I read a beautiful post yesterday by Sarah Bessey inspired by Dr. Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. Dr. Brown is an expert on authenticity, shame, and courage–yeah there are people who actually research shame for a living. In The Gifts of Imperfection she shares what she’s learned from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living, which to me sounds a lot like the abundant life Jesus promises to give us. Dr. Brown espouses embracing imperfection, seeking connection through vulnerability and authenticity, and loving ourselves for who we are so that we may offer that same love to others.
I could write for days on Dr. Brown’s findings, but the point I want to share today, and that Sarah so beautifully recounted in her blog, is the idea that we can’t successfully numb the bad things in our lives–the hurt and pain and disappointment–without numbing the good things too–joy and celebration and love.
Dr. Brown writes,
“In another very unexpected discovery, my research also taught me that there’s no such thing as selective emotional numbing. There is a full spectrum of human emotions and when we numb the dark, we numb the light.”
When I want to numb the pain of leaving a job I used to love, when I numb the pain of missing my friends from the States, when I numb the pain of the injustice and inequality I see all around me, I also numb the good. I numb the gifts. I numb the joy.
It’s the same with God’s voice.
I can’t just choose to hear the good.
I want to hear I love you I love you I love you. But I don’t want to hear correction or command or something as difficult as a calling.
Yes, I pray. Yes, I seek to hear His voice. But on my terms.
Sometimes hearing His voice is life-changing, awe-inspiring, joy-bringing. But sometimes hearing His voice is hard. Sometimes it means I’ll have to give something up to truly follow Him–my money or my time or my pride.
As a follower of Christ, I’m mortified to admit that sometimes tuning my ear to His voice feels more like a buzzkill than a delight.
He can’t possibly want ALL of me. Even in this moment? When I want to sulk or critique, numb or retreat?
I expect Him to tell me good things on demand, but I cover my ears and blab “nah, nah, nah, not listening!” like an insolent child if I think a reprimand or a suggestion or something I don’t want to hear will be uttered.
I want to DELIGHT in His voice; I really think I do. But I have trouble connecting the desire to the action.
I want to be open to everything He has to tell me, the good and the bad, the sweet and the hard.
When will I kneel before my God and say, “Your way is better“?I want to trust that following Him completely is the way to JOY. Yes, the way of sacrifice and inconvenience, but also the only way to joy.
“Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere” say the Psalms.
I can barely give it an hour.
God, I’m sorry I’ve made you into a vending machine God, picking and choosing what I want from You. I want to be real before You, vulnerable before You. I want to stop hiding from the dark, in the dark. I want to seek Your light, Your fullness, Your plan for me, even if it’s hard or inconvenient. I trust that Your way is the BEST the way. And that Your voice is the voice of TRUTH and GRACE, even when the truths sting and I have numbed myself to the grace. I am sorry for not trusting, for not listening. Today I will face the good and the bad, the dark and the light. Today I will embrace a full spectrum faith.
Do you find yourself picking and choosing when or what to listen to when God speaks? How do you learn to surrender to all He has to say to you?
Coming up on the blog: Stay tuned for more reflections inspired by the lovely Sarah Bessey this week.
And I highly recommend getting a copy of Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. Happy Monday!