Tuesday, February 2, 2016

That Stupid Telephone Pole

Isn't it supposed to feel different than this?
Life, I mean.

Isn't it supposed to feel different?
I imagined once that God had great plans for my life.  That He would use me to in a great way.  That I would feel powerful as His child - known and loved and chosen.
But then...life.
A positive pregnancy test.
A failed job interview.
A hard marriage.
More positive pregnancy tests.
Bills I couldn't pay.
Bosses I couldn't please.
Friends I couldn't make stay.
Friends I couldn't heal.

Don't hear me say that this is all there has been in my life - that list can be a little deceptive, because there has been so much more.  Friends that I get to laugh with and cry with and dance with - a husband that decided to engage and lead us to a marriage that is - better, honest. Wonderful positive pregnancy tests that have grown into a house full of inventive, intelligent, compassionate children - I have had good moments, great moments - success - meaningful ministry - sweet discussions.  So much beauty in the mess.
And those things are good gifts from a good Father.
But, I wonder.
Am I only taking?
Will I never give back?
Is He getting tired of giving?
Will I never be the someone He hoped I would pan out to be?
Is He disappointed?

A few years ago, I went with the ladies of my church to a retreat - at one point in the retreat, there was the opportunity to climb and jump from a telephone pole. This horrific activity was designed to be a challenge, an opportunity to do something physically that you could ponder spiritually. I, being a good leader, went to support all of the girls in my group who needed something like this to do - I, of course, was smarter than that. I would not go 30 feet up an old telephone pole for any reason. However, to support them I would stand there and cheer - and pretend that what they were doing was not stupid.

A sweet little lady that had come along with our group, decided to ask me about my "stand on the ground support" - "Why won't you try?"
Well, obviously, because it's dumb.  But, unfortunately, before I could answer, another lady from our group said, "I am afraid to do it, but if you will do it Jodi, then I will go too."
Sure?!!?  My mouth had just betrayed me. I did not mean sure.  I meant - NO! This is a dumb, over-spiritualized activity of no consequence to me and I would rather leave my feet firmly planted on the ground, doing what God called me to do - encourage....You can all go do this, have a good time, who am I to judge, but I will not participate by doing, I'll participate by cheering.
But I knew she needed to do this.  It was important to her, and if I told her how I really felt, I might rob her of some of that - so my mouth said "Sure."

I made a pact with myself to just climb the first 4 rungs.  The facilitator had assured us that doing one more thing than we thought we could do was success, and since putting on the gear was one step further than I thought I could go, I felt like climbing 4 rungs would put me in superhero status.
However, my legs betrayed me - and I went 6 - right to no man's land.  High enough that going down was as scary as going up.  So I panicked and kept climbing.
And every step was awful.
By the time I got to the top - I was horrified. I couldn't climb down.  My legs were shaking so badly that I couldn't get close enough to the edge to jump off, I was trapped.  And everyone was watching.  Encouraging me. Pulling for me. Watching me.
Their cheers felt like pressure and I was failing.
I decided to grab hold of my mind and embrace the activity, to make it about believing God in every situation. I told Him, "I believe You are real. I can do this through You.  I believe. You make me brave. You are everything."
But it didn't help.
I couldn't even open my eyes.
Time was ticking, I was up there much longer than I should have been.
God - I believe You - but I can't do this.
Oh no.
That's bad.
That's what all of this is about - my life, my marriage, my parenting, my ministry - God, where are you?

Eventually I took one small step toward what I thought must be the edge of the very small, unstable, unsafe, stupid platform - sitting on top of an old pole, that was far too high in the air. I had to call down to my friends, "Please tell me when I am far enough to the edge that I can jump."  I needed them to tell me because my eyes were shut and they, like the rest of my body - refused to do what I needed.
My legs felt like cement.  I am not sure how I shuffled through anymore steps, but eventually I heard them - "You are there - You can do this".
I counted to three- five or six times - and then, realizing I had no other option, I did it.
I jumped in a sort of 'stumble off the edge and ungracefully flail yourself to the bottom' sort of way; held securely by the rope and the kind gentlemen paid to give me this glorious experience.
When my friends surrounded me to help me out of the equipment - one very dear friend grabbed me and asked, "Aren't you so proud of yourself?"
My arms were too weak to punch her - so I just glared.
Of what?
I had just made a fool of myself.
Proved to everyone how weak I really was.
It was awful.
I felt awful.
And angry.
Not at the sweet girl who had first prodded me on to the pole - but at God.
Was all of this a lie I told myself so I would keep playing life.
Life application challenge course activities are dangerous for types like me - I don't have the life skills or maturity to keep it in isolation.

The next day Jesus and I had some time to talk.  I just wanted to know what all that was about. I told Him how weak and scared and useless I felt.
He waited for more.
So, I told Him -I felt like He had let me down.  I told Him that I thought I was supposed to believe in Him and feel His glorious courage course through my veins - that He was supposed to make me strong and brave.

"Oh child."  I could almost hear His compassionate voice, almost see His soft eyes seeking my heart.
"Oh child.  You might never feel brave.  But because you believe in me, you will do brave things.  I will lead you there and I will never leave you."

See, I keep forgetting.
This isn't about me getting strong enough to not need Him.
It's about the desperate way He loves me, holds me, pushes me, knows me.
Because you believe in me, you will do brave things.

But I might never feel like a leader, I might never be ready to jump.  I am likely going to go to the edge with my eyes sealed tight shut - begging someone below to tell me what to do next.
I wish that life was easier.
in the very next breath,
I don't want to miss out on God.
none of Him.
none of His plan.
none of His love.
and Father - I am weak.
I am a fraud.
I am scared - of almost everything.
I want to stay on the ground, not really because the activity seems stupid - but because deep down, I don't think I can do it.
And I am probably right.
But You can.
You do.
You know.
I've gone too far to go back Father.  I see You in everything and I don't want to go back from that - but going on....
it's hard.
it's unstable.
it's too high.
I can't do it.
I don't feel brave.

So, my sweet Savior, thank you for never asking me to do it alone.
Let's keep climbing friends, this adventure is only just getting started.


  1. Thank you so much for this Jodi! 💛

  2. "This isn't about me getting strong enough to not need Him.
    It's about the desperate way He loves me, holds me, pushes me, knows me."
    - I keep forgetting this, too. Thank you for sharing & reminding <3