I slept through Church this morning.
The past couple of days have been nothing short of disappointing for me. The worse thing in the world about moving forward and having epiphanies, I think, is that you get so caught up in the moment that when silence and ordinary life swing by for a visit, we feel as though our world is slowly falling apart.
At least, I’ve felt that way.
Yesterday, I was supposed to relax and read my Bible. Instead, I fell asleep on the couch and went to dinner late. I avoided my friend Hannah whom I was supposed to visit because my other friend Luke, who I hadn’t seen in ages, wanted to take me up on coffee. I did, and nothing turned out the way I expected.
I struggled to explain to Luke what had been going on in my life lately, but I instead nearly fell asleep in my own cup of coffee. He stared off into space behind me, peering off at the arty wall decor confusedly. I left very frustrated, because I had this picture of how the conversation might play out. And the conversation that took place looked nothing like the conversation in my head.
The conversation in my head had two men opening up to one another about what God is doing in their lives, not two people staring off into space, fumbling their words.
For every wonderful conversation I have that is bursting with Truth and that is undeniably off in a good way, in a spiritual way, I have seventeen pointless conversations. And this bothers me, because I tend to think that all conversations are to move me forward. That each and every action is a step in the right direction.
I recently finished the latest Donald Miller book, A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, which talks about the metaphor of story as better explaining day-to-day living. I love this quote that he has about moving forward, which goes:
“Once an ambition has been decided, a positive turn is an event that moves the protagonist away from his ambition, and a negative turn moves the protagonist away from his ambition. All stories have both. If a story doesn’t have negative turns, it’s not an interesting story. A protagonist who understands this idea lives a better story. He doesn’t give up when he encounters a setback, because he knows that every story has both positive and negative turns.”
I tend to forget that my story, if lived rightly, is supposed to have negative turns. I was talking to my friend Bethany recently about listening to God’s voice, and what that means.
The other day, I was supposed to go to this job fair, because that is what responsible young men do. A friend had called and found me a ride. I woke up on time. I had the right clothes lined out, and then I heard the faintest whisper. A don’t go. And I thought to myself, “I have to go to this! This is what responsible people do. And if I don’t go, then I will be that burnout college student with no money and–” And again, the don’t go.
I paced around my room nervously for nearly half an hour and then decided to stay. I felt horrible. Disgusting. Like the person who takes a sick day from work only to go home and watch Oprah.
The thing about the people who do lazy things like watch daytime television, however, is that we tend to only see these lazy people in front of a flickering box. We don’t see them making calls, vacuuming carpets, washing dishes, loving their families. We just see them on the couch.
And the lie that my day was over, that I could do nothing else with it, slowly faded away. I called up a friend that I had been meaning to have lunch for weeks, and took her up on the offer. We had a beautiful conversation about God’s will for our lives and what it means to give up all things to Him.
I am still learning on a daily basis what this means. How it works.
There are so many moments where I think that I am in the wrong, that my approach to friendships and God is insane, that it is not practical. I look at my interactions, and think nobody else does this, this must be wrong. Like an incessant nagging, I find these thoughts haunting my days.
My therapist Jaymie told me something that really struck me the other day. I told her about how sure I am in moments, and how just as I start to become sure of my path, and steady in God’s arms, that my world begins to crumble. That I look at the Bible reading, the small groups, the meetings with friends, and how I just want to walk away from it all. Jaymie looked at me earnestly and said, “What if this is spiritual warfare?”
It was at that point I had realized in the past two sleepless nights that one thought had never crossed my mind.
Whenever I hear of “spiritual warfare”, I often laugh, because when I think of the devil I think of The Exorcist or some bad horror film. And I think the Devil wants people to think of him in this way, so that they are not thinking of him when he actually does show up in our lives and tries to sabotage them through whispers. Through doubt.
There is this part in the Donald Miller book where he talks about the necessity of conflict, that in order for a character to grow and move closer towards his goal, he must experience conflict.
In my own life, I like to pretend that Christ has taken away my conflict, and that I am free to do as I please. All too often, however, this is not the case. Whenever I come across disappointment, across conflict, it should not be something that makes me feel as though I have done something wrong. Rather, it should be something that makes me feel as though I have done something right.
The other day, I had a friend tell me that she was actually praying for conflict in my life. At first, I thought that she was crazy, that normal people pray for release from conflict. And I was right, in a sense. That is what normal people do, but we as Christians are not normal. What we as Christians need to grow are off-days, seeds of doubt that get under our skin, and disappointment. It is only in this way that we might grow.
And it is for this that I am thankful. For this off-day. For the doubt in my life that lets me know the Devil is on to me because perhaps, just perhaps, I am going in the right direction for once. What are you thankful for today?