I want to go home. I want to sit by the beach, listen to the waves and feel the sea breeze against my face. I want the touch of the sun on my bare shoulders and legs while digging my toes deeper and deeper into the sand. I want to go back to a place where I can be anonymous, blending into the crowd unnoticed and unseen. I want to return to a place where this unending pressure can lift.
And, you know, I don’t think it is the perpetual heat or the seasonal monotony that has brought me to this place of discontent. It’s not the rats, or maggots, or sewers. It’s not the Mario Cart traffic or the food. It’s not the language or the people.
No, the problem is me. I don’t like who I am here. I don’t like who I have become. All of the added pressure and stressors have made me unrecognizable to myself.
I am no longer energetic, positive, and adventurous. I’m not thirsting for God and holiness. Instead I am tired and irritable. I don’t smile like I used to, or find levity easily in life’s day to day experience. I’m not a language savant or a relational mastermind. I’m dull, haggard and definitely not who I thought I would be when I took this step of faith. I am much more broken then I knew, I’m not as strong as I supposed and I spend more time cooking than I ever wanted.
I am in desperate need of a revival within my soul. But the question I keep asking myself is, “Why?” Why do I want to be revived? What am I truly seeking? Because in all honesty, it is not a longing wrought out of purity but is a longing rooted in self-love. I long for a revival that will alleviate my struggle and transform me into the woman I wish I was. A woman who is honored and competent and kind. A woman without fault. Isn’t that the promise, after all? That the more steps of faith we take, the more that we sacrifice and give, the more like Christ we will become? The more perfect we will be?
Instead, I have become an unwilling spectator in the collapse of my idealistic self. Piece by piece, God is cutting away at my self-love and it is unbelievably painful. Under the pressure of this cross-cultural life, God has been tearing away my façade and what I am left with is ugly and raw. It’s not pretty. It’s messy, it’s humiliating and it is me. The true, unveiled, unhidden me. When I catch sight of myself I want to hide behind spiritual platitudes, fake smiles and outright detachment. What else can you do when you are faced with the reality of what is truly inside your soul?
I desperately need God to revive me but I see now that death must come first. Revival is the restoration of something dying or already dead and I cannot be revived until I have laid to rest the woman I wish I was. This is not the death of self that looks holy, the one in which I hyper-spiritualize and rationalize my behavior away. No, I’m talking about a death of self that allows me to look on my imperfections and yet not be shattered by their presence. This kind of death takes courage to face, because I have to acknowledge the existence of my failure and brace myself for the consequences. Neither justifying my poor choices nor condemning myself for my inadequacies. This kind of death has beauty and new life on its heels.
I’m like a forest on fire, helpless as I watch the debris and underbrush burn all around me. Yet, fire is never the end of the story, it is just the beginning. Fire is a part of growth and under God’s competent hands, this controlled burn will provide me with a more nourished soul and more sunlight than ever before. It will create the space and environment for a stronger resolve and a clearer perspective.
I long for God to revive my delicate soul and I am confident that he will, but the pruning and burning and stripping must come first.
I’m not sitting on that quiet beach today and maybe I won’t be tomorrow but I will choose to remain steadfast in this place. I will hold tightly to faith that when God’s revival begins there will be no stopping it and it will be a beautiful display of his goodness and grace. So, I will dig in my heels and stand firm in the face of my weaknesses as God continues to expose my grip on self-love with full assurance that victory will come.
“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.” Psalm 71:20
Are you in need of a revival? In what areas do you need to die to your self-love? How has God revived you from a place of weakness in the past?