After fighting the classic winter virus for weeks now, my body has once again given way to the looming exhaustion from a sickness that I can’t seem to shake. I can’t do anything but sit and wait for it to leave. I have been here before, unable to muster any kind of energy to get up and do things. Yet, in my sickness, I have learned to lean on something that is bigger than me, stronger than me and yearning for me.
I like to think of myself as a strong, confident and independent person. Someone who is unstoppable when I’m in my flow, and someone who does not often need the help of others. I pride myself on my spiritual strength and faithfulness to prayer. This is something that I know God has gifted me with, but also something that my pride likes to distort into “I’m so holy!” As a human I guess this is just part of the deal…start to reach holiness, inflate to godliness, believe you’re unstoppable, fall flat on your face, ask for forgiveness and start all over again. Even though this seems to be the norm, I don’t believe it needs to be. Of course the falling and getting back up is part and parcel of life, but surely there is more to this cycle?
When I was 24 years old, I moved from the little city of Glasgow, Scotland, to a big city in New Jersey, USA. Before I moved, I suffered from a nasty virus that took me out of work and life for about three months. The worst part about it was that there was nothing evidently wrong with me other than that I was constantly exhausted. Often fatigue is inflamed by anxiety and stress, and I struggled with both of these things during my sickness. What if my work doesn’t want me to come back? What if I lose friendships? What if I can never recover from this? I will never fulfill my purpose in life if I don’t get better! Well, I did get better, but here I am two years later in the same spot. Although not exactly…over the past two years of my life, this big mystery man (that is, God) became, to me, a lot less of a mystery and a lot more of a man. He became a friend, someone who knows me, who loves me, who understands and never leaves me.
In a very real way He became my light in the darkness. In times of sickness and forced detachment from the world and its busyness, I have learned something BIG. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). God, in His goodness, has taught me that when I place my hope in my health, I end up disappointed. When I place my joy in my ever-changing circumstances, I face depression. When I fill my time with work, money, people, fitness, and do not pray, I lose who I am and find discontentment. Where I place my hope and my joy is also what I am allowing to bring me hope and joy. In our constant search for happiness and LOVE, we are misled by the world around us. I struggled to find my worth for years, I battled with the lie that I am unlovable and sought for fulfillment of this in the world around me, but God waited.
God wanted to teach me that love is not earned, it is given freely. He allowed me to get sick and wrestle with this truth. Over time He taught me that I am worthy of love because I was created in and for love. I do not earn love by deeds, by wit or by beauty. I do not earn it by my ability to say the right thing at the right time, nor do I earn it by living a good and faithful life. I am worthy of it because I am a creation of God, who is a King, who is my Father and who created me to love and be loved. Nothing I do can change that.
The activities that keep me busy are all good, but I realized if I was not DOING things, I felt worthless. It was as though I was wasting my life and not fulfilling God’s purpose for me. The Lord has been challenging me to…..STOP. Stop doing things. Be a Mary in this Martha world (Luke 10: 38-42). He has taught me that activity without Him is fruitless, busyness first and God second not only steals your peace and your joy but starves God of His true desire – You.
This inactivity I am currently experiencing is bringing me back to who I am. It is bringing back my peace, my hope and my joy, simply because I am spending more time with Him. When my soul is connected with Him, only then is my action fruitful. Only then does it promote peace and justice in a world that needs God-filled action, not me-filled action.
There is a light for your darkness and His name is Jesus. He knows you and He has everything you are looking for (even if you don’t know you are looking for it yet). I am someone who feared silence, hated it in fact, and believed busyness to be the only way to a meaningful life. Nevertheless God has been showing me His desire to be with me and revealing mine for Him. This isn’t just for me, God wants to be with you. So stop. Be alone with Him. Let Him restore your peace, hope, joy and love. Then vow to make Him your new norm. He can raise up an army of saints if only we learn to seek Him first. I pray that we may all receive the courage to stop and welcome His light and peace. Let Him do the work, He knows how.
“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1: 4-5)