The Gates of Hell

Lesson: Growing comfortable with being uncomfortable

Ever since I visited London, I’ve loved tea; however, I think sometime soon, I will begin to scowl at even the most generous offer; don’t ask me if I want any tea! Excuse me if this isn’t the most fitting way to begin a blog—especially a blog written by “Christian Sanders”. However, to be blunt, I feel like I have just walked through the gates of hell. Now before you judge me and think that I have gone completely left of the Christian Sanders you all know, hear me out (I haven’t lost faith in God). There is no sincere way for me to mollify those harsh words and still be true to sharing my life with you all—including the negative situations.

Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am a perfectionist. In every sense of the word, I am a downright perfectionist. I am a neat freak. I take pride in order. I can’t have peace in unorganized, frazzled situations. Be it concrete and literal or idealistic and theoretical, I need order and cleanliness if I am going to have peace. I have been accused of having OCD since I was a young kid—the kid who sectioned everything in his classroom desk, the kid who color-coded the clothes in his closet and evenly spaced out every hanger, the kid who sharpened and lined up every pencil according to height before he began his homework, the kid who would get frustrated when there were a few tiny droplets of water splashed on the bathroom counter…you get the idea. OCD? I completely disagree. That’s a bit of an overstatement in my opinion; I just consistently hear a never-ending, screeching, whistling tea kettle in my head whenever I am not in orderly environments or surrounded by orderly thoughts. That’s normal, isn’t it?

Well, today is one of those days. In fact, it seems to be the beginning of a long season of “tea kettles”. I have been dreading a particular moment that I can’t state publicly, but that moment has come, and in spite of all my prayers, “prevention plans”, and phone reminders, this situation is exactly what I had been thinking it would be for the past five months.

Now I don’t mean to put a damper on anyone’s day with this negativity. In fact, I am only hoping and praying that something I say or experience would speak to someone reading this, but this blog was initially created to help me think through things in my life, be real and open, and ultimately better myself in the way that you all see me toil and strive to better others.

I speak of hell, in the context of this blog, as an empty, deafening silence; a dark, everlasting black hole; a place where thoughts and ideas run rampant yet shackled, and distant, ineffective agendas reign; a place where, if I’m honest, it seems like God is not. To some, I’m certain these are extremely broad thoughts that are impossible to comprehend; to others, I’m sure, you know exactly what I am talking about.

I am in hell right now, and I want to bask in this seemingly God-forsaken nothingness while overcome by my own anger and frustrations and stuck in my stubborn perfectionism in hopes that this dang tea kettle will somehow stop whistling earlier than expected. God, as disgusting as that sounds, it’s actually how I feel. But I preach a message better than that. I can’t stand the fact that this humbles me but honestly, I believe that message, and I believe in a God who is greater than this hellhole.

I desperately want all fury to be set ablaze, and I want people to feel the wrath of Christian…how dare you! I’m sorry guys; I have flaws. That wasn’t Christianly. But my conviction tells me that everything will work out fine. All things work together for the good of them that love God and are called according to his purpose.

Too often do we sarcastically murmur Romans 8:28 in acknowledgement of the fact that it happens to be one of the most overused passages in the Bible. But do we ever let it speak to us afresh? Tonight marks the night, I will believe that this situation is working for my good. I can bear this—with the help of Christ, of course—and have peace. My God is at work. The lover of my soul is present. He is helping me even though I cannot feel it.

Christian, it’s okay. Calm down. That tea kettle will subside in time. I know the wait itself begs fury. I’ve been waiting so long already—so long for everything that has been on my prayer list for the past 19 years. But one thing is true no matter what: God is in control and he loves me. As long as that holds true, it can be another 19 years without any further answered prayers and I will still choose to be at peace. I said choose because it is a choice. I am fine. I made my choice.

That tea kettle is quiet now, and it’s starting to sound like music–because this pain is far more beautiful and life changing than I ever could have imagined; hoped; dreamt. God, I don’t say it often enough, but thank you for the struggle. Thank you for the pain. You are shaping me into a better image of you. That means that in spite of all the times I’ve failed you, you still haven’t given up on me, and that means the world to me. I will sit in this hellhole, unmoved; proud; in worship; in love; basking in the presence of a perfect King, a very present help in my time of need.

“[T]he surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:7b-9, ESV).

I will be sure to let you guys know when circumstances change, but until then I will be sitting here enjoying the astounding atmosphere of heaven—in the midst of hell.

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