Monday, September 19, 2016

No, I'm Not over the Fire

It's been a month since we've moved back in to our home.  I have loved many of the benefits, especially as things have become more complete.  We have new countertops, a new sink, new appliances, a new kitchen table and new-ish chairs.  My kids are running around playing with their old toys, freshly and thoroughly cleaned by the hard-working group that renovated and restored the place.

I thought, after three months, I would come back to a place that I could call "home."  The place of peace and rest.

I quickly learned I was wrong.

Even as I write this, I remember back to May 2nd.  I don't mean to, I just do.  I was just finishing a blog post as I sat in my bed, thinking about all the work that had to be done.  I was excited, I was going to teach at our week-long conference.  A number of our students were coming, and the community seemed to really be growing.  Afterwards would be a time of rest, reflection, and retreat.  How I looked forward to it.

Merely a couple hours later, that was all dashed.

And now, after four months, I still remember.  The memories force their way in, whether I want them to or not.

When this whole thing first happened, I thought I would be fine.  My family was safe, our insurance was great, God had protected us.  Yet, a while back I started noticing things in myself.  I noticed elevated panic in bigger crowds.  I didn't feel safe, even in what I would consider my safest of places with the safest of people.  And I felt this need to show that I was mature, handling it all in a Godly way.

That came crashing down a few weeks ago.  Students returned, the question often asked, "How was your summer?"  I wanted to run each time.  Every time it was asked, I was faced with a choice.  Tell the truth, and see once again the awkward and uncomfortable look on their face because they didn't know what to say, or lie, and feel like I was wasting away inside.

Then, the unthinkable happened.  A call from my friend and pastor, telling me there was a fire at our church.  The building was spared (Praise God!), but I had to fight fears in the midst of a place where I should feel the most at home: the sanctuary, praising God with my fellow brothers and sisters. 

I've finally needed to confess this to myself: "I'm not over the fire.  And I'm not sure when I will be."  And that's ok.

I'm reminded of 2 Corinthians 12, when Paul speaks of boasting in his weakness.  Here's what he says:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Now, I have no idea what thorn Paul was speaking about.  Was it a sin struggle?  A physical ailment?  A person that persecuted him?  We don't know.  What we know is that it hindered him, that he attributed it to Satan, and that Paul didn't want it.  He didn't want it to the point of pleading with God three times.  

What was Jesus' response?  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

So, here I am.  I am weak.  I am weaker than I think I've ever been.  I feel at the end of my rope.  But I'm done.  I'm done trying to be strong in front of people.  I'm done trying to prove myself.  No, I'm not over the fire.  And I don't know when I will be.  I'm thankful for all that God has done to protect my family.  I'm thankful for how God worked out all the details with our insurance.  I'm thankful for my church family and friends and everyone else who has helped us in so many ways.  

But this isn't over.  I want it to be.  I trust that Christ can and will take these emotions and fears away.  Whether it's now, or when He's finished making all things new, is up to Him.  And I will trust Him.