Thursday, November 21, 2013

When You Have More Questions Than Answers. Or So It Seems.

I over-think.

It is the mother of all cursed predispositions, if you ask me. 

From time to time my task-oriented friends have said they envy how I take time to process and write about the overflow of my mind and heart. But this is not a discipline or necessarily even a virtue; it's just me. And lately, I have exhausted myself from the inside out. 

Much of the time I feel like I might be a crazy person.

Please, non-overthinking-friends, heartily embrace your level-headed natures and neat categories and non-tendencies to debate everything internally. 

Over-thinking is no joy ride. One spirals and upswings and plummets and it feels like the cruelest coaster in the world. 

Gone are the days where I valued my meandering mind and ability to accept {even if I didn't support} all sorts of contradictions. Gone is my self-satisfaction in never throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

I'd love a tidy box right now.

I'd love non-negotiable resolution about every single complicated issue under the sun.

I'd love to wear black and white every day of my life and never don a muddled hue again.

The gray is killing me.

I have written and prayed and gotten emotional and gone to the place where over-thinking minds tend to go when they're knee-deep in tough issues...the internet. This is a bad idea.

I have asked God to show me Truth and I have eaten His word like a starving child. This is a good idea.

But I'll be honest, sometimes I stumble into just as many questions as I find answers. Or so it seems. 

I research and study and read things one way while someone else reads them another and we're both earnestly seeking but we end up at different destinations and how can this be and why are so many challenging issues all coalescing at the same time? 

My husband tells me to let things settle, to stop thinking for a while, which is sort of like asking the sun to take a few days off from shining.

My spirit struggles to still itself and my mind ticks on anyway and my pretend conversations make me want to kick my own dueling inner monologues to the curb.

I'm not typically fond of "narrow-minded" people.

But these days, a narrow mind sounds like a welcome relief.

Where does the over-thinker go when so much seems unresolved? 

At the risk of offering a tidy solution to an issue that is anything but simple, for those who are in Christ, we go to what we do know instead of stewing in what we don't. 

We go to who we know. 

That's where All-Things-Unresolved took me yesterday morning. 

I sat at my makeshift writing nook, reading and praying and desperate for God to speak.

And He did. He gave my restless spirit his Word, specifically the passage that He gave me on one of the very first mornings of a brand new season in my life, a season dedicated to rest.

It was early January almost two years ago and I sat in an overstuffed chair at the public library, Bible and journal splayed across my lap. A passage from Ephesians 3 opened up like the perfect gift, the kind that's uniquely personal and just what you needed and how did the Giver know exactly what to get you?

The verse has unwrapped itself over and over again, continuing to resurface over the last two years, buoying my sinking spirit and tired bones and uncertain mind.

One day during that same season I sat in my bed, exhausted and pensive, while the kids were in school. With my daughter's watercolors I sketched a tree and penciled the words from Ephesians throughout its branches. To be honest, it's a terrible piece of art, completely amateur in every way, but it's above my desk anyway. I don't often consider it because I see it every day. 

But yesterday I looked up and saw the tree and the penciled words smeared with watercolors like it was all brand new. I turned to Ephesians and opened the gift again, grateful and tearful and expectant. 

God answered me with this:

Prayer for Spiritual Strength
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, {Eph. 3:14-20}

There's so much to uncover in this passage, so much that's relevant to my own current struggle. But perhaps the take-away is simply this: Jesus is enough. His love is everything.

He's my strength and surety when so much else seems undecided. Do I believe this? I do. But I admit, it's an astounding mystery, simple enough for a child to understand and deep enough for scholars to dissect throughout the ages.

Where does a Believer go when she's sure of her foundation but buffeted by the winds of confusion and controversy and contradiction about so many other things? 

She goes to Jesus. 

His love roots a daughter and strengthens her insides even when she feels weak and wind-blown. 

His love doesn't answer her questions with a paper or a principle or persuasion. It answers her questions with a Person. 

A Person that so roots us and envelops us and fills us with an immeasurable love that surpasses even knowledge itself.

Instead of seeking greater knowledge, I find Christ.

Instead of chasing after insight, I rest in Christ. 

Instead of sifting through bias and books and banter, I make Christ my home as He makes his home in me.

I cling to the beautiful mystery, despite losing my grip every single day.   

This piece of commentary on Ephesians 3:17, "so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith," paints the perfect picture:

In a word, faith is not a distant view, but a warm embrace, of Christ, by which he dwells in us, and we are filled with the Divine Spirit. 

Not a distant view, but a warm embrace.

To be sure, knowledge and understanding are woven into faith but when knowledge supercedes Christ, I end up striving and loveless and anxious. I have a "distant view" of my Savior, obscured by all sorts of intellectual distractions.

I don't have any more answers or resolutions or conclusions than I did a few weeks ago. 

But I'm aware of the deep, deep love of Jesus.

I'm rooted and grounded in a love that surpasses knowledge. 

I find comfort and certainty in his warm embrace. 


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  1. Thoughts rising from the Eph. 3:17 commentary . . . there is something about a "warm embrace" that transcends the mystery, soothes the pain, fills the lack, and calms the ceaseless wandering/wondering. Thanks for expressing the oft-inexpressible.


  2. You had me at: I over-think. Yes. To all of this. May I go to the Person over and over again today. Also? I can't tell me how it blesses me so to see your mama (Hi, Scooper's Mom!) comment on your posts. I pray I'll be that kind of mama always.


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