I don't know about you, but when things don't go the way I planned, I tend to run, or quit, or just avoid. In the past if someone hurt my feelings I would simply cut them off and justify the behavior with some crap about trusting people until they proved themselves untrustworthy, blah, blah, blah. If someone got on my nerves, I would just avoid them at all costs. A relationship got complicated or didn't live up to my expectations and I was out the door. Someone got too close, you know the kind of close where they could easily screw you over because they know your baggage, I would get scared and I ran. If I felt I had disappointed someone, or worse, if I felt that person viewed me as a disappointment because I wasn't good enough, I was out the figurative door...
When things didn't go where I wanted them to or proved to be more difficult that I thought I could handle, I just picked up and left: always emotionally, but also physically as well... Thankfully, through the grace of God, I have learned to stick things out, for the most part. When it comes to relationships and uncomfortable situations, I often lean on God to give me wisdom and strength to do the wise and loving thing, except when it comes to my actual relationship with Him. As much as I love Him and am beyond thankful for His love, the redemptive power of the cross, and even the fact that He doesn't give up on me, He tends to bear the full brunt of my wrath. But I know He loves me through it all. There is such a comfort in knowing I have an ear to listen to all the chaos and pain in my heart. And while I am tempted to listen to the lie that I should be past the temper tantrum stage of life, I know there are still places in my heart that instinctively behave like a 2 year old who has been told no. And there is comfort in the fact God loves me in spite of the rage that often is aimed at Him. He is my safe place where there are no airs or pretenses, and in that there is a comfort I cannot explain. So I'm not gonna lie, He has seen and heard a lot my heart's temper tantrums in the last ten months. My life isn't what I thought it would be, but He could have intervened and made all my dreams come true... I feel Him putting yet another big move in my future, but He could have wired me to be the kind of person who stays in one place... I stick my big 'ole stiletto in my mouth yet again and am tempted to embrace that pit that threatens to remain lodged in my tummy, but He could have stopped me from making the same mistake again... But with all of these situations, and so many more, before I find myself lifting my voice in anger to The One Loves Me Most, I generally run... I run away from the quietness where His comfort is so easily found and keep myself in a state of business so I don't have to look into His face. Instead of running into His arms and presence where my heart finds healing and its home, I lock up the gate of my heart and tell Him He is not allowed to enter... But then, amongst all the chaos I am allowing to enter my mind, I hear two of the sweetest words my soul has ever experienced: "Hemmed in"... Now let me explain, since many people have no idea why those words would bring comfort. Being the daughter and granddaughter of preachers, growing up I spent a lot of time in camp meetings, which is pretty much a week long church service, with food and stuff in between altar calls. And I'm not sure how popular the term hemmed in really is, but I heard it somewhere and it stuck. You see hemmed in is the idea of God enclosing you into His presence, or at least that's how I understand it. Think of how a newborn feels all swaddled up, in the arms of its mother: all he/she knows is safety and security. When I hear hemmed in I think of the book of Hosea in the Bible. It the beautiful story of a prophet who was told by God to marry and love a prostitute. As you can imagine, the journey isn't easy for him and his wife. Not knowing anything different, she strays for him on several occasions but he goes and gets here every time. (Francine Rivers does a beautiful job in a retelling of Hosea in Redeeming Love. ) Over the years I have come to love the book of Hosea and God has spoken so much love over my heart as a result of this amazing story. There are passages that seem harsh at first, because God speaks of loving His people as a man loves a straying wife. God makes it impossible for us to find comfort in the arms of our lovers (which is anything we go to as opposed to going to God for fulfillment) and goes as far to allow us to find ourselves in the loneliest of places. It is here where we, like Hosea's wife, see how desperately we need The One Who Loves Us Most. At first passages like this honestly look cruel, until you have experienced your own time in the desert. Where you have searched and searched all you can and you are utterly broken. It is in these times where we have worn ourselves out trying to do everything our way and nothing is what we thought it would be. These times offer us a chance to see the love and kindness of God in a new way. We experience what Hosea 2:14-15 is speaking by being wooed into the dessert and being spoken tenderly to. It is in these times that we see, as children of God, we are hemmed in... There is a sweetness in the broken places I can never describe and words will never do justice. And even after the life shattering event happens, you carry with you a sense of knowing it will all be OK. There is something deep down in your knower that has the confidence that no matter what life throws you, God has you. Then a beautiful thing happens, you see His comfort in the lesser pain. In things that hurt, but don't threaten to crush you. Someone makes you mad or hurts your feeling and even though your old pattern was to run, as you take that step to turn from the painful situation you stop, take a deep breath, know that the One Who Created The Stars has you in His hands, and rest in Him. You no longer have to run because you know you are hemmed in and you know there is a safety you can trust in. So for the runner hemmed in means you can hang up your running shoes and see what staying brings... For the hider hemmed in means you no longer shrink back to the shadows when life starts to hurt, but instead allow yourself to be seen, and find the peace that God designed for you to rest in... For the fighter hemmed in means laying down your boxing gloves and trusting God is true when He says He will fight for you, and learning to just "be" in every situation... There are two little words which when I hear them, even if just faintly in my soul, bring peace in every situation: hemmed in.