A few weeks ago I got the itch to write about something that I realize I believe as deeply as I can believe anything right now; something that is my goal and grid for interpreting every single thought, event, problem, crisis, fear, frustration, dream, joy, and emotion of my life.
But now I’m scared because I don’t think I can do it justice. I’m afraid to sound like every trite ‘there’s-a-reason-for-it’ cliche ever heard and do more harm than good. I don’t like sounding trite. I don’t like doing harm. I’m seriously scared and I want my mommy.
Okay, end of morbid self-doubt and introspection. As TV judges sometimes say, “Ignore that last statement and do not consider it in your deliberations!” I know I could just delete it, but for some reason it seems important that you know how I feel. It must fit, but I don’t know how.
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Everything Fits Even When It Doesn’t: A struggler’s guide to confusion, waiting, regret, and hopelessness.
In January I wrote an email asking subscribers to dot connector what they were struggling with. Many of you kindly responded.
You’re not alone
It seems funny to say that it’s a kindness to share what you’re struggling with, but a kindness it is because living can be a lonely confusing business and it’s good to know you’re not really alone. And the more you see the details and variety of what we all struggle with, the more you see our commonality and that maybe things are not quite as confusing as they appear.
Except it can then be especially confusing and frustrating when you put God in the middle and he’s supposed to be all-powerful and all-loving and all-knowing, and so how come everything isn’t all-great? Eh?
I spent some time one Saturday evening last month reading the emails and thinking of all our struggles, and of who God is. (That’s in contrast to my normal Saturday evening checking sports on my espn app and pretending I’m working, and so feeling superior because I’m not watching TV).
Be careful of thinking – you might discover what you believe
I woke up the next morning with a sentence in my head. It was a looooong sentence that summarized this thing I’m convinced of about how everything fits. I never thought of it in one sentence before, and I hate summary-maxim things because they’re way too simplistic (thus my fear). Yet sometimes they can be helpful.
That one sentence is the outline for what happens here these eight Mondays.
Here’s the sentence:
Everything about my life, everything that happens
– the family I was born into
– the circumstances I have experienced and find myself in
– my personality and DNA and wiring and gifting –
is engineered or permitted or governed by a sovereign, just, loving God who always has three things in mind
1) to develop my personal relationship and intimacy with him
2) to accomplish his purposes in the world, and
3) his own awesome, unmeasurable aims that are bigger than my ability to understand.
Back to the fear: This whole thing could sound like every poorly timed simplistic well-meaning cliche you hear when something horrible and unexplainable happens and someone says, “Well, God has a purpose for it.”
And the person suffering (sometimes you) thinks, “What? God made this happen? He wants me me to be unhappy and suffer?”
Or, “Gee thanks – and you know what? God has a purpose for your ugly mug, too.”
This is not something to throw out to someone who is in the middle of a big struggle
But it is something I can tell myself, and you can tell yourself too, if you want. And over these next eight Mondays I’m going to try to see this more for myself, and you’re invited to dwell with me on what it means that everything fits, even when it doesn’t, even in the middle of confusion, waiting, regret, and hopelessness.
We can understand it ourselves first, and believe it and live it, and then hold it in our hearts with grace when we see others struggling, but not clobber them over the head with it. Then if they ask, or it seems right, we can then share.
But first, WE have to have confidence that everything fits, even when it doesn’t. DO we believe it?
This IS something that can cultivate confidence and peace in the middle of your own struggle
I’m not saying you can always know how everything fits.
I am saying I believe you can be confident that everything fits. Because it does.
I’ll write on each part of that sentence progressively.
Which part of that “Everything” sentence above is encouraging or challenging or confusing to you right now?