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Of Man: Wavering and Inconsistent

April 30, 2007

Have you ever had the experience of your frustrations with a person leading you to the place of gratitude with God? Usually, it’s a case of contrasting God and men. I, for one, am quite pleased with the Lord’s ability (and tendency) to use someone else’s brokenness and immaturity and the pain they unintentionally inflict upon me to lead me to the place of a grateful and adoring heart.

Last night was a big one for me. It began with hurt and frustration, but ended in the place of worship. It hurt a lot, so I spent a lot of time dialoguing with the Lord about it.

This post is part one of two. Tomorrow, I intend to make some time to write about that latter half of what God did in my heart with the experiences and decisions that I describe below. Tomorrow’s post… “Of God… Abounding in Steadfast Love.” 

I will not describe the situation in much detail… and I will certainly not mention a name. But a general explanation may be helpful. For the sake of simplicity, I will be using masculine pronouns and such. We are just going to turn the person into a he. “He” may be male. “He” may be female. I figure you don’t really need to know.

My experiences with this person have been remarkably inconsistent lately. One moment, he is my friend. The next, I feel like I’ve become the pestering younger sibling or obnoxious neighbor kid who just won’t leave you alone. One day he was warm and friendly. The next, he was cold and in all ways inaccessible and distant to me.

Do you know that feeling where it seems like the person is exasperated to give you 10 seconds of their attention? When his body language and tone of voice clearly communicate the fact that he really doesn’t want to be talking with you at the moment? When he seems to intentionally ignore you and kind of push you away? Where it seems like every effort you make to relate to that person is only wearying and burdensome him?

This was the nature of last night’s brief encounter with this person. It built upon other recent interactions and continued in the general theme of the last several days. Cold and removed. Distant. Walled off. Wearied and burdened by my presence.

Such alternation of hot and cold tends to be incredibly painful, just as it is with actual temperatures. Hot or cold water is much more painful when it directly follows its opposite. The cold would almost be bearable if it were not constantly contrasted with the hot. The alternation is also quite confusing.

If you heart is open and able to feel and be touched by others, warmth and kindness stir the heart and awaken hope for genuine friendship and the opportunity to love one another freely. When the person becomes cold and distant in some way, it can be immensely painful. It is never fun to perceive that you have been walled out of someone’s heart. When your love is rejected in any way or on any level, it is going to hurt. The giving and withdrawing repeatedly generate and crush hope.

When done intentionally, I am convinced that to give affection and then withhold it is an act of utter cruelty. This is not love at all. And it has massive power to wound.

Because of the quickly turning affection, my heart wants to draw back and put up walls to protect itself. I want to abandon efforts of friendship and stop choosing to love this person… because then he cannot reject my love. I want to shield myself from being able to feel with withdrawal of affection. (I am not dependent upon it; I do not expect it. But its absence DOES hurt. It does not go unfelt.) The constant changes leave me confused… and feeling incredibly vulnerable.

The easiest (and “safest”) option I have is to guard myself. To put up walls so that I cannot be touched. To insulate myself against the alternations of hot and cold so that I barely experience either. To make it so that the person cannot penetrate… cannot affect me… cannot move or touch me in any way.

As ideal as this may seem, it is incredibly unhealthy. It is deadening and dulling. It runs contrary to God’s desire to awaken and revive my heart. He wants me to be alive. To feel emotions, as He feels.

I’ve been here SEVERAL times in the last year. Seriously… I have constantly had to make this decision and choose to trust the Lord… to rest in His goodness. To let Him be my refuge and trust Him with my heart. I have repeatedly said no to the temptation to shut down or dull my heart.

It hurts a lot when my love is rejected. It hurts a lot when I am shut out. It hurts a lot when love is given and then withdrawn. But God is my portion. He will meet and comfort me in the pain. And He will give me grace to stand and will sustain my heart, even when my pain is crushing me.

In making this choice again and again, my heart truly has been coming alive in amazing ways. I don’t know how to articulate it. (And I’ve tried several times already.) But saying yes to Him and trusting Him has increased my capacity to love and to receive. My love for those around my is growing. The pain is not leaving. Rather, it is intensifying. But choosing wisely has enabled me to love God and love my brethren more fully.

 OK… so all of that was remarkably scrambled and perhaps slightly incoherent. But… it lays the foundation for what I will talk about it my next post. So… there you have it. Do you (experientially) know what I am talking about? Do you know that temptation to shut down and not feel?

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6 comments

  1. I can totally relate…with both the relationship part and the Jesus part. In my experience, it opened up a whole new facet of the knowledge of God to me that I hadn’t ever thought about before (His dealings with me when I’m the inconsistent one)…very good stuff.


  2. hey beautiful, I miss you. And I’m pretty much in that same boat right now with someone, I want to run and hide and put up walls with this person, but at the same time I want to love. It’s hard.


  3. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Really, it’s the story of my life. Being raised in abuse without Jesus, it took me until my mid 30’s to start learning what you’re talking about. Learning it that late in life has made it harder to learn, because I had some pretty serious walls set up.

    I can’t wait to read your next post. I want to learn!


  4. Not having read the next post yet, I have to share my gut reaction that sometimes it does feel like God is wavering and inconsistent and cruel with His affections. I hasten to emphasize that it *feels* that way and not that He *is* that way. But the feeling can be strong and, to be honest, there are areas of my life where it has never been resolved, reconciled or whatever. I realize that much of this is a result of years of conditioning by a dysfunctional Church, years of choosing to–sometimes subtly, sometimes not so–turn away from Him, etc. and, of course, it is all seasoned by my own limited affections, imagination, thoughts, maturity, etc.–my generally limited capacity. And, of course, since–in positive ways–He ministers grace to us through other humans, it’s maybe unfair but not entirely unexpected, or even unreasonable, to associate it with Him, when those humans (intentionally or not) let us down or, ahem, are taken away.

    I am encouraged by and am fully embracing my perhaps-troubling, schizophrenic ability to be grateful and angry at God at the same time or in rapid succession, because it’s better than dishonesty and it’s better than un-ambivalent anger. At least that’s my current thinking on it; I suppose (and history certainly confirms the possibility that) I could be wrong.

    Part of what convinces me that He is good is that He continues to show up when my expectations of Him are low (hmmmm, yes, I just said that, though it bothers me on a bunch of levels) or negative; He continues to reveal His love, gladness, delight; and, well, He simply continues to be faithful, to stand with me, to lift me up despite my illogical cooperation with the gravity of corruption.

    Part of what I’m trying to say here is that a true understanding that God is not like men can’t just be intellectual/verbal. Not only does the knowledge need to be experiential and to access us more holistically, we do indeed need revelation–and continuing revelation. And I am wary–and I don’t think this is what you’re doing, but I hope you’ll understand how this topic prompts the thought–of any system or expression that squelches our honest doubts and/or fails to acknowledge the imperfection of our apprehension of God’s character. One subtle way we do the latter is by turning God’s affections into an abstraction and mere magnification of what we admire in the affections of men.


  5. I have no idea how to respond to these comments. Apart from… it’s good to hear that I am not alone. And thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  6. Hello everybody, my name is Damion, and I’m glad to join your conmunity,
    and wish to assit as far as possible.



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