I have been praying a prayer lately that I don’t think I’ve ever prayed in my entire lifetime of faith, and it’s this:
Jesus, help me not care about __________________________________.
In my journal, I literally have that sentence written down a dozen or so times. There are just that many things right now that don’t fit in my head, that have fallen completely out of the realm of what I expected my life and relationships to look like right now. And I honestly do not have a place for them in my heart. No room. (Okay, I have room, I just don’t want to take them all in…too painful.)
Let me say upfront, this is one of the unhealthiest prayers I have ever prayed. This is not a prayer that serves my wholeness. This is not a prayer of strength to take it all in and recalibrate my life and move forward with a new resolve. This is not a prayer of a woman who relishes living an authentic life.
This is a prayer, I’m realizing, that is basically asking Jesus to make me into someone who I am not.
There are things going on in my life right now that require me to be a certain level of flexible and spontaneous and laidback. Spoiler alert: I am not flexible or spontaneous or laidback. But my circumstances are making me feel badly about this. Because if I were more flexible, spontaneous and laidback, a couple certain things would just roll off my back, not bother me in the least. But that’s not how Jesus made me. He made me organized, he made me a planner, he made me to like knowing what my day and week are going to look like. But in my current season, plans and knowing what my day and week look like aren’t really options. So I am asking Jesus to make me be someone I am not, to be all flexible and whatever and stuff, to not care about such-and-such and this-and-that.
And there are things in my life that are going on right now that have taken a deep toll on my heart, but that require me to have a thick skin. Surprise-surprise: when someone says something mean to me, I swallow it whole and let it course through my veins and assume it is my new truth. But if I had a thicker skin, someone could say horrible things to me and I’d be like, “Whatever, you don’t know me…call me when you want to play nice.” But that’s not how Jesus made me. He made me to care…deeply…about the people in my circle, about how we’re doing, about if I’ve hurt someone, about when they’ve hurt me. But in this current season of word-shards coming at me, the walls of my heart have been barricaded and I’m afraid to talk to people, to read my email, to check my texts. So I am asking Jesus to make me be someone I am not, to not care who hurts me and how often and the cause (or lack thereof), to help me pretend those words were never even said to me.
I know I cannot sustain this. I know these prayers are band-aids. I know me being whole means me being who God made me to be. I know I had finally found that girl, and now it feels like she’s buried again. I know it’s not even right for me to pray, Jesus, please make me not care about all of these horrible things, please make me into someone other than what you intended so I can get through all this. And I know there’s a chance that he’s maybe just shaking his head a little bit, with compassion of course, but with no intention of answering anything near that kind of wonky, broken plea.
So, I’m in a season of life where there are about a dozen or so things I’m not okay with. And these dozen or so things are most likely not going to change. And the circumstances are most likely not going to change. And the people in the circumstances are most likely not going to change. And I have said my peace. And it hasn’t done any good. So, if the thing isn’t changing or the person isn’t changing and I’ve clearly said what I can say and if I shouldn’t ask Jesus to help me care less and if I shouldn’t ask Jesus to change my entire personality so I can deal and if I shouldn’t ask my doctor to up my anti-depressant so I can numb, then what?
I guess I live with it. I don’t have to be okay with any of it, because none of it is okay.
But I do what I can do. I keep coming to Jesus, thanking him for being my good Shepherd, asking him to help me do this. And I keep reaching out and saying what I need to say, not necessarily to the people who won’t be changing because there’s no point, but to the people who are safe places for my heart. And I keep taking care of myself physically. And I keep writing. And I keep doing the thing in front of me. And I keep hoping that one day, all of this will feel far away and small because it will all be so far behind me that I barely remember it all happened.
A few days later…
I think I may have had a teeny revelation, the tiniest shift in my perspective, or in my mind, or in my heart, or all of the above.
I still don’t think I should be wasting my time asking Jesus to help me not care about things, especially important things, or painful things that I just want to avoid. I just don’t think it works that way.
However, I have two huge words on my living room wall that I look at practically all day every day…
Those words were inspired by a verse in Philippians 3 that I have loved for a very long time. And then I remembered a phrase from Isaiah 43 that has done wonders for my healing the past few years, and so I wrote them out:
I will focus on this:
God is doing a new thing!
So, then, forgetting the past
and looking forward to all that lies ahead,
I press on.
Ahhh. Perhaps that is what I am being called to do right now. To shake it off, to quote the great theologian Taylor Swift. To choose not to willingly dwell on all the recent pain. To choose to remind myself that I have a good Shepherd who is taking care of me as we speak. To choose to just let it go.
Now, this is not easy. I am no magician. I have no wand that I can wave over my life or over my memory or over my heart. And this painful season has been deeply difficult and wounding, deeply difficult to just sweep under the rug and “let go”. My life is messy, this thing called being a human can be so very hard.
But God’s word is pretty clear: I will focus on this. I will forget the past. I will look forward to all that’s up ahead. I will press on. These are things others have done. These are things I can learn to do. These are things I can choose to do. These are action steps. These are not passive. These are not glancing-back. These are little revolutions that I can be a part of in my life.
So I’m declaring that I’m changing my prayer. I will stop asking Jesus to help me not care. And I will start asking him to help me focus on God’s new thing, to help me stay in the present moment so I can heal, and yet to help me look up ahead, and to help me press on into the callings over my life, as a wife, a mother, a friend, a writer, a supporter of women who are hurting. And I will keep walking, and I will keep waiting.
God, grant me the calm, the peace, the stillness, the quietness,
to ACCEPT THE MANY THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE.
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I can so relate to this post!! And yes, He’s helping me get that through my head and heart too…looking ahead. In my bedroom I have two words up where I can see them when I get up in the morning. Face Forward. Amen.
You are not alone in your frustration about circumstances beyond your control – it can be SO frustrating. It’s also a time where we get to trust that God has a plan and He’s got us covered, even when we can’t understand how it could all work out for good. But it’s a process, daily, sometimes hourly, to exercise that faith muscle. Keep it up, you’re doing the right thing! I love your verses!
I can totally relate to this. I let someone’s words about me course all through my veins and get to my heart and essentially shut me down. I know better than this, and this person’s opinion of me is not one I value, but still I let it permeate through me. I’m going to think about “Looking Ahead” to help me get through this.
I needed to hear this I was attacked by the enemy yesterday and My my prayer is not to make it a self fulfilling prophesy.
I love your letters to use as you reveal your heart to us and give us a peak in your journal.
There are so many things I know I’m not ok with. And each time I make the effort to work through a situation it only makes the healing process take that much longer. I’m so tired of being the adult, of setting the good example, of turning the other cheek, of being invisible and just plain being the “there parent”. I love my children & am so thankful for each one of them -but boy this journey is rough at times. Why didn’t divorce come with an instruction manual & parenting manual too??!!!
I love reading your blog because it always so real and honest! I have been stuck in these moments often and it’s frustrating. I have known for a long time patience is not my strong point. But there are two things I remeber recently from listening to a certain podcast. First that sometimes we have to be in the stage that we are the seed in the dark soaking up nutrients and getting ready to where we will sprout and receive so much light! If we don’t go through the dark times it won’t prepare us for the light times. The second is something I tell my kids even. If someone tells them something that makes them feel bad about themselves, I ask them if that person made them. Of course they say no. I ask who made you? They say God. Does God make mistakes? No. Well then you are exactly who he wants you to be otherwise he wouldn’t have made you that way. These humans are imperfect so they don’t have the ability to correctly judge you. Have you ever thought about starting a podcast?
While I was reading your post, that song “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller came to my mind.
The seasons of waiting can be hard… You are a strong woman!
Praying you hear His voice above all others.
Thank you for you writings Elisabeth! But you know what? I have the other way around problem. Because of all I have gone through, I actually have become too far the other way. I almost don’t care about anything, that I guarantee all you women care about. Because my husband was so critical for so long, I became the other way, brushing everything under the rug, ignoring things that I should care about (at least a little), becoming too laid-back, OK with good enough in others, expecting nothing, totally flexible. I thought it was a strength and I suppose it actually was just a coping skill. Adding it to the pile of stuff my trauma counsellor is helping me with. So thankful to God for your perspective and I will join in prayer for all you ladies who struggle with this, but please from one lady to others, don’t go too far the other way and pray for me while I try to move a little your way.