Restlessness. The word stirs up visions of tossing and turning in bed. Tossing and turning until the sheets become a crumpled mess, and you are enveloped. Taking Tylenol PM in hopes that you’ll get some sleep. Counting sheep or reading a boring book until your eyes begin to take those l o n g blinks that finally turn into a few hours of rest.
Restlessness. It’s not something I enjoy. When I’m tired, I want to sleep. And even if I’m not feeling tired, I know I need to rest at night. But what happens when you get that case of restlessness?
I don’t normally deal with this. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been unable to sleep. (I have to give my Dad credit for this- he can fall asleep anytime, anywhere. Although, I leave out the snoring part ; ).
I’m not writing this in the middle of the night because I can’t get any sleep right now. It’s 10:30 AM on a Saturday, and I had a full and blessed night of much needed rest, accompanied by a lazy morning. So why do I write of restlessness?
Ever since my first year at college, I have had the “curse” of restlessness. I prefer to call it my “season of unsettled.” You see, I’m a routine girl. I know- boring as it sounds…I enjoy knowing what each day will hold so that I can prepare myself in advance. I like schedules and feeling as if I have some level of control.
Now, now- don’t go thinking I’m some psychotic control freak! Trust me, I also enjoy my fair share of spontaneity. But, isn’t there something comfortable about living in the same place, having a steady job, having a group of friends, being dedicated to one church? It’s comfortable. And expected. And some of you who have been “settled” for years now are thinking….what are you talking about? Go out and enjoy the opportunities while you have them! And part of me agrees.
But, the larger part, the everyday routine part, says, “Lord, why such a long season of unsettled? I feel so restless.”
There’s no place for me.
Now before you go have a pity party on my behalf, please hear me out. Between Ft. Lauderdale and Lake Placid, between Calvary Chapel and First Baptist Church of Lake Placid, between college friends and high school buddies, between school and summer, between a job at The Current and a job at Central Contractors, nothing feels settled.
Since my first year away, I’ve felt this tug o’ war in my heart- this constant battle of being settled and unsettled. It seems that every time I finally find my place in one arena, God boots me out and says, “Let’s go, girl! We’ve got somewhere to be.”
“But, God, I am where I need to be. Can we just stay somewhere- anywhere- for more than a few months? Can we try a solid year? Just one? Please?”
The beautiful thing about God’s lessons is that He often reveals the same principles in different ways to a variety of people. I just finished reading Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Made to Crave (which by the way, is one of the most enlightening and refreshing Christian books out there- reminding me that every aspect of my life must be to the glory of God.)
Anyway, in her book, Lysa says, “I want victory, but I feel so weak.” Because our victory doesn’t come through us, but through God’s strength. The only way to be empowered by God’s strength is “getting to a place where our lack of strength disgusts us.”
That’s the place I’ve been. Probably the place I’ve been most this summer. My feeble attempts to live the life I’m called to live are immediately trumped by an overwhelming sense of weakness and inability. But I get stuck there. That’s the place I settle. My weakness.
“Okay, Lord. I get it, I’m a mess. I can’t do it. Help me.” My overplayed cry to God seems so lame and repetitious in my mind. Doesn’t He get tired of hearing this?
I’ve never had to pray for God to unsettle me. That always seems to naturally happen, but maybe it’s because I am determined to somehow get and stay comfortable. Lysa takes a different road in her journey in 2009. She prays that God will unsettle her. *gasp*
This is the part of the book where I go- “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Trust me- don’t do it!” Like one of those movies where the girl goes down a dark alley alone, and your common sense screams some sort of wisdom to her. Well, needless to say, I’m glad I didn’t personally know Lysa in 2009 to stop her from praying these words:
“I dare you, dear soul of mine, to notice the stark evidence of a spirit that is tainted and a heart that must be placed under the microscope of God’s Word. Yes, indeed, unsettle me, Lord….Unsettle me in the best kind of way. For when I allow Your touch to reach the deepest parts of me- dark and dingy and hidden away too long- suddenly, a fresh wind of life twists and twirls and dances through my soul.”
Isn’t that what happens in a season of unsettled? Isn’t that the beauty of uncomfortability? The dance of life within a soul? I haven’t seen it lately. I haven’t seen it lately because I’ve been too busy looking at myself and my weakness…the place I settle- the worst possible place for any Christian.
The purpose of unsettled is to bring us to full dependency on the Lord. My situations, these day-to-day frustrations, the place I live, the friends I have, the church I attend- none of it should determine my sense of settled. God alone should.
So I hold fast to the promise in 1 Peter 5:10. In fact, I cling with every fiber of my being to this promise:
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
My day will come. My day will come when all this “suffering,” all this unsettled, all this messy-heart, junk-filled life will be over.
Until then, I echo the words of my brave sister Lysa:
“I can discover a discipline that lies just beyond what I’m capable of and grab hold of God’s strength to bridge the gap. I can recognize the beauty of humility and crave the intimacy with God it unleashes. I can rest assured though harsh winds blow, I will be held…Welcome deeper love, new possibilities, unleashed intimacy, and the certainty I am held. Welcome my unsettled heart.“