I had a conversation with God a while back. Now, you might think that’s a very strange thing right off the bat, or you might think that’s just the most logical sentence ever written. “Of course you did,” you’re thinking. “What did he say?”
Well, I’ll tell you what he said. It came at a very hard time in my life and I was crying, sitting on the floor in my kitchen, feeling every ounce of sorry for myself and my circumstances. Relationships have always been very hard for me. I never know the right ones to pursue. I usually choose wrong – my current single status is my witness. I had someone tell me one time, metaphorically of course, “It just seems like you want someone to burn you with their cigarette.” Maybe I did. Maybe I do. Maybe that’s all you think you deserve when that’s all you’ve ever been given.
For some reason, a lot of women I know, we all try to pick the ones who don’t want us. Guys do this, too. It’s the chase - the game. Like it’s better if you have to prove yourself to them. Like if they finally pick you after you’ve proven yourself, then you’ve really won. Then you’re worthy and they finally see your value. It sounds silly even now as I type it out. Maybe we all need counseling.
But in the midst of another poor decision, another bad relationship, another choice I wasn’t supposed to make but did anyway, I just heard the real words in my soul say,
GIVE IT UP. WHAT I’M OFFERING IS BETTER.
Wait, what? Excuse me? Are you there? I was crying, like I said, but this sudden thought caused me to catch my breath and hold back the tears. Are you talking to me, God? Now? I have cried to you so many times and heard nothing but stinging silence and NOW you want to speak up. He wasn’t yelling like those caps suggest, but how do you differentiate between my feeble voice and the one who spoke Light? The voice was steady, like the sea when he spoke calm into it. Like Lazarus walking out of the tomb all those days later, just very nonchalant like, “Hello there. Here I am.”
Well, when you hear a voice deep in your soul like that, do you talk back? I thought it would be rude not to, so I just said out loud to nobody in my kitchen, actually very defiant and angry,
“You promise there will be something better. You say, ‘Just give it up and there will be better.’ Well, I HAVE given up and there’s never been anything better. I never get the better.”
Don’t we hear that a lot – in the midst of heartbreak and tragedy and hard things? In the midst of sadness and grief. In the midst of loss and shattered dreams. “Don’t worry, what he has for you is better.” We love to comfort ourselves with cherry-picked verses and quaint phrases and sometimes they’re just the words we need to hear. We hang on to that hope with a white-knuckled death grip and wait. And wait. And w a i t. We’re waiting for the better to come because we think we know exactly what it looks like. It looks like all our dreams come true, of course! Well, that little voice spoke to me again. I told you early on that this was a conversation, not on a one-off moment of clarity.
I’M THE BETTER. HAVING ME IS THE BETTER.
Well, isn’t that just a super Christian answer, God. How nice of you, I thought.
But then I responded, “Yeah, I guess.” I guess so. “I guess having you is better,” I said all non-committal to the God of the universe.
WHY AREN’T YOU SATISFIED WITH ME?
When the God who created you is speaking to your soul, giving you a stern talking to about your life choices, when he’s doing that and you know it, you can’t turn your back. Now that I was sure it was him I was hearing, I was ready to have it out. I had waited for this conversation – waited to hear from him, to know that my prayer and desperation wasn’t bouncing off clouded ceiling. I thought, You know why, God? Because you gave me dreams. You gave me these things in my heart that I’ve wanted so badly for YEARS. And I’m just sitting here alone on my kitchen floor crying. Again.
I answered, “Because I want someone to love me and hold my hand.”
Something Christian people like to say to middle school/high school/college girls when they’re longing for a boyfriend or a husband is something along the lines of, “God is the only man you need.” Maybe they say it to guys too – that he’s the only relationship you need. So we hang on to that for a little while but then it turns stale because if you’re like me, you want a hug – a very real, warm hug from a man who will kiss your forehead and tell you you’re beautiful. Your friends seem to be finding that, no problem. Some of them aren’t even Christians, God, so how dare you give that to them before me. I’m on your team, God!
I DO LOVE YOU.
We hear that from the time we are three years old in preschool. “Jesus loves me / This I know / For the Bible tells me so.” It does say that. If you’ve read even a few pages, ‘God is love’ is the whole story, the prologue and the epilogue. It occurred to me the other day we should never really tire of what the Bible has to say because every time you open it it’s like you’re sitting down with God and saying to him, “Tell me again the story of how much you love me.”
I know this is true in my head, but the distance between my head and my heart was vast in those moments and so I had the gall to say back to God right there in my kitchen,
“And that’s it? No one else will ever love me?”
Love personified is offering us himself and often we’re scoffing in the corner. I might as well have said, “You’re not enough, God. You’re not enough.” At least it would have been more honest. I wanted more than just Love reaching down from heaven. I’ll have what she’s having, I found myself thinking about my friends who were married and having babies. About my friends and sisters and cousins and seemingly everyone getting all the things I wanted for so long. Like I had any idea what I was really asking in those moments.
WHY AREN’T YOU SATISFIED WITH ME?
Yes, God, you already asked me that, thank you. I’m not sure if you remember or not. We’ve all been down this road before. He asks us to find satisfaction in him and we go ahead and try to find it in relationships, career, sex, money, fame, addictions – all of these things that only ever lead to our own destruction and we know he’ll find us at the end of that road. Waiting. Ready to ask again and again. He’s like that for some reason.
So I give up.
“I don’t know…” I said, sitting there in my kitchen.
I don’t know, God. I don’t know but I want to know. I want to believe that you’re the better my soul, our souls, long for. I want to know for sure in my heart that even if none of my dreams for myself come true that ultimately having you is better. You’re the goal. You’re the main event. All we ever do should only be to that aim. More Jesus, please.
So why isn’t it enough? More Jesus should be more than enough no matter what brought me to that end. But, if I’m honest, the better I want, the better I’m perpetually waiting for is a new, better boyfriend/spouse, I want a better house, a better job, a better family. I want the redemption story. I want the Joseph-gets-out-of-jail moment so I can really stick it to whoever wronged me and shout, “See! This is why all of that happened.” Mascara-stained white pillow cases attest to the fact that I’ve been crying out for that better for years.
So I had a conversation with God a while back. He came to me right there in my kitchen. We had it out for a bit because of who I am and who he is in spite of me. I know I’ll need the lesson again. We seem to be pretty dense, the whole lot of us, humanity. We need reminders and do-overs. Luckily for us, all of us,
“…but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…”
There’s a better our busted souls can cling to. More Jesus, please.