I have had something weird going on with my ear for some time now. About 6 months ago, I went to my allergy/asthma/immunology doctor for a routine check up and mentioned to her that at night, my left ear itches like crazy. She looked in there and said nothing was wrong with it. So I left and continued to experience itching deep in my ear only at night. I have resorted to anti-itch creams and stuff but it’s still going on. Last week, I went back for my 6-month check up and told her it was itching still. She thought she saw something in there and had the nurse flush it. (Turns out it was a piece of glitter! How in the world did I get glitter in there??? Must be my sparkling personality! I know…bad joke…but the coffee hasn’t quite hit me yet this morning.) We had to stop because it started to hurt so intensely. Weird. Over this past week, it has gotten more and more painful and more and more bothersome so I went back again yesterday. The verdict? “You have the cleanest ears I have ever seen in anyone. There is nothing, not a speck, not redness, no pink, no water bubbles…nothing!” This statement actually causes me both pride and frustration. Pride because…well, yes…I am rather fastidious about hygiene…so I love knowing that I have the cleanest ears ever. Frustration because…if there is nothing wrong, then why am I in so much pain? And the thought occurs to me: Am I crazy? Have I become a hypochondriac? Oh no! Now I’m crazy AND in pain! I know what you’re thinking: “Bekah, I’ve always known you were a bit crazy…I could have saved you the cost of 3 office visits!” Well, the doctor went on to hypothesize about what could be wrong and causing my discomfort and came to the conclusion that it could be pressure from deep inside (a dysfunction in my eustachian tube.) She said that I should try taking Mucinex D and drinking lots of water to see if the discomfort goes away since we couldn’t “see” the source of my problem. I’ve taken two rounds of it since then and am already feeling better.
What is the point? What does this have to do with anything in life? So glad you asked. I was thinking about how looks can be so deceiving. I was thinking about when I was struggling with a very deep and painful sin just a few years ago. Nobody could see the pain that I was in. There were no obvious indications to the outside observer. My friends didn’t have a clue that I was slowly dying inside. As a matter of fact, I looked like I had it all together: I was volunteering in various charitable positions. I was helping friends and making meals for those who were sick or who had just had babies. I was studying my Bible every day. And I was writhing in pain and self-hatred and nobody knew it.
I have a very clear memory of the exact moment when I made the worst decision of my life. I was wrestling with God over the temptation that was before me…the Holy Spirit was reminding me of who I am and more importantly, who He is…and I physically held my hand up in the air and said out loud, “I don’t want to hear from you right now. I want to do what I want to do.” Worst decision of my life. I am not a person who would go back and change things in their past given the opportunity because so much can be learned from our mistakes…but that one moment…that one decision…I would change that in a heartbeat. In that moment, I violated my conscience…no…It’s more than that…I offended the God of the universe. Following that moment, I went on to commit the sin that I was hell-bent on committing and have regretted it every day since then. And nobody knew what was going on inside me. I was so broken and I hated myself.
Meanwhile, I was attending Bible Studies and trying to “make things right.” I kept hearing so many women confess sins they were struggling with…and it angered me because their sins (or at least the ones they were willing to speak of) were so minor. (I know…sin is sin…it all separates us from God…but I felt lost and broken and dirty.) I was sitting on a whopper that I was dying to share so that I could begin healing but I was surrounded by women who confessed things like “feeling lazy” or “gossiping” or “holding a grudge.” It didn’t feel safe to confess when someone’s only prayer request was “for traveling mercies.” Are. You. Kidding Me?!!!!! I’m dying over here! I’m silently going under for the last time and I can’t even find a true friend to talk through this with. I came up with only two possible conclusions: 1. Either these women and I operate so differently that I will never fit in with them because I actually sin or 2. These women aren’t being authentic and honest. Neither option was acceptable to me because it still left me feeling broken and incapable of receiving help. There would be no iron sharpening iron as things stood.
That is when I began looking for truly authentic community. I wanted friends who didn’t clean their house before I came over. Friends who didn’t worry about disturbing me and knew they could call or text any time at all. Friends who could show up at my front door without notice, understand that I probably am not wearing a bra, and come in and make themselves at home on my couch. Friends that would snoop through my fridge until they found something that they wanted. Friends who would share their brokenness with me. Friends that I could make a death pact with…not what you are thinking…more along the lines of instructions of what to do and what to get rid of should Stan and I both die so as not to mortify our families. (Haha! Got you thinking about what that could be didn’t I?!) I wanted friends who would call me out on my B.S. and tell me when I was being a bonehead. Friends that would study the Bible with me and challenge me…not because we were in the same Bible Study…because we wanted God’s best for each other. Friends that would love on my family and whose families I could love on as well. Don’t you see? I wanted friends whose behaviors and appearances were reflective of what was also inside them. I wanted this because I wanted to be this.
I know your wondering so I’ll go ahead and make the connection: I don’t want a mysterious illness in my soul any more than I want a mysterious illness in my ear. I want to shine light on the issue and attack it head-on. I want to know the truth so intimately that lies are obvious. The only way to do that is to cling close to my Jesus and be obedient in this moment. For me, that resulted in me confessing my sin to several women who I discovered loved Jesus and loved me. They pointed me to scripture and truth and loved on me. They were not timid about asking me how I was doing with that area of temptation. They still check in on me actually.
So how are you doing with this? Do you have authentic community? Are you being authentic with them? If you don’t have these kinds of people, how can you search them out? Is there someone in your life who is drowning alone and wishing desperately that you would be real with them so that they could be real with you? Are you hiding any sin that is silently choking the life out of you? It’s hard to break with a sin…but, I can honestly say that it is worth it (painful but so worth it) to rip it from your life and boot it to the curb. Are you holding your hand up to the Holy Spirit and saying “I don’t want to hear from you right now. I want to do what I want to do.”
My prayer this morning is that we would all take an accurate inventory of the state of our souls…that we would ask God to reveal to us ways that we can love him and others better…that we would be honest and real with others and encourage them to be honest and real with us. Much love friends,