Monday, August 15, 2011

Cosmically Cream-Pied: My Suffering For His Glory

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." -1 Corinthians 10:31

I think one of the most difficult concepts to grasp about God, not only for non-Christians but for Christians, too, is that He does everything for His glory. When you know God as Abba, Daddy, creator and lover of your soul, it’s hard to understand that He would do anything else besides pet you and snuggle on you and give you balloon animals to play with. Which, don’t get me wrong, He’s pretty good at that sort of thing – the grace, the unconditional love, and the peace that passes all understanding. He’s there when you need Him and He’s the only one who will never, ever fail you.

But He still does everything for His glory.

And if you ask in earnestness to be used by God, He will, in fact, use you for that very purpose.

It was March of this year. I had just started at a new job. I was one of six women in my department - the youngest, the most naive, the quietest. It was my fourth job in a year and I was burned out. But if there was anything I’d learned in that year, it was that when God put me in a job, there was always, always someone He wanted me to connect with and minister to, to love on, and in doing so, show His love. I mean, obviously we’re meant to do that with everyone, but God usually had specific people in mind when He planted me in a new job. This time was no different.

But this time, darn it, I didn’t really want to.

I knew from the moment I met her what God wanted from me. It was as if there were a big neon sign pointing down from Heaven saying “Here she is - show her you know Me.” Bright. Blinking. Obvious as a neon sign can be. But it wasn’t going to be at all as simple as marching up and saying “Hi, I love Jesus, how about you?”

She was a veteran, having been at the job for over thirty years. Have I mentioned I was the newbie? The temp? The young wide-eyed innocent, like a sticky-fingered kindergartener trying to learn to sail the boat she’d been captaining for years?

I knew what God wanted. But I was weary. Frustrated at the uncertainty of still being a temp, exhausted with my new schedule and my 45-minute commute, overwhelmed with the newness of my responsibilities. I wanted to take a pass. I just wanted to come in, work, make my pittance of an hourly wage, and go home and collapse. My life was tumultuous enough anyway, and God certainly knew it. Believe me, I reminded Him regularly.

But there it was. The neon sign. Blinking. Unmistakable.

For two months, I tried to ignore it. For two months, I inched around her quietly, keeping to myself, trying not to be too much trouble. Even though, all along, God was saying “Ahem” and throwing out no small amount of pointed stares and even more pointed fingers.

Yet I kept quiet.

And then something happened that sent everything shattering down around me: for the third time in my life, I got my heart really broken.

Now, much as I try not to, I usually wear my heart centered very visibly on my sleeve. In the evenings, I nursed my broken heart by watching Bridget Jones’ Diary on repeat with whitener on my teeth while obsessing about ways to (organically!) enhance the redness of my hair and whining ad nauseum to my very obliging male friends. But during the day, under the fluorescent lights of my office, I couldn’t hide it. I couldn’t wipe the “I’ve-been-hit-by-a-mack-truck” expression off my face, and my coworker immediately noticed.

“What’s wrong, honey?” she asked.

And so, instead of deigning to obey God for months before, now, I just went to mush. I told her the whole story, poured out my misery and confusion and general wretchedness. She listened and sympathized and offered me grace and encouragement. And then she shared with me some of her own heartbreak, and I responded in kind. We connected not on a level of here, let me minister to you but we’re both broken and need our Lord to heal us.

That afternoon, after we’d so deeply connected, I sent her what I thought was the simplest of gestures - my favorite Pslam in an email. As I was on the phone with a customer, she came over and hugged me, crying. She said it meant so much to her, and she printed it out and pinned it up at her desk. From that day on, she began calling me her “angel” - the person who connected her to God.

There is no way in the world that I will ever take credit for that. But my goodness, was it humbling.

One week later, I was moved to a different team, on a different floor. And three weeks after that, we all lost our jobs. I didn’t know then, but it had been my last chance to do what God had been prodding me to do for months.

God does everything for His glory. He let my heart be broken - for His glory. He let me be miserable and wretched and confused and flailing - for His glory. He knew that it would break down the wall and get accomplished what He wanted to get accomplished. I’d asked Him to use me, and He did.

And you know what is so unbelievable to me? That day, the day of tears and shortness of breath and the world spinning and nothing making sense, when my sweet, precious coworker called me her angel and shared with me the kind of heartbreak she’d been through, I went into the bathroom, stared at myself in the mirror, and thanked God for letting it happen. For letting me get my heart broken. Because more than anything else, I realized, I want to show His glory, too.