Where do I begin? There is so much about the last few months of my life that I need to ask forgiveness for. There’s so much that I look back on and wish I made a different choice. Nonetheless, I forgive myself and I accept everything that happened as God’s perfect will. Why? Because the entire time I was with God and God was with me and I spoke to him daily and really allowed him to lead me. So, I now realize that God wanted me to make mistakes. He wanted me to have to drop to my knees and ask for forgiveness. He wanted me to have regrets. I was on a moral high horse- not in touch with my weakness and not aware of the power of the gift he gave me. He wanted to humble me.
- You can’t forgive others without first forgiving yourself
- You can’t forgive yourself without asking God for forgiveness first
- Until you forgive yourself, it won’t matter if others forgive you or not
See, I’ve never been good at forgiveness. But here God has done a work in me so that I would have no choice but to practice it. I can finally offer forgiveness to others because of the list of things I’ve done (if you keep reading) that I will beg forgiveness for. I am on my knees.
If I can regret my behavior during a time in my life when God gave me the best gift thus far, then I am just as frail as any human. I am just as weak as any human who has walked the earth, including the Israelites who constantly disappointed God with their frailty and inability to follow directions and demonstrate loyalty and faith.
But, to those of you reading my blog consistently, you’ll remember the verse from Isaiah:
God gives power to the weak, and strength to the powerless.
So, let me just say it- I am NOT strong. I put on a good front. I create a good show. But, after reading the list of things you’re about to read, you’ll realize just how good I was at faking it. Here’s to hoping that in sharing my mistakes with the world and asking for forgiveness, I will somehow ease the excruciating pain, tightness in my chest, knots in my stomach, chronic anxiety. Even with a huge part of my soul missing, I’m hoping to heal.
One last thing that may seem unrelated:
The pastor at church shared an account of the struggles his young son faces having a chronic skin disease. The account was gut-wrenchingly powerful. When we all prayed for the pastor’s son, I felt heat come out of my hands. My palms started to burn up in a freezing cold venue. I thought, wow! Another miracle. God is showing me so many gifts I never knew were possible!
Both times I heard the message I was brought to tears and I thought of a scene in the movie Deadpool. Foolishly, I asked the pastor after service yesterday if he had seen that movie. (I realize in hindsight that it is not the kind of movie a pastor would see.) I laughed at myself for asking because it just shows that with all my wisdom and God-given intelligence, I can be a complete airhead at times with absolutely no filter and common sense. Typical Jess.
But, like with so many mistakes, I had the best intentions.
See, there is a scene in that movie when Ryan Gosling is just Wade, no super powers, and he’s trapped in this transparent tank that’s shaped like coffin. At first he laughs about it, makes a few crude comments, and then his oppressor turns on a button that starts to deprive the tank of oxygen. Not only does Wade struggle to breathe, but his skin starts to deteriorate from the lack of breathable air. He develops scars all over his body and stays in that tank for days- having just enough oxygen to keep him alive while in unimaginable pain. Torture.
Eventually, he starts to mutate. His body starts to adapt to the harsh conditions, hostile atmosphere. Pretty soon, he’s no longer human with human weaknesses- he’s evolved. See, the superpowers he gets come from the pain and the turmoil and the havoc that was unleashed all over his body.
It’s unfortunate that most of us do everything we can to avoid pain, avoid failure. Some of us (me included) were once so crippled by the fear of failure that it kept us immobile, kept us paralyzed. It kept me living in a place I didn’t want to live, going to a job that crushed my soul, clinging to a routine of gym, work, and church for dear life while never stepping out in faith or sharing Christ. This summer God ripped that fear right out of me. He said: I did not create you with a spirit of fear. And he just took it away. Just another example of how he breaks us of our chains and anything separating us from him.
I am in a season of emotional turmoil. Read my previous blogs and you’ll agree. But like the case with my pastor’s son, God is unleashing this unimaginable pain on me for a purpose, just like he brought me to my knees for a purpose. He wants me to evolve somehow. He’s doing work in me. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. He’s not done yet.
This same phenomena can be seen in runners. I’ve been running a lot this past week as a way to expel all the excess energy I have that keeps me from eating and keeps me awake at night. I have attempted to run away the pain of losing my soul and my goal is to keep running so that I’m so physically exhausted I have no choice but to sleep.
Well, as I was running, with the pastor’s son fresh in my mind, I thought of something: Life is just a series of inhales and exhales. The inhales are the moments we seek salvation, we ask for healing, we instill our faith, we ask for miracles, we push for better. The exhales are the moments when we accept our suffering, live in the sacrifice, lean on God. God has taken away his greatest gift to me in order for me to completely lean on him- in order for me to value him (the giver) more than the gift. God wanted me to achieve a balance in life when I am inhaling (praying for miracles, exercising my faith) and exhaling (accepting the suffering, knowing that he’s the ONLY thing I have in the storm). Life is a constant balance of both.
I can hear God’s voice so clearly. It was during a worship night in Manhattan on July 28th. I had been praying for something for hours. I never knew my prayers could be so powerful, so forceful. I was full of faith that night. I was preaching to all the people sitting in my row- causing them to say, Praise Jesus! I had never preached to strangers before. Hours into it, God answered me. He said:
Enough! I heard you. (I had been praying the same phrase for hours.)
Do you think the devil is coming for you now, while you both are separate? It’s going to be 100x worse when you are together. There will be no honeymoon period. You are going to have to fight for your faith- fight to have faith like you do tonight every step of the way.
And I said:
I know God. But I want to fight for you. You created me to fight for you.
I share this because God is so truthful that he tells us all about the pain and turmoil we are about to go through. Jesus tells his followers that they will drink from the bitter cup of suffering if they continue to follow him. I am in desperate need for joy and yet I still trust this season of suffering. If all there is ahead of me is suffering, I am still grateful for every joy I’ve had and for being able to fight for God in this wonderful lifetime.
Okay, now, without further delay, I will attempt to spill what’s left of my soul.
- I am sorry for not fully acknowledging God’s gift to me. I am sorry for not fully recognizing its power. See, I treated the gift of a soulmate like any other gift, like any other situation. I thought I could apply standards to it. I thought I could draw from past experience. I messed up.
- I am sorry for all the times I was selfish- I made the situation about me. The pain of not having him fully clouded my judgment. Instead of using it as an opportunity to practice selflessness, I was weak and human. I am sorry for putting my own needs first.
- I am sorry for wanting so much, putting so much energy into what could be, that I didn’t fully appreciate what is. See, I was so caught up in the vision God gave me, what he put in my heart, that I spent more energy trying to get there than I did simply taking in and appreciating what was already given in front of me. I’m sorry for trying to live in the future. I’m sorry for taking too many steps ahead.
- I am sorry for any of the times I wasn’t 100% supportive or encouraging.
- I am sorry for not humbling myself sooner. I am sorry for putting up an illusion of strength as a defense mechanism. What I should have been saying the entire time was: please, don’t do this. Please, don’t leave me. I need you. I should have been begging and pleading instead of philosophizing and taking a step back. Sure, I turned to God. I showed God my weakness, but I should have shown you too.
- I am sorry for being a hypocrite. The whole time I told you that you turn people away for not being vulnerable enough in front of others- for always looking like you are helping instead of the one who needs help. I was the one who was being fake. I was the one who was acting strong when I wasn’t. I was the one who refused to show my weakness and vulnerability. See, we relate to people in vulnerability, not strength. We are moved and touched by weakness, not power. How was I such a fool? How did you even love me? I can’t believe I detached myself from my feelings to appear stronger than I actually was.
- I am sorry for perhaps the worst mistake of all. I let the voices of other people speak louder than God’s. I accused you of this too. But other people’s opinions started to stick to me. I allowed them to put fear in my mind. I allowed them to make me think the only way for this to work is if I give you an ultimatum and cut you off completely. I am sorry I went against my gut, against what I thought was right, and did it anyway. I was so scared of messing things up and making the wrong choice. God had told me: be patient, let him lead. And I ignored it.
- I am sorry I let people tell me this was a sin. Sin doesn’t bring you closer to God; sin separates you from Him. We both were closer to God when we spoke, when we shared, when we were together. I am sorry I believed them when they threw scripture at me. See, this was something bigger than that. See, I realized that there is something even more powerful than scripture- the Spirit of God. It was spirit that brought us together (not flesh, mind, heart), and it was God. I am sorry for ever doubting that. See, I realized you cant apply laws, standards, rules to something that is above that. God is above all of it. His will surpasses it all. Why did I fight it? Why did I think not speaking to you would make it easier? Why did I think that I could just fill myself with scripture and somehow it would all be okay. No amount of scripture is going to give me back my soul. I should have never stopped communicating with you. That was my lifeline. I’d do anything to get it back. I don’t have too much pride anymore. I’d rather be a side piece to you than a whole piece to anyone else.
- I am sorry I let your doubts speak louder than God’s assurances. You were dealing with your own doubt, listening to your own people, and when you brought those doubts to me I should have rejected them more strongly. I shouldn’t have let your confusion weigh on me. Gods voice should have meant more to me than yours.
- I am sorry I wasn’t always 100% compassionate. I should have tried to see your point more. I should have tried to understand it instead of automatically fighting it. The truth is I do see your point. If the roles were reversed, I may have done all the same things, made all the same mistakes, because I have a bleeding heart for people, too. I’d like to think I have the courage to do something different, but the truth is I honestly don’t know. I was trapped in my box for six years and I didn’t have the courage to break out of it. God saved me. Maybe God is the only source of the courage for transformative growth.
***We are both guilty of something. We are so obsessed with “doing the right thing” that we let it cripple us. Well, this situation has taken me off my moral high horse. I don’t care anymore about being right and I don’t care anymore about what is right. This situation is beyond right and wrong. This situation is bigger than that. Clinging to morals and standards and “high ground” and telling myself that you just have to suffer and sacrifice does nothing to bring my soul back. What’s the point of saving my soul if I don’t have a whole one to begin with?
11. I am sorry for all the times I should have expressed how much I love, how much I care. Saying it the times I said it was not enough. I could keep going in my apologies, but you know why I’m stopping here. I am sorry I didn’t offer you forgiveness when you asked for it. All I could say was, “there’s nothing to forgive.” And it’s true. There’s nothing to forgive because I couldn’t even forgive myself yet. But of course I forgive you! There is nothing I wouldn’t forgive you for. I truly hope you’re happy and can forgive me too.
And every time I see that pastor preach I think it should be you. It should be you at much different kind of church- a church without walls or barriers. It’s bittersweet. Sometimes I forget that I’m not watching YOU. When I see his hands go up in worship, I think, that’s what you should be doing- getting lost in the music that worships God, leading by example, leading masses of people with your ability to speak, your ability to move people, your ability to love God genuinely and without limit. But you lost the ability to step out in faith, didn’t you? With or without me, I pray you get it back! Man up! Be the man God has created you to be.
After all, it was you who told me once: if people only had the faith like the people did in Jesus’s time, miracles could happen. The same miracles could happen today if we had the same faith.
And if she is reading this then I hope you encourage him to get there. Keep reading my blogs and keep studying me so you can have all of my qualities and maybe do some of the the things I would have done even if your motives are different. Good can come out of anything.