My mind forgot how to sleep when I was in my sophomore year of college. But now, at the ripe age of 39, I am weary with the every night onslaught of racing thoughts.
It is 12:07 am.
I know better than to climb out of bed and make tea, but I cannot convince my ego to rise up and rationalize with my brain while I am laying down. My ego has simply left me to defend myself and I have no defense. I have only racing thoughts that I must surrender to Jesus.
This is warfare in the spiritual realm and yet my body is in full on battle. My chest is pounding hard enough to move the mattress and my body cannot still herself. Breathing is labored and it is not fear that I feel.
It is fury.
From what? I have no idea. Every hard won question I whisper at the ceiling trying to get the heaviness off my chest comes back void. Every turn in the bed only serves to reposition the weight.
And this is how I know I must make the tea and sit at the keyboard. I must write.
On Tuesday, I sit on a yellow couch with Thad and across a coffee table from our counselor. We have only just arrived and the unloading is in full throttle. I am unloading a recent hurt because it is the only thing on my mind. The hurt is unrelated to Thad but I cannot not share it because it is impeding my ability to move on to something else. I rattle on for a good five minutes and at the end of my rattling the conversation takes a turn.
You’re being fake. he says. And you’re not founding your church on authenticity if you’re being fake.
He says this and I have no idea how he has made this leap. We have only spent a grand total of seventy minutes in his presence and all we’ve ever shared is a bullet pointed overview of our life. He has done most of the talking.
My face burns and I am stoic. I look away because I want to cut him. Yes. This is exactly what I want to do.
And I want to do this exactly after I ask him if he ever performs his way through biblical counseling sessions because paying clients are sitting on his couch. I want to ask him what would happen if hurting clients came to his office for help and all they got was an hour worth of his authenticity because he just couldn’t set his flesh aside long enough to allow the Holy Spirit to use his body to meet the needs of another.
I am on fire and I wonder what it would take to cut him off at the knees. I look at the clock. We have fifty minutes left in the tiny room.
I am aware that this counselor is reading my body language and tracking my face and I give him the most truth I can write with my body. I am not faking it. He shifts in his chair and I don’t let up.
I look to Thad and I hold his gaze. I know how this is going to go down. He is going to agree with the counselor that he is fake. He’s going to say that he cares for people when he’d rather sleep or he fumbles his way through conversation when his mind is fuzzy and that yes, he’s faking his way through these things.
He’s not going to tell him that being a Jesus follower is a whole lot of showing up when the flesh is weak and trusting that the Spirit is going to overshadow the flesh.
And he’s not going to tell the counselor how he stood up in front of our church and gave a detailed talk about his diagnosis, his current med situation, and how he’s not ashamed of it. He’s not going to tell the guy that he invited the congregation to ask him anything they wanted about it.
Thad half grins because he’s owning his newfound fakeness because he just doesn’t care and because this is so ludicrous, but I am in my full on, fury filled glory:
I completely disagree with you. I say. We are not fake.
I launch into twenty minutes of all the reasons we’re not fake.
And then I tell him that we have every right to sit across the table from anyone at all and choose to deny ourselves in order to meet their needs despite our own. I tell him this is what it means to take up our cross and follow Jesus.
I tell him this does not mean we are fake.
I tell him this means we are for real about our calling and for real about using our vulnerability to gain access to that place across the table from those who are hurting.
I am no longer furious.
I am fully awake to the truth.
And the truth is that for five years, Satan has used this one lie to shut me down: You are a fraud and your writing proves it.
He’s whispered this lie to me in a thousand different ways and I’ve believed it, every time until this past week.
In the absolute depths of my most vulnerable season of life, the season in which I have verbally and non-verbally shared my fears, my failures, my hurts, my doubts, and my wrestling, Satan has called me a fake.
He’s called into question my vulnerability by challenging the method by which I choose to be vulnerable. And he’s called into question my integrity by calling into question to whom I choose to bare my soul.
And I am done believing the lie.
Telling the truth has set me free.