Sometimes I make jokes about my father’s suicide.
I’ve found that almost every time I try to lighten the mood or laugh around some of my life’s circumstances, I’m inevitably met by stiffening postures and quick sips of water around me. Sometimes people stutter over a few awkward words and then quickly word vomit something about the weather. Sometimes they don’t say anything at all.
There’s a piece of me that gets a little thrill out of the never-failing, uncomfortable response. That look that dances across someones eyebrow and silently screams, “How could you be so insensitive?!”
The fact of the matter is that I’m not insensitive, I’m just not as emotional of a woman as society insists I should be. And for a long time I’ve felt pretty guilty about that.
I’m incredibly confident, passionate, productive, competitive, loving…(and humble, can’t you tell?) But for some reason I’ve been made to believe that I’m not as in-touch with my feminine, emotional compass. I didn’t cry at the end of the Notebook, so clearly I’m missing an ovary. And I haven’t planned every facet of a Pinterest-inspired barn wedding with mason jar votive holders and burlap-covered-everything, so the other ovary is definitely gone too. I don’t double-click every ridiculous instagram post about the lonely angsts of a female heart, and I’ve yet to be sold on a fairy-tale dream for my life that ends in fashion-soaked, peace-sign wielding, thigh-gapped bliss.
Does that make me less of a woman?
Behind closed doors, I spend time trying to figure out what on earth God’s Word means in my life, and I weep when the answer is a hard pill to swallow. I pray for the hearts across our globe that are hurting and I cry with frustration when a solution seems a million miles away. I drive through Atlanta and dream of ways to eradicate the ever-present homelessness on our streets. I text friends with encouragements and listen through phone lines as life’s difficulties are narrated through tears. I recognize my shortcomings constantly, and I sulk in embarrassment at my naivety and stubbornness. I weep for suffering, I weep for solutions, and I weep for restoration. I weep behind closed doors.
But God always dries my tears. And in my hiding place of solitude with the One True King, I soak-in empowerment and courage and strength. Just enough for that day. So when I step from behind those closed doors I am prepared, empowered, and passionate–unable to be knocked over or distracted from the visions on my heart. I remember, with confidence, that I was once healed, and that in His grace, none of my scars or mistakes or pain can bind me.
So I laugh often, sweat more often, dream big, and pursue His business with bold conviction–even though my life-path doesn’t look organized enough for the world. I feel courageous, fearless, empowered, and crazy…and I love it. I’m a hot mess on a mission and I certainly don’t have everything figured out, but I take risky steps and I holler with life as I try and I fail and I try something new. I live. I live boldly.
So why is it that, in doing that, I feel so overwhelmingly awkward when I come into contact with other women, other God-loving women, who stare in bewilderment? What is it that I’m missing? Or what is it that they’re missing? And why?
Last night I sat in a gathering with 1,500 women. As the women leading spoke (and spoke POWERFUL truths), there was so much synchronized head-nodding and chorused “hhhmmms” when a good point was made. There was so much journaling, so much emotional sniffling, and so many tears. I’d never felt so uncomfortable in my life.
While the message was fantastic, and while I’m sure there were several women in the room who TRULY were taking away life-changing truths, or encountering Jesus for the first time, or being spiritually comforted in a grand way, I couldn’t help but feel like there was an air of cookie-cutter cheesiness to so many of the other women’s reactions. I felt guilty for feeling like some of the people around me were so contrived in their passion and emotion, but the crocodile tears were the same they had cried the previous Sunday, the month before in their Bible study class, two months prior in their small group.
For a few minutes I sat there so annoyed at those women. But God, as he always does, worked through my arrogant frustration and gave me eyes to see beyond what was in front of me.
You see, as I sat amongst a crowd of emotional females, and felt guilty for being completely unemotional in the moment, I began to realize that an addiction plaguing our faith is an addiction to healing. And it is seriously hurting us.
Before you slam your fist on your Bible and label me an arrogant heathen, hear me out.
God is a life-saving healer. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a story of healing and redemption. God’s love for us is so soaked in forgiveness and healing, it’s overwhelming. And the need for healing in every single person’s life is essential. Healing is a constant need, a constant process, and a constant, humbling truth. And Jesus Christ is our source of healing and restoration. The Holy Spirit is a doctor of healing. God is an Author of healing. And an encounter with even a whisper of God’s grace and healing is life-changing, soul-saving, and eternal. Healing is euphoric, indescribable, and amazing. But it is only the middle of the story.
You see, a plague within our churches, our ministries, our mentalities becomes rampant when the story stops at the healing. I’m guilty of this, myself. Sharing my testimony, sharing my sin struggles, sharing the dramatics of my encounter with Christ, and stopping there. Assuming that the listener will explore, in their own life, what comes AFTER encountering Jesus. And failing to share much detail from that point forward.
But what that incomplete explanation does is enables an addiction to the high of healing. It enables an addiction to the desire for God’s life-changing grace. When people don’t know that there is more to the story, they simply crave the high, rather than craving the Highness.
You see, people don’t want their story to end. When we sell that the story ends at healing–or rather, when we fail to share the magnitude of what happens AFTER the climax–then we only serve to enable fixation on the high of healing. Therefore, we enable fixation on the constant, tireless, and monotonous search for something somewhere in our lives that needs healing. And what’s more, we are the cause of the mental angst and emotional guilt that is cast on individuals as they rack their minds and hearts and memories for more and more pain and suffering and scars that need this euphoric fix. We leave people madly searching for scars that need mending, rather than reminding them that they do NOT have to be completely healed in order to be empowered and used by the Creator of the Universe. An addiction to healing leaves individuals stalled and clogged up, constantly re-knocking at the door of healing, rather than recognizing they have already walked through it. And what’s more, in walking through it, they are now empowered to do immeasurably more!
When we humble ourselves before the Lord, we are lifted up (James 4:10). We are made blameless and spotless in His sight, through Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:4-6). When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and receive His grace in our lives, we are made NEW and become EMPOWERED children of God (2 Corinthians 5:17). We are brought to LIFE! And life isn’t intended to be lived dwelling on death or scars or pasts. No, life is intended to be truly lived. Boldly. And in that bold, God-honoring life, Jesus slowly and purposefully and carefully reveals to us our wounds in perfect timing, as we effectively push forward in His calling (Psalm 103:2-5).
I grew so annoyed in that gathering of women because it’s a gathering that’s been held so many times before. And the tears that were wept have been wept over the same issue so many times before. And the cry for constant healing is a cry that has been echoed so many times before. And rather than marching strong in the life-changing healing that was provided the first time we cried out, we sulk in the mentality that we aren’t yet healed enough, and certainly there is something more in our life that needs fixing before we can be of any use.
I’m sick of grace being clung to as a bandaid and missed as a shot of adrenaline of empowerment in our lives. I am not dismissing the fact that we need continual healing, but I am dismissing the belief that we are only ever as good as broken.
When you have met Jesus, you have been filled with an unstoppable, incomprehensible power. It’s time we STOP being controlled by our emotions and our addiction to our weaknesses, and we start realizing that life is meant to be lived and it can be lived POWERFULLY in Jesus Christ’s name.
We’ve got to begin embracing the full story. We can’t keep stopping at the climax. It is in sharing the TRUTHS–both draining and rewarding–of the journey that commences AFTER healing, that individuals can truly come to know the magnitude of the Gospel and the empowering exuberance of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
We must RECOGNIZE, REPENT, RECEIVE, and REACT!
Notice that chain of action doesn’t end at receive. Don’t get addicted to the blood-pumping, overwhelming high of reception and fail to freely and boldly respond. We’ve got to snap out of our addiction to the high of healing and start allowing our lives to be explanatory descriptions of why that high felt so good and how radically it changed our life–for better and for worse.
It is time we stop feeling guilty about not being emotional wrecks–especially us women. It is time we live boldly in the emotions that matter, laugh loudly at the scars that don’t, and move boldly forward in making a difference.
Allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Mo Isom, and I am EMPOWERED. Follow me as I follow Him.