Have you ever been speaking – sharing with another about how you feel (maybe rather strongly – even loudly!) when suddenly you are cut off? Interrupted mid-sentence? I have. You know how that makes me feel? It is as if the person had actually said, “What you have to say is of no consequence. It is unimportant. Your feelings are not valid. What you say and feel doesn’t count.” Of course, that is not what they actually said; but it seems as if they could have.
With tears trickling down my face, I told the Lord that is how I felt. You see, I am a person who struggles deeply with completely real. You know, that gut level honesty – of actually admitting how I truly feel about something. In fact, a couple of years ago, I was digging in my garden, hitting the dirt rather strongly with my spade out of frustration. I was mad because my husband had just confronted me about being dishonest. He had asked me what I was mad about, but rather than telling the truth I had given him my standard reply, “I’m not mad.” There, up to my elbows in bulbs and brown mulch, the Lord told me that I was lying. Lying? Isn’t that a bit harsh? I mean all I am trying to do is not hurt his feelings and avoid an argument! Now the Lord was calling me on the carpet for it (or I guess it was the dirt!). Next thing I know, I am dragging myself down the drive-way, looking for my husband in order to humbly admit that I am, at times, a liar. That day was a turning point for me. That day, I promised the Lord that I would in fact become honest about the way I felt, things I was mad about and where I wanted to go out for dinner. (I would even lie about that in order to please others!) Surely, there is no one else out there who would stoop to lying about where they wanted to go and eat!
You see, I am quite like a butterfly, wiggling, rolling, pushing – trying to break free from this trap of untruth I have woven myself into. When I finally get an antennae out – one small piece of my person comes out in truth – it can cause others around me to mildly freak out! Some of them have never seen this person. When you have been a people pleaser your entire life, it is quite possible that those who love you the most have never even met the whole of you. When they do see this person, they may not in fact even like her, which of course has been my fear all along. She is not quite as easy going, flexible or compliant. It is a whole lot more messy to deal honesty – which is exactly why I had avoided it. Until now.
So, I shared with the Lord, these feelings I had – these feelings of being unheard, of being interrupted. I knew He would understand. Hebrews 4:15 shares with us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” He was tempted to not be truthful. He was tempted to stuff his feelings. And then, I see another side. I heard ever so gently, “I feel that way sometimes. Remember yesterday? I asked you to go out and help your husband, but you continued doing what you felt was important. I felt unheard.” Wow…to think that day after day I pray, “Lord, speak to me, guide me, give me wisdom.” And then when He does, I ignore Him. I make Him feel unheard. I interrupt Him with my own opinions of what I should do (commonly referred to as rebellion). It made me think of the Israelites. Here is what the Lord had to say about them, “Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline.” Jeremiah 17:23 NIV
He might as well have been talking about me – not listening, not paying attention. So next time I am complaining about being unheard, may I think of Him – how often He too feels unheard and resolve in my heart, to listen and respond to His gentle discipline.