Oh boy. Well, this one's been a long time coming, and now, just now, at 2:33 in the morning between me and Alicia and the Holy Spirit flowing like crazy, we've got at something. I wanted to write about a week or so ago about how selfish I've been realizing I am. It's a lot of different things that have been happening, and it's strange because in some ways I'm the opposite, but I have to explain that and this is just so much at once, so. Let's see if we can do this.
Problem number one: selfishness. This one encompasses a ton of other things, but generalities first. I'm thinking about how I always write about myself, and I'm certainly always thinking about myself. This is aggravated by the fact that I'm so introspective, which I don't think is a bad thing, and it's certainly an area where God is working and I do believe he will use to glorify himself, this not being about changing my personality or anything (I don't think I'd be able to write if I weren't so introspective). I was listening to Alicia talk the other day about how she was praying for these different people and I realized that, while I do pray for other people some, and while it is genuine, I pray mostly about myself. What's going on in my life, how God's working in that, what I need help with, and me me. I write that stuff out. I talk about it in discipleship. This is just another example of how Alicia and I are so alike and so different, and complement each other in a very yin and yang sort of way. In this area, she's super compassionate, and after a little while, I'm quick to become selfish, to lose patience.
Immersing in other cultures, listening to people--in these ways, while I'm only good at these things because of God, I go on my own steam. And I can go a little while that way, but it does not last. It was never meant to. Of course, I was never meant to do any of this without God. I'm thinking about a specific moment with my friend who isn't a Christian. And for a while I cared so much about her and was praying for her and having these conversations and all of that, and in some ways she would be open, but she kept putting up a wall and I kept running against it. Enter patience on my own steam. And it worked, for a while. But then one night, it just pushed right over my limit (my limit being exactly what the word is, very limited). We were having a conversation and, in fewer words, she basically told me she'd rather be ignorant and selfish about all the really terrible things that happen in the world, because she didn't want to feel guilty about having it so good here. And there was some stuff about how she doesn't need anyone--she's one of the most self-reliant, independent, never wants to need anyone ever people I've met, which is problematic because how do you realize you need Jesus if you don't think you need anyone? And I just got so frustrated, so angry at her. Partly because I just threw in the towel at her resistance to anything to do with needing people and God (which is pretty silly of me, but just laying it out here) which reads: running out of patience. And that frustration turned into not really caring to be around her which led to me being passive aggressive and being a terrible friend in so many different ways and selfishness.
I do this thing when I hit this limit with people. I get fed up (so quickly) and I just don't care anymore. I'm done with it, moved on, over it. Well, whatever then.
Problem number two: I am keeping things removed from me, keeping my heart incredibly guarded and walled up, and I didn't even realize it until about a week ago. It's sort of typical for me I guess, but I thought I was doing okay. I can talk about all the crazy things that have happened in my life with little reservation. I'll go there with people, I love having conversations about real, hard stuff, getting into people lives and hearts. But I've written before about how I felt so distant from that, like Dave Eggers and the shed snake skin. And then the thing that came up a couple of weeks ago about not holding things too closely, about really hard things happening and being okay, too okay, nearly immediately.
Realization: I am not letting my heart into things and I am not letting things into my heart. I thought I was, but I am not. Not at all. I was talking to another friend recently and I realized I'd been this way since breaking up with my ex. Which sounds ridiculous, I've never been one of those people and pretentious Sara, the one with no patience for people who use things as excuses not to grow, has always thought I'd never be that way, whatever would happen to me. But I think about how hard that whole thing was for me, how I held onto it for months and months, just hurt and bitterness like it would never quit. And I know that before, living with my mother, things were so difficult and I can remember how hard they were, how I didn't know if I could get through it. So I know that things have been close to my heart before. And then I think about the first genuinely difficult thing after all of that, when I met my dad in December, and how all that went so wrong. But it was never hard. I mean, it was, but it wasn't close. I skipped along the surface of that thing the whole time, and I never realized it, not until nearly a year later. Of course I can shoulder through, I can keep going with life because life keeps going when I don't let anything near enough to me to catch me. How I did that, how I have been doing that without having coming to this realization sooner absolutely blows my mind.
And it's incredibly easy to let things go, to drop them when I run out of patience if I haven't ever really invested my heart in them. I'm not talking about burning bridges or anything. What I mean is caring, how it's easy to quit caring and to say fine, forget it, I'm done when you never really cared well to begin with. You know?
Here's the part that really blows my mind. I'm saying patience, I'm writing patience, but really it's grace, grace masquerading as patience. That's the problem. And bam! Haven't I just started to realize this? How I do not come anywhere close to understanding grace. How I have so much trouble receiving God's grace. I've got a limit, but he does not. He does not. The problem is a grace problem. And if I can't receive, how on earth do I expect to give it?
I'm not sure how this ties in with unguarding my heart some, although I know it absolutely does. I know that God is working here, and he does not want me to be this way. He doesn't want me to be so mean and selfish and quick to quit. And he wants me to rely on him for all this, for giving people grace, for having patience. I can do a little on my own steam, but that's just it, it's only ever a little and I could never really do it unless he is doing it through me. So I have to let him do that. I have to let him pour his grace out on me first, I have to accept forgiveness and give him these places where I'm selfish and ungraceful and bitter, and he's got to be the one to unguard my heart some, because after all, it's his.
It is his. And it is a mess. And I feel like something big's coming, I've been feeling like this for a while now, and I'm so scared, but how do I learn to give hard, really hard things to God if I just deal with them (by not letting them touch me) myself? It's like asking for patience and expecting to just get it. Sometimes I don't really know how to give things to God, and it's especially true with this in that I never realized I wasn't putting my heart into certain things. How do I put my heart into something when I thought I was all along? How do I learn to be graceful? I know it's accepting God's grace first, but if knowing it meant my heart did, then this wouldn't be the problem.
I should have ended it a paragraph ago, but I just pray you would pour out your grace on me, Father, that you would help me to understand how to be loved by you, how to love other people and to forgive, how to trust you and put my heart into things so you can be glorified in them. I know that I am so tired of realizing how much of a mess I am, how selfish I am but I trust you, God, I know you're growing me and I don't even know what to do with it most times but right there, in that right there, God I pray you would press me into yourself, that I would lean into you and it would be just like what you want, you saving me from hard stuff. I don't even know, God I just. That's what I want, my heart to be yours, and I've been dancing around everything with this awful pretense of loving people and sharing life and learning to love you, but that's not something that can be done without the heart, and it is yours, God, I want it to be yours.