I sat in this little office with 8 people crammed on couches and computer chairs and counter tops, and I was immediately reminded of Genesis 50:20. As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. Over and over and over again. You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.
And I’ll go ahead and lay this out as a welcome mat to this blog post: I’m not calling anyone evil. I’ll put it this way though: there will be times when the enemy will try to rob you of things that Christ died to show you. Like love. There will be times when it seems that you are completely drowning in lie after lie after lie. You will hear that you don’t hold value and that you’re unlovable and that God created you to be used by people. That’s where I’ll stop you. This is one of those times.
I’ll go back to that moment in a packed office with my family of a church staff. I sat there, and I remembered 3 weeks ago when I thought I’d get up from a rocking chair and never want to hear the word “love” ever again. It stung when my best friends said it. It stung when my mom said it. I hated that word for a good two days. I hated the person who said it even more. And I remember just having this stormy, crashing-wave-filled ocean of thoughts that I thought I was drowning in. I didn’t want to hear love, I didn’t want to hear truth, and I definitely didn’t want to hear what God had to say about this one. I felt an “I told you so” coming on, and I’m not sure why because that’s lie #1. I felt unlovable and used up, and I know what used up feels like. I went through a long period of time where I thought that God’s specific purpose for me on this earth was to be used for the gratification of others. FALSE. LIE. SHUT DOWN.
So I’ve got this awesome friend who sends the best, most-eloquently-worded emails and kills it at spoken word. And I stumbled across one of her older spoken words this week. “But snow can crumble unexpectedly, and I watched the windy city change you into someone new. I see that you are happy. And that’s what I wanted. It just gets hard sometimes to watch you grow into someone I won’t grow old with.”
And I remembered how good it felt to know that I don’t have to have the words because sometimes God either shows us the words or He gives us people who show up in beautiful ways. And I’ve got an army of people who show up in beautiful ways. I’ve got friends who let me sit in their laps and cry and complain and get angry to no end. I’ve got friends who sit with me while I swear like a sailor and doubt God and get angry with Him. I’ve got friends who show up with Honeymoon Bakery chocolate tarts that completely turn your Tuesday around. I’ve got friends who let me talk and talk and talk until I lose my voice. I’ve got friends who understand the art of distractions. I’ve got friends who will skip class to get breakfast and have the best heart-to-hearts just because we both need it so much. I’ve got friends who style sassy outfits to make me feel on top of the world. I’ve got friends I’ve made through building some awesome bridges. I’ve got friends who will be the angry Charlotte when Big stands Carrie up at the altar, friends who’ve got my back no matter what. I’ve got friends who stick with me in the mess. I’ve got friends who stick with me even in the chaos of concert planning and emotional roller coasters, who stick with me when I end up crying in the Christmas lights aisle at Big Lots. I’ve got friends who are showing me what love is through their actions and IT SPEAKS VOLUMES.
And now I’m drinking deep of what love actually is and getting to see it through people’s actions even when they’re not explicitly telling you they love you. And do I have a solid definition for you at this very moment? No. But I can tell you I’ve been getting it all wrong. Love’s not a habit. Love isn’t selfish. Love’s not boastful. Love is not fleeting emotions. Also, in the midst of struggling with all of this crap, I got to sit in our church and listen to a sermon on the postures of love. Admittedly, when I realized what we were talking about, I wanted to book it out of that theater so freaking fast and hide under a rock. I didn’t want to listen to any of it. And then it hit me so hard. So much truth. And with a lot of sermons, I feel like I could predict a road map, but with this one, it was just unexpected truth after unexpected truth. He talked about when we get so set in our plans and our daily routine, when something comes up that we hadn’t planned, we view it as an inconvenience and you can’t love an inconvenience. He said the only safety and security we get is in who He is, not in what He gives us. He talked about this self-focused and self-actualizing love that we’ve been wrapped up in because that’s what’s normal in our day and age.
The reason I bring all this up is because I sat in this theater and thought about all the things this one person had done and how he had wronged me and how he doesn’t love well and how self-focused he is and how he has made an astounding and complete and utter mess, but then, Jesus. He humbled me. He said, “Jenna, you do it too. You’re prideful and angry and your brokenness affects people too.” We’re all broken. We’re going to hurt each other. We just have to admit our brokenness instead of telling Jesus that we can do it on our own, because honestly He laughs before we even say the words. Let me just take these next few lines to be completely raw and honest with you, since you’re already into this journey with me. I’m going to be real with you. Did I love with everything in me? Yes. 100% yes, and that’s what hurts the most. Is that you’ve drained yourself in loving someone so much and that love was not reciprocated. You want to know rock bottom? Sit across from someone and let them tell you they don’t love you and receive that in the deepest parts of your heart. I’ve never known a hurt quite like this. I never thought I’d have to relearn love, but here we are. I’m sitting in my favorite coffee shop, the one where I’ve cried a few tears and dreamed a hell of a lot of dreams, and I am hurting. Unfortunately, hurt manifests itself in different ways. Bitterness. Anger. A whole lot of tears. Some joy. Some really wild and crazy choices.
But then I’m learning that we have the ability to channel that. I can sit here, and say, “God. Help. I have nothing else left.” And as I typed those words, I felt this deep pain, and not from heartbreak. Jenna, I have given you everything. Goosebumps down my arm. Chills down my back. I have given you everything.
And that’s the moment I recognize how small this is. How insignificant this will be a few days, months, years from now. And I weep, because I have taken for granted these moments that God meant for joy and these moments that are GIFTS. He has given us a gift that’s wrapped up in night and day and filled to the brim with joy and sorrow and friendship and people who love you to no end because He loves us. These moments are gifts, and I spent His gift dwelling on something and letting bitterness manifest itself into things that I know to be lies. You are unlovable. You have no value. You were created to be used. You are unworthy. Lies. This is the cup He has passed to me, and I’m about to drink deep. Take it in. Practice His presence because He has given me another day on earth to bring His Kingdom here.
Consider this your invitation to a walk through lies about love and vulnerability and value and worthiness, and also a hell of a lot of truth I’m walking into. Your invitation is really cute too, like a white note card with confetti on it and CELEBRATE written in all caps right smack dab in the middle. Because this is something to celebrate. Waking up and shutting down lies is grounds for celebration. This is our opportunity to submit to the One who orders our days. Walk with me. Celebrate today because this is a gift. This moment is a gift.