“Be a nobody for a year” I heard the whisper of the Holy Spirit say to my heart. Even my closest friends questioned what this meant because it doesn’t sound like the God they know.
That is such the point! When we are going through transformation of the soul, no one will understand your journey fully because it is a personal communing with an intimate God who tends to make Himself known in the refining fire of metamorphosis. Let me say it another way: pain and suffering have a divine purpose in the journey of every person if you will first believe it then you shall see it to be true. It starts with believing that God is good and He intends for you to come out victorious.
Back to me being a nobody for a year. Why did I strive to be a somebody all my life? Because I had developed incredible coping skills as a child to protect myself from the emotional abandonment and rejection in my family-of-origin. Although I did not discover the truth about my biological father and the circumstances around my birth till I was 35 years old, my psyche and soul felt the disconnect. But this dysfunctional entrance into the world didn’t surprise God.
You see God is famous for making something out of nothing, for creating heroes and heroines out of scandalous rendevous. God says that He does this to show the world that His ways are higher than our ways and to humble those who are proud. So, after 46 years of trying to prove I am worthy of being valued, loved, sacrificed for and fought for, I realize that I am still operating in the old covenant of self-protection, using that old coping mechanism to insulate myself from feeling the phantoms of pain, rejection and disregard.
Today, I minister to Vietnam and Korean war veterans in a residential home where these men will breathe their last and we will honor them at a memorial service. I sit and listen to their war stories but rarely ever do I hear a redemptive narrative to their pain and suffering. I believe that they lost the will to believe in a God who allowed them to experience extreme persecution. When the Vietnam vets returned home, they were called “baby-killers” to their face and had difficulty integrating back into society. Few married because they had trust and intimacy issues.
I can relate to having built an iron fortress to keep the pain out of my life. It is an amazing skill that God has given humankind to self-preserve. However, there comes a time to relinquish the coping muscle so that transformation can take place in the fire of what we’ve been running from all our lives.
Awareness of this coping muscle is the starting point to wholeness. I have always been an advocate of body, soul and spirit health. What I’m discovering about human wholeness is that you cannot attain it without allowing God to lead you back into the pit from which you have spent your life avoiding.
The mythic stories of coming of age when a warrior is suited up to face the dragon is more truth than fantasy. But the promise of victory is the scarlet thread woven throughout the journey and in order to see it requires eyes of faith.
Why? Why would God allow me to go through this? This is the most common question I am presented with in my visits with veterans. Why should I believe in a God who abandoned me? This question has no answer for unbelieving hearts hardened by unforgiveness and iron-clad fortresses of self-protection from all that will inflict pain. The same iron castle also keeps out the intimacy, passion and love that every human needs for a meaningful and purposeful life.
The question must at some point be replaced with: What? What is it that God is saying to me in this painful and lonely situation? What am I missing? What does His word say? What is the Holy Spirit saying to me?
I do not pretend that the shift from “why?” to “what?” is a simple adjustment. Instead I humbly confess that my own journey has dragged on for almost two years as I trudge through the muck of self-pity, rage and blame. God faithfully waits patiently for me at the end of my rope. At the end of my “self-made” career exhaustion, Jesus Christ compassionately awaits for me to lean into His embrace.
When God whispers to me to be a nobody for a year, I can trust that this is His way of telling my heart to trust Him to promote me as I increase my trust in Him. I lay down my weapons of warfare again and again because they have become wearisome to bear. God has a new dress for me to wear. It blooms like a rose when I dance and it matches the color of his passionate love for me.
The dance is called Surrender and releases a fragrance unlike any man-made perfume. All who catch the scent may enter in and never be the same.