A little while back, I was at a conference-like thing with some friends of mine. One of the speakers kept talking about resistance. How when you resist something that is weighing on you for long enough, eventually it becomes more work to hold on to your own wants than it is to just give in to the thing in front of you. I remember thinking this talk seemed pretty irrelevant when it seemed like there were more people out there who would give anything just to know what their purpose is than people trying to run away from it.
Part of me knows it’s that big, but it’s not that broad. I think we practice daily resistance religiously, pun pretty much intended. I already knew the common definition (being stubborn, arguing, refusing, all that good stuff), but I googled the definition of resistance anyways. The second result stopped me.
“the ability not to be affected by something.”
Guys…if that isn’t all of us. And we’re professionals.
When lately, all the little bad stuff starts accumulating and overtaking the wonderful stuff and exhaustion is a way of life now and your car is broken and you’re late for school again. The victim mindset is haunting your every step and you can feel the woman’s eyes on you watching her reflection in her driver’s side mirror. She probably knows that you’re already late for school and you still chose to drive through Starbucks anyways. She probably is out to get to you like the rest of the world has seemingly been for as far back in the week as your tired memory will even go. You send the text, “I hate being stared at.” and then backspace it because we aren’t really those kinds of people, we’re just sleepy and on edge. She takes forever to get her drink, obviously, rude people always do and I pull up to get mine.
“The woman in front of you paid for your drink, have a nice day.” So you cry sitting at the window until the employee is as looking as uncomfortable as possible without actually having to ask you to drive forward.
That moment. It might as well be the hand of grace, Jesus and holy pity. And it’s a little cringe-worthy too if we’re being honest, right? Like being confronted with forgiveness and even kindness by the person you gossiped about the week before. Undeserved. Scandalous.
This is where the pain in love is. And the humility comes slowly as you sink down to your knees for the first time in a long time (because having your coffee paid for can open all kinds of doors to realizations like this) and your palms turn upward as if to offer up everything we only thought we were in charge of anyways. The hot tears of giving back what was His to begin with. The choked out words between breaths of pleas for forgiveness, for restoration, for better things. To have our return accepted; to somehow reach a state of humility that we, in our flawed, sinful dirty humanness, dare to ask out loud for that forgiveness. We can barely even get the words out and maybe we wish it were even just a tad bit more romantic. But this is the pain in love. The mess of coming back. Again.
This isn’t the mercy we heard about. It’s not the love we saw in the movies. We like the prayer for the easier life. It’s so horrifically far from intimate. We want to know that we’re safe to keep doing what we’re doing and we don’t have to worry about Him coming in and obliterating it all. So we check in. “Yo, You good? Yes? Cool. Also I need a parking spot close to the door. Please.”
When did it become so normal to not experience a holy and uncontrollable brokenness in the presence of our Creator? When did our conversations become so disgustingly shallow? Avoidance became easier but with every passing day, my heart longed harder like the child being pulled along in the store by the hand of their mother but reaching backward at the toy they were being gently distanced from, watching longingly as it just sat there while I moved further and further away. The resistance built up and every day, it was everything in me to hold on to false hope and pride and the steering wheel. The gosh dang driver’s seat was so comfortable.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
I have to believe that my God extends His hand in the valley not to bring shame or guilt us into a “real prayer,” but as a reminder. I have to believe that He loves me enough to show back up in the form of prepaid coffee because His utmost desire to is to be close to me. I have to believe He let me notice the painful love in that drive-through moment because He knew it would drive me to my knees an hour later.
We have to believe that He does it for us. Everything He does is out of His deepest want to be right beside us. So let’s be people who let the conviction drive us to our knees instead of labeling it shame and resisting Him even further.
Let’s be people who accept the mercy because we know the beauty it brought us in the past in the same beauty it will bring us in the morning.
All my love always.
words by Lauren McLemore and photo by Hailey Pierce