Monday, January 25, 2010

Where Your Heart Is...

I am in sort of a weird place right now. God has done great work in blessing and redeeming me. Not a day goes by that I am not thankful, standing in awe of the One who could even do this.

But not a day goes by that it doesn't hurt. It hurts to know where I am, where I've come from, even where I'm going. And to know that despite the longings of my heart, I am still separated from my Father. Still, even the hurt is beautiful as it only draws me closer to Him.

I think about where I've come from, and my heart aches. I grieve for what was because each day, with another step toward freedom, it becomes more clear to me just how far from perfect that life was. Even how far from "normal" that was, though I always considered it normal. It was all I knew.

All the missed opportunities, the brokenness, the destruction. What for? Why? These are the questions that may never find answers, the ones that have always defined me in a strange way. Now, I continue to ask them, but in a new way. These are not questions for the universe to answer; they can only be answered by God. Maybe He will not answer until I meet Him face-to-face. Maybe by that time, the answers won't matter any more. For now, I can only look back to a little girl who knows nothing of the things a little girl should know...and cry. The pain is anguishing; it tears my heart as I continue to find no answers for my grief.

Now, I live in awe, living each day knowing the tender care that my Father has for me. Knowing His redemptive work goes on, even as I continue to question and to not understand. It scares me most days to feel this, to have this sense that peace is even out there, even exists. I try to act according to my new Spirit, the one within me that doesn't worry, doesn't fear, doesn't feign to protect itself. This is where God is truly calling me.

But I fail. Miserably. I fall short. There are things within me that I despise, traits that have been with me since the world left me to fend for myself, since that time before I knew God or love or anything noble, beautiful. These things did not used to bother me so much. I could easily justify them, knowing where I came from and how they served me well. This is no longer the case. These things clash dramatically with the new Spirit God is developing inside of me, and they no longer go unnoticed, no longer receive justification. They trouble my heart, keeping me awake at night cursing myself for my weakness and these offensive ways in me. Oh, how I long to change them, to live according to God's heart, my new heart, and yet, my flesh is wickedly attached to them. Like Lot's wife, though I know I am escaping, being led away from disaster and evil, there is a part of me that longs to turn back to what I know, to all I've ever had. It is hard to not look back, to not fall into the same old habits.

Primarily, for me, these traits are ego-centered. I have been arrogant, harsh, unforgiving, boisterous. These are most troubling to me because they demand attention, they demand that the world look at me and acknowledge. What God is doing in my heart is just the opposite. He has softened my footsteps, given me peace beyond measure, taught me to live in forgiveness and understanding, shown me glimpses of the world as I have missed it, as I have offended it, and so much more. Each time my voice rises or the thought creeps in that someone OUGHT to be noticing me, my heart sinks. This is not what I feel inside of me any more! Not at all! And yet, I cannot break free from it. I cannot convince the flesh that it does not have to live that way any more.

Flesh is deceptive that way. It tells me that the only way people are going to notice this change God has made in me is if I shove it down their throats, stand in front of them boldly, loudly, proclaiming this good work, this ransom, so that they have no choice but to see. This is precisely NOT God's plan! He says the way to change the way people see me, the way they interact with me, is to change myself to mirror Him without thought to what others think. It means to walk softly, speak gently, serve humbly, and live in accordance to His will, to His Spirit that He has implanted in me. Then, and only then, will others truly see the change. Otherwise, I'm trying to show them His mercy by being precisely what I was before. Where is God in that?


There is a third piece of this, which I know rings true for more than just myself. It is the future. It is the confident assurance and steadfast faith that God is doing as He promised. It is the comfort of knowing what the next step is, even when I do not know what lies down the road. This is equally a scary place for me. I know what God is calling me to do. Not necessarily five years from now, but I know what the next step has to be. So I stand here, unmoving, afraid to take that step. Afraid to trust. Afraid to risk. Afraid to move forward. Partly because it scares me to know that God is who I think He is, who my heart tells me He is. How intimidating to know intimately the God of the Universe! (Seriously - it's great, but c'mon - it's God. How can you feel comfortable knowing even a part of His incredible awesomeness, power, love, care, mercy, control?) Partly, it is as many writers before me have known and expressed: we are not afraid of our darkness. It is our light that most terrifies us.

I am afraid to be glorious, successful, beautiful. I am afraid to be known as anything other than what I've always been known as. How does that change me? How does it change the relationship I have with God, with the world? He has only recently begun to show me how to love at all, to love Him or myself or anyone else. If that self changes, how do I love her? How do I continue to love Him?

Perhaps it is that in this place, out of this darkness and in limbo between the darkness and the light, I have found God. If I keep pressing forward, taking each step closer and closer to Him, then will I still find Him? Will He still be there? Here, and only here, I know precisely where He is.

He promises us He never changes. He always stays the same. I believe Him. But I know from my experiences here on Earth that the sun always rises in the East and sets in the West, but if MY angle, MY perspective, MY relative position changes, then sometimes, I have to look to find it. It re-orients me once we connect, but it is I who have to find it.

I know God would do the same. If I take the next step forward, the next great thing He is calling me for, then I might have to reorient myself, to find God again as He continues to move across the world. And I know once I find Him again, I would know exactly where I was at and which way was which way. It's that initial lost period of disorientation that scares me.

So I'm in a very scary place, knowing my heart is caught in the middle between the calling of the Spirit and the comfort of the past. It is here, I believe, that is the most dangerous for me. One step in either direction spells my future - hope and peace or despair and misery.

I want to step forward, boldly, knowing what it has done to truly know Him as He has continued to reveal Himself to me each day. I'm just scared. Of a lot of things. And I am overwhelmed with grief, with the past that continues to haunt me and echo my footsteps in its emptiness. I cannot shake it...

It breaks my heart.

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