You don’t want to admit it. You don’t even know if you can allow yourself to say it.
But you hate where you live.
It feels like a dirty word –“hate.” Certainly nothing a good Christian is allowed to feel about the place God has her.
You feel stuck.
You want something else. You don’t know what. This is your life and what else would you do?
But you also desperately want to get out of here.
You stuff it down. You get up another morning. You paste on the smile. Happy Christian. You do another day. “I’m fine, how are you?” You try to ignore it, but it leaks out in complaining negativity. You lie down at night and feel that life has drained out just a bit more.
Maybe this is just a phase, and you’ll get over it.
Maybe this is just culture shock, and it will pass.
Maybe this is just re-entry shock, and it will normalize.
Maybe this is just suffering for the Lord, and you need to be willing.
Or maybe you really do need to get out of here.
How do you know? What do you do?
You’re afraid to tell anyone, to show anyone how your no-façade-authentic-self is actually doing.
But somedays you want to so bad. You want to have a real honest, let-it-all-out talk where you hold nothing back.
That’s this sticky business with authenticity. When you get the courage to be authentic, how do you find the person with whom you can actually do it?
Wives, if you tell your husband, you see how it weighs him down. He doesn’t know how to fix it.
If you tell anyone from “home” they don’t understand.
If you tell anyone in leadership or even member care, you’re afraid they’ll judge you, maybe send you packing.
If you tell teammates, you think they’ll either one-up you with a story of hardship, or they’ll be astounded that you don’t absolutely love it here like they do.
If you find someone with a safe listening ear, you feel some relief. But eventually you’re dissatisfied again because it didn’t fix anything.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t talk and share with people. You should. You need to. But I do understand the hurdles and fears that stand in the way.
Can I ask you a question?
Have you ever considered that before any other human, you first need to be authentic with yourself and with God?
Have you had that real honest, let-it-all-out, hold-nothing-back talk with… God?
I know you ask him for help, for guidance, for peace and joy.
But have you ever told him how you hate it? And why?
In Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero says,
“We feel defective because we ought not to be feeling the ‘wrong’ things. We then lie to ourselves, sometimes convincing ourselves that we aren’t feeling anything because we don’t think we should be feeling it. We shut down our humanity.” P. 71
He goes on to say,
“Allow yourself to experience the full weight of your feelings. Allow them without censoring them. Then you can reflect and thoughtfully decide what to do with them. Trust God to come to you through them. This is the first step in the hard work of discipleship.” P. 73
Do you allow yourself to do that? To feel the full weight of your uncensored feelings? Do you bring them raw and unfiltered before God as David did in Psalms?
In her amazing new podcast, Emily Thomas interviewed Breena Holt about a season of intense grief and loss (and is that not what culture or re-entry shock is about – grief and loss?). Emily asked Breena what her advice was for people in thick of that season. Her response?
“There are different stages throughout (grief), I was one person at one point and one person at another point in my faith. Be true to where you are and meet God where you are, because he can handle it. Go to him as you are. Don’t pretend to be anything else. In the end God is my rescuer. He is my comfort. He is the one who brings healing. No one else can bring you that. No human words can fix it. God gets so deep in your soul, only his words can feed you.”
You may hate where you live. You may be struggling with fierce negative emotion in another area. Whatever it is, can I nudge you right now to go be with God? Go take your authentic self before him and dump your heart out. And then? Just wait. Wait and listen. I think the Spirit of God wants to speak to our hearts if we’re willing to be real and then quiet.
Are you a stuffer of negative emotion? Are you hating where you live or wrestling with other “hate” feelings?
What is the Spirit saying to your authentic self?
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