Sunday, October 30

Light in the Darkness

A few weeks ago God tried to teach me something... and I didn't listen.

I am sometimes really, really hard to teach.

I want to make my own decisions. I want to do my own thing. I want to do what I want. And the feedback God was giving me was something I didn't want to hear.

Not only was it something that I didn't want to hear, it was something that threatened the way I look at the world. It seemed to threaten my way of life, the way I interact with people, and everything I hold dear.

I'm grateful that He tried again.

This last week was easily the worst week in my memory of ever. The emotional turmoil I experienced ripped me from head to toe, deeply and soundly enough that if I still were bipolar I likely would have also been tempted to commit suicide.

Depression would have brought a feeling of utter worthlessness. But at one point I honestly felt that my life was not only not positive, but truly negative. That my simple existence in the world caused only unimaginable pain to the people I care about most. That everything I ever touched would be ravaged, that anyone I tried to get close to would be shredded in the whirlwind... and since I find myself deeply loving all the people I meet, the only kind thing I could do in life would be to stay away from everyone.

I'm usually a pretty level-headed guy. Ever since my mood swings have gone away, most of the time my emotions are kept easily in check. And so feeling so deeply crushed and ripped that I wanted to yell and cry and pound my steering wheel and drown my sorrows in Christian music... was an intense experience.

I tried spending time with people. But it didn't work - the things that would lift me up couldn't reach me. And some of my attempts backfired and left me hurting even more.

Finally, Saturday afternoon I collapsed in a heap on a porch swing. I fell asleep, woke up, and checked my email to find a comment here on (G)MG.

And as I read, God told me again what He had wanted me to learn.

As I said, I am sometimes really, really hard to teach.

But this time, pushed to the lowest of my lows (albeit by things that once seemed almost inconsequential), I finally listened.

His guidance?

I need to surround myself with awesome people who see me for who I am.

People who can see that I love deeply and completely. People who can give me the benefit of the doubt when autism and miscommunication get in the way. People who love me and always assume I have the best intentions, and who are willing to work through problems when they inevitably arise. People with hearts of gold... who can see my own through the layers of my mortality.

And, hidden along with that feedback, that I should change how I live my life.

I've always wanted *everyone* to be my friend. Part of it is that I don't easily feel connected to people... and so anyone who wants to be my friend instantly is raised to that level. People close to me have told me that I should be more judicious of who I give my time to... but how could I do that? Everyone is worth my time. Everyone needs a friend. And I definitely need them... so why not expand my love to include anyone who is willing?

The feedback to surround myself with people who see me for who I am teaches far more deeply into my life... because it tells me not to surround myself with those who don't.

God has told me I'm supposed to *not* pursue friendships with good people that I wanted to befriend. Not to ignore them, but that I am supposed to choose my friends instead of wanting every good living soul to stand in my circle. 

That's rough.

I can see at least some reason. I only have so many hours in the day... and most of them are already taken. I only have so much emotional energy. And looking at the prophetic counsel I've heard for years, maybe I should have guidelines and expectations for friendship other than, "You're currently willing to give me time." I've looked for people with ambition, with passion, with education or talent... I've looked for any way to find connection with friends in countless places, taking anyone who would take me.

And that was a valuable part of my life.

Moving forward, God has told me that I need people who will lift me, inspire me, and love me, and God, deeply - first. Everything else comes second.

And as frustrating as it may be, as much as I want to honestly go against His feedback right now and pursue close friendship with good people I want badly to have in my life but who just happen to not have that quality...

It feels right.

And I'm willing to follow.

I can only remember feeling this way once before. Not all that long ago, I wanted to get a PhD, enter the world of academia, and change the world. I had enormous ambition and had a plan for myself and the world. Everything lined up, everything seemed to be perfectly set. And then, in no uncertain terms, God told me that He would bar my way. He took my ambition and told me He had different plans, effectively locking the door on one of my greatest dreams and telling me to move on. In the years since, while I've done a lot, none of it was in the limelight. But while my plans and accomplishments didn't shake the earth, they changed the lives of people one-on-one.

So God has yet again closed a door. But, (Sound of Music), when God closes a door, He always opens a window somewhere.

I'm torn. Part of me is excited at running in a different direction, and the inherent promise that I will find more amazing people - people with hearts of gold - to include in my life. Part of me is grateful for the amazing people who have already become part of it. And part of me is still pulling on the handle of the door, wanting it to unlock so I can go back inside.

It'll be awesome, David. Get up and get running again.

You ready?



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