Friday, May 08, 2009

The Loneliness of Leadership

There are days when the loneliness I carry with me most of the time is so tangibly physical that some medical researcher somewhere could probably find some sort of prescription to fight its symptoms.

I started this blog entry on Friday and continued it today (Monday). Yesterday (Sunday May 10) I witnessed the third of my most recent roommates get married, all within a year of each other. I am so incredibly happy for her. I have prayed with her through her own loneliness and hopelessness that it was an absolute joy to see her so happy and in love and loved right back. But there are honestly times when I begin to wonder when will it be my turn? Have I missed my opportunity?

I want to be married. There, it's out there, I've said it. But, that hasn't happened yet. The reality of my heart's desire is clashing with the reality of my life's circumstances right now. This clash surfaces in me a lot of feelings, of which loneliness is just the beginning. It is also prime opportunity for me to begin to feel disappointment and blame.

I was reading in Matthew 15 the story of a woman who approached Jesus and his disciples requesting healing for her daughter who is plagued by a demon. I feel like I can relate to this story on so many levels:

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession."

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us."

He answered, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel."

The woman came and knelt before him. "Lord, help me!" she said.

He replied, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs."

"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

There are many days that I feel like this woman. Instead of feasting at the Lord's banqueting table, instead of being one of his children I feel as though I am a Canaanite outsider waiting, like a dog, for a crumb to fall off of the master's table, for him to think of me after he's done taking care of those more important than me.

I know in my head that this is an absolute lie from the pits of hell. I know in my head that the Lord's heart for me is life and life abundant and that I am seated at the table with the father and not a dog searching for crumbs. When Jesus was speaking to this Canaanite woman, he was not saying that he would only help Jews (in fact, the fact that he does help her shows quite the opposite). He was not calling her a dog (he was actually using this as a metaphor). What he is saying is that the time for the message to spread beyond Israel had not come yet; that the Jews needed to hear the message first. But, this woman was persistent. She had huge faith and like many, would not give up until Jesus gave her what she needed. I have a lot to learn from this woman.

There is a disconnect between the knowledge of the truth of my position in Christ between my head and my heart. I feel like there is a block from this knowledge traveling the short distance from my head to my heart.

A lot of this boils down to old patterns of how I see the Father. Somehow I've forgotten that I am now adopted by Christ and no longer a slave (or dog) but a daughter. These old thought patterns are firmly rooted in my growing-up years and how I was given love/blessings/gifts as a child. I often was left feeling as though I were just short of being good enough, and praises and love were given many times as a reward for something I had done rather than just for being who I am.

This leaves my view of the Lord distorted too. It leaves me questioning: is he good? Is he pleased with me? Have I done something wrong? Do I have to earn his love? Does he have my best in mind? Is he a God who withholds?

Most of the time I can spew the answers to those questions out with the best of them. It's on the hard days when my eyes, circumstances and feelings tell me otherwise that the true beliefs of who God is and how he sees me that dwells inside my heart reveal themselves.

I know I get way better than crumbs and leftovers, but do I really *know* that? I mean *know* in my heart beyond just head knowledge.

So I am crying out for the Lord to have mercy on me and praying he meets me just as he did the Canaanite woman.

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