I wrote earlier this fall how I swung in a hammock at summer camp and experienced the peace of God. No cellphone. No instagram, computer or Netflix. Just sun beams on my face, my Bible in my hands. The presence of God, knowing that he was with me and a deep peace and trust in his goodness and sovereignty. I never knew how much I would need that memory to ground me 2 months later.
I firmly believe that God never changes but our experience of him does. It makes sense why I could feel perfectly at peace while the world spun madly on – then two months later I felt like I was spinning madly. Was God still stable? Yes. In control? Yes.
I felt like I was ready to date – I asked God for him to lead and said that I was good to go. In many ways I am. I haven’t felt this emotionally mature, stable, and ready in a long time. I waited. Then within 24 hours I get asked out by 2 different guys – and we think God doesn’t answer prayer? Hmm. Well. Oh and let’s add in a few confusing male friendships into the mix.
To spare the soap opera details, a month later I found myself googling convents in Asia ready to live my life. Singleness is much simpler in many ways. Ok, a tad dramatic. (Except that I really want to go to Asia and sad that it won’t be this year.) The past month was filled with increased clarity, confirmation from God, some heart pain, a pinch of confusion, and some drama thrown in. For those of who are are my closest friends and journeyed with me in the day-to-day: THANK YOU. We laughed, we cried, we prayed. You are my champions.
I thought I was clinging to God in the world of dating, trusting him and seeking his path for my life. But I wasn’t. In all honesty, it was God who was clinging onto me. Each moment that I felt tempted to freak out (and in the moments that I did) he was there, inviting me back into his presence. Only in prayer, spending time in his Word, and in quiet could I hear his voice and clarity on what to do. Pushing that aside to hurriedly text my friends a ton of updates about the latest daily update – God’s peace flew out the window. In came anxiety, nausea, and grief. Emotional exhaustion.
Even in moments when I didn’t come into God’s presence and peace on my own, God was still there reaching out through the people around me. They showered me with love and affection. They bought me Costco snacks. They let me cry at work. They prayed for me. Hugged me. Took me to visit a donkey farm (finally!). They spoke words of life into my heart and reminded me that I wasn’t a loser.
In my Bible study this week we looked at Job 2, when Satan attacks Job with sores all over his body and he sits there in the ashes and just scratches his wounds with a broken piece of pottery – don’t worry! My month hasn’t been that terrible. But Job’s friends come to comfort him because they have heard about all of his suffering. They wept with him. They sat with him for several days, not speaking but just being there. They comforted him with their presence and silence. It reminded me that sometimes there’s a time to talk and a time to be silent (Ecclesiastes 3:7). There’s a time to speak truth into a friend’s life and a time to just be there.
God is like that too. Sometimes he speaks, and his past month he spoke a lot to me through various circumstances and people. Sometimes he’s silent. But he’s always there, like Job’s friends, comforting us with his presence if we choose to draw close to him. For it’s in his presence that we find true rest (Exodus 33:14). God clings onto us and doesn’t let us go. No matter what circumstance or what we perceive, he’s there. He’s in control, he’s leading. “Erin, things feel all mixed up,” a friend told me last week. No, even though they seem mixed up, it’ll be okay. We can pray for clarity and his peace, and for God to direct. He will. It may look very different than we anticipate right now, and that’s okay too.
The future isn’t my business to try and figure out right now. God invites me to come into his presence each day in the journey so that I can know how much he is clinging onto me. He’s there – and it’s enough.