Tuesday, March 1, 2011

brace yourself; this got a little long.

Let me set the scene we’ve got going here: I’m sitting at my desk in my pajamas, running off of three hours of sleep, listening to my “sad, sunny afternoons” playlist (PS I’m a 13-year-old emo girl), typing in a room lit only by candlelight, because I have a migraine and absolutely everything hurts. Normally, in this moment, I would give up and go to sleep. Which seems like an appropriate response.

But I feel like I have so much to say. There’s nothing specific that I’ve outlined or anything, but I can feel it all moving and stirring in my head and if I don’t get something out, it’ll be bad news for me.

I purchased a plane ticket to New Orleans today. That’s responsible spending of my first paycheck in my mind. I am so excited to see the friends I left out there, go back to my old job, spend time in the city I fell in love with so quickly. Part of me loves making these impulsive, semi-irresponsible decisions. I should be saving my money for the rent I’ll have to pay come August. Riding the streetcar, conversations beneath Spanish moss, hearing that strange, wonderful accent again, walking through the quarter—the choice was pretty easy.

That’s a fun, good thing. There are other things going on though. Lately I’ve noticed this apathetic, indifferent attitude I’ve developed toward my own future. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from, but found myself saying things like, “I don’t care where I end up.” I had stopped having any real opinion on it. During the prayer time at church, I realized this was totally a defense mechanism.

See, my relationship with my dad is pretty emotionally distant. I don’t feel like he cares about me or thinks of me as worthy of his time, attention, or affection. This is something I’ve recognized for years. I see patterns of behavior that I have and I know that I can accredit them to my resistance to healing from our relationship. The messages from my dad are ongoing and right now the hardest thing to discuss with him is my future.

I always felt like I was disappointing him in a big way when I rejected USC’s offer of admission as a high school senior. I followed what I wanted and went to Tulane instead. When I started talking about transferring to Westmont for this spring semester, my dad was unimpressed; he assumed it was for the guy I was interested in/started dating/just broke up with. My dad considered it a poor choice, believing the school was below my academic abilities. Knowing he thinks I’d pick up and change my entire life for some sort of crush really hurts me. I feel like he thinks of me as a dumb little girl, not a young woman who is deeply self-aware and very in touch with what I believe is God-given discontent.

Since Westmont didn’t work out, I’m back in the college decision period once again. My favorite place. Just kidding, guys, I hate it.

When my dad asks about my plans for school, I’m super defensive. All I want is to get the conversation over with because I assume that if I stay in it long enough, I’ll receive a discouraging, doubting, or sarcastic comment from him. He’ll think it’s funny, but I’ll leave feeling deeply wounded. I’m much more sensitive than I let on.

So, as we often do, I have projected my situation with my earthly father onto my heavenly father. Oops. I didn’t realize it, but I’ve been totally withdrawn from God on this issue. I trick myself into thinking I’m being open with Him: drop a quick prayer every night—something along the lines of “And please let Your will be done when it comes to school next year. Amen.” It’s just become something I tack on to the end of more sincere, vulnerable prayers. It’s not something I’ve felt the freedom to be transparent about at all.

This brings us back to Sunday night. For the first time, I became overwhelmed by one jarring, plain fact: God cares about my future.

He’s not waiting with His arms crossed for me to open up so He can shake His head and say, “Nope! You got it wrong again. You messed that up. You’re choosing this for the wrong reasons.” Those are the messages I hear from others, but they’re not true of my loving, affectionate Lord. He wants to support me. He wants to hear my fears, my doubts, my anxieties: how I’m worried that I won’t get into a school near home, or that I’m just making choices based on friendships I have, that I’m not living up to my “potential,” that I’m disguising my own petty feelings as “God’s will.”

I’m frightened. I feel like a little girl, nervous about going down a slide—something that silly and small. Because if I’m realistic about Kingdom living, a decision on where I go to college is silly and small. There is no singular, correct option. I just get to continue making choices and hoping in God’s name that He’ll show me enough mercy to guide me into His will.

I feel like God came down and brushed my hair away from my face, showed me who I was looking at and, in this, set me free from lies I couldn’t even recognize before. He set me free and will continue setting me free.

I have a lot of healing to do. Right now, I feel like I’m coming before God with my hands cupped, cradling all these little plans and options and thoughts and emotions. I feel a little bit bashful about it—a little bit shy. It’s hard to show yourself to a lover sometimes.


  1. bayley, i love this! i love how open and honest you are, not only with us but with yourself as well. i to am quick to cast my issues with my dad on God and sometimes it takes a lot to for me to realize that He is so much bigger and better than the box i fit Him into. it is rad to see how He is showing you how big He really is and that He cares for you and your future more than anything!

    Thanks for sharing :)

  2. Bayley, I also share similar difficulties at times. Sometimes it's hard for me to believe that God genuinely cares for me. Many times I view him as a disciplinarian (which he is), but he is also a loving father as well. I think there needs to be a good balance between our Father who is all-powerful but also intimately involved in our lives.

    And because I'm a bit emotionally distant from my dad (though it's getting better between us), I tend to let it affect my relationship with God. And I don't know if this really relates to the topic, but lately I've been thinking of what to call God when I talk to him. And..I think I've settled on calling him "Father," our true father.

    In lifegroup yesterday, we read James 1:16-18. I hope this encourages you as it did for me.

    Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

  3. k. so thank you for sharing all of this. I don't know your dad, but I am very curious what would come if you just told him exactly what you feel about his antics. I wonder if you just edited this post a little and printed it out for him. I wonder what he would do. daunting? absolutely! would he care? I think so. would he respond in a needed manner? I don't know. sometimes we have to risk it all for relationships with those people we love, and who love us, but who may not know how to show it. k. I totally hear you on what you are saying. bayley, I am cupping my hands too. I am reaching too. I am waiting, oftentimes embarrassed, amazingly shy, scared at what God might not do, fearful of His silence. bayley, I am here with you in this. literally. I am not deciding on school, but the questions, the angst, the pain, the disappointment in people and relational love. bayley it is the same. may we seek Him together and not lose sight of His Truth. something my mentor asked me was this, and I'll leave it for you too to consider: Do you believe in God? (yes) But do you believe God?

    Dear God,
    please comfort bayley throughout her day. please show her who You are and that you care for her. I pray, God, that you show us how to love her and care for her heart. I seek wisdom on her behalf. I pray that you make Your ways known to her in very significant ways. I thank You for stirring a passion and discontentment in her to make her strive for You in this. I pray for healing in the relationship between her and her dad. I thank You for showing her how she was viewing You in this, and for bringing her to a place of understanding and searching whole-heartedly for You. Thank you for letting me know her. In Your name I pray. amen.

  4. i love you so much. i love that you've opened up about all of this, because i know that its hard. i love your heart and it breaks mine to know that you have to deal with these feelings concerning your dad, but it also brings me so much joy that you're realizing more and more that God the Father wants to be there for you in every way. praying for you my dear bayley.

  5. Man Bailey I just really feel like you are on the right track. Keep coming to God with those little cupped hands that include all your plans, hopes, and dreams and He will always guide you into goodness simply because you are coming forth to Him with them. Even if he doesn't tell you what to do, he will guide you always. It's like He's holding your hand, walking in front of you and leading you on a walk, but you have a blindfold on. Maybe the blindfold is there so you have the inability to trust absolutely anything else besides Him.

  6. this is beautiful. this is truth. thank you so much.

  7. "I feel like God came down and brushed my hair away from my face, showed me who I was looking at and, in this, set me free from lies I couldn’t even recognize before. He set me free and will continue setting me free."
    This is beautiful Bayley =)

  8. Thanks for being so open Bailey! Your honesty and rawness is something I appreciate so much. I will be praying for you that God will be your comfort and that he will continue to direct you in the right path.

  9. Bayley! I can't tell you how much this spoke to me.
    I am in a very similar position, and God just showed me how encouragement amongst the Body works:)
    Thank you for staying up and sharing what was on your heart and allowing the Spirit to direct me towards Truth through it!!

  10. This post especially has your heart thrown all over it. I admire your honesty and desire for God. I know how it it to look up to parents, show them all your accomplishments, and yet feel as though it's not enough. The world is not enough, not to man. Yet all God wants, is our hearts. :) Thank you Bayley.