Family conflict is horrible. When the strain and awkwardness runs on for years you began to pray, “Is this ever going to end, Lord? I try and follow you, and it just seems no reconciliation is happening. I thought you would answer my prayers by now?” But He doesn’t. He hasn’t allowed me to see these prayers answered just yet. I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t grow weary, or lose a bit of hope. I have even asked, “God, are you even listening to my cry!?” It is crazy to think about but I even thought about physically moving away. Like to a different state. All so I wouldn’t have to deal with the added pressure of feeling like a complete outcast in my family for following the Lord in the direction He was calling me.
I was going to have to be surrounded by family and I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I thought everything was going great in my family for the first time in a long time, but something changed. There was weird tension, and I was being treated oddly. Again.
Though I’m still not sure how it happened, I had felt like we were finally in a good place, a place where I could go to a family function and not feel as though I was walking on egg shells. I thought we were finally to a point where I could show up and be myself. When this weekend was approaching I grew more and more anxious. I had to truly ask myself, “Are you allowing the devil to trick you into thinking something is wrong here?” I feel like he knows exactly what to do to stir the pot in my family. Alternatively I prayed, “Lord, are you growing me? Are you disciplining my heart? Is that why you want me to be so uncomfortable?” I was a wreck.
While I was struggling with this, I was reminded of these verses from Hebrews:
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet was without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need. (Heb. 4:14-16)
And then I realized that Christ came to earth, in the flesh, and experienced a human existence. He felt everything from being tempted, betrayed, and forsaken, to experiencing sadness, loss, and the unimaginable weight of the world on His shoulders. I would never compare my burdens to those of Christ. But I am only human, and I feel as though sometimes my shoulders aren’t that big. This time, I couldn’t allow Satan to take my joy.
During a lecture one night Laurie was speaking on Psalm 22 when David was crying out to the Lord because he was at a breaking point. He was in a place where his feelings were about to override his faith. He couldn’t allow that to happen. On my notes that night I wrote, “How many times have you been here?” When the morning came for the family gathering, I woke up thinking and telling my husband, “I can’t allow this anymore. I won’t! I can’t live like this. This is a horrible way to feel around family. I want to have joy and rejoice in these moments.”
A lot of times when we are facing a situation the last thing we think about is Christ in that moment. For me, that is how it has always been. Survive this now, and pray later. Now I do my best to direct everything to Him. When I woke up that morning I couldn’t believe that I had gone so long without asking Jesus to intercede on my behalf. I couldn’t believe it. He hears me; He intercedes for me. I may not be able to see it right now, right in the very second I need Him to show up. But I need to believe, I have to believe that He is for me. No matter who I feel is against me. It may be family, friends, or co-workers. But God Almighty is there.
I got on my knees and prayed. After that, I picked up my phone and messaged my sweet friend. I asked her if she could specifically pray for the events to come. She quickly replied. We got in the car and I praised His name the entire way there. I worshipped at the top of my lungs. My husband didn’t mind at all. Ladies, the God you serve is so much stronger than the stress, anxiety, and pain that plagues you. What you get stressed and intimated by may not be like my situation. But there is one thing that applies to all Christians: the power that raised Christ from the grave dwells inside of you.
While at the gathering I spoke truth to my heart, just like David had to. I kept repeating David’s prayer, “Be not far from me…” (Psa. 22:11). For the first time in a long time I felt like I could breathe in the midst of it all. There will always be something trying to pull my focus from Christ, trying to make me focus instead on my circumstances. But, after a while of being there I saw that I had done all I could do. I put it in the Lord’s hands, and there was no need for me to run back to the emotions that had ruled me. I didn’t have to impress them anymore, and there is a freedom you finally feel when you realize that who you are in Christ is enough. As we got in the car to leave, I looked at my husband and realized there was no overflow of emotion to talk about. There was no anger to sort through from something someone said or did to us. So, I went right back to worshiping His name. That’s really all I wanted to do; I didn’t want to talk or even speak. I just wanted to sing to my King and thank Him for His faithfulness and for protecting our hearts.
Sometimes people will get upset with you when you place Him above their earthly ways. Sometimes people can’t see that there is a much bigger picture than the hold of their traditions passed down from generation to generation. I trust that God led me on a path. I knew back then that I needed to obey Him. I knew it would cause strain and discomfort for me. But fearing God and not wanting to feel like a Jonah was more important to me. I couldn’t see it then, but oh how I see it now! I can truly say that loving Him more and being obedient to Him above all is more important to me than any stress any one can cause in my life for doing what He told me to do.
I love this verse, Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
All for His Glory