“The peace and fulfillment of Jesus is literally so good that your bank account can be empty, your body can be sick, and your heart can be broken but it can always be well with your soul.” [Carl Lentz]
Somehow I made it through twenty years relying on my own strength and bank account. I kept my heart carefully wrapped in little luxuries and countless hobbies only to ensure it would never be broken [from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis]. I was healthy, my bank account was full, and my heart was unbroken [spoiler alert: I might as well just say my heart was numb]. If you’re anything like me, Christianese makes you slightly uncomfortable. There are all these fancy words and catchy sayings that are supposed to make you feel good when shit hits the fan. Phrases like “it is well”. How the hell is it supposed to be well with my soul when life seems to be falling apart around me? This phrase has always made me uncomfortable, it seemed like a load of b.s. to me. Until I understood what it meant, what it felt like.
Eight weeks ago or so I began my journey to serve at a YoungLife camp in central Oregon. I arrived stubborn, closed off, and apparently with a serious case of r.b.f. [or so I was told a month into my assignment] If I could work hard physically no one would notice that anything was wrong with my soul, right? Wrong. It took one person two whole days to crack my numb and otherwise impenetrable heart and less than two weeks for my physical health to catch up with me, rendering me unable to work on more than one occasion. Sitting down on the edge of the pool I spilled out my heart to someone I had known for less than forty-eight hours. [we now have matching tattoos] My battle with mental health sat at the forefront of our conversation as the lies in my heart poured out. For the first time in a long time I felt heard, I felt seen, and I felt understood. As incredible as this was, it was also extremely painful. I tried running from these new things called feelings. [both metaphorically and literally] They hurt. They hurt and I felt weak. I have always been afraid of being perceived as weak or a mess.
If I’ve learned anything over the past eight weeks it’s that the mess is something to celebrate. The mess makes you and me human. The mess teaches us to return to the Lord, to allow Him to fight for us. For those of you that have talked to me about a struggle, you’ve probably heard me quote 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 to you. It reads “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Picture a girl with hardcore r.b.f. not just accepting, but rejoicing in weakness and insults. Now picture that same girl with tears streaming down her face not knowing why she isn’t breathing normally on her own. Or lying on a concrete staircase she had just slipped down and smacked her face on. [s/o to one of my brothers in Christ for witnessing both incidents and being there for me though them] The whole relying on my body to power through a work day wasn’t quite going in my favor. There were days I had to learn how to not only step back and care for myself, but let others care for me as well.
About halfway through my assignment the enemy had snuck his way into my heart. He told me I was a burden to those I was serving alongside, that I was too messy to belong, and that I was dispensable. A select few took the time to bash those lies from my heart. They filled my mind with truths from the Lord. You are not a burden. You are not a responsibility. The world only has one heather. You are allowed to feel your feelings. Your mess makes you human. You aren’t supposed to have it all together. You are seen. You are heard. You are worth knowing. You deserve to be loved. None of these statements are true because my brothers and sisters said them to me, they are true because the Lord says them about me. My sweet friends simply took the time to highlight and remind me of these truths.
On my last night at camp we were asked to proclaim a statement the Lord had given us. Naturally I freaked out, hoping that I would be the last one to go and have time to formulate the perfect statement. That wouldn’t be any fun, now would it? I was the first one asked to speak. From the moment I opened my mouth the Lord began to speak through me. He said. “Heather. Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you. I will always fight for you because I love you, you just have to let me.” In this moment I finally began to understand the statement “it is well with my soul”. Throughout the rest of my life my body is bound to fail me again, my heart will most definitely be broken, and bank account will not always be stable. Honestly just typing those out scares me, they scare me but do not shake me. I have been able to finally find peace as I am fulfilled by the Lord.
In ten short days I will be setting an alarm for my first class of junior year. I have $16 in my bank account, and no I’m not missing any zeros. My body has been physically destroyed this year, mainly by my own doing. For the first time in over six years my heart has been broken open and it hurts like hell. It is well with my soul.
Here’s to being unapologetically myself. Friends I encourage you to be too. The world only gets one of you and that’s a sweet blessing. “How cool is it that the same God who created the mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you too?” [unknown] Pretty freakin cool if you ask me.
Thanks for joining me on this journey, I hope you find what you’re looking for. [try looking up for a bit]