In the Flames

I realized in middle school that I really loved giving speeches. So imagine how tickled I was when I found out my freshman year, I was required to take a speech class.

Don’t get me wrong–part of me actually hated having to get in front of my peers and talk about things I only sort of cared about. The pre-speech jitters were unavoidable. But I had to admit, it came naturally to me to speak in front of people.

I want to be honest with you and say that the past couple of years have not been easy. They have been trying and confusing, and I don’t really like using those terms because I look around, and no one else is saying those things about their life. But sure, I’ll be the first one: my life is trying and confusing right now.

When I was in seventh grade, I had to write a persuasive essay about a controversial topic and give a speech supporting my side of the debate. Back in those days, we used encyclopedias and books and a smidge of the Internet to find resources to back our case. My speech was chosen as a contender in the year’s speech contest, and I ended up winning third place overall. Me, with my braces full of rubber bands (which I removed for my speech, obviously), my pointed-toe pink heels (you know I was dressed to impress for this speech), and passion for speaking. I remember wanting to win but not believing I would. So I didn’t.

When I started believing in Jesus, His grace, and His forgiveness, I was 12. The memories of growing up and learning about Him, about loving Him, and living for Him are lined with joy and confidence. I wish I could go back and watch that girl just for the sake of seeing how Jesus changed her at such a pivotal moment in life.

It’s been 15 years of knowing Him, and I haven’t doubted Him much. He was all I had sometimes. I’ll be 28 this year, and for the first time in a long time, I’m unsure of Him.

No one wants to say that, right? Surely you don’t. I don’t. I’d rather tell the stories of His triumph and glory, but this side of heaven is not all triumphs and glory. Sometimes it’s more like hell, and this is the devil’s playground. At least I feel that way.

More often than not, I’m waiting for someone else to say what I’m thinking because I don’t want to be the one. I don’t want to be the voice that gets a little loud because I don’t want to get even close enough to touch your feathers, let alone ruffle them. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that little me has a love for public speaking and has no desire to make anyone uncomfortable.

It’s been 15 years of knowing Him, and this year feels like one of the hardest. I want to believe Him, but I also don’t. I want to trust Him, but I also would rather not. I want to have faith that is working and active, but that takes work.

Hey, here’s the secret to faith that lasts: endurance. Enduring when you want to quit. Persevering when you’d rather give up. Pushing through when it’s like you’re hitting wall after wall, and the faith that could move so-called mountains has done nothing but moved it an inch.

Now you know the honest part. Here’s the better part.

I started asking God. I started saying what I really wanted to say, not just what was the “Christian” thing to say. Things like, “Hey. I don’t get this. Why? Why am I doubting you? Why does the Bible feel heavy and thick like mud, my mind unable to filter it and process it? Why do you seem more complex than ever?” And I said to Him again and again, “Show up. Help me. Reveal Yourself. Remind me.”

The story of Moses came to mind. He killed a man and fled Egypt. And yet God appeared to Him as a consuming fire, telling Moses what He would do, even if Moses didn’t believe it.

I closed my eyes. He wasn’t going to burn me alive to make a point or condemn me for struggling. The words came to mind, “In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me.” Me. Woman with the dreams real big, woman with the fears real wide. Woman who is doubting big time, but knows. She knows. If she’s learned anything in these 15 years, it’s that He’s never finished, even if I am.

This is a story of His triumph and glory, even though it feels like a story of failure. This is a story of His work in my work, His call on the girl with the rubber bands in her braces and pink pointed-toe high heels, His redemption on a woman’s life who is going to be meaningful.

Show up. Help me. Remind me. Reveal Yourself to me.

You’ve never failed me yet.

Published by Janelle Delagrange

Wife to a graphic designer, mom to three young boys, and writer of the soul.

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