But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. — Jeremiah 20:9
For days now I have been nursing wounds that feel as new today with each intake of breath, as they have been heavy all these years of living. Each breath that keeps me alive hurts. The ache and injury that I have carried for as long as I recall tell me that I am overdue for spiritual healing. The stones in my heart both compel me and keep me humbled. But I have allowed them to overpower me and shut me up.
And this limits my service, my usefulness to God. I have allowed my brokenness to become a crutch. Ironically, though I want him to I don’t think God will ever take this away completely, the very things that make me who I am. But He may, I hope and pray heal me to a point of being useful. That is all I ask really to be useful to Him.
I have developed a small following here, a few hundred reading off and on, from time to time. The more people that follow my words, it becomes a burden, opportunity and responsibility all intertwined. I am so conscious of all that I have developed, a voice, emerging to be sure but still a voice. That is one reason why I believe I need biblical studies, because I am all too aware of my own ignorance. And I am becoming aware of the fact that people listen to me.
And this is what I told my friend, and pastor, as I met with her recently. As she spoke to me of my talents as a writer and encouraged me to take it more seriously, even work to develop my voice and audience, I felt inept, inadequate. I know my own level of ignorance biblical and otherwise! Was it a coincidence that her words echoed with what another important person in my life had said to me only a few hours earlier? The person that knows me best and in whom I trust the most is my husband.
They say I am to write.
For a long time I have been asking God what I should do with this obvious ability to put words together in a compelling way. Coupled with the desire he has given me to care for others, my unusual inquisitiveness and naturally challenging mind, a constantly questioning spirit, and eyes that see injustice all around me. Compound that with the extra burden of a heart that is utterly broken by the ancient pain and silencing of women in the church. Why does he break my heart so relentlessly over women who are stifled and smothered, yes silenced in the church? These are the things that others have been affirming in me and I have been asking God what He would possibly have me do with it? I believe that if we are to live authentically as Christians we are to live by doing justice. (See Micah 6:8) I believe all Christians are to serve the poor, the widow, the orphan and the alien which was also one of Jesus’ more frequent and strongly worded commands (see Matthew 25:31-46 ) So how does all of this fit with how I am gifted by God?
As I mentioned, I met briefly with a pastor from my church. This person is also my life group leader. We have many things in common. We hadn’t met alone for many years and I found myself worrying about whether she met with me as a person in her flock or as a friend. I felt confused as we talked because, as much as I longed for our friendship to be mutual, I was suffering.
(((Here is where I confess that I am a very controlling person, overly proud and always over thinking and managing my image and reputation before others. That is why this blog is essential to my desire to be an honest person. As a recovering alcoholic, I struggle to be truthful. Addicts are liars, to themselves and to those they love. And I don’t want to be a liar. )))
I did not want to tell her how badly I have been doing nor confess that I was in the pit of depression. It felt extremely weak, even threatening to my reputation (for whatever it is worth) at my church. If I was ever to be accepted into the cadre of leaders at my church, to admit that the state of my self-esteem was lower than it had been in years, was excruciating! This weakness was unacceptable. To confess the bleary, bleak thoughts I have been consumed with for months was painful. I needed a friend, but to share with her my state of mind, my fears and self-doubts, and my anger was almost impossible.
It was embarrassingly awkward to admit that I was so low, that things had become so bewildering, and that I had actually sat in church two weeks earlier believing that my life was not worth living because I had nothing to offer God.
But somehow I did tell her. As she calmly listened and said that I must have been under spiritual attack (being that the suicidal thoughts occurred in church) I felt such relief, yes a spiritual attack was very likely! And although thankfully that fog has lifted a bit, I think that I have continued to be under attack in the weeks since, at my core, in the place where I feel the most unloved and unlovable. Depression is isolating. You hear lies shaking about in your head that are ludicrous and yet wholly believable in the moment. These things, which I know are not from God, have hurt so much. And it has taken everything to not fall prey to the misery, and the pain of rejection and to most of all not fall prey to accepting the evil thoughts as truth.
I have felt in the last two months like the evil one is trying to destroy me via my mind, and my heart, and is trying to crush my soul that I may succumb to some madness but I am clinging to what I know. He who is within me is a greater than he who is in the world.
So this is my confession to you, those that read my blog both friends and strangers. I am hurting. Though I am profoundly weak, I know He is strong.
I don’t know what the future holds. I cannot say. I cannot see anything clearly. All I know for a fact is that I am inadequate. I don’t know how I am to be used, to be useful. I feel inadequate to be a voice for anyone. I feel inadequate to write about much of anything.
And because of it my human impulse is to be silent, to silence myself. I have so many good excuses for silencing myself … That I don’t know enough. That I don’t have the training. That I don’t have the knowledge and experience. That for a long time I have been at home and not actively working. That I am no longer actively serving in ministry. That I struggle with depression and all that goes with it. That I am broken. That some days, just breathing hurts.
Would you pray for me? That I would somehow know the real Truth and listen well. And, that I would know when to speak out and when I should be silent. And more than anything that I would become stronger in Him. This is the irony, the tension of being broken and still being useful, about feeling unloved and yet being totally loved by God.
Pray with me that this blog, which has become a place of responsibility and opportunity, would honor God. Would you pray with me that I would know how I am to use it this year — for good, for healing, for teaching and most of all for blessing others? And if he was going to do a work of healing in my life, now would be a good time! And as I actively pursue other writing avenues and even perhaps further education, that I would remain steadfast in Him.
I hope your new year begins and ends in Him.
7 thoughts on “On Silencing Myself”
Oh Melody. I’ve so been there, and it can be overwhelming. But I pray that God will work through what’s meant to be worked through, and deliver what needs deliverance.
I appreciate your voice very much, and was actually thinking about you yesterday, about five minutes before you posted on my wall! You talk about things that need to be talked about, and that few of us are willing to address. Please don’t believe the Accuser’s lies–open your mouth and speak truth!
Jenny, It means to much to me that you read some of my blog and actually even more so that you let me know. You know how it is when you put the words “out there” and don’t know who is reading or if anythign you say makes a difference. And especially when so much of my process is painful. Your thoughts mean a lot. And I do covet your prayers. Melody
Praying with and for you right now, Melody. Your transparency is refreshing to my soul. I wish it were more of a hallmark of my generation (I am 58.) Perhaps more Christ-followers, women in particular, would speak up and speak authentically if we had more examples such as yours.
Maggie: Wow, I hear people say that about your generation vs. my own. It’s encouraging to know that my soul out there in cyberspace, is helping others. I believe it is possible or I wouldn’t keep this blog. Thanks for saying so! I love to hear from people that read my blog. It is a real encouragement to me. And I thank you for your prayers which I covet, I really do.
I, too, am praying for you. I have spent the last few years moving in and out of the shadows of depression. What you are doing here is so important. It is a lifeline for you – and for each one of your readers.
Thank you for this post. Your words are just what I needed today.
Michelle, I covet your prayers. And I am grateful that you stopped by here and that something I wrote encouraged you. Melody
Dear Melody, Maybe I met you briefly when I visited Mary Fisher in Madison many years ago. Mary has kept me up to date every with some of what you have been doing these years since she was a colleague of your in Intervarsity.. What an extraordinary life you have had! I must confess I would just love to sit with you and have you share some of what has brought you to this very sad place. I cannot even begin to understand your journey but as I read what you have written my heart aches and I long to ask you to remember what it really means 24/7 in the better, worse, richer , poorer in sickness and in health that real life is as a true followers of Jesus. I means living a life of forgiveness and reconciliation with God and with others – The Lord’s Prayer tells us that very very plainly. It is submitting to God and to his ordering of our steps no matter what life brings. he has promised that we will not be tempted more than we are able to stand, that he will always supply our need – if we are willing to humble ourselves before him and open our hearts to receive his extravagant love and grace. It is yielding to him on hos terms not ours. dear Melody, God i snot obliged to use any gifts and talents he has given us – we are called to die to self – to what we can do and what we can’t do and begin to live on the basis of who he is through hsi indwelling Holy Spirit. We can do nothing to earn his favour or accomplish his purposes by our own sin-scarred efforts. We are called to be branches in the vine, resting in him and drawing from him all we need to live and to minister 24/7. You know nothing about my journey I know but God has been with me through all the long years I have walked with him sice I was about 14. I drifted away from the Lord in my late teens, came back to him not long before I married a man who, after 55 years, is still not a follower of Jesus. God told me years ago to humble myself before him and he would exalt me in due time. My times are in his hands as the Psalmist declared. In a denomination that does not ordain women, I have been for many many years an Accredited Evangelist, a national and international speaker, on the Admin Board of LCWE as the Chair of the Intercession Working Group and am now senior Advisor. I preach, teach mentor pray ,minister in prayer on various Boards etc and all of these doors God has opened to me as I have submitted to him, followed the Biblical principles clearly defined in the Word of God for wives and seen my husband support and encourage me down through the years . After 55 years of marriage we still have a very real love relationship and God provides my need of fellowship through friends like Mary and through my own intimate relationship with him as I draw near to him. The book of Habakkuk is of special meaning to me – as I continue to long for the day when my husband comes to know Jesus and my children and grandchildren ( aged between 20 – 26) have experienced what it means to know Jesus and are not walking with him with their whole hearts. You have probably stopped reading by now and rolling your eyes at an old lady rambling on – but to finished may I share with you a Celtic New Year prayer that I have just read ina book from the Northumbria Community –
I am no longer mine,.
Use me as you choose;
Rank me alongside whoever you choose;
Let me be employed for You, or laid aside for You.
Raised up for You, or brought down low for You.
Let me be full, let me be empty;
Let me have all things, let me have nothing;
With my whole heart I freely choose to yield
All things to Your ordering and approval.
So now, God of glory,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine, and I am your own.
My love and prayers are with you Melody as you continue your own special jouney with Jesus… Glenda Weldon