Anguish   18 comments

It does not cost me much to report on my experiences and feelings after the fact.  It is more difficult for me to share in the moment, to invite others into my journey when I am still in the quagmire.  I am more vulnerable in such times, so I ask those who leave comments to this post to be especially gracious in what they say.

I have been in a great deal of turmoil the last few days over my expected visit to Calcutta.  India was my emotional Waterloo, an inescapable, pervasive black hole.  I’m pretty sure these current feelings stem from very deep, unresolved issues while I was a missionary that tapped into an ocean of inadequacy.  I did not learn Bengali well… I was so ethnocentric, seeing their culture as inadequate… I failed to make any significant impact even though I nearly died trying… I was arrogant… I was stupid… I was closed to input….   “I’m a failure, a failure, a failure” was the heavy drumbeat that struck against my soul throughout each day.

I had no weapon with which to challenge these beliefs, no argument great enough to disprove my self-condemnation.  I thought my self accusations were a mark of true and deep repentance.  Here is an example from the journal I kept in India, castigating myself for sleeping till 5 a.m. instead of rising at 4 o’clock to pray:

Oh, Lord, break me.  Break this wicked pride so steeped in deceit. Break the great evil of my indiscipline – great because it keeps me from knowing you and seeking you and loving you with my whole heart.  Lord, how can you possibly use me in this city, or in the lowest ministry, if I am not wholly given over to the infilling, anointing and outpouring of your Spirit?  Oh, Lord have mercy on this foolish and hopeless child of yours. I have no strength of my own, Lord.  I know I am completely bankrupt.  I know how many times over and over I have failed you in the same things.  It is a wonder that you still love me Lord.  What an amazing love is yours!  How much you deserve a better child than I.  Make me fit to bear your name in this world or take me out of it, Lord.

When I returned from Asia, I was so broken that my only hope of functioning was to push all thoughts of that time aside, not deal with them, ignore them as best I could.  I quarantined that huge section of my heart because I was too soul sick to deal with it in any kind of healthy way.  Of course those self-condemning thoughts did not simply disappear, but festered in the dark, chewing like termites on my spirit.  The less aware I was of them, the more easily they could undermine my sense of worth.

And as I open that Pandora’s box again, I find my life energy draining away and a settled anguish taking it’s place.  I feel I am picking up a burden too great to bear.  I thought I was emotionally ready (barely) to visit Calcutta again.  I wonder.  Perhaps this is God’s divine timing to draw me into facing this great vortex of shame.  I would ask for your prayers as I wade into the river Styx

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Posted June 30, 2011 by janathangrace in Personal

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18 responses to “Anguish

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  1. My most sincere prayers are with you. Although it is not Calcultta, I have my own Pandora’s box that I try to keep hidden most of the time, and the occasional reminders about it are most unsettling and unnervingly painful…. I never knew all that you struggled with when you were in Calcutta. But then, many of the people I know do not know the things that tear my soul apart often! But my prayers are with you. And if it brings any comfort or encouragement, I do want you to know that you have blessed my life in more ways than I can express and all my times spent with you are among the most treasured memories of my life in Calcutta. God bless you abundantly, you are often in my prayers – and will specially be in my prayers as you go to Calcutta.

  2. I wish you well on your journey to Calcutta. Shall keep you in my prayers. I wanted to write more, to encourage you…but lest I hurt you in some unintended way…

    BK.

  3. You ask that we be gracious, but believe I would be less than gracious not to tell you the truth.

    It has been many years since I first heard you speak at the pulpit to the church about your experiences in Calcutta, have not heard you speak since then, and want you to know without my ever knowing you, was deeply impacted at that time by everything you shared then. Heard you speak about a 13-year-old boy in Calcutta who was found fallen off his bike in a ditch and starving to death, etc and donated money to your missions. At that time had honestly believed I experienced the Holy Spirit working through you in your love for your work as a missionary, service to these people, and your committment to abstinence from marriage, etc.

    Being at a very vulnerable place in my life at that time had seen God through you only by what you said alone and I did not know you at all personally. Then, meeting you face to face thereafter experienced an extremely opposite person that shook everything that I first experienced. You were not the same loving person I witnessed on the pulpit. Speaking with other people in the church thereafter because I was so deeply affected and distressed by your reaction to me when I attempted to meet you in person, stated they had experienced much of what I described too; of anger, bitterness, and rejection. Also, witnessed you dealing with only those you wanted to deal with and treating those you knew, and like with greater regard and respect. Believe you should also know had I not known at that time that my relationship was between God and myself alone because of what I believed and experienced at that time had considered leaving the Christian faith, but did not. Based on my own inadequacies and issues have continued in my own sufferings thereafter.

    Great to hear you got married too. Did your wife, Kimberly graduate from Ben Lippen highschool around six or so years ago?

    Will continue to pray for you and your missions.

    • Dear anonymous, I suspect that both your experiences were accurate–that I was an angry, loving, self-righteous, self-hating, screwed-up, doing my best person. It is a wonder to me that God takes us fragile, fallen folks and uses both our strengths and our failings to grace others. I hope you find more and more of God’s grace for your own heart and relationships.
      p.s. Kimberly is 40 years old

  4. I will be praying for you… Praying for whispers of His love and eyes that see beyond into His ways…most of all, for HOPE… without hope our eyes grow dull; our hearts grow numb; our souls grow weary… All this said because I have a Pandora’s box within as well…and I am holding to HOPE in Jesus…sometimes by my fingernails from second to second. Hugs…

  5. Kent. I don’t know you well, but thank you for your honesty. Thank you for being vulnerable to show you weakness and to even grace those who were effected by it. Praying God meet you in the midst of the mess and process as you process those deep recesses of your heart and find resolve and deep inner healing. Fact is, this is the reality of many, many people in ministry but they often are unable or unwilling to be as vulnerable. How great to read an authentic man, in process, enveloped in grace, and willing with integrity to face the emotions within himself with God….this ministers to me at a deep level. It is a true rarity! Blessings

    • Thank you, friend, for your encouraging words. I find that some can relate to my experiences of life and feel validated to hear someone else share. It is rewarding enough for me that it counterbalances the wounds I get from my vulnerability. But everyone feels vulnerable in different ways, and each of us must protect our spirits to the extent necessary for our own well-being, so I understand those who are unable to share in this way.

  6. Kent,
    I can’t go there with people when I am in the place emotionally that you are at. I admire you for putting yourself out there, and feel nervous for some of the responses you could get. We have hardly had any of the same life experiences, but can see that our temperaments are alot alike. It is a more painful road we travel, but I suppose it can be a deeper and richer path. There are not really any answers to give you – God will do that, just wanted you to know that there are friends out there who “get it”, and are sharing your pain.

    • Joyce, it is always good to hear from those who have personal experience of what I express. I think you “get me” more than many who read this blog. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I am amazed by your continual ability to express your honest journey, not only with me but with a wide circle of others. I could not love and admire you more than I do now… as you continually seek grace in the midst of turmoil and courageously open yourself to relationship. My own heart would not be as free today without your incredible love and encouragement…and belief in me. Thank you so much for every step of this journey together! Love, love, love. Berly

  8. Gee Janathan, I feel like you and I were reading each other’s journals; this sounds like what I wrote after a failed all-night sleep-fast in high school, or my reactions to any times that I cried. I will certainly be praying for you, praying that the grace you have been discovering in the past few years can invade the places in your past in which you had been harassed by voices of shame. Grace has a way of not only redeeming our present and our future but even our past. May he redeem even the memories of those darker times. You are in my prayers.

  9. Thanks, Em!

  10. Janathan, I am far from spiritual. I know not of the struggles that you experienced in India save what I have read. But I wish you well in your reentering the fire. I do not pray too much, but I will pray for you going back to India. I think that will be a worthy time to interrupt God on your behalf. I personally do not think you have failed. I think you are possibly looking too narrowly at this greater battle that you have chosen to fight. I admire you for fighting the great battle with the evil forces. It will take great strength to win.
    However I do remember a verse from way back… it spoke of fighting battles. When fighting battles you are “to put on the full armor of God”… I cannot finish the verse but I do not think you had on much armor when you went into battle last time. I think that it would be a good idea to do so this time. The Devil really does not give a crap about you and he wants you dead. He almost succeeded last time.
    So be careful my old friend. Wear the armor (I have no idea what it consists of, but I am sure you do), eat well, sleep well, and love your wife. I have no other spiritual advice to give you. However, my father always told me to be very careful what you ask of God. He may just give it to you. You asked God to break you. Check. Next? Dude, seriously bad prayer. Just sayin’.
    I think a good prayer for you is one that asks God to protect you from the arrows of the Devil so that your spirit will not be pierced (like it was before), and to protect your marriage during this time of travel (you really need to keep the helpmate sir, you need lots of help), and that you will be a valiant soldier for the battle at hand.
    Be careful, be safe, and come back home,
    gf

    • Thanks, Greg, for your supportive words. So far my re-engagement with India has not been overwhelming because I am taking it slowly… which may mean I will end up going later than I had planned. I’m learning better how to protect myself (which is something you encouraged here–see you’re wiser than you think!)

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