Thesis Update: Struggs

My thesis chapter is basically done! I have to add the finishing touches but I’ll be emailing it to my advisor tonight! Success!

Next goal: Next chapter by next Wednesday + revised intro

In other news:

Sunday I had the chance to hang out with a friend/mentor from last year and we did some catching up. It was really fun to see her again and pick up where we left off. Now I really hope I can be in NYC next year so we could chill more often. That would be so legit!

As we were catching up, we were recounting our various struggles this past year. I told her about the emotional rollercoaster my life has been and she told me about hers. And as we exchanged stories we realized that certain parts of them sounded really similar. And that leads me to today’s post:

In a way, there is this idea of Christianity that we hold in our minds that says we can’t be struggling. That may sound counter to the faith you grew up believing but hear me out for just a moment. As Christians, we’re definitely told to rejoice in persecution, not in some masochistic way, but because through suffering we are becoming more like Christ, even joined to Christ. And yet, when we do suffer, when we feel extraordinary emotional pain, we try to get over it or get rid of it. Or maybe that’s just me.

This is more a commentary on the modern church than on Christianity itself. I don’t think Jesus would be against owning up to our emotional problems. Let me give two examples, one from my life and one from an acquaintance’s. Hers first.

This young woman has been dealing with depression for some time now. I don’t know all the details and I won’t pretend I do, but it’s certain that her life has been rough for the past year or so. Yet, because of her emotional struggle, at least in my opinion (though I don’t often want to admit it), it’s hard not to think there must be something wrong. She must have done something, or said something or gone through something she’s not revealing and that’s why she’s suffering so much emotionally. Not only that, but if she were only truly filled with the joy of the Lord, she wouldn’t be depressed. So basically, she’s doing it wrong.

Whether or not that last statement is true, whether it is actually an issue of being filled with the joy of God is unclear to me. I don’t really worry about it that much although I do think of the verse in Isaiah 53 that labels the coming Messiah, Jesus, as a “man of sorrows…acquainted with grief”. Even Jesus was sorrowful – of course Jesus was sorrowful!

Then I think of my own life. I think of this past year and how it’s been characterized by extreme emotional highs and lows. I think of my attempts to figure out the issues, to do things right so that I wouldn’t be in such a vulnerable position. I think of the moment I realized that, at least for this season, I had a lot of anger issues to deal with. I think of all the spiritual disciplines I tried to implement in hopes that my life would be better and back to normal. I think of how I thought that I must have been doing it wrong this whole time, how out of whack I was relationally and emotionally. I think of the disappointment I felt with myself.

But talking to my friend Sunday I remembered what I had recently learned through this whole ordeal: God wants us to be vulnerable. He wants us to be broken. He wants us to be able to admit that to him and to others. And he wants us to accept that from others as well and even help bear it for them.

I don’t want to be  a person who scoffs at struggles. I don’t want people to scoff at mine. But more than that I want to really get to a place where I can accept that there is no point in your walk with Christ where he stops disciplining you. There’s no truth to the idea that the better Christian is the one who never struggles, or at least never breaks down. I’d thought that was true for so long. I honestly still believe that a little now. But I know it’s false. I know now that when I’m going through a rough time, lying on my bed and literally crying to God, he’s not saying, You’ve failed me. You should be stronger than that. Be a grown up. No, instead he’s reaching out to me with open arms saying, This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased. My power is perfected in your weakness. 

I Peter 4:12-13

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

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