Where I live in PA we have had a lot of rain recently. And as a friend who works in excavating explained to me, it's fogy because the rain is falling on a ground that's still frozen. I was driving home the other day when I came upon a very thick fog. I mean extremely thick so that I could only see about ten feet in front of me. And as I crawled along at a very slow pace, I had one of those "Wow, I never thought of it like that before!" moments. I noticed a few things about the physical fog you see outside and what causes it. It is very similar to the spiritual fog that we sometimes struggle through.
Fog does something. It makes it difficult to see, but it also brings some other feelings as well.
-Fog makes you feel isolated.
When you're in the midst of a thick fog, it's easy to feel very alone. You can't see anyone else through it. It's very easy to feel alone, thinking only of your present problem which no one else could possibly understand. Right?
-You can't see the familiar landmarks.
All your life you have had those memories of the times God worked miracles in your life, but you don't see these in your fog. All you see is, well: fog. It's easy to forget that God is faithful when you can't see His faithfulness in your past.
-Life slows down.
You were dashing along at 70mph, now you're slowly crawling at about 10. You can't go any faster because you can't see the way, and you have no guide. It's depressing because you just want to get on with your life, but you have to take your time or you will simply crash.
So those are three things that the physical fog does, but how does that affect us spiritually? I have a theory. A spiritual fog can be caused by three things.
- False teachings.
It you don't have a proper understanding of God's word, it is likely that you will be led astray by false teachings. Sort of like the rain falling on the frozen ground, if your heart is still 'frozen' by sin. Then the different theologies and ideas that you don't understand can make the truth difficult to see.
If you have so much going on, so many things to do that your head is spinning. It's hard to think clearly, or see clearly.
Someone hurt you. You don't feel appreciated. You don't feel like it's worth it, you don't feel like you're worth it. When you feel hurt, you tend to see things in a different light.
Whatever the cause of your fog may be, God is the only one who can clear it away. Prayer and reading God's word are how we are able to discern right from wrong. The fog won't last forever. Just remember that even during the fogy times, God is there.
All my life I've been asked: "Are you an introvert or an extrovert? I always struggled with answering that question. If I said I was an extrovert, people would look at me accusingly as if I was trying to fake something. But if I said I was an introvert people would assume that I'm shy or that I don't like people. And neither of those are true about me. I love to talk, I love people, and I am by no means shy. But at the same time, I think more than I talk, I like being alone and I relish my occasional peace and quiet.
I've always been bothered when people try to divide us into those two groups with just one word answers. I need to explain! There is more to it than a yes or no question. I might be more of an introvert than extrovert, but that doesn't mean that I'm shy. I detest being called "shy" I hate it! When I'm quiet it's not because I'm scared to talk. I am either in deep thought, or don't think I have anything worthwhile to contribute to the conversation.
My friends know that I have a habit of rambling, I get started talking about ice cream and then end up discussing the price of real estate in southern Libya. There is no rhyme or reason to it, I just get distracted and totally forget the point I was trying to make. I probably say "What was I talking about?" more than anything else. Ever. Usually my friends are gracious and kind enough to remind me.
My friends also know that I tend to be very spontaneous in the most crazy sort of way. I have often left friends shaking their heads and hiding their faces in shame as I go hopping along reenacting a scene from the movie they mentioned. Or wearing the goofiest costume for no legit reason other than because I felt like it.
Neither of those things are common traits for introverts, but they are most common for me to do. I love making people laugh. Being goofy and embarrassing doesn't bother me.
We as human beings are so complex that you can't just lump us into two groups. God made us to be very complex and unique. None of us are exactly like another, you can't fix our problems by treating us just like someone else. We may share similarities with others, but we are still very different. I cannot think of one friend of mine who is exactly like me, and that is ok. I am blessed with a bunch of very close friends who I know I could trust with anything. And out of all my friends only about four have a lot in common with me. One of those friends once said to me "It's like we're the same person!" because we are so much alike. But there are still ways on which we are different. When we say "I'm glad I'm not the only one!" we feel good because we know we're not alone. It's easy to then cling to those similarities as the most important and ignore the rest of our traits as less valuable. But the truth is everything about you is valuable. Every single one of your quirks is important! The trick is learning to nurture the parts of you that aren't as popular. They are uniquely you, and that makes you special.
You may not "fit in" all of the time. I certainly don't. I have developed many good friends of very divers personalities and backgrounds. Each person I am with brings out a different part of my personality. I often say that my philosophy is that you can learn something from everyone that you ever meet. Whether they leave a positive or negative example. It's good to learn from other people. People inspire me to be more creative. They give me ideas that I can use in my own life. People show me that there are things out there that I might enjoy if I try them. Many a time I have found new favorite things because my friends liked them. People teach me that we are all different. By looking at just my close friends we often discus a certain topic and find that every one of us feels differently about it.
I have heard it said to just be who you are no matter what. But we don't need to just be us, we need to become more like Christ. there is a big difference between who you are as a mortal sinner, and who God is shaping you to become. God's plan for our lives is not a math equation. It's not the same for everyone, it's not one size fits all. There are things God wants everyone to do, and then there are things he specifically wants you to do.
I don't completely understand why God made me the way that He did. But I do know that He has a reason, He made me this way to prepare me for things I don't see yet. Some things don't make sense, and that's ok. Proverbs 20:24 says "Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?" God has a reason for everything He does, and we won't always understand. That's what faith is for.
All that to say: Don't be embarrassed about being you. You are different, you are weird, you are quirky, and you are beautiful in your own way.
I am not going to go through my entire life story telling you about all the bad things that have happened and the trials I've been through. This isn't about my story.I'm sure there are many people out there who have lost a lot more than I have. We all have our own stories, and our own heartbreaks. We aren't going to compare stories right now. Who or how much you lost is not the topic here. But rather how loss changes us. In whatever way, something is different now. This is about what God has taught me through grief and suffering. Here are five things God taught me about life...
-The pain doesn't go away, but it does change.
In the spans of four years I lost three grandparents, and an equal number of close friends. And time hasn't completely 'healed my wound' as they say it should. With every new accomplishment I make, there is a renewed sense of sadness that three of the people I loved most won't be there to see it. I couldn't show them my drivers license when I first got it. I didn't get to tell them when I got accepted into a good college. They knew me as a girl, but never got to see the grown up me. Would they be proud of me? Would my Grandpa give me a big hug, and would his face still feel scratchy on my cheek? There is so much I wish I could tell them, and show them. Still, in the middle of all these 'if only's' I can cry happy tears over the good memories I have of them. Like when my Grandpa would press his face up against my car window and make me laugh. Or when my Nanny would listen to my stories and tell me about growing up in the 40s. Those memories are priceless to me. I wouldn't trade them for any other grandparents that could have stayed here for ever.
- Heaven feels more real now.
I knew before that heaven was real, but knowing that people I love are there... It's difficult to explain how close I feel to heaven now. It's not just a fairy tale land and it isn't something man made up. My God created it, and I have loved ones that live there.
-I appreciate the people I still have more.
I loved them before, but I didn't realize how important they are. They could be gone in an instant just like the people that I lost. It's important to tell people that you love them, and spending time with them is golden. You will never wish that you had spent more time watching TV or playing video games. But you might wish you had asked your grandparents more questions, and listened to their tales. Learn to cherish the people you have, and really get to know them.
-Showing emotion isn't easy.
As a general rule, I don't cry in public. I have broken that rule more times than I care to mention, but it remains a rule nonetheless. I don't like crying, because I don't like pity. I had resigned myself to shedding a few tears, but most of the time I was trying very hard not to become a wailing spectacle. Until I lost my Grandpa, I didn't know it was possible to cry as much as I did. But I did cry, and I learned not to feel ashamed about it.
-God's peace is real.
I know that now, because it's what held me up. It kept me from falling apart when I really thought I would. I had never felt such comfort and understanding like the peace that God placed in my heart. God didn't choose death for my grandparents, our sins makes death inevitable. God made a way for us to live again, way for us to be truly happy, a way for us to know Him. He gives us hope, and that is what keeps me going.
God doesn't choose to make us suffer, we suffer because of sin. But God does use our sufferings to teach us and bring us closer to Him. Pain is inevitable, and because of sin people will die. But there is something more to it. Jesus tells us about suffering in Luke 9: "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. And He said to them all. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." Losing our life doesn't always mean literally dying. It could simply be surrendering control of our lives fully to God. God will never give us undo grief. There are reasons we may never even understand. But God is faithful. He will rebuild you when you're broken, and you will be broken sometimes. But God is always there.
If you are dealing with present or past heartbreak, my friend Alysa Davis has written a book called "Then Sings My Soul: How to Handle Heartbreak" which I would highly recommend. Not only is she a talented author, she is an amazing person whom I have personally learned a lot from. Her book touched my heart because I could tell that she put her heart in it. You can't fake passion, and she has it. I'm so thankful that God brought her into my life. You can buy her book on Amazon by clicking through this link: