Selective and apathetic were two words I was using to describe God this past couple of weeks. I’ve spent a solid amount of time being angry at Him, without even realizing until a few days ago that anger is what I was experiencing.
July was a rough month for me. I started slipping back into old patterns and believing the lies I had once clung so tightly to. I need a man to be happy. Men give me power. Men decide how much I am worth. Once I gave into those lies, I spiraled. And I got miserable. Fast. My relationship with God was placed on a back burner, and the burner was turned on simmer if that. It didn’t take but three weeks for me to get to that dark place again that was all to familiar back at the beginning of 2018. So I sat down with my therapist and got honest. I told her everything. It wasn’t a 180-degree turn after that though. Sure I stopped acting out and I started taking the suggestions given to me again, but my heart wasn’t in it. I had re-activated the part of my mind that craved chaos and attention, risk and reward. It’s still active. And I have to combat the lies constantly.
My heart was aching. I longed for God but I just couldn’t seem to reach Him. I didn’t want to put in the work I needed to get my relationship back on track with Him. Suddenly, despite all the pain, the world seemed just a little more appealing than Him. I felt stuck. You know, that feeling where you don’t like where you are but you don’t feel like you can get to where you need to go.
I’m in recovery from alcoholism (almost 17 months y’all!!) but I’m also in recovery from sex and love addiction and it’s a freaking tough battle- a battle I don’t want to fight all the time. A battle that doesn’t seem worth fighting half the time. A battle I know I can’t fight alone. I sat in my therapist’s office last week crying, telling her that I felt like I was on a carosel I just couldn’t get off. With this particular addiction, my mind sometimes feels like it’s on overdrive. I grew up believing that if I didn’t have a man in my life, my life wasn’t complete. I was “lacking” -and always would be as long as I was single. I wage a war on a daily basis.
As I was sitting in my dietician’s office a few days ago she told me I needed to write a letter to God. She asked me if I was angry at Him and I paused, contemplating the question. I didn’t know how to answer until I took out a piece of pen and paper the following night. The letter was five pages long, and I didn’t hold back. Someone once told me that God can handle our anger, so I let Him have it. I had a lot of questions for God and I was demanding a lot of answers. Below is a peek into this letter:
Are you a selective God? Why can’t I get better? Why do I always end up screwing up? Why can’t I get ahold of myself and just stop for good? I’m so desperate for love and acceptance that I’ll take the crumbs that fall from the world’s table and gobble them up. Why can’t I love myself like others love themselves? Huh? Do you even care that my heart is empty but weights 1000 tons? What went through your mind as you watched me get raped? Why do you save some people but not others? Was I not special enough? Do you not love me as much? Were you letting me get what I deserved?
Even as I wrote out that prayer, I could hear God responding to everything I said-so loudly that I almost thought He was speaking in an audible voice. But I shut out the voice and sat in my anger. And my tears. And my intense pain. I allowed myself to sit like that for three days. And then this morning, September 2nd, I got up early before church, sat with pen in hand, got extremely still, and asked God to respond to my letter. One of the ways I’ve always communicated with God is through written word. I have journals filled with conversations I have had with Him-me writing out prayers, and then God so clearly taking the pen out of my hand and writing His response. That happened this morning in such a healing and intimate way. He had a lot to say to me this morning, and I want to share bits and pieces of it with you.
“Amy Nicole, your name means ‘beloved,’ and that perfectly depicts who you are. I’ve never left, even when you tried to run. You can’t outrun my presence and my intense affection for you. When you were sexually assaulted, my heart broke. I am a God of all authority, but I am also a God who isn’t going to take free-will away from people. Unfortunately evil is in this world and Satan uses whatever situation he can to pull you from me. Every time you were assaulted, I wasn’t turning my back on you. I wasn’t leaving you to fight this world alone. I have cried over you. My heart has ached. I created you for myself. I need you to trust me when I say you are fearfully and wonderfully made. I made you, and I think the work I did was excellent. Recognize this Amy: your idea for how the world should look and play out is based on your limited view of what you can see. I have plans for you. Plans to turn harm into healing. Your pain will transform into purpose. I promise to never leave you high and dry. Remember Joseph from my Word? I used his betrayal and slavery to save a nation. The past cannot be changed. Let me do beautiful things with your future. Let me write your story. You will see pain again. I can’t give you a life without that here on this earth. But hold on. My timing is perfect. Please, beloved one, believe you are all who I say you are.”
In this intimate time with God, I realized that I’ve been trying to dictate how God should act. I’ve been telling Him what I need and how I want Him to give it to me. In my letter to Him, I was so bold to write, “I want what I want and I want it now.” But this morning it became clear to me. Things will be okay even if I’m not in control of everything. Part of the recovery program is a thing called the 12 Steps. The first three steps are as follows:
- We admitted we were powerless and that our lives had become unmanageable
- Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him
After going through the month of July, I am undoubtedly able to admit my powerlessness. Step one. I’ve also believed in God, and I know that He is the only one who can truly bring me peace and rest. Step two. BUT THEN there was step three. I’ve worked the steps before, and I always thought I had turned my will and life over to God, but I think a part of me has continued to hold back, hold on, white knuckles and all, clinging to the idea that I can find a different way that only requires me. Between the barks of my puppy and my roommate’s dog, under the roof of my new cozy home, cuddled up on the couch drinking my spinach smoothie, it hit me. I must release control. All of it. Every ounce. My way doesn’t work. I can’t do it alone-sustainably.
At church this morning the worship and sermon were written specifically for me. (Oh I’m just certain.) It emphasized everything God had told me just hours before. As we sang these lyrics by Bethel Music, I experienced scales fall.
“I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies
I raise a hallelujah, louder than the unbelief
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah, heaven comes to fight for me
I raise a hallelujah, I will watch the darkness flee
I raise a hallelujah, in the middle of the mystery”
The word “hallelujah” means “God be praised.” I’ve been feeling drained to an extreme point lately. Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. In every way, I’ve felt like I was just not going to make it much longer. And that’s because I was trying to carry my own burden when God is the one who has said He will carry it for me. I might not have all the specific answers to my questions, but in confidence, I can say that yes, God is a selective God. He selected to save me from the countless times I should have died but didn’t. He chooses me to delight in and rejoice over. He selected me to be alive at this exact point in time because He loves me. His heart breaks when mine breaks, but He says, “Get up child, I’m going to show you how to take this defeat and turn it into victory.”
Tonight I raise a hallelujah. Anger has been replaced with adoration on this beautiful September evening. I can’t do recovery alone. I can’t do life alone. But I don’t have to. In fact, I wasn’t even created to.
My anger towards God turned into a beautiful conversation with Him. It’s okay to be angry at Him. God can take it.