Oh, how I’ve longed to be Alice. To have a magic looking glass that transports me to another world. Not the fantastical maze and wicked Cheshire of wonderland, but something more practical and yes, more unbelievable.
God gives me that glass. He’s constantly showing me things beyond my wildest imagination, and it just leaves me…
Because, let’s face it: we’re all here, in this life, and it’s tough to see anything other than that sometimes. But then something happens that takes us by surprise and we can only shake our heads and wonder what to make of it.
That’s where I’m at.
It happened again today, though today is just one in a long string of new visions. God’s working hard on my heart, on His redeeming work in my being. I’ve noticed the small things – the glint of my smile in the mirror, the coming together of a good piece of writing, the hearty laugh shared around a bar table with family. Who ever thought I could have these things, let alone hold them?
I’ve dreamed so much, so often, of precisely all that God is now giving me. It’s incredible. Truly. Sometimes, I find myself wondering – why now? Why answer the call of my heart now?
The more He reveals, the more I understand the waiting. The waiting was necessary or His goodness would have overwhelmed me. To the point I could never receive it.
In a way, it’s like getting a really awesome toy for Christmas, that one must-have thing you’ve been hinting (or begging) for all year…only to see at the last minute those small words across the box: “Some assembly required.”
Life doesn’t just fall into our laps, not the life God’s planned for us. It could, I suppose, but we would not be very receptive. It takes work to grab hold of His promises, moreso when they finally start coming to fruition. We have to give up a lot (in some cases, everything) in order to fully receive. That’s where we get stuck.
I’ve prayed for this and that over the years, working on my own heart and trying to decipher the meaning of the longings deeply hidden. And I really thought I’d be happy when they came about. Yeah, I’m happy. Giddy. Giggling. And in complete awe of my God.
But it’s also a little more than I bargained for. It’s happening more and more without my conscious knowledge, without much effort. I’ve learned (though I’m still learning) the art of letting go, of simply being. It makes me realize the straining I’ve been doing, the hard work I’ve put into being something I never was. And now that I’m giving that up, it’s really beautiful.
I’m really beautiful.
Questions of worth don’t hold me out of the fray any more; I’ll jump right in and surround myself with the action. Last week, I went out to dinner with a bunch of my family (sans mom), sat in the bar, ate a meal, and cracked a few jokes. We talked about the relatives as children, talked about current news, caught up on each other’s lives. For 24 years, you’d never find me doing that – I always hated, even feared, eating in public, and I’ve been known to bolt for a door more often than I’d like to admit. But I hung out, stayed for a couple of hours, didn’t hurry out after my meal. And still, when it was over, I was sorry I’d left.
I sat with another woman at church (and you know who you are). I didn’t plan to, and my old heart begged me not to, but it was really nice. It’s the first time in who knows how many years that I haven’t sat alone. The invitations were out there, but I am finally freed to accept them.
I stopped worrying about who might be watching me in worship, about who is walking in or out or who might be standing around taking count, serving communion, or whatever. In that freedom, I cried through an entire service, for no other reason than sheer exhaustion after giving up the façade.
That’s maybe most surprising (I’ll stop with the examples now, but there are literally thousands of them from just the past few weeks). I never realized how exhausting it all is. You know when you have a bad cold or sinus infection, and you don’t sleep very well at all because you can’t breathe? Then after it clears, you do nothing but sleep for several days because your body can finally rest? That’s how this is for me – I haven’t rested well in 25 years. God has given me new breath, and I am incredibly tired.
But full of energy at the same time. It’s a paradox that is still a little hard to grasp.
And then there are still the looking glass moments, the ones that show me the life God has always intended for me and the one He is still busy creating.
It’s looking in the mirror and forgetting to feel ugly, shining instead with beauty and wondering, “Can I really be that beautiful?”
It’s cruising down the Interstate and forgetting to be afraid, then pulling into the driveway and wondering, “Why didn’t that scare me?”
It’s hearing the phone ring and realizing you’ve forgotten to obsess about it for days, knowing you haven’t lost your expectation but you’ve simply sacrificed control.
It’s drinking gallons of water because your throat is raw from singing…and forgetting to care who heard.
It’s thinking about the future and not wondering what will happen because you know that no matter what, it’s taken care of. It will all work out fine.
It’s anticipating things coming in the near future – things you’ve prayed for but should scare you now that they are here – and being oddly at ease, a peace you can’t explain. There’s nothing to be afraid of any more.
That’s what this new life is proving to be for me. Freedom from fear. Freedom from pretense. I simply…am. I am letting go, trusting God, and getting so close to that reckless abandon I dream of.
Reckless abandon that shows me, with great clarity, the life I haven’t lived and I wonder why, when this is so beautiful and so free and so EASY, I didn’t come to this conclusion sooner. Why couldn’t I have let go twenty years ago?
It’s really cool to live without bitterness, without anger. It’s neat to be able to catch myself just before something stupid, think about it, and think better. It’s just really interesting and wonderful and still…foreign. Foreign though I’ve been there before, if that makes sense. Strangely new, but with that sense of knowing that makes it all…comfortable?
Yet there are still times I wonder, looking into the looking glass, if it can really be true. Can this really be my life? Can it be so wonderful and beautiful and striking and free? Is it sustainable? Is it…real?
So the question really is: which side of the looking glass have I been living on all of these years – the humble, rustic bedroom or the fantastical universe of my own creation?