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Abide in Me

by Katie Leonard on November 21, 2018

Where do I begin to tell this story? I might as well go back about two years ago to a day I can still remember vividly.

I was sitting cross-legged on the floor in my living room—right in between two perfectly comfortable couches. My mug still held a quarter cup of coffee, but it had grown cold and I was too weary to walk the 15 steps to the microwave to zap it back to life. I was wrapped up in a blanket because the heat in our house was set to 64 degrees. I was not supposed to be there. I should have been at work—where it was also probably 64 degrees.

But I wasn’t at work, because that morning I emotionally and mentally fell apart. I dropped my kids off at school and daycare and then I climbed back into my minivan and I sent a text message to my husband that said, “I am not ok.”

And then I drove back home, and I cried. I sank to my knees on my living room floor and I immediately began to cry out to God—in anger, in frustration, in complete exhaustion. I tore down the walls that I’d built in my heart and I let it all loose on the One who can handle it.

“I am so afraid. I am so tired. I cannot do this.”

“I am not enough. Why me? How can you use someone so broken, so flawed?”

“Why is it all so hard ALL THE TIME?”

“Why am I so human, so selfish, so messed up?”

“Are you really big enough?”

“Can I trust you?”

“What if I fail?”

And then I just sat in silence and I asked God to speak to me. I begged Him to whisper healing to my weary, restless soul.

And He did. I didn’t hear an audible voice. Nothing physically changed in my circumstances in those moments. But as I listened, as I sat in silence for the next few hours, God began to reveal His power—to speak truth over my doubts through His Word.


My husband and I use an analogy to describe our emotional status. Scratch that—we use this analogy to describe MY emotional status, because my husband is always “just fine” emotionally. (Unless he’s in traffic—but we can talk about that later.)

The analogy is an emotional ladder. We all have one, and each day we are somewhere on this ladder, anywhere from rung one to 10. Rung one represents a calm spirit, patience abounding—general contentment.

Anyone on rung one? What’s that like? I think I jumped onto the ladder after my first child was born and landed on rung five. I am perpetually (at least somewhat) stressed out.

Rung 10 is complete emotional chaos—anger, fear, doubt, anxiety. For several years I lived here almost exclusively.

The analogy goes something like this: If you start the day on rung two, you have a long way to go until you reach the tenth rung. But, if you are hanging out on rung eight when the alarm clock goes off at 5 am, it’s not going to take very long to reach the very top of your ladder, with nowhere to go.

On this cold winter day, I had been hanging OFF the ninth rung for weeks. Some days I would come down a few rungs and hang out there pretending that maybe a glass of wine at night, a new workout routine, or a well-drawn bubble bath would magically heal my thirsty soul. Some days I’d swing up to that tenth rung and stand on top raging for more rungs. “I’m OUT OF RUNGS. Someone find more rungs!”

My fuse was short, my temper was fierce, and the people in my house were running for cover.

And no one knew the extent of my despair. There was not a single human being who had heard me utter the things that audibly flew from my lips that day. And no one ever will—because that was not a conversation for the faint of heart. That was a conversation between me and God. Sacred. Healing. LONG OVERDUE.

Before that day, I didn’t think it was necessary to actually name any of my fears, my anxieties, or my sin—to call them out and own them in front of God. But it is SO NECESSARY. Satan hides in the secrets we carry around. He wants us to keep them silent and tucked away so he can keep using them as weapons against us and against the work God is trying to do in and through us. And I’m not about to let Satan have the upper hand.

So, that morning I sat in front of God and I named my sin. I owned my fear and my anger and my doubt. I asked for forgiveness and healing. And He gave me three words to carry with me, three words to guide me as I climbed down the ladder:

Abide in Me.


So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2


These Scriptures (and many more) have carried me through the last two years. They have helped me climb back down several rungs on that emotional ladder and live somewhere closer to the bottom, where contentment and peace hang out. Life has not gotten easier. I am not patient all the time. But I have learned what it means to abide in and fix my eyes on God.

For me, it means carving out time each and every day to sit in silence with God and read my Bible. This sacred time allows me to put into perspective all that life throws at me. So, I talk to God and I share all of the messy parts that are too big and too scary and too messy for people to fix or change or sort out. 

This is the space filled up by a God who is bigger than my fears, bigger than the lies I tell myself, bigger than the empty, hollow, brokenness of my soul.

You see, when my eyes are fixed on what God wants me to see, there just isn’t space for the rest of that mess. Abiding leaves me rested, restored, content. See ya later rung 10.

 

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