One bright morning, a young woman was talking with an old friend. After a while, the woman’s friend looked at her and sighed. “It must be so nice to have everything in your life all figured out,” she said.
The woman laughed and replied, “Well, not everything.”
Later that day, the young woman unlocked the door to her cozy apartment and sat by her older sister, who asked about her day.
“It was good.” But neither woman was convinced.
A few moments passed, and the young woman fought an internal battle against surging emotions. “I think I need to talk,” she admitted.
Sobs soon broke loose from the young woman. The tears were watery evidence of a breakdown she had suppressed for hours, days and months. It was a culmination of work stress, emotional stress and — at the crux of it all — life expectations that hadn’t been met yet.
Amidst the tears and embarrassed laughter, she uttered the words that had silently been eating away at her: “I don’t know why [insert here] hasn’t happened yet. I know I shouldn’t think this, but I feel like I haven’t earned it yet. I don’t deserve it, so God hasn’t given it to me.”
The sister held her, lovingly offering support and encouraging words about the promises God had given to the young woman.
Eventually, the young woman wiped her eyes and nose, spent some time in prayer and started writing a story.
Spoiler: I am that young woman, and this is my very true, very recent story.
Another spoiler: I don’t actually have everything in my life all figured out.
Weeks earlier, I read Genesis 22, following Abraham and Isaac as they hiked a mountain to offer a sacrifice to God. Just as Abraham was about to sacrifice the very blessing God had promised to him years before, an angel appeared.
“‘Don’t lay a hand on the boy!’ the angel said. ‘Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.'” (Genesis 22:12 NLT)
While reading this verse, I scribbled a note: What are you withholding from God? The thought intrigued me, but I didn’t get any insights from God at the time.
My breakdown came a few weeks later. As I sobbed, I began to understand what God had started speaking to my heart: It’s okay to be vulnerable.
To be honest, this was hard to admit to myself. I tend to keep things to myself. I don’t like to show weakness. I don’t like it when people see me cry. I don’t like it when people see I’m vulnerable. So, I put those emotions and thoughts aside.
And God was like, “Jen, you’re withholding a part of yourself from me.”
Withhold: To refuse to give; to suppress or hold back.
I wasn’t withholding prayer time, Bible reading, church commitments or anything external from Him. This was emotional withholding.
True friends can talk to each other about anything — be it crazy, stupid or #realtalk. Likewise, if you withhold parts of yourself from a friend, you withhold parts of yourself from that relationship. You essentially build a wall around that part of you, blocking it off from anybody or anything.
And we can do that with God. We can refuse to tell Him about our hidden anxieties and feelings — some of which we might not even know exist. But God already knows.
“You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” (Psalm 139:15-16 NLT)
Yes, God in His omniscience understands every part of us. But He still wants us to communicate with Him, to build that relationship. David recognized this in his psalm. After acknowledging God’s power and knowledge, he asked God to examine him.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NLT)
Express yourself to God. It’s okay to be vulnerable with Him. He can handle your raw thoughts, your anger or confusion, your disappointment or shame. We can trust Him with our innermost parts.
When we are weak, He is our strength. When we are defenseless, He is our fortress. When we are vulnerable, He is our trustworthy friend. So, stand firm in your faith that you are in God’s plan, obey His voice and pursue His promises.
And remember: You don’t have to earn His mercy, grace, blessings or love. His grace is relentless. His mercy is unconditional. His blessings are perfect. His love is unfailing. And His thoughts are good.
“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” (Psalm 139:17 NLT)
You can follow Jennifer English on her personal blog https://jensrandommusings.wordpress.com/