sometimes we stumble around in the dark in a dazed stupor until some kind person flips on a light and hands us a clue. For me, this person was Jackie Hill Perry.
Jackie Hill Perry wrote a book called “Gay Girl, Good God.” In it she poetically shares her story of coming out of a life of drugs and lesbianism and into the arms of her loving Father. Today she carries a beautiful message from God to the gay community and to the Body of Christ willing to love people out of that community. Something she said recently pierced me -
“God isn’t calling gay people to be straight… He is calling us to be holy.”
She goes on to explain that we assume the primary issue that the Lord is concerned about in people from the LGBTQ community is their sexuality, when really sexuality is just a leaf on a very big tree. We weave into the Gospel we offer them an emphasis on marriage and attraction to the opposite sex when the Lord is offering Himself, not heterosexuality as the Gift of the Gospel. Salvation isn’t akin to rehab. The Lord doesn’t promise us that we will be free from temptation when we come to Him, but He does promise us Himself, that we shall be made new and that through Him we shall overcome. None of us gets to choose our area of struggle or temptation. If the sanctifying work of the Spirit doesn’t go any deeper than our awareness of our need for it, then we are all in big trouble.
At the moment, same-sex attraction isn’t my battle, but the Lord took the heart of these words that Jackie boldly spoke and fit them to meet me right where I am. I heard Him whisper to my heart -
I’m not calling you to be whole, I am calling you to be holy.
For me, whole = integration and healing from the damage of early childhood trauma and the resulting Dissociative Identity Disorder I was left with. Integration, as Pastor Doug Riggs puts it, is “moving from Multiple Personality Disorder to Single Personality Disorder, like the rest of us.” I'm sure 'whole' has a unique meaning for each of us depending on our need and history.
This statement doesn’t imply the Lord isn't interested in bring wholeness and healing. I believe it means if we settle for wholeness as our aim, we fall short of His best and highest intention for our lives – to be holy as He is holy.
When I began this journey, I was warned not to make integration my goal. And I didn’t… At least I thought I didn’t… at least that’s what I assured everyone, including myself. Integration is not my goal! And go!
But I am a driven person. I can’t help it. I don’t feel satisfied unless I am pushing towards a goal. When I meet that goal, I catch my breath, crack a quick, lop-sided, single-dimpled smile and look for the next mile-stone and take off. This is probably why God had to flatten me with two months of ‘sick’ just slow me down long enough to get my attention! For example, I work 2 jobs and often find myself in front of a computer for 10 hours a day. I didn’t take a single sick-day during this six-week time. Case and point. #stilllearningthehardway. Often I have to remind myself to stop, breathe, and take a moment to look back and praise God for all He has done and rejoice in His faithfulness.
When the Lord spoke this call to holiness to my heart, I began to get a glimpse of how much of ‘me’ has been inserted into this journey along the way.
Always wanting to see progress.
Always wanting to know where I am or what stage I’m at.
Always wanting to understand everything.
Always wanting control over how fast I’m going.
Always pushing towards one end – integration.
Why? I 'naturally' believed that’s what God wanted… because that’s what [I thought] I wanted! I have to giggle a bit because, if I’m honest, I also believed integration immediately brought with it a host of other wonderful things like – an insatiable desire for the Lord, an inability to be accessed by the cult, an end to desiring wicked things, boundless humility and patience, an invulnerability to the satanic kingdom… I mean, really, I thought I’d integrate into some Catholicized, super-hero version of Mary with a halo and a sparkly white dress underneath my invincibility cloak. No wonder I so often I found myself exasperated!
I was all the time trying to polish my behaviors and be so ‘good’ and yet I found myself crying, “WHERE ARE YOU GOD?!? WHY AREN’T YOU DOING SOMETHING?!? WHY AM I THE ONE DOING ALL THE WORK HERE?!?” My accusations always met the silence of heaven; the silence of a loving Father patiently waiting for me to expend my last bit of energy so I wouldn’t hurt myself by flailing while He gently picked me up and placed me back on track.
Can you relate at all? I was in love with my self-created fantasy of integration and yet it was just another extension of my affair with escapism.
But what was I really wanting?
To be good in my own eyes. To be able to clean up my mess and be worthy of love based on merit. I wanted to be accepted by God based on my own goodness and not Christ’s. I wanted to sit as judge over my life so that this once-orphan could rest assured that I would never be rejected by a father again because I found a way to make myself worth loving.
God knows our ‘why’ far better than we do. He knows our pain, but He doesn’t play games. And He doesn’t show favoritism. He is waiting for us to let go of our Ishmael so that He might bring in Isaac.
Looking Unto Jesus
In Christ, God has been offering us Himself. NOT a better version of us. He has called us to holiness, not just freedom from a few gross sins, but freedom from SELF. He has called us not to holiness as a ‘state’ or a ‘goal’ or a ‘place’ or an ‘achievement’, but holiness as a Person. Jesus Christ is our holiness and the Father is conforming us to Him. But sometimes, perhaps, we have to see more of Him before we can let go of the idol of a ‘good’ us.
And so we shed these extra weights, these expectations and dreams that only burden us. We carelessly cast away these once-held-dear-treasures that we began with, but that we can never finish with; rubbish that will not carry us home. And we embrace this journey that brings us tears and sorrow and also takes us into divine joy and an ascendency that says, “Lord, You are worth it all, and if You are the very center and light of heaven, then whatever else it may be is more than enough to satisfy us for eternity.”
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Pause and take a moment to listen quietly to the Lord. Is there anything you sense He has His finger on in your life? Something you are clinging to that will not bear weight in eternity? Perhaps, like me, you are experiencing the disillusionment of an outgrown dream or misplaced hope, one that has failed to bring true satisfaction. Let Him prune and lift your vision higher, back to the Lamb on the Throne in Whom all our desires find their fulfillment.
God’s movements are always unto the positive and unto enlargement, even if for the moment they feel negative or limiting. Like a good Father, He always has our best interest in mind. He is kind. He is listening. He is here.
His love never fails.
Further Reading and Teaching
Restored Through Brokenness - https://youtu.be/NR4kx7JIRGs
“Gay Girl, Good God” by Jackie Hill Perry - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLAe_JBvVwg