I really did want to be Melanie Hamilton.
In spite of her earning the jealous wrath of Scarlett O’Hara (this is all from Gone With the Wind, of course) and unknowingly earning epithets like “mealy-mouthed ninny,” Miss Melly impressed me with her strength and her kindness, even when her life wasn’t going well. Scarlett, I felt, was too selfish, too manipulative, too quick with her anger and her scheming. (On the other hand, part of me still has a sneaking admiration for a woman who can see a new gown in old velvet draperies…and has the panache to wear them.)
As a child I respected Melanie and wanted to emulate her. As I’ve gotten older, I know I’ve grown away from the “me against the world” attitude that dominated my youth. I’ve worked harder at friendships, sought reconciliation and forgiveness in my relationships and tried to grow in grace as I’ve walked with God.
For all my self-improvement, however, I still suspect that deep inside I’m more like Scarlett: prideful, singular of focus, selfish, easily angered, happy only when I get my way. She comes out at the most inconvenient times, generally when I’m feeling weak or threatened.
Lately I’m feeling weak and threatened.
I am walking (or being dragged, kicking and screaming) through a season of not knowing what God is doing—not knowing what direction to take. I have sought Him with prayers and fastings, but have come to the end of myself…and my faith. The direction I believe I have been given makes no sense. This is beyond frightening.
And Miss Scarlett returns.
“Take control!” she says. “You know you can’t depend on anybody but yourself.” “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!”
(Okay, well, there’s still food on my table…but the fear is there, nonetheless.)
And then there are the well-meaning friends, who tell me that God is “refining” me, or that “God helps those who help themselves,” or if I “just had more faith,” the way would be clear.
It is interesting to me that none of them say what I believe the Holy Spirit is saying to me right now. It’s from Psalm 27.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.
One thing I have desired of the Lord,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.
Teach me Your way, O Lord,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the Lord
In the land of the living.
Wait on the Lord;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the Lord!
Now, I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before and I’m quite sure I’ll be wrong again. But for today, at least, I am just going back to waiting on the Lord, and asking Him to strengthen my heart. Asking Him to show me His goodness “in the land of the living.” Asking Him to give me courage.
Because the alternative will turn me into someone I don’t want to be.