Dolores O’Riordan: Lead Vocalist, The Cranberries
Dolores O’Riordan: Lead Vocalist, The Cranberries
what would mine say?
at the francis chan conference last night, i was challenged with the way that i’ve been praying. i realized then that the main thing my transcript would say is why? my time in prayer hasn’t been thankful. it hasn’t been a time of humble confession. it hasn’t been something that honors Him. i haven’t even prayed for other people as much as i should. instead i’ve spent months asking God why He’s far away from me, why He hasn’t protected me, and why He hasn’t fulfilled my expectations for my life.
francis chan talked about how we need to experience God and not just go to church or try not to cuss. he told a story about a conference he was supposed to speak at where last minute they didn’t have the meat they needed for thousands of people. he said they were worried and thinking about maxing out their credit cards. instead they decided to pray. two hours later, trader joe’s called them saying that all of their freezers had suddenly broken, and they needed someone to eat the meat before it went bad. it was a miracle, but it was no surprise. God is constantly moving.
all of francis chan’s stories made me reflect upon my own stories and the way that God has worked in my life. i realized i’ve been doubting the goodness of God and i haven’t been faithful to trust Him in times of crisis and struggle.
God never changes. He never leaves.
there is a friend i have with a dark outlook on life. every time i see her, i ask her how she is doing. and nearly every time in response, she says, i’m here.
the implications of those two words is that there is a struggle to survive — to make it through the day without crashing and burning like a semi with a flat tire.
i talk a lot about living life to the fullest and seizing every moment. i think that’s because there was a time when i wasn’t sure i would make it to college, even. i know the value in appreciating the little things and in loving everything you can, as much as you can.
still today if you were to ask me how i’m doing, my response might be “oh, i’m doing fine” or “everything’s great,” but on the inside there is that quiet, debilitating voice: i’m here.
there were two main occurrences that catapulted this season, driven by doubts about if God is really good, if He really loves me, if He is really watching over me and if His promises are really true. these unanswered questions and the unfelt presence of God led me to make some poor decisions, driving me even deeper in to emotional isolation. an inward quietness settled over me…not the kind that manifests itself in peace, but rather in a certain amount of lonliness and feeling that words cannot convey.
last weekend there was a pinnacle moment where i found myself literally staring in to a mirror, asking myself who i was and where susanna had gone. i realized then that this is not who i am and that i was made for more than this.
there are still a thousand questions in my mind and a heaviness in my chest that pulls me back to the comfort of my bed throughout the day. i want to lead better, i want to walk straighter and i want to believe everything i know to be true. but in the midst of my brokenness and every complicated thought, my prayers, which somehow manage always to be honest, have also become very simple.
they sound something like,
God, i’m here. can You show me You are too?
she’s the oldest of 5 and has to help take care of her family. she told me she was in the juvenile detention center for fighting.
megan is only 15.
i asked her what her plans were for the future and it became very clear she didn’t have any.
megan said her mom wanted her to go to college because no one in her family ever had, but she didn’t think she’d make it. i tried to tell her she can do anything if she puts her mind to it, but she reassured me that she barely even went to high school the last couple years. when i asked her how she payed for things, she said she mooched off her boyfriend and her family. i tried to convince her that wouldn’t work all her life, but it was evident megan couldn’t see past tomorrow.
sadly, this is the case for many people in the juvenile detention system. it’s much of the reason that many of them are released and then come back. at the foundation of how they feel is a loss of hope and sense of purpose. they don’t know why they are here and they don’t feel that they can contribute anything meaningful on this earth.
my time with megan helped me understand more about our need for Jesus. psychology is important. medicine helps. punishment and incarceration can help push us in the right direction. but all of these things have to work with the healing power of God, laid as the foundation.
the kids i’ve met in the juvenile detention center are funny, smart, beautiful people. what separates many of them from the outside world is an inability to see the value they have now, and a lack of hope for their futures and the people they possess the potential to become. juvenile delinquents are not less than people. they are searching for peace in their chaotic worlds — peace found in drugs, in sex, in status, in wealth and in other things they think will cure the way they feel.
what they’re really searching for is Jesus. they just don’t know it yet.
if nobody likes me, cool. i don’t want to push for something to happen. i want someone who’s crazy about me.
if someone doesn’t want to hang, cool. i don’t want to twist anyone’s arm. i’d rather spend time with people who want to hang.
if people don’t want to talk to me, cool. at least there are other people out there they can talk to. i don’t want anyone to feel obligated in to vulnerability with me.
i don’t really think i’d like me or want to hang or talk to me either. haha.
i spend wayyy too much time being jealous. and insecure.
and worrying about things i can’t change no matter how much i want to.
when my little brother drinks out of a cup, there is a certain amount of desperation. his sticky fingers grip the two sides of the cup, probably too big for his tiny hands, and he tilts it clumsily toward his mouth. the slurping sound commences and he alternates between letting the water fall in to his mouth and lapping it from the edge of the cup. either way, half of what he attempts to drink ends up on the front of his shirt. his breaths are short and come out in a gasp as he tries to simultaneously inhale the liquid and the oxygen he’s afraid to go without. when he finishes, the cup is slammed down on the table. what remains spills in droplets around the cup’s perimeter. though the effort was sloppy it was sufficient. he is hydrated and ready for adventure.
i don’t drink like that anymore. being a grown up, i’ve learned how to adapt to decent manners and take my time. i know now that the drink isn’t going anywhere and that there is plenty to go around. there is no heavy breathing, no slurping, no dripping. there is only a polite sip here and there.
i am so thirsty for so many things. i long to be appreciated. i wish my friends cared more. i wish boys payed attention to me more. i long to feel normal. i wish i really felt loved right now. i wish this semester would be over so i could start my future.
but all these things are the result of a deeper thirst, forming before the dryness ever reached my mouth. that thirst started in my soul and it longs for God.
i want to be like my brother, drinking from the cup of living water, gasping for breath..desperate to know God more and to feel His love. i don’t want to quietly sip from His hand while i run desperate for so many other things that i think will make me happier. in the end, my heart only hurts tonight. even when i taste them, these things don’t satisfy me the way Jesus does. God tells me that His love is more than enough to satisfy me…that i cannot drink enough to deplete what He gives me.
tonight i am praying that God would instill in me a heart desperate for the only One who can make these feelings of lonliness, sadness and envy go away. a heart that longs for the wellspring of the true peace i’m desperate for.
there are a lot of things i could fill in that blank. and i’m right. i can’t.
and neither can you.
you can’t forgive your enemy. you can’t break up with your boyfriend. you can’t find time to read your Bible. you can’t stop looking in the mirror and hating what you see. you can’t clear away the lustful images in your head. you can’t find the right job to make the right kind of money. you can’t stop giving your body away. you can’t pull your grade from a C to a B. you can’t deal with the death of a loved one. you can’t feel loved.
there is no 12 step program. there are no magic pills to swallow. there is nothing you can buy for 3 easy payments of $39.99 that will make can’t become can.
still — we all know those who did. the exceptions. the one’s tattooed over the scars on their arms. the one’s who lost 40 pounds in a healthy way. the one’s who memorized an entire chapter of the Bible. the one’s who are 7 years sober. the one’s who find their identity in who Christ says they are and not the world.
if we were to ask them, what would they say made it all happen? what brought them from a place of hopelessness to hope?
God said you are beautiful. God said you have worth. God said freedom from addiction is found in Him. God said your body is His temple and worthy of honor. God said He forgave you, so you can forgive others. God said singleness is not brokenness. God said He’s called you by a new name. God says that you are His.
the war i fight every day is not against flesh and blood. it is not a physical war. there is no diagnosis or self-help book or practical advice that holds a candle to the power of God working in us.
this is a war for our hearts, and it’s a war only Jesus can fight for us.
i am the girl who went too far with the boy. i am the girl who thought her world ended when her parents divorced. i am the girl who skipped meals and went to the er to look prettier. i am the girl who thought she wouldn’t survive the abuse. i am the girl who would judge others i thought were lesser than me and envy others who seemed better. i am the girl who hid herself in darkness.
i am this girl. i grapple with this girl. i struggle with her. i fight her.
because there is one thing this girl knows to be true:
when i can’t, Jesus can.
a sweet friend of mine introduced this idea to my recently: that because we are often taught that there is only one way to God (through Jesus), there also must be only one way to Jesus. when we take this belief on, we limit people in to legalist standards of who they must be and what they must say or do. i confess i’ve been that Christian who has said about others, “i’m not so sure that so-and-so is a Christian because they do this or that and live in such and such a way..”
since when do good works make us a Christian and bad works make us a heathen? and since when am i equipped to tell where people are spending eternity?
i understand that there’s a certain extent to which we should be able to see the light of Christ in Christians, and hopefully a lot of it, but we are still sinful creatures. we are still so messy.
and it’s beautiful! Jesus likes messy. because He’s really great at cleaning.
the truth is that there are a bazillion ways to Jesus. there is no right way. every way…every choice we make, good or bad, has potential to lead us to the foot of the cross. Jesus doesn’t limit His work for only certain individuals. and neither should we.
there is no room for judgement or self-righteousness or unfair labeling in Christianity. it’s all about love.
i remember reading that line in a poem once. it sounded pretty in the stanza, but all by itself it scared me a lot.
i started wondering…is that true? can your heart ever be whole again, or is it this new deformity that you can’t shake?
lately i’ve been living in my brokenness. i’ve struggled with believing in the myth of damaged goods.
the way i live my life: objectifying myself as something fragile — as a glass jar that’s shattered in to a million pieces on the floor…with no hope of being put back together again…at least not properly. a little glue and tape make for poor attempts, and then the glass jar shatters again.
after awhile the owner of the jar wonders…what’s the point in picking up the pieces? it will never look the same. it will only break again.
the owner’s right. it doesn’t matter what she does, her jar will never be the original. but just because it’s flawed…just because it was hurt…just because it made a mess…doesn’t mean it’s not worth the trouble anymore. that jar is a new kind of jar, with character.
i’m not sure i look anything like a jar anymore. i think by now i look more like a bowl or some kind of modern deco art. sometimes i feel like i don’t serve my purpose in the way it was originally intended. i feel useless. helpless. fragile.
the thing about it is that being a clumsy believer means that life is lived genuinely, with all kinds of spills and shatters. it is only through the mess that i am able to gain wisdom and experience and understanding. yes, i have been damaged. but to those who have never been damaged, do you know the power of healing in the way that i do?
tonight i watched a video of part of my messy story. it was hard for me to look at myself. everything i saw was ugly. the sound of my voice made me cringe. what i managed to articulate came out awkward and weird. i thought...i can’t believe i’m going to show this to an audience of people. what will they think of me after they see this?
i guess what i was really thinking was after people watch this video, they will know me. how can i manage to be fake after that? it hit me tonight as it has many other nights but in a different way — the heart behind that video is real. i don’t look or sound perfect, but my intention is so that others will know Christ and know the healing power that can only come from Him.
if it’s possible, my heart is somehow broken by the world, but made whole by Him. i don’t believe God lets hearts grow back crooked. i don’t believe He lets them do anything. He makes them. and He makes them right.
perfectly, the way He intended.
graduation is so close.
i can’t wait to not do school. with my year of freedom, there are some things i would like to accomplish. you could call it a year bucket list. here’s what i have so far…it’s a little ambitious, but i’m determined.
someone spoke last semester about how he’d had 3 or 4 different girlfriends cheat on him in his life and how God had used that to mature him in to a certain kind of person. he said he was thankful for what he learned from those times and now he’s learned how to trust again.
when he spoke, i remember thinking…man this guy can’t catch a break. i wondered how something like that could happen so many times to one person. i wondered what God’s plan for His life was and why He didn’t protect him…at least the 3rd or the 4th time.
i’m wondering a lot about my life.
i thought i’d almost healed, but everything that hurts the most has been reopened. and i have to go through the motions. i have to pretend.
i know that God is here for me. i know things could be worse. i know i’m partially to blame.
i know i won’t always feel this way, but right now it’s hard to see very far ahead.
and i know i’m going to learn from this time too, just like the other times.
i know, i know, i know.
right now i’m just tired of learning.