I love the ocean. Not having grown up near it, it is still a bit of a novelty to me. The first glimpse of the broad expanse instantly brings an exhale…the kind where I find myself breathing more easily and everything else fades away for a few seconds. I am struck by its sheer size and beauty. Every time. And whether it be summer or winter, I am compelled to have some part of my body in it, even if it is just my feet and ankles being frozen by the white foam of a December tide rolling in. But I most love being all in. Over my head. Past the choppy waves that threaten to knock me over and out to where my toes can no longer skim the bottom. Surrounded by nothing by water and held by the same, I relax and bob along.
This idyllic scene is just that. Idyllic because it contains only the good parts. Ocean confessions: I get easily creeped out if I let myself think about the menagerie of marine creatures all around me and will absolutely let out a scream if anything with scales or fins brushes past. My level of comfort with deep water also tends to make friends or family waiting on the shore anxious, which generally means I’m floating out there in the deep all alone.
I confess I’m prone to believing that lie about my life sometimes: that I am out there in the deep and I am alone. Despite my knowledge of the truth that I am never alone and that Christ is working ALL things for my good and His glory, I behave otherwise. I worry. I get stuck in my own head, pondering endless “what ifs” that are beyond my control. I get busy to ward off the feelings of confusion, disappointment, and pain that threaten to undo me. I desperately want to be seen and known in those places so I will not feel alone. Yet, I get nervous that I will be found out in my fear, my messiness, and my lack of trust. Inviting Jesus and others into those places feels so vulnerable.
Like no other time in my life, the circumstances of this past year have made me aware that I often live fiercely committed to self-protection, independence, taking care of myself, and meeting my own needs. I lost my job last May in a field I am passionate about and had worked very successfully in for 14 years. It had been an incredibly difficult work environment for some time. My repeated prayers to God had been for a way through or a way out. He certainly provided a way out, but I will confess that I didn’t love how God chose to answer my prayers.
Unemployment wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Realizing I’d been finding my identity and worth in my job and not in whose I was? Also not pleasant. Knowing my best efforts hadn’t saved me from losing my last job and that relying on myself couldn’t guarantee me a new one forced me to remember things I so quickly forget. I am a dependent creature. I am not meant to do things on my own. I am meant to trust God for my daily bread. It may not look how I expect, but He promises provision. And He promises presence.
During my months of unemployment and job hunting, and now months into a new job in a completely different field, it is clear that God has provided for me. It has been a painful year, but also a beautiful one. I’m learning that being “all in” with Jesus means giving Him all of me…including the doubts, questions, disappointments, and unmet longings I’ve worked so hard to hide. As I’ve named and shared those things with Him and others, I’ve seen their grip on me loosen just a little. I have been met with so much love and grace. I have felt less alone and more fully known by the dear friends who walk with me. And that has been a gift.
Confession has created nooks and crannies around the hard places in my heart where the Spirit can work. I’m being invited to more. More trust. More life. More freedom. Though I don’t always understand what God is doing in my story or why it doesn’t look exactly as I had hoped, it is still a story worth telling. Somehow, my story still reveals something of God’s story. That He is good. That He is enough. And that we are never alone in the deep.
Becky Lehman is a lover of people, everyday adventures, and building community wherever she is. After 15 years filled with 7 jobs and 9 apartments in 4 East Coast cities, she is happy to call Richmond home. She enjoys being outdoors, cooking and grilling for anyone who’d like to be at the table, volunteering with the youth at Community West Church, and creating beauty.