So over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve been on this journey of sorts to get to the bottom of a lot of what’s going on inside of me. For those of you that aren’t in my immediate circle, or haven’t had the chance to talk to me (or frankly we’ve never had a conversation in real life), you would know that I’ve been on a kick where I’ve been referring to myself as the “tin man” (you know, the guy from the wizard of Oz that didn’t have a “heart”). Anyways, lately, I’ve come to the realization that I don’t really experience a lot of emotions in life (or better yet, I don’t experience them in their fullness). I don’t ever really get too excited or too high about anything, and on the flip side I don’t necessarily get sad, disappointed or too low about anything either. I feel like I go through a lot of life just “thinking” my way through it. Up until recently, I thought that was natural and didn’t see anything wrong with it. This Sunday was an epiphany for me as to just how bad things have gotten and how in times like these, I can miss a prime opportunity to grow in a deeper relationship with God through experiencing the fullness of what’s going inside of me.
So here’s the story. These past few weeks have been incredibly long and busy and I find myself being really tired all the time (hence my new-found love/addiction to coffee). This past Sunday I feel like everything came to a head. As I was leaving from church I got into a few conversations that frustrated me (to say the least). No big deal! These thoughts come often and I know just how to handle them. I realize I’m frustrated. I tell myself, “John, it’s not that big of a deal…don’t be frustrated.” I’m no longer frustrated. Simple as that. I’ve been really good at the thinking and then doing paradigm. (i.e. I’m angry. You shouldn’t be angry. I’m no longer angry. I know this sounds simplistic but if I can be brutally honest, this is really what goes on in my head).
As I got to my car, ready to escape from a hectic Sunday, I realized that two people had parked their cars right behind me (in a coldesac of all places) and blocked me in. What’s worse is that I knew them both personally and they were both in a meeting. So I had to walk all the way back into the building and ask one of them to move their cars and I physically had to move the other one. It may not seem like a big deal to you (and in reality it wasn’t)…the point is that in light of everything else that was already weighing on me, I quickly found out that I couldn’t shake this frustration with my mind games. I kept telling myself that it wasn’t that big of a deal, but it didn’t help. I couldn’t just “think” my way through this one. Stay with me here.
As I pulled off in my car, I feel like everything I’ve been wrestling with the way that I feel internally hit me like a bag of nickels. The truth was I was FRUSTRATED. I couldn’t suppress it…couldn’t hide it…couldn’t shake it. And at this moment (as clear as day) I thought to myself this is a prime opprotunity for me to get to the bottom of this. What is it that’s going on in my heart that’s causing me to be frustrated? Where have I just suppressed what I’m feeling and denied the fact that I feel taken advantage of, undervalued, slept on? I really need to go to the Lord with this. This is an amazing opportunity to take what’s going on inside of me to Jesus….I can get to know Him better and He can help me (1) get to know myself and (2) process through what’s going on inside of me.
Before I could even finish my thought process, the very next thought that came into my head was…Honestly, doing all of that is hard work. I’m tired and frustrated and don’t feel like working hard. I’d much rather go home, lay on the couch (by myself), watch football and forget about this frustration until it all goes away.
So…I went home, laid on the couch and watched football until it all went away and I wasn’t frustrated anymore. While the frustration passed….I realized that in that moment…I missed it. I missed an opportunity to allow Christ to be my savior from frustration and bitterness and anger (by denying those feelings and suppressing them). In that moment, Christ wasn’t my Savior. Football was. My ability to “think my way out of feeling” was. I missed God.
What was really going on inside of my heart was one of two things. (1) Either I didn’t trust that God was really able to handle my emotions and provide a true sense of relief or (2) I didn’t believe the “work” I had to put in was worth it. I believed that whatever peace He claimed to provide, I could get from watching the Philadelphia Eagles. At any rate, I failed in that moment to trust Him and run to Him…I merely found it difficult and didn’t try it at all.
G.K. Chestersen puts it the best when he says, “Christianity hasn’t been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and not tried.”
That was me…guilty as charged. I had a prime opportunity to get with God (in a very real and true sense) and I missed it. The more I reflected on this, the more I recounted countless times (in the past week) where I trusted in something else as a Savior from frustration, disappointment, rejection, anger, bitterness, you name it.
How about you? Do you find this to be the case for you as well? It’s amazing how we really don’t give a lot of time to reflect on the small and seemingly insignificant things that go on in our lives. At the end of the day, these things are a lot bigger (and tell us more about the states of our hearts) that we would admit.
Take some time today and STOP! Process what’s going on internally and put in the “work” to allow Jesus to be your Savior from frustration, bitterness, anger, apprehension, anxiety. It may be easier to allow something else to fill that gap, but it’s not worth it. Trust me.