Already Included #42 – Rejection as Positioning

By Sarah Nyhan

My grief tempts me so much to replace the message of my feelings for truth. To switch my focus from God’s heart to how the situation seems to look right now.

I have the choice to indulge in self-pity and hopelessness. But I feel God calling me to have courage, frankly. To think on all He has done before. To remember His heart for me as evidenced in the ages and so many times personally before.

I fear and resist because I do not want to experience more pain and disappointment. I don’t want to feel appearing like a fool for the millionth time. I get exhausted when I take my focus away from God’s heart for me.

This could be an adventure. This could be flying instead of falling. The anticipation of mystery revealed instead of framing uncertainty in dread.

Who am I? A beloved child of God. He loved me to and through death.

This is what Jesus endured as everyone abandoned Him. Naked. Exposed. Crucified. Right before the great resurrection of all brand new abundant life.

This is what Joseph experienced as his best landed him in prison, forgotten by those who should have known better. Right before the purpose of all the preparation was revealed.

Will I continue circling the desert of my abysmal self-sufficiency? Will I settle for camping just outside unlimited potential in exchange for certainty’s colorless “comfort”?

Who is this God that loves me so much? That is my Father? My warrior for all He created in me?

Who is this gnat, this flea, this mosquito pestering me? This mere illusion of a formidable enemy?

I get to choose. This is only a battle in my mind. Will I collapse into His more than capable embrace? Will I let go of needing to know how it all works out? Will I let God surprise me? Will I choose the dreams my desires dare to consider? More than I can see. More than I can ask or imagine.

An unceasing whisper to imagine where this rejection is positioning me. Asking me not only what I need to survive, but what I’d want if I didn’t put any limits on God. If the Trinity was united in and exceptionally eager to bust apart all the boxes I thought I could carry God in. All that He has is mine.

Will I insist on this just being a story about what I can do in my own strength? Or will I open my heart to trust God for much bigger beauty?

Already Included #41 – Best

By Sarah Nyhan

I have received a lot of rejection in response to my changing beliefs about God over the past few years. People I once was close to have told me they were going to warn others against me. Judging from the rejection I have received, I don’t doubt that has already happened.

As much as I still very much miss the connection I used to have with those that have rejected me, I strongly disagree with some of the responses that I’ve seen from “churchfolk” in response to this real health issue (ask Italy, South Korea, China, and the nursing home in Washington).

In that respect and on behalf of all those who are struggling with concerns or thinking differently, I would just like to point out that South Korea reports that as of today 5,016 cases (60%) of the virus are connected to Shincheonji Church – which in my opinion negligently over-spiritualized and ignored physical realities of this virus.

I used to be one of those people, so I understand how they end up there and I have compassion as much as I expect my words will fall on many deaf ears.

But for anyone on the fence, this is for you: God is not “quarantined” to a specific building with specific people. God will find you wherever you are and whoever you are with. You will not be loved less by God for using your God-given brain to do what you feel is best for you and yours.

Already Included #40 – Ezekiel

By Sarah Nyhan

Ezekiel was sent to his own people. He was rejected over and over again. This was not a surprise to God. Ezekiel did not fail just because nobody listened to him and changed their ways. Not even Jesus in human form was enough for many people.

So I can let myself off the hook. Is relationship with God the goal, the end-game? Or is there some other race I think God asks me to win?

What if everyone truly is eternally safe in His heart? What if God cares more for us than I could ever imagine? What if He isn’t disappointed with us? Can I be assured that just as Holy Spirit never leaves me, Holy Spirit is always in endless conversation with them? In ways they can hear.

What if He already tore up the report card I created for Him to sign? What if inviting Him into our grief, sadness, and anger is what it is all about? What if our hearts echo the cries of His heart? What if He sits with us and holds us together when we can’t keep everything together? What if He never expected us to fix these things? What if it all works out on the other side, if not on this side? What if there is something bigger going on?

Tell it to my heart. My heart only wants relief. My heart wants results, Lord! My heart doesn’t understand what You are doing! Why You let this go on so long! Where are You?!

He meets me every time. Satisfying my soul,  often without answering my questions. Even as I put Him on trial. Peace that truly passes understanding. Knowing that I am seen. That I am so clearly heard. And fully loved.

I walked the dog this morning. New house, new neighborhood for both of us. Only a week in. The dog bolted forward ahead of me. I let him go because he was so excited. It wasn’t about being in control this morning. It was about enjoying the walk.

We crossed the street about 30% of the way down. We continued on to the end and then turned around. A neighborhood where almost every house looks the same. No scent on that side of the street.

The poor little dog went down almost every path to the front door of every house for three to four blocks. It’s like his little mind was thinking, “Maybe this one!” And he would run up the path and stare at the front door and have this confused, thoughtful look on his face. Then I would walk ahead and he’d run to catch up, pass me again, and run down the path to the next door.

He didn’t trust me. He thought it was his job to get us home. I wasn’t mad at him. I was just heartbroken seeing him try to find home over and over again.

Finally he caught his scent from the beginning of the walk and stepped a little more confidently the rest of the way home.

It reminded me of how I don’t trust God. How I bolt ahead of Him offering solution after solution. And He knows where I need to be. He isn’t worried at all. I want the answers without the intimacy. I want to be in control because I don’t trust His heart for me.

I don’t think He has me on a leash to restrict me; just to protect me from what I don’t even know I need protecting from. Can I learn to relax and enjoy the journey?

Enoch walked with God. I want to be like that. Not tiring myself out by dragging God along every path I think I need to go down. Instead trusting He will be with me always. But checking in, looking to Him more.

Relationship. Real relationship. Not just reading books, listening to sermons, studying the Bible, listening to worship music. But a real relationship. That is going to be messy. There will not be any formula I can fall back on. But it thankfully doesn’t depend on me either.