Thursday, September 2, 2010

When People Let You Down

This is yet another devotion I came across today- on a day that I really needed it. I'm sharing it because it's healing for me to share, and because I hope it helps someone else, too.

I've been struggling with a particular issue/situation for the better part of three years. Yes, I know- the Israelites wandered through the desert for 40 years, so what's three years, right? And, you're right- three years isn't that long. But, when things don't always go as planned, three years can seem like eternity.

You see, I felt a call on my life in the summer of 1993 to ministry. Vague, right? Maybe. Ministry takes on many faces, many voices- it can really be anything from writing a note to a shut-in once a week to moving across the world and sharing Him. However, during this calling, I had a vision of me leading worship. Again, vague, right? I have, after all, been singing in "big church" since I was three. Leading worship has become part of who I am- not just what I do. It warms my heart so to watch people from my vantage point as they enter the throne room of the King. I guess you could say I am helped in my worship by others and their worship.

I love to hear the stories of how Jesus touches people. For that reason, I share mine. I accepted Jesus as my Savior in early 1990. I was in the fourth grade, and it was Revival time. I LOVE church revivals. It's a time for a refreshing word from a different perspective, at least most of the time. This one was no different. Revival was compartmentalized by adults and kids. Our church was, I would say, filled with between 100-150 per service. A pure guess, but... There weren't usually very many kids- in fact, I was the only kid my age. But, the preacher that week took one night- Tuesday, I think- and spoke directly to the kids in the Fellowship Hall. He talked about our hearts and what they look like when they're full of sin. The Fellowship Hall became our heart, and as he spoke, he threw trash, paper, etc. all over the floor. The place was a mess! To make a long story short, the image of him having to kick around trash and nastiness just to be able to talk to us- and that representing the sin that infiltrates our hearts- spoke to this chick. I prayed with my preacher-all-my-life grandfather to ask Jesus into my heart and walked to the front of the church the next day or day after. (I think I actually made my "faith walk" on that Thursday.) I was in the pew with my Daddy, and as we prayed, I clearly felt a hand on my shoulder. I thought it was my Daddy, nudging me that "it was time." I looked over through a peeked eye (we are after all, praying), but he was in an attitude of prayer- head bowed, eyes closed, no doubt praying for me. I stayed put. Again, the hand. And again, not my dad. (Remind you of something? Samuel? Eli? Anyone?) I finally realized (duh) that it was the hand of Jesus, nudging me to the next step in my journey with Him. I went forward, made my profession of faith, and was baptized on Easter Sunday.

Fast forward a couple of years to Youth Camp. Hunter green t-shirt with a mountain-climber dude on the back- sky blue writing. "Reach the Peak". I know someone remembers... Again, Tuesday night. What's up with me and God and Tuesday? (Subsequently, I met my husband on a Tuesday. I digress.) The speaker calls for a time of prayer, and I feel a nudge. Talk about hair standing on the back of my head. We're in the mountains of Tennessee. It's hot. Maybe I'm delirious, but I feel it- just like I did in the pew of Unity Baptist Church. I look over, thinking maybe someone beside me just needs out. Nope, no one there. Really? So, I surrender to the Hand and leave my folding chair. I'm sitting about 6 rows back, looking at the stage, on the right. I have no idea where I'm going or why I'm going, but I am led to a patch of grass to my right. I feel the hands lead me to my knees, and my face into the grass. Whoa- I'm not really used to this whole "face to the ground" thing. But, I can't deny the Hands. I cry out to Him- "why am I here?" And, as audibly as I hear the pecking of the keyboard now, I heard "because you're going to minister for Me." Um, ok. "I have given you a voice- now use it. I want you to help lead my people as they worship Me." And then, I see it- a vision of the gym at our church. And I'm there, helping lead. I'm singing- people I don't even know are playing instruments around me. We're singing a song I don't know. But, we're there- I can see it clearly. And it's wonderful. It's beautiful. It's natural- right where I know I belong.

Now fast forward a few more years, to a time and place in our church that looks ALOT like the vision I had in Tennessee that year. I mean, ALOT. Like, the same. To think that our church would venture into such an environment was sort of unheard of in my younger years, but now, we're there. And, because of the vision I had, and the longing in my heart to help lead people to Jesus, I just figured I'd be there. If I had the vision, surely that meant I was to be a part, right? Maybe. But that hasn't been the case yet. And I'm hurt. I'm sad. I'm disappointed. And I've acted out of those emotions. My sweet husband, trying to come to my defense, has acted out of those same emotions, and has been admonished greatly for it. And I don't like it. That in itself hurts me. This is my battle to fight. My questions to ask. Garrett didn't sign on for it- he's just trying to protect me. To say that the past three years has been a struggle would be an understatement. I've been told to seek God more, listen to God more, try and understand where others are coming from in their decisions more- they're listening to God, after all. Well, so am I. And don't get me wrong- I don't think God gives people varying visions and such about the same situation. He's not a God who sets out to confuse us. And I know that we're all doing the best with what we have and what we feel, but I would really appreciate being heard- and I would really appreciate someone acknowledging the fact that I, too, am seeking after Him. Sure, there have been times I've not heard Him clearly and begged for something from Him. The past few years have been plagued by many other struggles- not just this one, but in it all I've tried to listen. I feel alot of the time that I'm just alone. Standing in the midst of a crowd, yelling at the top of my lungs, and being completely ignored. I can't help the way I feel. Am I wrong? Maybe. But, as the saying goes, it is what it is, and I can't shake that feeling. Sure, I've been told my day will come, and even that the day is closer than ever, but honestly, I've heard that before. And, again, I'm hurt. And again, I can't help it.

Fast forward now to today's devotion. So. Timely. For. Me. I will lead worship this Sunday with one of the greatest friends I've ever had in my life. And I am so excited to do so! My friend playing guitar, our voices joining together as they have so many times before... Pure excitement! And, oh, the vision I have of the activities of Heaven while we sing. I can picture my grandfather- whittling away on old wooden spools, making tops for the children sitting around he and my grandmother. She's rocking babies, both her outstretched feet hitting the floor at the same time as she makes the rocking chair rock. And around them, the cherubim themselves- watching over them all and singing "holy, holy, holy" in time with the flutter of their wings. What a beautiful picture!

I am still disappointed. I'm still hurt. But, today, I'm choosing to grieve what I "thought" would be reality, and grab hold of what is reality. I've spent too much time trying to put my vision and my calling into words. Frankly, I'm tired of crying, being upset, and upsetting my husband in the process. So, today, I'm choosing to let go of what wasn't and isn't, and hold onto what is.

When People Let You Down

2 Sep 2010
Melanie Chitwood

"Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." Psalm 62:8 (NASB)

Disappointment feels like a heavy rock sinking to the bottom of my spirit. I've felt disappointed in many situations – a business opportunity that didn't pan out, a writing door that didn't open, and a relationship that broke my young heart.

The heaviest disappointments for me, however, stem from people. And not just any people; people who I'm closest to. People who turn out to be not at all what I hoped they'd be, or not who I thought they were.

I know I'm not alone in wondering how to deal with people who let me down. Just this week a friend said with a choke in her voice, "I wish my mom and I could be closer, but I don't think we ever will be." Another woman said with despondency, "My husband and I just don't talk." I've heard the edge of bitterness in women's voices as they vow never to trust again because of a friend's betrayal. And most of us have swallowed the hopelessness that comes with a broken heart, "I thought he was the one."

I've tried different ways to handle disappointments in relationships. One way is to ignore the disappointment, to shut it in a box and hope the lid holds. Another way is to gloss over it with a quick statement such as, "People will let you down, but God never will." True, but does this really help me process the hurt?

One morning in my quiet time I was pouring out my sadness, anger and disappointment about a close relationship. As the tears slipped down my face, I begged God to show up. What do I do with all this? Show me and I'll do it because what I've been doing is not working.

Clear as a bell ringing in my spirit, Jesus said, Grieve.

Really? I questioned. I remembered that Jesus knew all about disappointment – Peter's denial, Judas' betrayal, and the disciples falling asleep during His anguish before His crucifixion (Matthew 26). I remembered people in the Bible who were well acquainted with people they loved letting them down, such as Joseph or Job. I felt reassured that Jesus wouldn't misunderstand my sadness as a lack of faith.

So I cried, feeling every ounce of the disappointment. I told God all the things I wish were different about this relationship, all the things I thought this person had done wrong, and what I wish this person would do differently.After the winds of grief subsided, I was done. Grieving was the bridge I had to cross to move beyond the disappointment. On the other side I found myself in a place where I could embrace the relationship for what it is, not what it's not.

On the other side of grief lies a place where we can consider how to respond to the person who disappointed us. There are a number of possible responses. Sometimes we need to talk to the person or get godly counsel. Other times we may need to create healthy boundaries, or we may need just to let it go. Only after we've allowed ourselves to grieve, however, will we know how to respond to this person in the way that God wants. Then the words, "People will let you down, but God never will," will be truly comforting, not just empty words.

Dear Lord, I'm so thankful that when it feels like no one else understands, You do. You understand about being disappointed in people but You loved them in the midst of that. Lord, I want to follow Your example. I'm thankful You know this sadness is a part of healing from the pain of disappointment. Give me guidance in handling this -I trust that You can bring good out of this. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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