Counting As Loss

I never knew I could deceive myself so well.

That I could take such a good look at myself in the mirror and forget to even deal with the condition of my soul. Maybe this sounds deep for a Saturday morning, but after last night, I feel compelled to write this. As though maybe the thoughts that are all disjointed can coalesce into something meaningful. That maybe then, I’ll be able to say, yes, that’s what I’m thinking, that’s what I need to change, that’s where I’m struggling and goodness I’ve never looked at myself so clearly as last night.

I spent the evening with a good friend that I’ve made in the NOVA area this past year. I have learned so much from her. I’ve learned that brokenness displays beauty more vibrantly than any mascara ever could. I learned that pain leads us to empathy and love and when it breaks you down, it leads you closer to Him. And that when we talk about how God is working in our lives and how He’s changing us and how He loves us, these aren’t just words that we reiterate in church, but they’re actions.

And this friend has been living them out in a powerful way.

The truth is that I don’t want to admit what I struggle with most of the time. I like keeping up a front so that nobody worries about me and that everybody’s happy. I know it sounds manipulative and pathetic, maybe. It mostly stems from my insecurity. I want people to love me and I’m terrified of being exposed for who I truly am. I think we all are, maybe, but last night I realized how much weight I put on what people think. How obsessed I’ve become with trying to look and be perfect when I’m so broken.

You see, I’ve followed Jesus for years, but this past year I’ve struggled with so much. I’ve struggled with believing that He loves me. I’ve struggled with believing that despite what His word says, He just wants my life to be filled with pain. I’ve been blessed more than I can imagine or deserve,  but for some reason I kept looking at the painful moments and pointing them out to Him and pleading for Him to take it away. Asking Him why. And when He wouldn’t answer, I was devastated.

But last night, my friend reminded me of God’s love for me. That He is for me. That even though this is such a deep, dark season, He is the one who has the last word over my life.

I’ve battled with this because I’ve heard so often the same clichés. Their script is so familiar and sometimes too painful. But I realized so clearly last night that I’ve chosen to doubt God. I’ve chosen to give up. The Enemy’s lies sounded more believable than my Father’s promises. Because I couldn’t feel them. Or experience them.

And this has led me to a verse in Philippians that has been threading through my thoughts this morning. Phil 3:7-8:

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss [a]in view of the surpassing value of [b]knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, [

Because everything Paul had couldn’t measure up to the great worth of knowing Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he didn’t hold back telling the Philippians that all his credentials, everything he could boast in, all of that was a loss to him. These verses penetrated my heart because I realize just how often I count my intelligence, my looks and all of these superficial things as more important than Jesus. A lot of times, I just see Jesus as a part of my life, but to be able to say that all of these outward things are a loss compared to Christ? It exposed the shallowness of my faith.

This is a season of endings. It’s a season of being broken. But it’s also a season of seeing clearly that anything we think gives us meaning and identity and purpose apart from God holds no value.

Compared to knowing Him and following after Him and obeying His will even when it breaks off from my own will (which is so painful), all of the things I’ve chased after in this world are a loss.

Our appearances, our careers, how well liked we are, our grades, our status, the attention we can get from our peers or from someone in the workplace, our possessions, anything we boast in in this world and in our flesh – God calls us to something deeper. He gives us so much value and worth. He is our treasure and reward. In Him, all of those things can’t even begin to measure up.

This is a season of redemption. I want to be able to say that these things are loss to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  I hope that when you come to a season of brokenness you can see it as an opportunity, too. And count it all as loss to knowing Him.

 

Retrospect

I woke up with a caffeine headache. A pressing need to clean everything in my house. Figure out the meaning of my life. And try not to worry about my boy and driving troubles.

Shouldn’t take that long, right?

Sometimes it’s so wonderful to be an idealist.

You see the best in everything. Your heart pounds as the golds, blues and rose colored clouds sweep across the sky, mixed in with the shimmer of sunlight as it dips below the horizon. Eyes dazzling on a walk through a small town, with its enchanting brick sidewalks, pumpkin patches and bursts of autumn leaves mix together a kaleidoscope of fall.

An idealist sees the worst in herself, too. And feels it deeply.

I’ve been working through lately how I take in this world and how easy it is to feel overcome by everything that happens to me. But the truth is that God is in control. Those aren’t words that I recite to sound religious, they’re words I believe and want to live out.

It’s astonishing how much of an impact my date had on me yesterday. Not in a good way. But still, I couldn’t help but being deeply impacted by what happened.

You see, I went on a date with a boy I don’t like.

Before you stop right there and turn off your internet browser, or worse, switch back to MSN (you know you love those news updates about Trump and Hillary), please bear with me.

I went to a party last weekend. One where I dressed up as Hermione, showed up early, where screaming took the place of chatting (over the music blaring from the speakers), and met a boy.

You have to understand, I don’t play with hearts. I don’t see love as a game. I don’t ever want to just date a guy because I’m desperate for attention. Want affection. Am overcome with loneliness. None of those are valid reasons. They never should be for any single girl. But when you’re single, dating rules aren’t black and white. Sometimes they’re gray.

And a cute guy asks you out, and he has a really exciting great job and you know you’ll get a free meal out of it and so, what do you do but say yes?

The sixteen year old me would not have understood this. Maybe not even the twenty four year old me.

I want to tell you that it went well. That I gave him a chance and he surprised me. Swept me off my feet with his dreamy eyes and his cavalier demeanor. I want to tell you I fell for his laugh, his contagious smile, his chocolate brown eyes.

But that would be a lie.

You see, love can’t be forced.

I know, you want a good love story, but not all stories include them. Romance can’t be lit easily like a fire. It’s just about as simple as deciding whether to save another person’s life at the risk of your own. It’s frustrating and perplexing and painful. You debate if you should do it just to make that other person happy. Your thoughts wage a war against your emotions. And sometimes logic wins. But logic doesn’t equate to compatibility. Or harmony.

What throws me even now is that while I talk about this being so difficult for me, there’s a boy who lives a couple miles away who at this second believes it to be so simple, so easy. He’s already falling for me and to him, love is just like another box to check.

I mean, what if we really ended up together, I put my misgivings behind me and jumped?

I wonder if I would forfeit a part of myself. I wonder if I would lose myself in the past or in wondering what love could really have been like. Could I fake love? Apparently I can if I’ve led him to believe there could be something between us.

I wish there was a rule book on dating. Because then my heart wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in.

I’ve come to this conclusion before, but I need to restate it again to convince myself and maybe you, too, reader. Guys are amazing. Incredible. They make you stop breathing just by looking at you. I don’t know how that exactly works. But they can also be incredibly cruel. I never knew that love could be so painful, until I fell for someone. And then tried to walk it back. Which didn’t work. And so I’ve prayed. And prayed. For release. For my emotions to move on. To just not care when I see him again. And to forgive.

I think getting over someone is like a long distance run, and that you build up your endurance to singleness and rejection the longer you have to bear with it. But it doesn’t make it any less painful or challenging or arduous.