Stoic people = Holy people???

Here's the scoop: I've always wanted a stoic nature. Instead...I am an emotional hurricane who cries while reading books and listening to song lyrics. I'm that person who doesn't easily part with things---grievances and my ratty baby blankie. When I was a kid, I'd cry each time my mom made me fill a garbage bag with toys or stuffed animals to donate to Goodwill. My vivid imagination told me toys had feelings long before Pixar and Toy Story. A facial expression, tone of voice, or a questionable line in an email can send me reeling over the edge, seething with anger. There were moments during our early struggle with infertilty where I spent entire weekends tucked in my bed watching re-runs of Gilmore Girls, pounding down doughnuts and mini Twix bars, wondering why God was denying us the blessing of a baby. So when I meet people who seem calm, put-together, and impervious to their surroundings, I tend to feel like a blubbering idiot who cares too much.

But this week as I continued my study through the book of Jeremiah, I came across an intimate exchange between Jeremiah and God. If you don't know anything about Jeremiah, I'll try to sum up his story quickly:

God called Jeremiah while he was very young to be a prophet to Judah (the southern kingdom of Israel). The people of Judah had been sinning for awhile: worshiping crazy statues, getting plastered frequently, having slutty sex, loving money more than people, etc. etc. Jeremiah spoke on God's behalf to his people and prophesied all the bad things that would happen to Judah if they kept sinning and rejecting God. But the people of Judah we're all like, "Whatev---this sinnin' stuff feels good. Oh and by the way---we hate you Jeremiah." That's the condensed version.

As Jeremiah kept prophesying and pleading with his people, the people kept rejecting him. I can't imagine how isolated and alienated Jeremiah felt. He remained relatively unmoved until chapter 15 (he did plead on behalf of his people to God earlier, but he didn't really reach a breaking point until chapter 15). In chapter 15 he kind of snaps and tells God that he wished he had died at birth. God's immediate response is, "'I will take care of you Jeremiah'" (15:11). But Jeremiah cries back, "'Lord, you know what's happening to me. Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors! Please give me time; don't let me die young. It's for your sake that I am suffering. When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven's Armies. I never joined the people in their merry feasts. I sat alone because your hand was on me. I was filled with indignation at their sins. Why then does my suffering continue? Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry''" (15: 15-18). I'll let you read God's response to him (it's incredible....go read it!). God gives Jeremiah peace for awhile, but five chapters later, after being imprisoned and whipped for doing what God told him to do, he again wishes he had died at birth (chapter 20).

I tend to think that really holy people are those who seem to be unaffected by the world, those who seem to never show a moment of weakness. So these passages gave me a sense of peace. First, if someone so great like Jeremiah can have moments of insecurity, then I can too. I'm not less of a person or less of a believer for my moments of emotional outbursts or pleading with God during moments of trouble (especially if I keep communicating with Him when times are good). Second, these intimate exchanges between Jeremiah and God remind me that I can go to God even in moments of weakness when I'm insecure and wishing I had died at birth. I mean, He's really the only being who can bring me peace anyway. And finally, the comfort I find in reading about Jeremiah's struggles, also teaches me that it's okay to share these struggles with others as it could make others feel not so alone in the world.

If you're feeling doubtful and self-conscious, you're not alone. It happens to the best of us. And God is there to listen, so cry out to Him; tell Him how you feel.

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