When the Pressure Is On
Ok, first of all let’s get this straight- it’s 2AM on a Thursday night and I legit canNOT sleep. I’ve been up for about an hour and my mind, which, had NO problem turning off at 9PM and letting me pass COMPLETELY out, has decided to run in every which way since about 12:55. I’m over here planning music videos and repainting rooms and thinking about all the upcoming events for 2018, and it’s all. in. my. head.
Not in a bad way, I suppose. I’m not stressing. Just thinking. And, to be fair, it was only a couple of nights ago that I was awake at 3:30AM getting a download about the very blog post I’m writing right now. See, I was supposed to speak to the youth that following night and I had a vague idea about what I’d speak on (something to do with Job…) but I hadn’t quite nailed it down, when the wee hours of the morning came and I was awake, literally talking in my head through every point and thought. So I finally gave in and just wrote it out in the notes on my iPhone and fell back asleep at 5:30.
And tonight is no different. I woke up, had all these thoughts… and realized that I can’t shoot a video right now, I won’t be painting anything anytime soon, and the events are upcoming, yet weeks away, so there was nothing I could do about it. But the blog entry I meant to turn my message into? Yeah, I could do that.
So here’s what happened. I watched Bright the other day. You know, the Will Smith Netflix original movie about interspecies racism and fairies and orcs and magic wands? **Disclaimer: if you haven’t seen it yet, this post DOES contain spoilers, however… let’s just be honest, it’s not gonna take that much away from the film. (Hint: It’s not that good, IMO)** Well, I didn’t like it. And I don’t recommend it. But I’m not just being opinionated, I have legit reasons! These may not apply to you, but alas- isn’t a blog where you share your thoughts? I’ll continue.
Language. GOOD GAWD. Tons of bad language. And I’m not talking about orc-ish or elvish. I’m talking about F-bombs galore. Like, enough to make me go, DANG this has a lot of cursing. But curiosity killed the cat, so I kept watching.
Graphic. HOLY SMOKES IT’S GRAPHIC. This doesn’t bother everyone, I get it. Blood and gore = no big deal to some, and I can handle it to a point but GEEEEZ! It was much.
Nudity. If you’ve watched ANY Netflix originals, you’ve likely noticed that much of the restraints on big screen films have been hugely lifted and you can sit down to watch what seems like an interesting flick and then quickly see all kinds of wiggly bits you have ZERO business looking at. I super don’t recommend nudity, and this move has one scene that takes place in a nasty place, soooo spare yourself, k?
Characters. Here’s the part where it’s more just how I felt about things. Will Smith, whom I adore as an actor… man, I just NEVER cared about his character. I didn’t care about ANY of the characters. Will was such a jerk the whole time… that orc was just too aloof for me to really connect with his whole plight, and the ELF? (Here’s where the spoiler comes in) OMG SHE WORE ME OUT! Like, Ok! You speak elvish and talk to stuffed animals and stare at weird symbols on the walls. OK! GEEZ! So she has all this information about what’s happening in the movie, but she can’t share it with Will or the orc because she only speaks elvish and so they spend the majority of the film in SHOULD HAVE DIED scenes, and then finally we get toward the arc and WALAH! She speaks english. THE ENTIRE TIME SHE SPOKE ENGLISH. Yet she wouldn’t use words they understood to explain what was REALLY going on because, in her words, she “didn’t know if she could trust them.” LAME.
But this entry isn’t a movie review, actually. It’s a collection of thoughts about a movie I had just seen that somehow connected in my super weird brain with Job. How so, you ask? Well, I’ll answer your question with a question:
Q 1- Where do you turn when the pressure is on?
Who can YOU trust? Do you have CLOSE friends or mentors you can count on to give good direction and advice, or be sounding boards when the you-know-what is hitting the proverbial fan? And I don’t mean your social media followers or your big group texts. I mean, real live trustworthy people. Let’s face it- if you have to tell more than 2-3 people about an issue, you don’t want advice, you want attention. And the attention alleviates the pain of the pressure for a moment, but you won’t walk away with anything of value.
So here’s the gem of a scripture I used with the youth:
“Oh, why give light to those in misery, and life to those who are bitter? They long for death, and it won’t come. They search for death more eagerly than for hidden treasure. They’re filled with joy when they finally die, and rejoice when they find the grave. Why is life given to those with no future, those God has surrounded with difficulties? I cannot eat for sighing; my groans pour out like water. What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; only trouble comes.” - Job 3:20-26
Oh, yes. It’s a doozy. Makes one wonder how this is even in the Bible??? It appears we’ve caught Job having a REAL LIFE moment when the pressure is ON. If you don’t know his story, here’s a super short version: Job is awesome. God’s super proud of him. He’s wealthy, has a big family, but is 100% faithful to God and always does what’s right. Yay for Job! Till one day when Satan approaches God and (in my opinion) God was feeling a little petty that day, so he’s all, Have you seen my man Job? He loves me sooooo much, and Satan responds by saying that Job’s loyalty is only due to the many blessings God has given him and that, without those things, Job would curse God. And God’s like, Let’s do this. You can take his stuff, but don’t touch Job. So a few days later Job gets 4 different messengers who show up one. after. the. other, telling him he’s lost ALL his livestock, ALL his servants, and ALL 10 of his kids. All dead. Everyone but Job and his wife. Job mourns and tears his clothes and WORSHIPS. (Atta boy, Job!) So the scene in Heaven repeats, Satan approaches God and this time God’s extra petty because He was right (obviously) and Job never cursed His name. This time Satan suggests that it’s because God has protected his health, so God allows Satan to mess with that as well, but he cannot take his life. This leaves Job in super bad shape. Not only has he lost just about everything (and for seemingly no good reason), but now he’s covered head to toe in oozing sores that he has to scrape of with a broken piece of pottery. 🤢 Then his wife tells him he oughtta just curse God and die, but Job remains faithful to God. After this, he has 3 friends who show up to be with him and they see he’s suffering SO badly, that they just sit with him for 7 days and nobody says a word.
Things got worse and worse for Job. How can anyone overcome something like that? There was SO much loss and hurt. Overwhelming odds. And when we look at the text, what does Job do?
He feels it all. He mourns it all. And he doesn’t say a word for 7 days and then he speaks, which brings me to my next question:
Q2- Will you stay silent?
This is important because a lot of times when we are going through something terrible we keep it to ourselves. We speak elvish. We don’t want anyone to know how we really feel or what we’re really thinking because we’re afraid. But Job speaks.
The other day my son decided to water the dogs for me. It’s pretty easy, their water bowl sits underneath a spicket that doesn’t have the hose attached so all you have to do is turn it on for a few seconds and then turn it back off. It would have been simple, however we live in Amarillo and it’s winter time soooo it’s basically been freezing outside. He has no idea of what that could mean, so when he turns the handle and nothing comes out, he figures he ought just turn it more. And more. And hey, let’s crank it all the way because, still, nothing is coming out. I imagine he did the little shrug that he always does and walked back inside without batting an eye, his mind darting to Minecraft or Star Wars or whatever else he may think about. Now, as regularly adulting adults, we know what’s really at work here. Even though water isn’t coming out of the pipe, water is STILL being released. The pipe is clearly frozen and pressure is on the rise. One of two things is going to happen: either that blockage is going to break and water will come gushing out the pipe, or it will hold strong and the pipes somewhere underneath the house will burst and we won’t know about it until the flooring is ruined. Fortunately I came home soon after to a strange sound and saw water shooting out of the pipe (completely missing the dog’s water bowl, mind you) and making a giant mud puddle in the back yard for my dogs to jump in.
I wasn’t mad. It was a mess, yes, but I knew that it was a much more manageable mess than what would have happened if the pipe hadn’t cleared. And so often this is us. Under pressure. Things are happening on the interior and I wonder- will we stay silent? When we keep things to ourselves we run the risk of bursting somewhere on the inside that no one sees and it can cause damage that, by the time anyone notices, it’s already too late. We’ve lost really important stuff that can’t be replaced.
At this point I picked up a water balloon I had filled before youth. Sidenote: Do you know how hard it is to find water balloons in the winter? I digress…
When the pressure is on, it will squeeze you. When we don’t allow anything out we are like a water balloon, trying to keep it together but life is SQUEEZING. We can manage it for a while, too. Even a water balloon will stretch in weird ways and adjust on the outside to compensate for what’s happening on the inside, but eventually, we burst. At that point there’s no getting the balloon back. The balloon is gone. It’s in pieces and can never become the balloon it was again. I think about the people who were so silent, and no one knew that they were going through anything, but whatever was happening on the inside was enough to cause them to pull the trigger or take the pills. It’s not healthy to be the balloon. It doesn’t work out for ANYBODY when we try to manage the pressure on our own. We must learn to SPEAK. We must handle pressure differently than the water balloon, and we ought to be more like a sponge.
When we squeeze a sponge, stuff comes out. This is an improvement. This is Job. Just letting it all out. Talk about it. Vent the hurt. DON’T KEEP IT IN. Can you imagine if Job had acted as if nothing was wrong??? People might have marveled at him! “Wow! Look how well Job is taking it!” “He’s so strong.” You know, he might even have looked like he had more faith than anyone else, but lack of emotion doesn’t equal trust in God. Hiding feelings doesn’t make you holy or better. What I love about the book of Job is it shows us that we can FREAK OUT a little bit. We can tell it like it is, without sinning. Without cursing god. I mean, the scripture we opened up to is literally Job cursing the day of his birth and wishing he were dead. Job FELT that way. He was hurt. He was broken. But dang it, he’s allowed to FEEL. And so are we! Life is not easy. Life has hills and then there are these valleys that are LOW and you feel like you don’t have the strength to make it or you don’t even want to make it anymore… have we made it to where no one can speak to us about how they really feel? Or maybe we can’t speak up, honestly and without regard to whose toes you might step on or who might get uncomfortable if you say what’s REALLY going on? That’s not healthy. What’s inside NEEDS to come out. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Because if you can’t get empty, you can’t be filled again.
Q3- What are you filled with?
The law of proximity says that things which are near each other tend to be grouped together. We can look at it this way- what you’re around is what you’ll become. If your friends are losers, well… 😳 If you spend all your time listening to trash music, that’s going to be just about the only thing coming out of your mouth. We can’t always remove ourselves from certain situations (schools, classes, jobs), but we can determine what we’ll be around, even in those places. Consider the sponge- When it’s full, can it soak up other things? No! What, then, are we full of? Well, better question- what’s coming out of you? That’s the best way to know what’s on the inside. After all, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) You know, the body is 65% water so you could say the abundance of your body is water. Like, that’s what your mostly made of. But what about your soul? When the pressure is on, what comes out of you? Negativity? Worry? Anger? Foul language? Do you bash others to *seemingly* take the spotlight off of you for a moment? My friend, if the pressure is on and what’s coming out is garbage then your soul might be… well, 65% trash. And that’s no way to live.
So first, we must be empty. That’s step one that we talked about it. Get those thoughts OUT. But now what? We must FILL up. With what, you ask? Ah, I have answers. Better yet, the living Word does:
The Holy Spirit –
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
When you are filled with the spirit, you receive wisdom and have an inner guide that helps you make good decisions. The Holy Spirit tells you when something is off, tells you who you can trust. But you must learn to listen because it is a still small voice.
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”.
Gods word is alive and powerful. It’s a two edged sword, dividing soul and spirit. This is important! Why??? Because your soul = your mind, will, and emotions. Your spirit = YOU. The real you. The you that will continue after your box (body) expires. The word separates what you think and what you feel from WHO YOU ARE. Why does this matter? Because they are NOT THE SAME! What you think and feel is REAL, but it is not who you are. God’s word tells you who you are, and when you know who you are it will adjust how you feel, instead of letting how you feel tell you who you are.
God’s Presence in Prayer -
“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”
When we pray, we invite God into our situation. This is another way to get the garbage out. I don’t know how many times in the past I have cried, yelled, cussed... to God. To my Heavenly Father. Not at him, TO him. The Bible says he knows we are dust. He understands we are weak and there were times in my life when I just needed to get the trash out so he could refill me. Trust me you won’t offend God by saying what’s on the inside out loud. He’s already heard everything you’ve said in your heart and in your mind and while we were YET in sin, Christ died for us. And if there’s ever been ANYONE you can trust with what’s REALLY going on inside your mind and your heart, it’s God.
God knew what was in Job. This is why God allowed the trials to come. Can you imagine? God knows what’s in you, so he allows the pressure to turn up a little bit. He wants you to turn toward him rather than away. But how does Job’s story end?
Well, his three friends go back and forth, offering advice of little to no value and Job refutes every word. They’re trying to figure out what Job must have done to receive the wrath of God when this kid speaks up named Elihu. Elihu has watched this entire encounter and hasn’t said a word up until this point because he was younger than Job, but he gets angry because he sees all of this conversation as pointless. Elihu’s undisputed message can be summed up like this- who are YOU GUYS to know the mind of God. God is fathomless and we cannot assume to know His ways, so quit arguing about the WHY! And then… Then God speaks in the storm. The next few chapters when God is speaking are some of my absolute most favorite scriptures in the Bible, BUT I want to stop on this point:
God speaks in the storm. Will you hear him? Are you so full of trash and anger and evil that you can’t soak up a single word? Because right where you are, in the middle of the storm, God is speaking to YOU. I challenge you- empty yourself. Get it out. And fill yourself with the spirit, with the word, and with prayer. You’ve been repeating the cycle over and over. Pressure rises, and when you finally explode it’s a mess. But you must start a new cycle and function in a different way because the storms will keep coming. It rains on everybody, the good and the bad. But what is IN you will determine what happens next. God went on to bless Job and give him more than he ever had before. He had suffered a great deal, but God had a future for him! There is a future for YOU. 12 year old You isn’t the best you yet. 15 year old you, 22 year old you, 35 year old you, 84 year old you… you’re not done. This isn’t all there is. God has more for you. He doesn’t want you to burst under the pressure, losing things that can never be replaced. He doesn’t want you to be full of dirt, leaving a trail of trash everywhere you go and spewing garbage when pressure comes. He wants to fill you with HIM. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
Well, it’s officially 3:20. I’ve gotten this blog written out and posted, which is a pretty huge feat, and It’s only taken me all of the middle of the night to do it. Alas, I’m hoping sleep will come now that these thoughts are out! I hope what I studied and spoke to our youth kids helps you in some way! I know it’s a reminder for me, because I’m believing God for some BIG things this year, and with BIG things can come BIG pressure, but I’m grateful that He carries the weight of my burdens for me because He knows I’m not able to do it alone! And you don’t have to do it alone, either. My prayer is that God will give you a friend or a mentor that will be a safe place for you to turn when the heat is up, but rest assured that even if you don’t have that now, God will surely give Himself to you (he kinda already did) and you can always trust Him with the REAL you. Much love and good night-morning!