A couple of weeks ago, I felt so small.
You know how you have some people from your past who you do not deal with? Not necessarily out of negative feelings but just because they aren’t the type of people you want in your life. I have one of those.
I have nothing to do with this person. We don’t talk; on any regular day I give absolutely no thought to them and I have only neutral feelings towards them. In fact, I go weeks and sometimes months at a time without having even a fleeting thought of them. Usually, when a thought does come about this person, it either goes just as quickly as it comes, or if my thoughts are negative, I stop for a moment and say a prayer for them. I don’t do this for them but for me because I don’t want those negative thoughts to have a chance to take root or fester. Sometimes, my prayer is, “Lord, you know I don’t want to pray for this person but I will because you say I should.” Up to now, I’ve been feeling pretty good about myself when it comes to handling my emotions in this regard. That came to a screeching halt a couple of weeks ago.
I went on Facebook. Someone had sent me a message there and when I was done responding, I decided to see what was on my timeline. After a couple of minutes of scrolling, I started to see some pictures that a friend of mine had posted and this other person was in a couple of them. When I realised that, I quickly exited Facebook because I had no interest in even seeing images of the person.
Something about the incident bothered me for a while and even the fact that it bothered me was bothering me. I mean, I think I should be able to see those images and either not feel anything or feel something positive. I tried to push it to the back of my mind but that wasn’t working so I decided to take out my feelings and examine them. After a minute, it became clear to me that what was bothering me was the fact that the person looked happy in the pictures. Further examination showed me that it’s not that I don’t want the person to be happy, I just don’t want them to be happier than me.
Wow. I immediately felt about the size of 1 of those cockroaches that’s been grossing me out, especially because I thought I was already past that point.
A friend emailed me a couple of weeks ago to say she’s been catching up on my blog. She sent me some words of encouragement and called me a woman of God. When I read that, it struck a dissonant chord in me because most of the time I don’t feel like how I imagine a woman of God should feel, which is spiritual and just plain good all the time. A lot of the time, I feel selfish and unkind and like I’m not doing all that I should to be who God wants me to be. Half of the time, I’m struggling to contain my emotions, to remember to pray for people other than myself, to see things through the eyes of the Holy Spirit instead of through carnal eyes, and to keep my thoughts on the straight and narrow. No, I don’t call myself a woman of God; an apprentice, maybe.
Then came that evening with Facebook and my small and petty thoughts and unworthy feelings and I remembered my friend calling me a woman of God. I felt even smaller.
I dug deeper into my heart and realised that, despite the dirt and the rats and the roaches that haunt my life in this Jakarta house, I’m happy to be living the life that I am currently living but I’m also anxious about the path to my future (which is very obscure to me – this is stressful for a planner like myself) and that anxiety has been robbing me of some of the happiness that I could be feeling in the moment and place where I am right now. Of course I’ve prayed about my path and my future and I know that God will take me to exactly where He wants me to be but I want some clarity, you know? What I mean is, I want to go where He wants me to go and I want to know where that is and what’s the plan to get me there. Also, I want to know all that now. And what that told me as I reflected that evening was that I wasn’t fully trusting God in this area because if I was, I would have really relinquished it to Him in my heart and not just with my mouth. Additionally, I wouldn’t then be comparing my happiness level to what seems to be this other person’s happiness level.
I felt smaller still.
Before I went to sleep, I talked it through with God. I confessed all that I was thinking and feeling and asked Him to clean up my heart. The next morning when I woke up, I prayed on it all again. Normally, prayer settles me down pretty quickly but to be perfectly honest, I still didn’t feel good about it because I don’t like these ugly and un-trusting parts of my thoughts and my heart that were been revealed; I really don’t.
So how to move forward? I know of only 1 way – I’ve kept praying it up. I don’t want to be this small-minded, petty person who is ruled by her emotions and who thinks unkind thoughts, but I know I can’t change this 1 myself. I can’t just tell myself to not think that way and miraculously stop. I have to depend on God to help me, to cleanse me, to keep giving me His grace so that hopefully, one day, I can truly be a woman of God.
Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts. Find out if there is any evil in me and guide me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24 (GNT)