I went to the Dominican Republic with hives.
All over my dang body. And let me tell you, there is NOTHING more attractive than that. It sure did wonders for my pride.
(Sorry to punch you in the face with that lovely little image.)
Our bodies can tell us a whole lot about what’s going on on the inside; mine was trying to get my attention, that’s for sure. I needed to rest. Recollect. Slow down.
Every year, at least once, ya gotta get to those big, wide open, forget-me-not-blue skies to shift things around and put them back in their place, like a nice spring cleaning. Big sky = clear mind.
And the sky is bigger at the beach.
So I went to the beach.
I took my vacation at the perfect time. I was tired, as my body so boldly and unabashedly proclaimed #hives (I can’t believe I just did a hashtag for my hives OR that I haven’t erased it yet OR that it will make the final draft).
I was tired of feeling drained. Tired of an overstuffed calendar, stressed from the never-ending to-do list. Tired of geeking out about my lack of love life and failed relationships. Tired of feeling like there was something wrong with me and that I needed to change or improve myself in order to be loved.
What was at the root of all this?
Why was I so riled up to the point of hives (Why do I keep reminding everyone about my hives? At this point I’m doing it to myself.)
As part of my daily vacation routine, I would lay on top of the water and at the bottom of that big sky for sometimes up to half an hour. I let the ocean drift me wherever it deemed suitable. My thoughts, questions, and fears slowly rose to the surface, where they would either float along with me or just drift on up to the sky.
Sometimes I thought if I just reached up, I could pull the sky down toward me and be swallowed up whole by both the blues, where my mind wouldn't be plagued with its questions and fears.
Fear could hold me back from the ocean; fear could hold me back from many things that are as vast, infinite, and terrifying - yet enticing and beautiful - as the sea. I’m not gonna lie, each time I dive in there’s a moment where I’m convinced that a great white will most certainly attack me, but still, I don't know how you can look at the ocean and not want to be in it.
And then it clicked. That swirling whirlpool of questions in my mind?
Fear. Fear was at the root of them.
I was so fixated on my stress/doubts/longings that it enabled fear to lay a heavy blanket over me.
I’m very little in this big ocean and I’m very little in this big world. And my problems are even more miniscule! I mean, I'm on freakin vacation in the Dominican Republic drinking from a straw stuck in a coconut that just fell off a tree! Get over yourself, Megan.
But I think it was more than just petty whining. I was over the moon grateful for the gift of that week on the beach.
I realized it wasn’t so much about my “problems” as it was about a deep fear that God didn’t actually care about me.
I was afraid God didn’t care about my dreams, the things I held closest to my heart. I was afraid I wasn’t that important to Him, that God wouldn’t provide for me.
The root question of the week:
Can I trust God?
One night I sat on the patio, enjoying that late night/early morning breeze and the perpetual music of the sea. It was a few days into the trip, and the big blues had already done their job giving my heart and mind a nice spring cleaning. While my friends were fast asleep, tired from an evening of copious amounts of Dominican food followed by a great attempt at salsa dancing on the beach, I prayed.
As I prayed, I recognized the lie I was believing. The lie that has been believed from the very beginning of the great separation of God and man...
The serpent, the most cunning of the animals, posed his initial question:
Did God really say, "You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden"?
With that one comment, he planted the seed of mistrust.
Oh, well God was lying to you! You can certainly eat of the tree.
That is the very lie, or some variation, we’ll hear as long as we’re here on earth:
God is a liar.
Why do you trust God?
God’s not who He says He is.
If you want good things you need to take matters into your own hands.
God’s holding out on you.
Why would you trust someone who lies to you?
Gazing out on the moonlit ocean, feeling just as small and insignificant as I did earlier floating in the sea, I surrendered my fears.
Because I’ve only ever known God to be trustworthy.
Since the moment I met Him, He has never let me down, even when life didn’t feel good or look the way I thought it should. There’s a sense of entitlement in me (the notion that I deserve certain things) that grace is slowly chipping away at.
Listen, I’ve believed the lies about who satan says God really is plenty of times, and by no means am I immune to those lies. I hear them, but I know the truth. I look back on my life and see the millions of ways God has provided for me, protected me from unhealthy situations, answered my seemingly impossible prayers, allowed me to witness physical miracles, and I KNOW that I can trust Him.
He is trustworthy.
But the serpent lied, and he continues to lie about who God is. “Don’t trust God” is probably the devil’s favorite line.
Jesus called God “Father,” not “liar” or “dictator” or “law-enforcer.” Right before He gives us the Lord’s Prayer He says,
“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
He knows what we need. He’s attentive, He cares, He sees.
The fact that Jesus existed, had a blood type, laughed, and left his footprints in the dirt, boldly proclaims that God is not aloof or uninterested in our lives. Jesus’s life tells us that God is certainly interested in humanity. And His manner of living, most especially His manner of dying, communicates to us that He is good on His word.
And yet… I still find myself afraid of God and doubtful of His plan.
Usually I’m afraid He'll take something away from me, or that He won’t give me my heart’s desire. What if something happens to me that will change the course of my entire life? What if I never get married? What if I’m not where I’m supposed to be? What if I fall short of my life’s mission?
Impatience. It prompted the first sin of “I cannot wait” and “I don’t believe you want to give me good things.” Every time that I’ve acted on this impatience I’ve been let down.
When I choose to trust, I find that I'm gifted with peace.
I surrendered that night on the hotel patio, but it’s a daily sort of thing. And it’s a highly worth it sort of thing. He is constantly, patiently, showing me that He is trustworthy and that He knows what I need.