Behind the Veil

Hello again!

I’m sure you’ve been sitting around waiting anxiously for my next post… I’m sorry it’s been so long.

I took an unintentional break from writing during the last couple of months because writing = dealing with things I’d rather ignore. There have been several of those things in recent weeks, and as a result, I found myself in a rather dark place.

When I first began to notice the clouds gathering back in August, I thought I had hit the normal 6 month wall of culture stress, homesickness or one of those things so common to people who have moved to a new country. It was a month early, but I figured that just meant that it would be over sooner.

WRONG!

As the weeks went by I continued to burst into tears over TV shows, isolate myself, sleep late, avoid leaving my house, lose myself in television, neglect writing, and feel guilty for and/or confused by all of the above. I avoided God. I stopped talking to people, because I didn’t want to lie and say I was fine, but didn’t know what else to say. Any other response to the everyday question of how I’m doing opened the door to questions I didn’t want to answer and couldn’t answer even if I did want to do so.

Thank the Lord He finally helped me get to the bottom of much of what was going on. It took several weeks, a few transparent conversations with friends, a television show (yes, He can even speak through “How I Met Your Mother”), and time spent journaling and writing with Him.

I won’t go into all of the issues that led me to that dark place, but I did learn a couple of things I want to share. I hope perhaps they will speak to someone else too.

I think I mentioned before that I am working on a book, and the theme of this book is finding identity and purpose through intimacy with God. Guess what has been a major battleground in my heart and mind during the last two months… my own sense of identity and purpose. As I reached my sixth month of living here in Ireland, I felt desperate to understand the purpose God brought me here for. I have no doubt that I am in the place I’m supposed to be for the foreseeable future, but I still don’t know why. There is a lot more to that particular battle, and maybe I’ll share that in a later post.

For now, suffice it to say that I have been second guessing everything I know about my own identity and purpose in the Body of Christ. I have allowed the wrong voices to whisper into my mind and heart. I fell into the very same trap that allowed sin to enter the world in the first place; I listened to voice asking “did God really say…?” Millennia have passed, and we still fall for the oldest trick in the book.

In the midst of my questioning, my book project was dead in the water. I wondered how I could possibly write a book to help others answer questions to which I now doubted my own answers. Could I have authority to help anyone if I wasn’t writing from a place of victory, from the finish line of that particular race?

As I asked God that question, I felt Him speak to me. The following is an excerpt from what I heard:
“The fact that you still go through this process makes you the perfect person to walk with others down the path. People don’t need someone to follow from a distance they feel is impossible to close. I became human to walk with people on their journeys, to live victory among them. To lead others on a path you are walking yourself is incarnational – not hypocritical. You have so much to give because of days like today! Be real, be vulnerable, and let others see that messiness does not ruin the message or disqualify them from being my messenger – if anything it allows me to speak more loudly through them as they depend on and surrender to me.”

Obviously I’m not Jesus, and I don’t always walk in victory as He did, but this picture really helped me to realize that every one of us can help those who may be a step behind us in the journey at the moment. Perhaps those we help will one day help us too. None of us has it all together but we can still help each other along the way if we are willing to be vulnerable.

That brings me to the other thing I’ve been pondering over the last couple of weeks: the tearing of the veil in the Temple. For centuries God was housed in the Holy of Holies. Only a select few were allowed direct access until that dark day when Jesus died.

I’ve heard some people preach about the significance of that event as it providing the ability for us to access God’s presence directly. That is incredible, and I’m so thankful for that, but I think there’s more to it. God is expansive, and perhaps more important than the fact that we can enter His presence is the fact that He is free to expand and move outside that space He occupied for so long.

As God moved among His people and the Holy Spirit was given to us, we became the dwelling place of God. If our body is the temple as the Bible says, then I would say our “heart” is the inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies if you will.

This is where these two ideas come together. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I know during rough times like these last two months, I tend to shut people out. I pull the curtain or the “veil” closed on my heart, and the inner sanctuary is closed off from the masses once again.

If it is true that I may be the only representation of Jesus that some people will ever meet, I cannot afford to close off my heart at the first sign of imperfection/uncleanliness, whether my own or someone else’s. When I fail to be vulnerable and let others see behind the veil, I may be hiding the presence and work of God from someone who needs to see it.

I have been hiding behind the veil for the last several weeks. I have been afraid to be vulnerable and allow anyone to see what’s really going on; afraid it would make me look weak, incapable, unworthy of support, unable to do whatever it is I’m here to do, etc. Today I choose to rip the veil and allow God to work in and through me.

Welcome to my journey once again. I rarely know where I’m going, but I’m glad that you’re walking with me. I apologize for shutting you out during the last couple of months. Here’s to torn veils.

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2 thoughts on “Behind the Veil

  1. Rosann says:

    Steph,
    Thank you for your transparency. Unfortunately, after 35 years of serving the Lord, I still hide behind that veil at times. It can drag on longer than I realize until I decide to step out into the world once again. I am privileged to walk along with you on your journey. Love you.

    Like

    • StephNic says:

      Miss Rosann,
      Thanks for your comment. I think all of us hide at times. It is scary to let the world into our struggle, but it’s worth it. For one thing, you often find true friends in those who choose to go with you into the darkness.
      Love you.

      Like

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