But I digress.
Let's just get this out of the way, shall we? I'm a weeper. There. Said it. If you know me in person, you have probably seen me cry. It could be a proposal of a complete stranger, a card from a dear friend, a sad memory, a story of triumph or a Hallmark commercial. Happy, sad, overwhelmed, angry, tired tears-- I know them all, and my eyes seem to be incapable of holding them back. And somehow, in the midst of these tears, the Lord tends to reveal things in my heart. Unfortunately, those aren't always good things that I want brought to light. No, this isn't my heart being shown off as being burdened for the lost or something super spiritual and pure. It's more that when I'm sitting there weeping over something out of frustration or brokenness, it's so easy to see my idols:
These idols look SO beautiful in the dark. They shimmer and lure me in with their siren songs and metallic hues. Everyone knows I can't resist glitter. But suddenly, in the light, they are revealed for how hideous they truly are; how hideous they are in my heart. They glare at me and laugh at my shortcomings. I see them in the reflection of every single tear.
This week has been one of tears and tears. Everything seemed to rip at the seams, destroying the idols I trusted and held onto for dear life. I've felt angry, lost, hurt, confused, purposeless, and angry some more. Angry at God, at Travis, at myself, at anyone and everyone who stands in the way of what I want.
You see, a couple months ago, Travis and I began this journey of support raising. In a matter of days, the Lord swung open several doors for Travis to take a residency at The Austin Stone- a church we both respected and were (still are) excited to work alongside. They told us we had until September 1 to raise 80% of the funds- so we made our plans and lists of people we knew. We made awkward phone calls and wrote letters. And money started coming in! We got to 50% in a matter of weeks, and finally reached that glorious 80% just a few days after moving to Austin two weeks ago. We celebrated that 80% and the friends and family who had made it possible. We'd been practically sailing along, riding this boat of self-sufficiency, all the while flying a flag claiming "THE LORD PROVIDES!" See, it's easy to say "The Lord Provides," but still depend on your own means. We had the support system; had people we knew and networks to work through. Our Mighty God didn't really have to do that much work to keep the boat afloat. But this week, the bottom fell out.
Tuesday was an HR and orientation day for Travis. I sent him off to work with a sleepy kiss and then went about my tedious day of sending out resumes for jobs that don't seem to be out there. At 5:00, I got a text from my hubby that I was completely unprepared for: "With taxes and fees, we aren't at 80%. We are at 51%"
No more info than that. Almost two painstaking hours later, when he was home, he turned on his computer to show me the errors in our budget- we were missing taxes, tithing, social security- and his computer crashed. Ka-put. Blue screen of death.
I just cried. We had exhausted our resources just to get to 80%, and here we are- barely halfway, AND in need of a new computer?? I mean, really. Is this some sort of massive joke?
(Hint: It's not.)
I'm reminded of a sermon that Brandon Barker gave in my last week at the Village. He was talking about support raising for the Chicago church plant and how it had forced him to look at the sin behind the sin behind the sin.
I cried for hours because we are only halfway there after pulling all the strings we thought we had and that makes me so terrified.
My anxiety that we'll never make our support raising goal if they don't come from connections I already knew of reveals that I don't trust that God will provide for us.
My lack of trust that God will provide for us reveals that I don't believe He loves us in the way He says He does.
If God doesn't love us in the way scripture says He does, if He does not long to take care of His children as scripture says He does-- what kind of God is He in my heart? Not much of one.
Those tears and tears. I wanted this to be easy. I wanted this to be in our control. Tuesday night, I called my parents and couldn't even make it through the phone call. I felt powerless. Between the lack of jobs I'm qualified for and the blow about support raising, I was undone. And it would be a lie to say I'm better now.
Travis and I talked on Saturday about it all, and he reminded me that repentance of sin isn't merely saying "okay, I won't be anxious about this." Repentance of sin is honest worship. Praising the Lord for being enough and for being one who we cast that anxiety on. It's a worship that only comes from believing that He will provide- and I'm just not there yet. But at least I know I'm not there yet.
I'm probably committing some sort of blogosphere faux-pas by stealing from my own husband's blog. But he's better at wording things than I am.
"Does God answer prayers? Yes. But too often I fall into this trap that if He answers my prayers then it’s going to be a comfortable thing. But our God sits as a refiner’s fire, to mold us and shape us into the image of Christ that we may come to know Him in fullness in glory. Every time I pray one of these dangerous prayers — prayers where I ask God to shape and mold me — He answers. And it hurts. Sometimes it hurts because your ankle gets broken (that’s another story entirely), and sometimes it hurts because you’ve just packed up your wife to move to a new city where, unless He raises up supporters in a very short amount of time, you’re going to be eating nothing but Ramen for a while. This isn’t because He’s some 9-year-old boy frying ants with a microscope, but because He purges sin from us like venom from a wound"
My tears this week are understandable on the surface level. Joblessness, hopelessness, a string of bad things or let downs- we understand these and we empathize with them. But they stem from a much more sinful place in my heart; a place of disbelief and reluctance. And if I'm honest with myself, with you, with God- until I let go and allow Him to purify my heart of them, I'll never know the freedom of worshiping a God who is a God and not a shadow of an idea.
For more information on partnering with us, why we're in Austin in the first place, and what we hope to do after the program- check out traviswhitehead.wordpress.com or email me and we'll be in touch.