Some of you have noticed that after writing very little for the past eight months or so, I’ve started honestly sharing a little about my current and past struggles. I’ll be honest and say that while real, they certainly haven’t been completely vulnerable. Things are still a little raw for me and it will probably be some time before I feel strong or safe enough to share all the up and downs of the past year.

But nonetheless, some of my more recent personal posts have been met with mixed reviews- which was expected and certainly fair. There have been people who are incredibly kind and grace-filled (and I’m so thankful for this) and some who have opinions they like to share.

And to be honest, I’m probably slowly starting to write some again as much for me as for anyone else, so that’s ok.

In fact, here’s an email I received just last week…

Hi Pete. Think about and pray for you
often. Can I just share with you a word of
caution…..one brother to another…..
it feels to me as you write your blogs that
you are publicly working out your own
issues.

Perhaps you need to lay low for
the next year until healing has taken place.

No blogs…..no new book ….and certainly do
not start a new church.

I believe strongly in The God of second and
hundreds of chances but renewal and
restoration needs to happen first.
If the events in your life were so bad that
they led to a divorce then you need to
step back and let God restore you in His
time.

I appreciate the heart behind the email from this acquaintance but I disagree. You know what? Remaining silent in this season honestly sounds like a really good idea to me. It’s easy and what feels most comfortable to me right now. In fact, I’ve spent the majority of the past eight months with my head in the sand. Some of that has been needed rest out of the public spotlight. Some of it was shame driven and not healthy at all. Some of it was just out of the feeling of embarrassment of hurting or letting down some people that I deeply loved.

But should I keep silent until I’m completely restored and through this painful season? Heck, I don’t even know what it means to be “completely” restored anymore.

What about Job? He wrote, Job: 10:1 “I am disgusted with my life. Let me complain freely. My bitter soul must complain.”

Does that sound like someone “completely restored” and healthy?

Am I in a season where I’ve struggled more than normal? Absolutely.

I’ve doubted that God is really good.
I’ve wanted to curse, not sit and read Psalms.
I’ve refused to pray in moments, because in those times of greatest agony and pain and loneliness, I wasn’t certain that God would hear and answer; that He could be trusted with my pain.
I’ve wondered, really wondered, if there is a plan to all the hurt.
In my worst moments, I’ve wondered if He cares, if He loves. And I still, at times, wonder if He is really as good as He says He is, as good as I need Him to be.

I’ve said with David the psalmist, “Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” ( Psalm 10:1)

I’ve mirrored David’s painful words in Psalm 13 when he said…

Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
—Psalm 13:1–2

You’ve probably echoed David’s sentiment. You’ve felt the pain of loss and the desolation of loneliness. You’ve struggled to believe the truth and wondered if maybe, just maybe, you’ve gotten it all wrong.

Again, I ask, does David sound like someone “completely restored”?

Yes, God is restoring me but “restoration” isn’t a finish line. In fact, I don’t believe I will be completely restored this side of heaven. And I don’t believe God wants to sideline and silence me during my “restoration”.

So: Angry and bitter rants about all my hurt and scars? No. Honest experiences of pain and reminders of the grace and love of Jesus through it? Yes.

I am not the author of my life. I have no idea what God has in store for me. But what I do know is- no, I’m not in any season to “start a church” as the email suggested I not do. I’m not healthy enough emotionally by any means. Most days, I hardly have enough energy to get myself through the day.

But what I do want to do (regardless of season) is to point people to Jesus in the pain and the hurt, not just when I can put a pretty bow on it.

So if my thoughts these days bother you, then unsubscribe.
If my words are a little too honest, I understand, just don’t read them.
If you like following someone with a swag instead of a limp, keep looking.

I know it’s not for everyone, but I bet there are a few of you that need to be reminded…

It really is ok to not be ok.
It’s ok to be hurting.
It’s ok to doubt in times.
And it’s ok for God to use you right smack in the middle of all of it.

Never before have these words of John Newton been more true of my life. And probably yours. He said, “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am.”

So true. So very true.