This is a genuine journal entry from a very perplexing experience I had some time last year. It is unedited. These are hard words, but they are honest words. They are words that spilled out as I processed something that was too big for me to understand. Even now, I do not fully understand. But what I do know with certainty, is that God causes ALL things to work together for the good of those who love Him, those who are called according to His purpose. What is for my good? That I would know my good God. What is His purpose for me? That I would know Him, Himself, for His own sake. And although my path is not exactly the path planned by the “pink-hearted pre-schooler” that I used to be, and perhaps still am, my path is leading me straight into an intense, first-hand, without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt knowledge of God. And that is enough for me. I share this in the hope that perhaps someone who finds themselves falling through cold clouds would be reminded that God is still in control, that He is still wise and He is only-good.
I think the problem with my dreams is that they were, and still are, very two dimensional.
I spun stories of happy heroes in perpetually positive circumstances. In my dreams, even the worst pain had a purpose and I encountered only the kinds of obstacles that I knew how to deal with.
But instead of my pretty plot I open the pages of my days to find a string of hard tasks that seem to have no good reason for being asked of me. I get slapped in the face when I smile in hope, I break down in floods of ugly emotion when simple things go wrong and humans fail me. I fail others, I get tired and worn out and I forget to pray. I get disappointed, upset, frustrated and in foggy moments of disillusioned daze I whine at the people who serve me and the One who entrusted all of this to me.
It’s as if I stepped out of the plane onto my castle in the clouds, only to find myself falling endlessly through miles of mist and bone-soaking cold.
I’m about as far from the hero I thought I could be as I am from being able to fly a plane or cross the Antarctic alone.
I’m just not cut out for the reality of adult life.
In university you ponder and reflect and slowly come to a decision about some vague concept, some miniscule thread in the patterns of life. That’s like preparing for a boxing match by watching videos and deciding what each opponent should theoretically do when each punch comes.
Out here, in the ring, on the clouds, falling through the cold sky, the punches come thick and fast like the blinding rain of a thunderstorm in your face and your ears and like a kick in the stomach. You don’t have time to think, you give visceral reactions. You are all poured out and then you realise that this is just the first round and you can’t possibly think of succeeding, all you care about is survival.
God knew how I would do.
He knew I would be disappointed and that I wouldn’t get it right the first time. But He still decided to write this story for me. I had a thought this morning that perhaps my dreams and my expectations for myself were two dimensional, written by a pink-hearted pre-schooler. But God wants three dimensional characters in real time in His story. He wants people who will worship him in spirit and in truth. He wants to paint real emotion, not a Christmas card glow. He wants to build muscle into weaklings, not wrap us or trap us in cotton wool. He wants us to offer to be the characters in His stories who will face the hard things He allows, who will use the power He gives to get a grip of their emotions and who will press through to the stuff of their dreams in the face of difficulty.
I think that’s why my expectations look so flat and normal and preferable to my realities.
But when I think about it, I want a real story. Even though asking for a real story is asking for challenge, disappointment, uncertainty, all those themes I studied in Leaving Cert English and never thought would once apply to my own life.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17