Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started
Featured

Pregnancy Devotional: Introductory Post

This is {hopefully} the inaugural post of an upcoming series of reflections that follows each week of pregnancy.

One semi-peaceful naptime while weathering the first trimester with my third child, I plopped down on the couch with the intention of spending a few moments of quiet devotional time with the Lord. I was queasy, exhausted, and still coming down from the frustrated hustle that was the daily lunchtime-into-naptime process with two kids under the age of 3. My soul was thirsty for encouragement and truth, yet I was too overwhelmed, distracted, and braindead to know where to start.

Albeit excited about this precious unknown living inside of me, the reality of growing, birthing, and caring for another small human weighed on my heart like a boulder. So, like a true millennial, I began scouring the internet in search of a pregnancy devotional. I wanted something short, gospel-focused, and mindful of the unique struggles and experiences that women face during those seemingly eternal nine months of growing a baby.

After wasting precious minutes of my quickly dissipating naptime solace, my search came up short. Everything I found felt too…well, shiny. Silhouettes of mothers lovingly cradling their perfectly round bellies, flowery titles printed in pastel pinks and blues, all speaking of the joy and gift and wonder of motherhood.

Don’t get me wrong, motherhood is indeed a wondrous gift full of indescribable joys. Solomon had it right when he said, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3). However, at 1pm on that particular weekday in May, I was not in the frame of mind to bask in that truth, nor any other embroidery-worthy Proverb. In fact, I frequently found myself in that place: possessing neither the energy nor the softness of heart to conjure up the posture of faith and the gratitude that felt necessary in order to engage with a devotional about the blessing of motherhood.

So, two years after my third daughter entered the world, along came the brainchild that is this project: a devotional geared toward that miraculous, yet often anxiety-ridden journey of pregnancy. One that doesn’t pull punches on the messy and scary side of pregnancy which seemed to encompass the majority of my day to day experience.

You see, if we have a God whose love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” (1 Corinthians 13:7), then we are free to come before Him honestly and openly with our fear, our pain, our hurt, and our disappointment. In fact, we must bring those things to Him if we ever expect to find healing and rest.

God did not need me to conjure up an instagram-worthy devotional during that weary weekday naptime. I did not need to procure the gusto to acknowledge the miracle that He was accomplishing inside my womb. The Spirit could do that. Instead, He just wanted me, in my nauseated heap on that couch, to turn to Him in my need and allow Him to lift my heart and my mind to the heights of hope and gratitude that felt so far off that day.

That is my hope in this series: that it will serve as a daily prompt in allowing the Spirit to carry you from those places of weariness and worry into the rest and security that can only be found in Christ.

My biggest fear in putting this devotional together is that its readers would not be met in the place that they are for their pregnancy. Every person enters into expectant motherhood from a totally different place — some are pining for a child, others are blindsided by an unwanted pregnancy; some are miserable while pregnant, others love every second of it.

While my pregnancy journey may be different from yours, the one thing that unites us on this journey is Christ and His Word. Our need for the Savior is a desperate one, and motherhood seems to have a special way of highlighting that reality. So, whether my feeble writing is relatable to your situation or rubs you the wrong way, I am confident in the fact that we have a God whose Spirit and whose Word meets you exactly where you are. Whether you are entering pregnancy from a place of joy, dread, fear, or ambiguity, press into Him and know that He sees you and is providing for your daily needs.

Crosswalk Articles

Below are a running list of articles I have written for Crosswalk.com, an online Christian living magazine that I became connected with through another homeschool mama-writer-friend

Parenting

Marriage

Friendship

Special Coverage

Entertainment

Hopewriters Challenge

I participated in a 7-day writing challenge with Hopewriters as a way to grow my newfound habit of writing. Each day there was a one-word prompt as inspiration for sharing. I hope that you benefit from reading these entries as much as I did from writing them!

{Disclaimer: I came down with the flu half way through the week, so forgive me if it gets a little loopy toward the end!}

Day 1: New

“The One sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new.‘” – Revelation 21:5

This handy stack of verses (compliments of @shannonrepparddesigns) sits beside the two household items which I am guaranteed to visit several times each day: the kitchen sink and the coffee pot. As a homeschool mom of 3 young ones, my impulses for caffeine and cleaning occupy an unduly high place on my totem pole of security and peace. However, as I make a b-line for these false fortresses, a glance at my monthly verse prompts my soul to allow the word of God to wash over me and awaken my soul. This passage for January from Revelation 21:5 feels especially relevant as we make our resolutions for new habits, mindsets, and health regiments. I keep wondering if my recent hope for developing a new muscle as a writer will flourish or fizzle out. What a sweet reassurance this verse brings from the One whose plans never fail or wain. Brothers and sisters, hide yourselves and your plans in He who consistently has, is, and will continue to make all things new.

Day 2: Light

We all have a need for light moments. We crave it in dramas when the comedic relief character chimes in. We welcome the witty side comment which cuts the tension in a meeting. Even our taste buds chase after those dishes which couple salty flavors with a sweet aftertaste. This year in our first attempt at homeschooling, I discovered the need to bring joy and silliness into our daily grind. As someone who loves to check boxes and cross off to-do’s, carving out the space and time for playful moments in our homeschool day feels a bit like torture. But, as I narrate our reading exercise in a kermit-the-frog voice, or walk a paw patrol character through our math lesson, the laughter and the play accomplish a quiet subversion. Truth and knowledge stick to the light. When we stop taking ourselves quite so seriously, our important words become softer and yet more effective. So, join me in taking a deep breathe so we can slow our roll and welcome the light which makes lessons worth learning and life worth living.

Day 3: Open

This was my four year old on our way into the gym this morning. A balmy 42 degrees, perhaps she was protecting herself from the January cold. But my money is on the likelihood that our resident introvert was just soaking up the last moment of solitude before entering a building full of familiar and friendly faces, and descending the stairs into a nursery of voices and eyes. She comes by it honestly. Inevitably, wherever I venture with my little crew of daughters, I am the recipient the typical opening lines: “You’ve got your hands full!” “Daddy’s outnumbered, huh?” “They are precious! Enjoy every minute.” I get it. We are quite the spectacle with their singsong voices and princess accessories, paired with my disheveled appearance and usually agitated state. More often than not, I want to just burrow into my coat like Lydia. But, these unsolicited interactions are part of the life that encompasses my calling in this phase. I have been given an opportunity to engage in love and kindness with the people in our path who are probably likewise tired, overwhelmed and in need of human connection. I sigh at it, but I really need it too. As I reluctantly open myself to the souls around me, the comfort in community that we were designed for softens my heart and fills my days with significance.

Day 4: Dream

What are your anxiety dreams about? Are you late to class and forgot to study for an exam? Running in slow motion from an assailant? Showing up for a meeting and realizing you have no clothes on? Mine are nearly always about ballet. I forget the choreography in the middle of a performance. I can’t get my costume on in time for my entrance. The directors body shame me in front of my peers. It’s a strange reenactment of residual longing and disappointment. There’s an irony to the fact that my most vivid interactions with my former dream of 12 years now take the form of a nightmare. In a way, that’s what happened in real life. Making a career of dance became everything to me to the degree that it trumped my health, self respect, and wisdom. I think that’s the danger for some people with “chasing the dream.” Like anything other than faith in Christ, when it becomes too ultimate, it turns into a nightmare. Sometimes it doesn’t become your nightmare, but rather the one of a person you love. But believe me, someone will suffer. This isn’t to say that you need to stop dreaming, stop reaching, stop hoping. Do those things that your soul can’t help but pursue, but hold them in their rightful place. The problem with the narrative, “you can do anything you set your mind to,” is that it denies the question of whether or not you should do it — for the sake of yourself and your community. Do dream, but not in a vacuum. Do reach, but not without boundaries. Do hope, but not without the courage to surrender. Remember that you are worth more than simply what you make of yourself.

Day 5: Slow

“Do we have to decide right now?” If I had a nickel for every time my husband has asked me that…I probably would have immediately spent my gains on ill-planned expenditures.

Typically, I consider decisiveness to be one of my strengths. We planned our wedding in 3.5 months. I found and purchased our living room furniture in a span of 15 minutes. I made the tile salesperson swoon last year when I selected the style and layout of every piece of tile and grout in our home in slightly over an hour (and there were a LOT of options to pick from). While I usually turn up my nose at people who belabor decisions and research ad nauseam, I have found myself lingering in their camp recently. Granted, the decisions we are weighing these days carry more significance than color schemes and visual flow. What should we do for our kids’ education next year? What does it look like for George to take the next steps in his career while still putting our family first? How do I explore my own passions in tandem with motherhood? These decisions make me squirm because they can’t be made in an hour, or even a month.

As I sit in limbo, it makes me realize that much of my “skill” in decisiveness stems from fear. I’m scared of the unknown, and I feel powerless when I slow down. To pray for guidance when I don’t pretty much already have my mind made up is new territory for me, and I don’t like it. But, hopefully this scary new place of careful waiting will usher me into this next phase with more wisdom, more courage, and more trust. 

Day 6: Brave

{This is apparently when all the Sudafed & cough syrup finally caught up to my brain}

A Flu Haiku

What is bravery?
A husband’s lingering care
When he knows he’s next. 😳🤢😷🤒

Day 7: Rise

“Arise, for it is your task, and we are with you; be strong and do it.” Ezra 10:4

Grieving the people’s sins, Ezra falls to the ground in despair. He is mourning the ways that they turned from God, and confesses it aloud. He is broken. Then Shecaniah, a leader of the people, speaks up: “We have broken faith with our God…but even now there is hope…” (10:2) Shecaniah follows the prophet’s example in confession and reassures him that he is not alone. Then comes the exhortation to rise up and lead the people into renewed obedience.


See the beauty of shared repentance? Unconcealed tears. Contagious confession. Communal rising.

If This Was Not Your Decade

I have soaked up all of the 10-year recaps and year-end summaries that flooded the internet this past week as we welcomed 2020. Between those and the Christmas cards that I tore open and taped to our doorway throughout December, I have been filled with all the warm fuzzies from thoughtful and inspiring reflections. Really, it’s been great. It’s a beautiful thing to see how people have changed and grown through both the hard and the good. 

Yet, as the reflections and the cards came in, I couldn’t help feeling a little heavy hearted, too. I thought about the friends and family who have suffered real tragedy, encountered staggering changes, or who have prayed and longed these past 10 years for life to look different than the way it is right now. I thought about my own story and the end of a short-lived career that left me heartbroken and humiliated. I looked at the baggage and the scars that I picked up in the last decade, and the relationships that have either disintegrated or become messier now than they were back then. Of course there have been new, beautiful, and wonderful things too: marriage, babies, friends, houses, vacations; things that I can and ought to recall with thanksgiving and awe. I have plenty of #blessed moments to produce a 10-year recap which outshines the heartache. 

But I wonder, what if that isn’t the case for you? What if the good doesn’t outweigh the bad? Or what if your mind and heart are in a place where even the good things are eclipsed by depression or anxiety? How do you enter a new 10-year span if you can’t look back on the last one without tears welling in your eyes? 

So, if this was not your decade…

You don’t have to tie it up in a bow of gumption to procure strength and good perspective in the one to come. If you’re leaving this decade more disappointed or stagnant or even marred than how you entered it, you’re allowed to feel disappointed about it. If you can’t think of a witty and inspirational way to express how you’ve come out on top of 2019, don’t feel like you should.

It’s ok to be stuck; not because the next decade will necessarily be better, and not because there is some power to be gained in surrendering to the hardship. It’s ok to be stuck for one reason: because God has you, wherever you are. In your pit of depression, in your grieving, in your longing, in your exhaustion, in your disillusionment: believer, He has you. You don’t have to muster up a grateful perspective or the resolve to improve. He meets you in the depths. You don’t have to feel His grasp. He has you all the same, and He loves you. 

The hope and optimism of His story of victory over death and sadness are more than all that you need for inspiration to carry on in 2020. So rest in Him, or yell at Him if you need to; but know that you are seen and delighted in by the One who resolved to save us. 

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Romans‬ ‭8:18-25‬ ‭ESV

Brothers, Sisters, Lake Sharks and Frenemies

My three daughters are best friends and mortal enemies. They know each other inside and out, and thus possess the tools and the power to evoke both deep blessing and utter pain. At ages 5, 4, and 1, they spend a large portion of their day encompassed together in their own world of pretend. They have started developing their own inside jokes and ways of communication, and the older two choose to sleep together each night in the same twin sized mattress of their bunk beds. It makes my heart explode. 

They also fight. A lot. It is exhausting for me as mom/referee. I have watched my middle child’s eyes flash with hate as she shoved my oldest down the brick steps of our porch. I’ve seen my oldest smirk deviously as she ignores the existence of a little sister who is pleading for a turn with a coveted toy. My 1-year-old even gets in on the sibling-on-sibling crimes as she runs away victoriously with a handful of hair that she has just ripped from her big sister’s head. My sweet, affectionate and caring little humans turn into cold-hearted savages at the drop of a hat. 

Sometimes I daydream about what it would be like to “only” take one child to the park.* I wonder how it would feel to sit down with my 5-year-old and complete our homeschool lesson without fielding 15 interruptions from a jealous preschooler. I fantasize about reading a Dr. Seuss book to my middle child all the way through without the baby coming in and hitting me in the face with the one that she insists on reading RIGHT NOW. 

But then, I remember the fact that I couldn’t imagine life without my two brothers. As the youngest and only girl in my family, I was duct taped to the dining room chair (which, granted, I voluntarily agreed to because my FOMO is that unhealthy), endowed with nicknames that I had no power to eliminate (bean dip — for no reason other than the fact that I hated it), and believed that lake sharks were real until my freshman year in high school. 

Yet, in spite of these things (and maybe even in light of them — again, the FOMO), my brothers are some of my best friends. We all live in different states with our own families now, and we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, but there is a bond, an understanding, and an unconditional acceptance of one another that is unique to any other relationship. They can speak into my life, both now and in the past, in a way that others have neither the capacity nor the right to do so. I trust their input (ironically, given the fact that they lied to me about lake sharks for 14 years), and my heart bursts with joy when I see our own kids beginning to form new bonds together as cousins. 

The gift of siblinghood is unlike any other, and I truly believe that it is a gift. While I know that as a parent, I have a duty to help my kids navigate the daily hurdles of communication and reconciliation with each other, I personally believe that sibling friendship can’t be proccurred. It’s not a guarantee that my children will grow up to be close to one another, but I sure do pray that will be the case for my kids.**   

I hope that these young sisters/frenemies will develop into allies who rejoice and mourn with each other over the big and the little things. Confidantes who can speak truth and hope into one another’s  lives as they piece together the past and navigate the present. Co-laborers who will (Oh, please God) team together and figure out how to care for their aging parents as we regress into senility. So, when I catch myself grumbling (probably later today) at all the little shoes strewn across our foyer, the mounds of crumbs accrued at each kid’s spot under our kitchen table, and all the fights that break out, I’ll try to remember that it’s worth it. We are witnessing a blessing that begins long before they will meet their spouses and (Lord willing) endures for years past the days that their dad and I pass away. 

Megan Carson Photography

*To be clear: CARING FOR ANY NUMBER OF HUMANS IS A BIG DEAL. I’ve taken one kid to the park — it is exhausting. 


**It would be remiss of me to share these thoughts without taking a second to say that brothers and sisters don’t have to be biological. Not everyone gets to enjoy a close sibling relationship, or have siblings at all. These reflections are not intended to make parents of only children feel like their kids are missing out, or to heap further pain upon those who have lost siblings or children. You are not excluded from benefiting from this blessing. The Bible frequently speaks to the parallels between brotherhood and friendship. “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24). So, if you or your kids don’t relate to the sibling relationship that I’m sharing about, who comes to mind as filling that role? And don’t limit yourself to the people who were born in the same decade or who have known you for years. The people who know you and faithfully show up can surprise you in all walks of life. I never had a biological sister, but the friends, neighbors, roommates, and sisters-in-law who fill that void have done so more completely than I could have ever dreamed.

An Unlikely Mom-Blogger

For anyone who knows me, the idea that I would create a blog about motherhood is laughable. I don’t even like kids. The daily (and nightly) call to motherhood has been the apex of my struggles over the last…well, every since I got pregnant with my oldest daughter 6 years ago. However, ever so gradually — the Lord is changing my narrative.

While there have always been hours and occasionally whole days where I haven’t been fighting the cosmic battle, “God, why do I have to do this and why does it have to be so hard?” I have spent most of my years as a mom kicking back against what the Lord has for me. I still functioned — keeping the kids safe and fed, taking care of the house, completing the day’s duties — but there was little life and joy in my work. I was as removed as I could possibly be and just bid the time until I could have my solitude or an hour or two of leisure at the end of the day with just me and my husband (and wine).

This was no way to live, but I felt stuck. It wasn’t until about 6 months after my second daughter was born that I realized I was dealing with postpartum depression. As the years went on, I wasn’t sure if I was still dealing with PPD, if it had morphed into just “regular” depression (whatever that means), if I was simply dealing with the tolls of chronic sleep deprivation, or maybe motherhood is just hard {true} and I am a stubborn sinner {definitely}. Perhaps it was a combination of all of the above. All I knew was that I had a cloud over me most of the time; even on the days that “should” be considered good days.

Whatever the source(s) of my struggle, the devil has also done a number on me in the midst of this cloud of depression: namely, whispering to me of my inadequacy in everything that I do. It’s funny, Jesus tells us that we are inadequate (because it’s true), but it’s freeing and empowering. “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” But when satan tells me of my inadequacy, it paralyzes me and sends me further into the pit that I’m already trapped in.

Here’s an example from a few years ago: We actually were having a great day — the weather was great, the day was long and tiring, but I said to myself,

“Hey! I made it through a big trip to the grocery store without losing my patience with the girls, unloaded everything, fed them lunch, successfully put them down for naps, made it to the park and got to visit with a friend while the girls had fun. I’m doing it!”

(Since obviously those wins were a result of my doing — not God’s kindness)

So since I was on a roll, I decided (at 5pm — total rookie mistake) to drive to a consignment sale across town with two hungry toddlers woefully in tow — because I had stubbornly decided that I needed to do everything that I had planned to do that day… Without going into too much detail: there was traffic, driving around not knowing where to park, a poopie/wet diaper/pants/carseat explosion, pants-less and screaming children, judgmental stink-eyes from moms, an abandoned pile of consignment items when I finally admitted defeat, and the grand finale of yelling at the girls in the parking lot, yanking them out of the stroller and into the car, and peeling away in a fury. For days afterwards I was just waiting for a follow-up visit from CPS.

It get’s better from here, don’t worry….

So I’m sitting at the stoplight in rush-hour traffic with wailing girls and my heart pounding. I hear the ever-repeated voice in my head, “You are ridiculous. So immature. Stubborn. Selfish. Unfit.” All true, at least in that moment — but that’s not where the Gospel would have me land. But by the grace of God I turned around and apologized to Savannah, my oldest. (The apology was aimed at my younger daughter, too, but it was less of a special moment because she’s still in a rear-facing carseat and I can only see the top of her head)

With tears in my eyes, I turned around.

“Savannah, I’m sorry for losing my patience and being rough with you. I was mean. Will you forgive me?”

Savannah nodded, sighed, and a close-lipped smile came across her face. It was Jesus to me, “It’s over. you’re forgiven. I already died and rose for this.”

I told her that I loved her and she shrugged her shoulders twice, turned her head to the side, and bashfully whispered with lowered eyes,

“I love you.” Then looked up at me and said, “Should we pray?”

*MELT*

*and tears*

Friends, Jesus is so powerful in his grace to us. He used a 2 year old who was melting down from the hurt of her own mama to show mercy and true forgiveness. Unfortunately, most incidences where I lose it toward my children don’t end as sweetly as this one. However, I share it because it reminds me that the unearned love of Christ for me is more powerful than all my shortcomings. Despite my frequent failings and my slow growth as a mom, He is doing a good work. I still struggle with depression, and often snuff out the opportunities for joy and gratitude that each day brings, but He is ever faithful. Let’s lean into Him and watch His transformation of these hearts of stone.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

From Cringing to Wonder

I sifted through maternity clothes today for loaning to a friend. Seeing three entirely different sets of clothing that a woman’s body can cycle through in a year’s time made me recognize the immense change that these vessels can handle. Each time my body has gone through this process, I found myself grappling with vanity and sinking into feelings of shame, disgust, and anger at the loss of control. Those same sensations began to well up inside me even today as I was sorting through these bins.

But stepping back, I was finally graced with a glimpse of the wonder and awe that these uncomfortable changes signify. In that moment, I was humbled by the miraculous gift of this transformation, and my heart aches for those who experience unfulfilled longing to care for a child. Body image is a relatively minor one of many catalysts for the visceral heartache that can arise at the sight of maternity clothes. Recognizing the reality of this fragile and miraculous process neither dissolves my struggle nor makes it illegitimate. However, it does begin to reorient my heart for the next time that I find myself cringing at pictures of myself at 8-months pregnant or 2-months postpartum, or catch a glance in the mirror of layered stretch marks and saggy body parts.

Slowly, subtly, the awe and gratitude begins to eclipse the shame — and the unchanging favor of a God who created this incredible cycle begins to overshadow the ebb and flow of self image.

Surthriving

Written July 21, 2016

Today is my last day of having two kids under two— no, I’m not giving one of them up and no I’m not pregnant. Tomorrow is Savannah’s second birthday and what feels like a new life phase of toddlerhood (with another baby thrown in), for which I feel completely ill-equipped to navigate.

However, the simple fact that I am looking back on nine months of two under two with a marriage that is still loving and two children that are precious and joyful convinces me that we haven’t just survived… we have THRIVED together through the grace and strength of our loving and merciful Father.

I feel like a failure most days, but the reality is that I am more than a conqueror because of God’s m.o. of using ill-equipped people to accomplish His good work. The past year has been the hardest of my life (so far), and I wish that I believed that things are going to get easier before they get harder. But the one thing that I do believe (at least cerebrally) is that the Lord will be with me, equipping me along the way.

That’s not to predict that I am going to look like a superstar mom with squeaky clean children, but that He will be glorified in us (even despite us) and we will be drawn nearer to Him. So, here’s to a new era and a new word: “surthriving” — it may look and feel like we are just surviving, but we are truly thriving because of the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Doubt: Where to Start, Where to Go

My relationship with God has been stuck in the “it’s complicated” status for quite a while now. Sometimes He and I are not on speaking terms; sometimes we really have it out. One day I’m wrestling, another day I’m apathetic. As is common with troubled relationships, I can’t seem to track down when it started, or even why.

This fall my church hosted a Sunday school class called Jesus and Our Doubt. When I first saw it announced in the bulletin, I had mixed reactions. Part of me hoped to find answers for the areas in my faith where I have been disenchanted lately; the other part of me dreaded that I would attend the class and leave feeling even more confused, ashamed, and discouraged by my lack of belief.

Well, I didn’t get all my questions answered. But I did walk away with an assortment of tools — not to eradicate my doubt but to trudge forward with more hope and less shame.

Here are two of them:

IF YOU ARE OUT OF STEAM IN YOUR FAITH, START THERE.

I keep coming back to this question: What do I do with all this? Right now, in the midst of my doubt and discouragement, how do I move forward? I was talking to my husband George about it the other day.

“Any time I sit down to do a ‘regular’ quiet time, it just feels like pretending,” I vented. “I can’t read the Bible and pray in the way that I used to because there is all this turmoil going on inside. It’s like when you’re in an argument with someone but then another person walks into the room — so you change the subject and act like everything’s fine. You just pretend, and then find a way to get out of there.”

“I think it’s fine to just stay there,” George said.

“Pretending?”

“No, stay in your argument. It’s ok if that’s all it is between you and God right now.”

If all you have is questions, go to the Father with them. Search the Scriptures and allow God’s Word to defend itself. I frequently pass up the opportunity to open my Bible because I don’t want to face the disappointment in myself about how numb I am to the Gospel. I don’t pray because I’m too ashamed of the fact that I don’t really believe that God cares to listen.

But you know what? God is not disappointed in me. Let me repeat that: God is not disappointed in me. He loves me, and He can handle my weakness, my confusion, even my anger at Him. Psalm 103 says, “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” That’s a pretty low expectation. I’m surprised by my doubt because I thought better of myself — I was under the impression that my faith was much more impressive, more steadfast, more profound than it actually is. But God, who made me and knows my frailty, is neither surprised nor disheartened by my doubts and apathy. He sees me and replies, “Come…he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1)

My wayward, confused, and doubting soul is exactly what Jesus came for — that was the whole point: not just to pay for my sins, but to then provide me with His Spirit who helps me in my weakness and intercedes on my behalf (Romans 8:26). So, go to Him with whatever you have. Anger, apathy, unbelief: no need to rally yourself. He welcomes you as you are. “I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.” (Psalm 142:2)

WHEN DOUBTS PRESS IN, USE YOUR TRIBE.

Doubt feels a whole lot like loneliness, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Find someone who you can talk with about it. I often hesitate to name my doubt because I worry that voicing it will give it more power. In the meantime, my silent wrestling chokes my faith and drowns my mind in despair. As intimidating as it initially feels, it is the vulnerability of a conversation with a friend, a pastor, or a counselor that helps me realize that I am not alone, and provides clarity to navigate the tumult in my mind.

Friends, let’s not avoid this uncomfortable place. Let’s step into the ring. Let’s plant our feet in each other’s corners and, alongside the Spirit and the Word, “fight the good fight.” It may last for a week, a year, even a lifetime. Our Father isn’t going to give up on us, and neither is our church family.

So, on the Sundays when you are standing in worship and are too discouraged to sing, just listen. Let the sound of your fellow sojourners wash over you and lift your heart’s gaze to the Originator of hope. When the Bible feels dry and irrelevant, just watch. Let the sight of tears in the pastor’s eyes as he uncovers echoes of the Gospel from an obscure Old Testament passage slowly start to soften your heart to He who is the Word. When you are so discouraged by the same struggle that you can’t muster the words to pray anymore, just sit. Let the prayers of a friend at Bible Study bring renewed endurance and hope in the One who hears.

“Though afflicted, tempest-tossed,
Comfortless awhile thou art,
Do not think thou canst be lost,
Thou art graven on my heart.
All thy walls I will repair,
Thou shalt be rebuilt anew,
And in thee it shall appear,
What a God of love can do.”

(“Pensive, Doubting, Fearful Heart,” Red Mountain Church)