Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shut Up

Do you ever find yourself talking your way into a bigger and bigger hole? It happens more often than I’d like to admit, but it is something God is working on in me. And you know what? I am content to be quiet.

There are things I have prayed for my whole life, things I would never know how to go after myself or how to achieve. Relationships restored. Wounds healed. They are things I never thought would happen because as much I was talking, trying to speak them into existence, the gap between what I experienced and what I longed for only seemed to grow wider.

I have always been that way. I have always been under the impression that if I could string the right words together, if I could keep talking until someone actually heard me, and if it was as eloquent, pointed, and quippy as possible, words would fix everything. But for all my talking, I never got one step closer to the reconciliation, the restoration, or the peace I was praying for.

So I started talking more to God and less to the objects of my obsession. Tell me what to do, Lord. Tell me what to say. Tell me how to heal this and how to demonstrate, how to show (because I believed I could show by words and it would be faster than by actions) that my words match my heart, that something is different now, that the world should see me in a new way, that the past should be forgiven and healed, that we should all move on. That I should be respected as the new woman You have made me in my heart and that my life speaks a new story now, according to Your grace. Tell me what to say, Lord. Tell me!

And then He answers. Cleary, concisely, honestly.

“Shut up.”

Shut up? But if I shut up, how will I ever tell them? How will they ever know the tremendous blessings You have poured out into my life? How will they know that I’ve connected with You in a new, real way and that You’ve completely turned me upside down? How will they know that what I do now, what I say, and everything I am breathes only for You? How will anyone know, how will anything change, if I don’t tell them, Lord? If they don’t hear me?

“No, seriously. Shut. Up.”

In those still moments when I try to figure out what all this means, how to speak a message without words when it feels like the very people I want to share a new story with are hardly looking my way, would hardly notice the subtle quietness and the small yet radical shifts in my manner, my posture, my being. In those still moments, I notice that they are noticing.

The calmness of a once tumultuous sea invites someone to turn their head. To see where the storm disappeared to, to look out over the calm, and to simply notice the way that what seemed devastated, destroyed, violent, defeated is simply still. The loudest voice in the world could not turn heads the way the stillness does. The most carefully crafted, beautifully elegant words could not make an impact the way a posture of grace, of humility, and of stillness reaches beyond the cognitive and creates an unspoken dynamic.

God, in His mercy and His grace, has stilled my storm. I have known that; He has done it again and again as I’ve fought against my own currents to keep the trouble going, having feared the stillness myself. And when what He was doing in me sank into my heart, really sank in, I saw how I was changing. I saw how I was seeing the world differently. How my heart responded in a new way. How everything changed in less than the blink of an eye. By simple surrender.

Then, I did the only logical thing I could think of: I have been trying to tell everyone about it. Loudly. Forcefully. Demanding attention for the beautiful stillness, for the awesome power of His mercy, for the redeeming power of His grace. Demanding that everyone’s eyes be opened not by His work reflected in me but by my words, which – if we were honest – you would struggle to trust if you had known me before, if you could not see the faithfulness behind them. If I’m trying to get you to see me in a new way by doing exactly the same things I would have done years ago as a form of manipulation, then of course your response will be timid.

But I’ve learned to shut up. I’ve learned to stay quiet. And I understand more of what Mary knew – that there are stories of God that you hold quietly in your heart and treasure them. These are your stories, your moments, but all the words in the world would never capture exactly what it means to carry Jesus inside of you. It is your smile, your radiance, the way you live your life before the world. It is walking along beside Him, making the journeys He asks you to make, trusting His word, knowing that He is somewhere, even when you don’t see Him right away. It is the song you sing with your life: magnificat.

For the record, the more I learn to shut up, the more I watch Him work in my life and the more I see Him answering my prayers. Wounds healing, relationships restoring. It takes more time than I’m used to, more time than I would like to give. I have to stop myself, pull back, and embrace the stillness millions of little times every day because when I see those small inklings that things are going in the way of peace, it’s still in me to jump all over it and start talking, trying to capitalize on the moment and force my way through the patience to the end result. It doesn’t work; it only results in increased tension, mild to moderate setbacks, and that painful conviction of knowing I have spoken against the work of God in my life despite using all the words of His love.

So I am content to be quiet, teaching myself to be still. To listen to the still, small voice inside of me that reminds me of my place. To fall on my knees. To hold my moments with God close to my heart and know that it is my smile, my song that tells His story; not my contrived and strained words. And to breathe – just to breathe – the small beauties of a blessed existence, like this morning’s thick fog. Then to smile, to worship, and to thank Him for His little gifts and His big ones…and the answered prayers I see unfolding every moment when I answer Him and simply shut. up.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


It’s hard to stand here and talk about how God is working in my life. Because it’s not one big, life-altering “aha.” It’s a million little things that take longer to explain than enjoy and wouldn’t matter much to anyone but me, but they are my world.

What I can tell you is that everything is different. Everything. My heart responds from a new place, and I want to tell you that it feels weird, but it doesn’t. It is radically different but at perfect peace. That is, it feels so natural that I wonder what I was doing all those years.

The way God’s been working in me has been an agonizingly slow process, but it is such an incredible journey. I turned around in my darkness and saw just a reflection of light dimly off His presence and I said, “What are you doing here?” He was about to show me.

I had prayed so long for Him to heal my brokenness. I’d thought it would be easy, just putting the pieces back together. What I didn’t realize was that my brokenness had become my wholeness, so my brokenness, too, had to be broken. It gets kind of messy from there.

I remember the first time I realized I wasn’t scared. It was scary! And the many times I worried that I wasn’t worried enough.

If you had told me my darkness didn’t have to define me, I would have asked you how could it not? Even if God were to work in me, my story would always have been my darkness first, God’s redemption second.

But as He sets me free, I am astonished at what a tiny, miniscule part of ANYTHING that darkness is or ever was. It was always fact, but it was never Truth. Truth is what God is doing, has done, and continues to do in me. It is the wholeness with which He created me, which I am tapping into and coming to know. It is more real, more authentic, and more SIMPLE than anything I’ve ever known.

He keeps me engaged, moving forward by keeping my heart stirred, thirsty and anxious for more of what He’s doing. For His continued presence. The world prefers me shaken, knowing I’ll run for shelter wherever I can find it if the ground trembles hard enough. But God keeps me stirred, keeps my heart moving, and invites me to gently blend myself into this grander thing He is doing. You get that mountaintop experience that you know will never last. You know you’ve got to come down. But I feel like I’m soaring and yet this is the most grounded I have ever been.

With piercing gentleness, He is answering the questions of my heart. Questions I have asked a million times, questions I didn’t know I was asking until His answer imploded some hard place in my heart that I never had the words fo, and questions I wouldn’t have dared ask. He is answering me, and I am hearing Him.

I am constantly speechless because it’s so beautiful and I…I never knew…

He’s inviting me to live from this profoundly stilled place within me. It is that authenticity I have been looking for, that place where something is real. Everything is real. It is a place where I feel like I don’t have to fight any more. It makes perfect sense to be there; it is that place where I make sense. It is beautiful and a mess…and a million little things…

I want to share quickly one of the ways He is using you right now in all this. You show me something that all the prayer and devotion in the world could never get across. God has richly blessed me, and He has gifted me. I knew how my gifts could bless me. I knew sort of how they could bless God. But watching you…soaking in your gifts…has shown me how I pray His gift in me can bless you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Growing Up Girl

As I let these thoughts mull over in my heart, it’s tempting to want to start with the excuses. The whys and the hows and the reasons for things the way they are; and it’s easy to get stuck in the excuses to the tragedy of missing the point, missing the message, and having a deaf ear for what God is really whispering.

So I’m done trying to explain myself. Or the myself behind myself. Or whatever it is we want to call it that stands in the way of the heart of the matter.

For my heart is heavy with the burden of God and a higher calling.

I have lived, for lack of a better term, a tumultuous existence. It’s my own doing but not a conscious effort. It’s the struggle and the battle that exists in me that is working itself out through God’s grace, albeit not really fast enough for my liking. I’m a girl who likes to move, who likes to be on the go and always working. Always speeding ahead. Always having something to show for something. The patience of God, while trying to find a home in me, is still overrun by that drive that keeps me from myself, keeps me from God, keeps me from the life He has called me to.

And often, I think of it and sorrow fills my heart. What a horrid day it would be if someone looked back on my life and remembered, “She struggled hard against nearly everything; her every day was a battle. And somehow, she just never got going. She had so much in her and she missed it all because she couldn’t see through the darkness.”

It feels like that’s the story that has been my story, but it is such a small part of my actuality. It stings to think that’s the role I have played, though I know to some extent it has been. For so many years, as God was working in my darkness, I wondered how it could ever not define me. As He has broken through and loved me well, changed my story, turned my entire heart around, and given me the greatest gifts I have ever known…I can’t see how it ever did. I mean, I let it. I know that I let it. But what a waste! Now, it’s been so long since my darkness has been my driving force that it seems almost unreal. Not that it couldn’t have happened but that I ever gave it as much control as I did.

And grief over the time lost, the love lost, the God abandoned, and the life on hold. I’m living now a life in motion. It’s kind of torn between the grief over the wastedness and the exhilaration of the moment. It’s weird, but I love it.

I spend a lot of time looking around, soaking in the things I wouldn’t have noticed before and feeling the itch. I’m antsy, anxious to move in and take full hold of the life God has put in me, the one He has called me to, and the one that has been my true story even when I couldn’t have fathomed telling it. I find myself in this horrid middle ground where His goodness is tangible and His promise is waiting but there’s still this pain to sort through. It seems like cheating to let there be good when there’s residual mess to deal with.

It’s not like it’s even big mess. It’s just…mess.

We’ve been singing “The Stand” at church. The words keep spinning around in my heart and my head, but when I’m singing it alone, the words aren’t right. There’s one phrase I keep messing up, and it is the one that slaps me in the face. The one that stings and hits me where I’m wrestling, I guess. We sing, “I’ll stand with arms high and heart abandoned in awe of the One Who gave it all. I’ll stand, my soul, Lord, to You surrendered. All I am is Yours.” But I have to focus on that “am.” Because it’s all too easy to keep singing, “All I have is Yours” instead.

I’ve gotten pretty good at giving God all I have…but all I am? It smacks at my unworthiness, stings at that deepest question my heart has always asked – am I enough? I have never thought that I was.

Most of the time, I feel like I don’t have a lot to offer. Then there are times, especially lately as God whispers in me, that I understand what I do have. Then I feel unworthy to approach it. Unworthy to offer it. Like perhaps God has given me this, but there’s still a thousand people better at it than I am. I’ve spent my whole life trying to prove myself – with family, with friends, with peers, with relationships. Even at night when I count down and rehash my day to figure out if I was good enough, if I mattered that day. To anyone. To myself. It is an exhausting labor, but it is, as God has shown me, the way I have lived. Always trying to prove myself. And always taking a back seat. Always relating to people like something lesser, not in the way that makes myself least but in the way that acknowledges my unworthiness.

I’ve finally come around to the place where God is enough, where I’ve stopped trying to be my own god and work the world for my good. I’ve finally come around to that place that is pure and not manipulative, that is humbled in God and anxious for Him. But that deep-seated unworthiness is still a block for me. And so He’s working on me in His whisper…

“You are enough.”

Those words pierce me. They just absolutely pierce me. They bring me to the tears of a humbled rebel, and I look to Him to answer the thousand questions that just trying to accept those words brings up in my heart. He answers, and His tenderness demands more brokenness. It demands more grief. It demands that sting that pains me but draws me into Him.

They sting because, and I know this sounds stupid, I can’t prove them. I can’t earn them. I can’t justify them. I know the past of my heart and the strongholds where darkness lies in wait…and it’s not enough. And yet in His whisper, I find the thirst and hunger of my heart that is yearning for Him, longing for the fullness of what He’s offering here.

That I could be enough.

And so I have this tumultuous, tormentous existence of saying I believe Him and wanting to believe Him and understand His presence and His promise and His mercy…and still trying to live like it might be a mirror trick. Thinking stupid thoughts like how much better I could feel if I felt just a little more worthy. If I could prove it. Earn it. Justify it.

And then there’s grief because it is this thought process, of which I become more keenly aware every day, that keeps me yoked to lesser things. That keeps me burdened and weighed down. Asking the same question I asked for so many years – how could this darkness not define me? – while knowing the answer is that it does not. Were I to live out of my heart…

Let me tell you something. I still feel like a kid, a teenager at best. Thinking I have a lot to prove. Wondering if I even have a place in this world. A little scared at the thought of going to find it.

Yet there is this deeply settled place in me. This settled spirit that hears God’s promise, knows His work, listens to His whisper, and understands. This settled soul that rests in knowing she is enough and hears God’s call on her life.

I’ve been wrestling with the call, hoping it would come in one of those places I know I would succeed. One of those outward, tangible tasks He has blessed me to do. Something I could DO for God, a gift to give back to Him. He has certainly blessed me richly. Then that haunting whisper that shatters that place where, only when sifting through the pieces, I find still too much ego, still too much question, still too much wondering of worthiness and desperation to prove myself. Enough that He could use but too much that stands in the way.

That haunting whisper…

“Just BE for me.”

Just be. Just be you. Just be the beautiful, wonderful, competent, humbled, gentle, stilled woman I have created you to be. That I created in you from the start. Grieve your rebellion. Grieve your darkness. Grieve your bondage. But let it go. For Christ’s sake (and I should know), JUST BE FOR ME.

So I find that my call right now, casting aside my own thoughts and plans and manipulations, is to love well. To be and to love. That is what He whispers.

It’s cool. I mean, it’s really cool because I tap into this stilled place He’s put inside me, the one He keeps calling me to, the one where His whisper echoes over and over, the one where His peace reigns and His presence stands…and I see what I have longed to be: a woman of God. Not a girl, not a teenager. Not angsty or restless. Broken, sure, and anxious for Him, thirsty and hungry, but stilled. Content. Peaceful. Gentle. Loving. Simple.


I remember that moment I realized I wanted more from God than His DOING for me, when my heart sought His presence to know He just IS for me. It was beautiful; it still is. His every day with me is unspeakable. It is a gift I want to turn back to Him, that I could just BE for Him.

At the same time He calls me out of this tumultuous conflict, this tearing between wanting what He is and battling the old questions, He calls me not only to grow into a woman of God but to shrink into a child. To be not needy or demanding, helpless or immature. But to be His. To stop living like an orphan who has to make her own way, who charges through the world because the only way she thinks she can make it is to take her life in her own hands. It is the other lingering, deep question of my heart: Is there anywhere I belong? Is there anywhere I make sense?

He’s been answering that for me, too. Showing me those places where I make sense, where what He is in me and what He’s done in me and what He’s blessed and called and created in me isn’t an anomaly; it is Truth. It is real. Something authentic. It takes a lot of that pressure off.

But then that other whisper…


Daughter. His daughter. His child, to run joyfully into His arms and greet Him with a hug. To linger in His lap and enjoy His presence. To feel His love radiating through me, an experience beyond words. Who He can train and teach and discipline, all while loving purely and wholly for simply her presence. Her eagerness. Her earnestnees. Her honestness.

You never realize how powerfully the orphan story line is in your own heart until you hear that word daughter and risk to let it mean something.

His daughter, who He loves dearly, because simply she is. And she is enough.

Lord, I humble myself before you. You have answered when I have asked and when I have dared not speak, and You are enough. Come and meet me here in this place, where I know You already are and waiting; give me the strength and the courage and the heart to meet You. To not back down but to surrender. Come and break me, Lord. Shatter whatever has a hold on me that stands between our love. Teach me to live from the stilled, quiet place You have created in me and Your call to be a woman of God, but let me never forget to let You love me. Let me rest in Your arms and know those two words You whisper continually in the empty space in me, those words that echo even through the darkness: Enough and Daughter. Lord, let me grieve hard those things that need grieved, but let me be strengthened in Your love. Let me live in You and know what it is simply to BE. To be enough. To be Yours. All I am is Yours. Amen.

Friday, August 26, 2011


“How long have you been empty?”


It was a word I muttered several times in a soft whisper, unsure what else to say and overcome with the tears of that revelation and the vulnerable, instantaneous honesty with which I found even that word.


There have been a lot of days, more frequent over the past few years, when everything feels like a waste. When I wonder what I’m doing with my life and what I’ve been doing. When I wonder when things will change, how they will change, what I’m supposed to be doing to change them. Where are the answers to the nagging questions in my heart? Where are the answers to words unspoken?

They are here.

It’s no secret that God has not only richly blessed me but has gifted me beautifully. It includes those things that others see in me, but it is beyond that, too, to more intimate circumstances between just my God and I. For so long, I labored to prove those gifts, to make them public and to show my worth in some way. To show how God has gifted me and to be something that was uniquely me. The way to honor God, after all, is with His own gifts turned back for His glory.

True. All true.

Now, as I am coming out of a very dark period previously known as “my life,” I am learning so much about Him, His love, His gifts, and what I’m supposed to be doing with all of this. I think. It is tempting as I realize all that I am and all that I never was that I adamantly pretended to be, to try to prove myself as something more. To find a way to broadcast in my giftedness His presence in me. And when I see myself sitting on the sidelines, watching someone else do something I know I could easily do, it’s tough to not feel the sting in my heart.

A sting that is misplaced agony and nothing more. Because it answers something my heart is not really asking by pretending to be the answer to something more, and it is not His answer.

It is sitting in the congregation during worship and knowing the gift of music in me that would love to be on that stage. The part of me that would be rocking out on that drum set, feeling the beat of worship course through my whole body, or tickling the keys with that little bit of flair and the trust that’s developed over twenty-three years of practice. It is sitting there feeling the sting of knowing that ego pushed aside, it is not where I have been called right now. Maybe it’s still a little too much about me to be up there. What I know is that in those moments, my heart is called to deeper worship. The sting is replaced by the painful yearn of wanting to pour my heart out, to sing His praise, and to be just one voice.

It is watching a dramatic video play on the big screen and resenting that it’s a “canned” production, knowing that I’m sitting right there with a gift of drama and messaging. Hurting because no one cared to ask if I’d be interested in coming up with something. Feeling my body already getting into the role of this or the part of that with such confidence that it would be so vibrant and alive. It is sitting there feeling the sting of knowing that ego pushed aside, it is not where I have been called right now. Knowing that the drama in me would probably still be too much about escape and not about messaging. It would be about being something else, if just for a few minutes, and meaning something. It is watching that video play and quietly honoring the gifts of those on tape, appreciating their gift back to God and also to me.

It is listening to someone preach a message, teach a class, greet an audience, offer a thought and hearing God’s voice through my voice, as He has so often blessed me with the gift of speech. Rolling plays on words over in my head. Hearing the echoes of “amen” and soft laughter, knowing I hit it right at the heart and that someone heard what they needed to. It is sitting there feeling the sting of knowing that ego pushed aside, it is not where I have been called right now. That I would be too self-conscious of the words spoken to put any meaning behind them, or at least any authentic meaning. It is listening to those messages and hearing that phrase I would never dare speak because I knew how badly I, of all people, needed to hear it as God tries again to penetrate my heart.

You might think at this point that I’m talking exclusively about church, particularly my church. I am, and I am not. I am limiting myself to thinking of these things because were I to go into everything I am not called to do for God (right now), I might tend to get depressed. (There are certainly a thousand other little things that get to me in the same ways – watching someone land a job I wasn’t called to, date a man I wasn’t called to (and who wasn’t called to me)….) But I believe it is important to focus only on the areas I have hit in-depth because these are the places I am most vulnerable to attack and distraction. It is sitting in a seat on Sunday morning and feeling the sting, longing to be called, knowing I am not, and missing every word spoken, every song sung, and walking away…still empty.

The devil’s distraction. Locking me away in an endless cycle of questioning what must be wrong in me that God would not call me in such obvious gifts. That He would give me the gift of music but not put me in His band, the gift of words but not in His pulpit, the gift of theater but not on His stage. Thinking there must be something unworthy in me. Striving to figure out what it is. Trapped in my own thoughts to the point of missing completely what God is saying. All because my limited human wisdom can’t figure out what’s so hopelessly wrong with me. The devil’s distraction, laughing because not only have I just wasted an insane amount of time missing out on what I haven’t been called to but also missing out on what I have.

I have said recently, many times actually, that as God keeps working on my heart, a lot of what I’m finding is that there is much I have to sacrifice. Much I must surrender. Much that has been so heavily a part of me for so long that it’s hard to imagine living without it and yet understanding how it stands in the way and leaves me empty.

It is feeling like I’m sitting on this beautiful story that God is telling through me, that He has been since He’s known me (and before I knew Him), longing to live out this story for His glory, but not knowing quite how. Not finding an out spout where I always believed it would be hiding, lying in wait for the moment for me to step fully into His grace. Not finding it in the tangible gifts that sustain me in my quite moments. Then not knowing where to look. And not knowing how to cope with the heaviness of heart that comes with that sting of feeling so powerfully called and so strongly God’s presence…and knowing that ego pushed aside, it’s just not where I thought it would be.

Knowing that ego pushed aside, it is too much about ego. It is too much about wanting to earn that I am worthy. That if I show God’s beauty through something I can do, show myself to be His by doing something, then I can glorify both myself and God.

He has shown Himself powerful, faithful. I turn to Him in prayer and know that He will answer. I trust God to heal me, as He has done so powerfully. I trust God to bless me, as He continues day by day. I trust God to show my gifts, and just between the two of us, they bring me selfless joy. That is, when I am in the gift – doing whatever I do just for God in those intimate moments that those gifts draw me into Him and Him into me – I am the last thing on my mind. There is just something pure, something simple, something beyond measure. I trust God to do this. Because He does this every moment in me, and a lot of the time, it seems like I finally figured out how to tune into Him and tap that Presence.

And it has seemed to me that this is what God is about. This is the God the world needs to know. God who is ever-present, full of mercy. Who answers prayers. Who hears and answers. Who comes to us as we seek Him. Who knows the depths of our hearts and can tickle our depths in a way that both penetrates us to the core but makes us giggle because it’s so improbable yet perfectly executed. That is the God I have been coming to know, who has been revealing Himself in me through His work and His hand here. It is God, right? It is this God I want to shout to the world, to work on behalf of, to demonstrate His beauty. It is this God I feel like should be putting me in front, where His gifts in me would shine and where something real about Him would come through. Where I could show His awesomeness – really show it – because it is life. It is this God I feel on-fire for and feel like I ought to be doing something. Something with this calling. Something with this beauty. Something with this intimate God…
But then there is this:

“Let Me love you.”

It is the missing piece of my relationship with God. It is the part I can’t seem to trust Him with. That I don’t know how to trust Him with if I could even wrap my head around it for two seconds. That…He is calling me to.

This is where He is calling me. Not in my giftedness to praise, to preach, to perform a God whose mercy, blessing, Presence, guidance, favor, person, and intimacy I feel like I’m coming to know so well. But in my brokenness, to learn His love. In my brokenness, to learn to be. To be His. To be His glory because He has made me His glory. To be beautiful because He has made me beautiful.

This is where He is calling me. To be loved. To let..Him…love…me.

I have been agonizing a lot lately, a word I do not use lightly. The type of deep-seated pain in my heart that would probably overwhelm me if I had no faith. Agonizing over things, the way they have been, which I know is my own doing but I can only see that in hindsight and know that in those moments, I could not have changed it though I would long for something different now. Friends not made, guys not dated, risks not taken. I have lived a long, boring, and in many cases wasted life, being bitter and afraid and mostly afraid. I look at pictures of people I went to high school or college with, and I know that if I had been then as I am now, we could have been friends. It smacks of loneliness, one of my greatest battles. Knowing that nobody ever knew me, almost nobody truly knows me now, and also knowing that if they did, they would be surprised at what they would find. Looking at the same walls every day, the same neighborhood, and longing for somewhere to go, something to do, someone else to be with besides my own thoughts, which have a tendency to take over. Looking at men I missed out on, married and in many cases with children, and wondering when God is going to send my husband to me. Thinking about chances I had to do something crazy and knowing that today, I’d still be a little intimidated by them, but I’d take the leap. Choosing to see Crocodile Hunter with the youth group instead of whitewater rafting. Passing on a once-in-a-lifetime trip into the Amazon with a couple of professors from college who had specifically sought me out…because I didn’t want to pay the money and heaven forbid there might be a snake. Making it halfway to Oregon and turning around because of a voice in my ear that I couldn’t shut up, wishing I had left dad at home so I could have seen the Pacific Northwest and had the time of my life. I’m looking into new adventures, things I really want to do. These are some of them, but there are others – riding a zip line, going up in a hot air balloon, riding a horse. There is adventure in my spirit, and it stings knowing how much I passed up being something so worthless as afraid.

Yet, even as these things weigh heavy on my heart, I know they are still distraction. I know because of the answer I receive to them. The heaviness these thoughts bring into my life is not about the past; I do not regret the past en masse as this horrible space of wastedness. In moments of clarity, God graciously forgives me and invites me to forgive myself, and I find that my heart is only heavy for today. For feeling like today is wasted, feeling like these same things continue now even though I long to amend them. It’s weird. For so long, my past hung over me like a big sun hat, blocking out every bit of light and refusing to let my hair blow in the breeze. Now, God has granted me an incredible sense of wisdom and peace about much of the past and it is only today that feels pressing. It is only now, the decisions I make in this moment, that seems to matter. But when it catches me off guard, there is still that sting of knowing how wasted life has been. And I’m left thirsting, painfully, agonizingly, for something beautiful.

Then even that becomes a distraction. It becomes something I want to go out and ravenously fill my appetite for. Something else to do. Something else to put the force of my meager self behind and tackle, accomplish. Go out. Make friends. Shove your way in. Demand a boyfriend. Meticulously plan an adventure. Get down into the nitty-gritty and completely miss out on the point of everything.

Then tomorrow, a week from now, a year from now, sit down again and think about why you’re still empty.

Still empty because I have never let myself simply delight in something. Anything. I have been too concerned with doing things right, excelling, achieving, making sure it mattered. It’s never been just for fun. It’s never been because it just seemed right. It’s never been because my heart wanted to. I have turned down millions of requests from my own heart because the logic hasn’t been there. I was out and about yesterday and had a thought that I know I have had thousands of times before, that I know has scared me witless and stopped me from whatever I was doing. And all of a sudden, I realized it was the most bizarre, ridiculous, stupid thought ever and cast it aside with a bit of mourning for all it ever made me miss out on. That’s happening to me a lot lately. A couple of months ago, I prayed an earnest prayer that began, “Lord, I humble my competence and exceptionality before you…” because I am weary of the burden and ready to simply delight in life, in the beautiful things He has given me and yes, called in me. I’ve also started saying a simple “yes" to things. Whether I’m intimidated or not. Whether it makes perfect sense or not. To stop worrying. To stop obsessing. And to stop wavering and playing with well, maybes and perhaps one days. The day is today, and all it takes is a simple yes.

Still empty because I don’t know how to be delighted in. It comes back to His loving me, more powerful than anything else in my heart. That I need to fall into His arms and stay awhile, just letting Him love me. Every time I wind up near Him, every time He pierces and touches my heart, there is that overwhelming sense of ahhhh…this is right where I should be. And I think I could never be weary again. Until the next time I find myself right back in His arms where I least expected to find Him and realize how exhausted I still am. Like plugging your phone in for five minutes and expecting the charge to carry you through.

There is a lot of love in my heart. A lot of understanding and gratitude. Toward others and toward God, who has loved me in tangible ways far beyond what I could ever express. It is the intangible where I hesitate. Where lingering questions in my heart keep me from having that powerful encounter of brokenness that has to happen to set me free. Oh, how He yearns to set me free! And how I yearn for His freedom! And the distraction again…as I sit and ponder the thoughts in my head and try to figure out how to be loved like it’s something I have any control over. Then try to figure out the mechanics of surrender, to make sure I get it right and feel the maximum amount of His love in the shortest time possible to get back out there and start doing.

I need to linger. I need to encounter His love and not run scared. I need to let His presence and His promise dig at those questions of worthiness that have always haunted me – that I could ever be loved. That I could be loved simply because He loves me and not because I have done anything, been anything, said anything. That just because I am who He created me to be, He loves me. And even because I’m not what He’s created me to be, He still loves me. Just pure love. It stings to come so close to that encounter, to feel that sense of Him welling up inside me. It stings so bad that I stop it, that I start to throw it around in my head and look for ways to earn it, to prove it, to show it. I look for ways to make His love of me a gift for someone else, something I don’t hold onto long because it couldn’t be just for me.

Because I am a person who has never needed anything from anybody and who has felt guilty about the smallest of kindnesses shown over the years. It stings that He so boldly wants to deny and defy that.

Then I know that, ego pushed aside, I desperately need His love. To linger in His love. To let…Him…love…me.

To delight in life simply because it is life. To take a risk and an adventure when it doesn’t make sense. To say a simple yes.

One of the things I have noticed on this journey, especially over the past few weeks, is how life has already changed at choosing to delight in things. Little things. Big things. Without justifying them, dissecting them, analyzing them to death. I have cried tears over His graciousness. Grieved over my wastedness. Yearned to move forward. Longed for His calling and to use the beautiful gifts He’s put in me. Humbled myself to know that all tangible things aside, this is His calling for me right now – to let Him love me. Feeling the angst that brings and struggling against the powers that want to keep me from that at all costs. Battling the voices that have prevented me from hearing the lyrics of one song or the words of one sermon for months now, the devil’s distraction to keep me from encountering that love.

Seeking His love anyway. Letting it sit that I don’t feel worthy and praying, pleading with Him to answer even that as He has answered so many of the other deep questions of my heart whether I have known the words to put to them or not. Crying the tears He drips from my eyes, unashamedly and knowing He counts every one of them. Refusing to run scared any more. Feeling His redemption, His healing, and His presence.

And His piercing love.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


What good is faith if you live as the faithless live? And where is God when you look beyond right next to you, beyond His very presence, and cannot seem to find Him way out there on the horizon?

It’s tough to admit, but I’ve been living probably more faithlessly since God has decided to work powerfully beyond measure in my life. Since He showed up in undeniable ways and His presence pursues me, something in me has shut off. Rather, something has run for the hills in absolute terror that He could be here, that He could be doing this.

In all my life, I have never stopped running. That doesn’t come as a surprise to just about everyone who has ever known me. There’s always been something that seemingly deserved running from. This fear, this fight through flight response, has been my inspiration. It has been my driving force. My life has been driven by panic. By never being able to be caught. By anything. At any time. For any reason.

With fear, there has been struggle. Struggle that has defined me, at least as far as I have let other people see. It has been perhaps a way to be noticed, a way to find something I thought my life might be lacking. People watching, waiting to see how long I could stand. Watching with the same eyes that watch a car accident, thinking the impact was impressive and arguing with yourself whether you want to see them walk away or if at least an ambulance run would be more satisfying.

I have been very good over the years of talking about the struggle. Whatever it has been at any given point in time, it has been easy to get myself sucked in and take it on as my story, as the very definition of who I have been in any moment.

I’ve been afraid, I suppose, that if my story wasn’t so powerful, if the fight wasn’t so obvious, if every second of every day was not a struggle – and oh a very public one at that – if my story did not trump everything you could ever possibly think about, you would never notice I existed.

Maybe I would never notice I existed.

Yet it has been this mentality that has led to my most silent secret – how very lonely this life has been. How lonely it continues to be. I don’t know that there is any place I could go where a single person would even know me. Truly know me. Not for the trouble I put before them. Not for the striving and the effort to prove myself. Not for the demanding cries that yearn to be acknowledged. Just truly known.

I don’t know that there’s anywhere I could go where I would encounter my truest self. It seems so stuck behind this wall of habit and this deep fear of being nothing and being something at the same time. This fear that is powered by wanting to be noticed, afraid that perhaps I’ll never matter. And this fear that it doesn’t matter anyway and everything is truly as beautiful as it seems.

So I’m an ass. I know it. I’m kind of stuck there, and it absolutely kills me.

So I run into the arms of my God, who has come and answered so many questions of my heart and burns with the aching for me to live it.

And I live the life of the faithless. Listening to God, hearing His promises, understanding His word that is just for me. And oh, the beautiful words He has whispered to me over the past several months, years, perhaps even a lifetime had I been listening. Falling asleep in buoyant hope, telling Him I understand, that I trust what He is doing. Knowing in the depths of my heart that what He says is Truth, knowing life could never be the same, that a new day dawns with the morning and then being impatient for morning and demanding a new day in the dusk. Pushing myself, yearning out of my heart for that authentic existence that is so powerfully present in those quiet, down moments with just me and Him.

Then waking to the same world and having that same depth of flight in my heart, living the faithless life and waiting on God to move then standing in His way so He couldn’t possibly answer. Telling Him I trust Him on the one hand and turning away with the other, making contingency plans in case it just isn’t meant to be. Always having a way out. Refusing to close the door behind me. Just in case.

Just in case…

In case God is a liar? In case the forces that long for my captivity are stronger than the call of my freedom? In case the burden of that freedom is more crushing ever than any struggle?

In case I am not worthy? In case I am not beautiful? In case I am nothing? In case I come face-to-face with something in me beyond what I could handle?

I have found that. I stand face-to-face with that heart of me every day. That piece of me that is absolutely unbearable, and I find it an ass even within myself. That part of me that can’t give up fighting. That can’t relax. That can’t rest. That can’t embrace what God is so longing to give me – and what my heart so painfully longs for.

That part of me that’s…less. And living faithless.

Knowing what God is doing, knowing what He is calling in me, knowing my freedom, knowing His presence…and then when the moment comes and it’s time to trust in a big way in a big moment in a big time, backing out and tucking tail and saying I’m just not feeling it right now and something must have gotten crossed in translation because I don’t sense that He’s done it yet. It comes time for that moment, that test of faith and that instance where His power is promised to show up…and I start to wonder if I could really do it, how long it would last, how long I would last, and what unexpected event I haven’t foreseen that will throw the whole thing into turmoil.

Then understanding, as I write and as a heavy weight settles on my heart, that He has completely done it. Only my lack of faith holds me back.

It’s not that I believe He isn’t capable. It’s not that I believe He’d lie or that He’d sit and watch me suffer, that He’d let these things continue to hold me. After all He’s done, all He’s healed, all He’s been in me…it’s not possible that He could be any other than that purity. It’s that…I don’t know.

I want to say maybe the struggle is stronger, but I wonder if it’s the fight in me that has its hold on my heart.

The struggle itself can’t be stronger. That mocks the presence of God and even His word; it would be foolish to think there was some darkness where His light could never reach. And I know this to be true. For in the darkest of nights in the refuge of His arms, where I encounter that authenticity I have so been longing for, I have prayed many earnest prayers. Particularly lately. And with each prayer, each understanding, each admission and confession and plea, He has answered. Undeniably. Powerfully. Perfectly. Answered. There’s no denying there is Power where He is.

And He is here.

Then where am I? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I am torn between what was and what is. Not even what will be, for what will be is what is now if only I was setting myself free to experience it. I haven’t the power to create any of it, but I have the power to pull the weeds from around what God is growing, to make new decisions, to choose to live by the heart He is given me. That’s my job – to set myself free, pull the weeds, and live by Him.

I just can’t seem to do it.

There’s a point where all these words are meaningless. I’m way beyond that point. They are words I have rolled over and over again in my mind as I have fallen asleep praying for night after night. They are words that have been so confident, so sure in those moments between just He and I when everything makes sense and it all seems so pure and simple. It really does seem simple.

Unless I’m in it. Then, it’s the furthest thing from my mind until it drives a stake through my heart later that there was another missed moment, another missed presence because I was too busy, too worried, too afraid to even have a passing thought as to His perfect Presence there.

I’m tired of living with God just at night. Just locked away.

Interesting...as I write that, I know that I am locked away only when I am removed from God. During the day, when those moments and those chances come, when I know He is calling me to something more, and when I know what I’m about to do, say, not do, excuse, procrastinate, or mess up is not authentically me, not authentically His child. That is when I am most locked away.

Alone with Him, though…life is beautiful. It makes sense.

I’ve said He is steadily bringing me about to the place where I make sense. That is true. He is revealing those pieces of false self that have perhaps always been, that continue to rear their ugly head, but He is also blessing me with glimpses of what should have been, what should be now, and what will be. What is, actually, I understand. If only I got out of my own way.

That is perhaps the most painful tearing of my heart. It’s not that God is showing me what will be. Or what could have been. Or what the redemption would have looked like in this or that moment of my past. It’s that He is showing and inviting me to what IS. What is NOW. What is HERE. What is HE. What is HE in ME.

That’s the part I have trouble swallowing. That it is HE in ME. It doesn’t blow my mind that He could be who He is, that He could do what He’s doing, even that He could speak the words He whispers to my heart. It leaves me absolutely speechless that He could…no, that’s not right. It’s not that He could do it in me. It’s that He chooses to.

That’s what blows my mind. That’s what keeps me hesitant. Afraid.

Afraid because I guess I don’t feel worthy. Afraid because I guess I don’t think it’s possible. Not that it’s not possible to live without the pain…I feel like I’m starting to almost get a handle on beginning to process the concept of that. Just that…I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if I can ever give up fighting.

Then I look at what He’s done.

I look at a body once racked with pain and illness, a mysterious attack that doctors could not even identify for more than five years. I look at a body that laid in a bed, alone and afraid, yet for some reason refusing to die in the same breath it prayed for an end. I look at a body that could do nothing but tell the story of its sickness, a cry for companionship and for that noticing that we all so long for. A body that believed somehow the sickness kept it relevant, kept people remembering it even existed, even as it laid wasting away.

I look at that body today…that runs ten minutes every morning, about a mile. Well, five mornings a week. And has been for months. Slowly building strength. …that works hard, throwing itself into long-dormant but much-needed projects like hanging drywall, painting, tending the garden, cleaning the house. …that understands its sickness now, diagnosed two years ago, and knows the balance of tenderness and trust required to take care of itself.

…a body that hasn’t been telling that story. That has spent precious little, almost no time at all, telling of its healing. By word or by deed. Because it continues cursing itself in its weakness, shadowing its power. For the power is the real fear.

And oh, there are days its curses are loud. There are days it’s too easy to look at this “healing” and wonder if it’s been anything at all. Days sitting next to other candidates for jobs, watching this body twitch and feeling like Michael J. Fox from the toxicity of medications that never helped anyway. Days where strength vanishes somewhere between the parking lot and the front door, then panics to think it could fall into its weakness anywhere, crying and begging and pleading with God to not bear illness in front of others. Days where these hands shake and there’s not a clear thought in this mind. Days where that tickle of remembrance catches this throat and interrupts the clarity of speech this body so once depended on.

Yet as I force myself to think about it, to look through the eyes of His grace and with a little mercy toward myself, this is beautiful healing. This body should not curse itself for the lingering effects of what was beyond its control and what remains to this day just out of reach. Jacob hobbled the rest of his life after one powerful night with God; should I walk away clean from years of wrestling? Then it makes me smile. Because even through the things that other people look at – people who are meeting me for the first time and those who knew what I was like before – through those things that seem to erect a barrier between us, that for too long have caused me to continue cursing myself and to drive myself to put more effort into fixing what is obviously beyond my control, it is through and in spite of that…that God just makes me smile. This body…is healed.

And I keep looking at what He’s done.

I look at a heart tormented by its brokenness, silent in shame and heavy with burden for years. I look at the way that heart locked itself away, shut out the world, accepted its role as something less. I look at the way it continually degraded itself, echoing the words it had heard too many times. I look at the way it cried out through anger, hatred, even manipulation, looking for someone to know it and then turning its back on any who tried. I look at a heart that could tell only one story – that there’s nothing here to see, nothing here worth noticing, nothing here worth saving. I look at that heart that longed to tell its story to keep itself somewhere connected to a world it would never dare touch…but at the same time hid in fear that the answer might be the confirmation that those echoes were right all along. That there was nothing there worth anything.

I look at that heart today…that embraces its vulnerability but finds more in its strength. That holds more praise than it can handle and longs to dance in the rain. That is broken not by its own brokenness but by the stories all around it where too little is being done. That loves with the fullness of its capability. That seeks relationship. That sings and speaks with a new tone, casting out its desperation and neediness in favor of just being.

…a heart that hasn’t been telling its story of healing, either. By word or by deed. Because the words fall short, and the deeds seem hollow when the heart realizes the pain it has wrought in this world and the lingering questions of whether it can ever be forgiven remain.

Yet I look at that heart and I know that it is still. It is quieted. There is peace. There is this understanding that was never there before, that knows God draws near and even nearer and that there is beauty even in the brokenness. It dares, in the quiet of night, to forgive itself for a few moments and breathe in that freedom, and it yearns for the courage to forgive itself by day. It longs to be known, to find relationship, to build something new on its foundation of unshakenness. This heart…is healed.

And I keep looking at what He’s done.

I look at a woman too afraid to look at herself. Who would never have admitted looking in the mirror but who couldn’t look away, horrified by what she saw and wondering if she was ever to be loved. Who questioned everything about herself but cried deep tears when anyone suggested there was anything there but ugliness. Who dreamt big dreams but never held a flicker of hope for her own capabilities. Who turned away every kind word, every gentle touch, and every encounter for fear that someone only wanted something in return. Who told the story of her unworthiness as often as she could, begging those to come who might have a powerful enough word to break its hold on her and in the meantime knowing that at the least, her words were loud enough to be heard, if never answered.

I look at that woman today…who stands in front of the mirror and cries at the beauty before her. Who holds dear to herself the little girl she neglected, the one she tried to kill off, who was stronger and more striking than either of them had ever imagined. Who knows she is loved, maybe not by the world as a whole but by the Father who created her and whispers in her ear. Who believes in herself not in the arrogant, know-it-all, better-than-everybody way that protected her fragile ego for two decades but in the grounded humility of believing in the gift of God within her, which He continues to reveal each moment. Who speaks to herself, and longs to with others, in a soft and gentle voice, one of mercy and tenderness, knowing the promise and the presence of God.

…a woman who hasn’t been telling her story of healing, either. By word or by deed. Because she lacks the words for understanding it all, drawing on a hallowed vocabulary still forming in a once-hostile environment, and trying perhaps too hard to force the grace of womanhood that somehow might define it all.

Yet I look at that woman, and I know what she’s still hiding. Those moments she dares to stand up straight, to look into the world boldly and feels that sense of power rise up within herself. Those times she senses that dignity and refuses to spend one more moment beating herself up. Those times she still falls short and wonders if things will ever change only to hear that quiet voice that tells her they already have. Those times she forgives herself for not being perfect, then laughs off whatever it is because she knows God would be laughing, too. Those times that she hits the ground hard and bounces instead of breaks. Those little smiles that cross her face just because. Just because. This woman…is healed.

All healed, all the power of God. But not living it as powerfully as I would like. Then, what stands between us?

It is fear. Fear of falling apart. Fear of being more than I ever imagined. Fear of losing control and living in surrender. Fear of…I don’t know. Fear of…freedom.

It’s the fear of not having to run any more. It’s the fear of finding rest. I have said to a few close friends in the past month or two, that I am exhausted. I absolutely am exhausted. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally – I am exhausted. There was a job I really wanted, that I felt like I had a good shot at. I wore my interview shirt inside-out. Two days later, I wore a different shirt backward. I have forgotten my watch, my cell phone. Just left them at home. I’m so exhausted that I just can’t think. And I am not getting much rest. There are moments when it all seems so simple, so wonderful, and I know it’s going well…only to find myself falling in His arms yet again and realizing how much I have still been running, how hard I’ve been pushing, and how weary I still am.

I don’t know how to live without the fighting. I don’t know how to live without the running and the struggle, without something to battle against. Oddly right now, I’ve replaced everything He’s healed in me…with a battle against myself. Just for the sake of the battle. Because I wouldn’t know what to do without it.

Yet the more I struggle, the more I curse it. I don’t want to live that way any more. I don’t need to, for He has redeemed me. His presence, His power is more real than any struggle I have ever known, and the fight just isn’t worth it. It is nothing; it is chaff.

He’s been calling me to give up a lot of myself, too. More chaff. To let some things die, even some longstanding dreams, hard-held beliefs. Many things. Just dying. Because they aren’t authentic. They aren’t me. They aren’t Him in me. A few weeks ago, I wrote out a prayer in my blog and published it, even though I’m the only one who reads my blog. I look at it every morning. The first words are this: “Lord, I humble my competence and my exceptionality before you…” Truer words have never been written. And every morning as I read them, they hit my heart again and again. It is just one more thing He’s calling me to let go of, something that has to die. If you know me at all or have ever thought you’ve known me, you know that I’ve tried to thrive on being able to do anything and being the exception to the rule. Those are hard to give up.

But they aren’t me. They aren’t authentic. What I’m longing for is the freedom to live authentic, a freedom Christ has granted me that I now must learn to give myself. I am a body, a heart, and a woman healed and beautiful, capable but not proud, honest and humbled, tender and loving…with praise on my heart, a song in my voice, and a furious longing for God and an authentic life. That is how I yearn to live. That is the story I long to tell – by word and by deed. Because His power is incredible, His presence undeniable, and His mercy…

How could I live another story? How could I let habit hold me down? How can I hold His presence and assurance so dear in my heart and yet continue to live as the faithless live? How could I ever continue to question…?

God is not a liar. He is faithful, and He is true. He is merciful and loving. His power is beyond anything I could ever have imagined or dared to pray for. He has come. He has brought the fullness of Himself, the fullness of His promise. He is come. He is here.

Why…would I ever tell a story other than this one?

It pains me to write this, as I have written similar words for what seems like so long, longing to hear them and for them to be heard. They are just words. They mean something, of course, but they are worthless if I cannot let my heart live them out. So it pains me to write them because I know as true as they are in the solitude of my dwelling, in the silence of night when it is just my God and myself, they mean little to the world that still sees me as I longed for them to see me.

Do they see me at all? The authentic me?

Do I see me at all?

Monday, June 27, 2011


Lord, I humble my competence and exceptionality before you as one who has always attempted to use these things to justify my worth. You have shown me where this has stood between us and continues to interfere with the calling You have for me, with the way You can impact (or not) my heart. And I’m pretty much fed up with that, so either I have to change or You do. I choose me.

It’s hard to do that right now. I notice the way my thoughts obsess over this competence, and even over the gifts You have put in me. I can hardly have a thought without mulling it over and over and over and over again, reworking and rewording it to make it just right and as beautiful and provocative as it can be. It is the curse of an artist, whose heart You have given me, but when the gift becomes so controlling, it is no gift at all. And it has been a way to buffer my lingering questions about whether I am good enough. Probably also a few about whether You are good enough.

Are You who You say You are? Are You good and do You love me? Have You made me in Your image and called me “daughter” for Your glory? Because I’ve been living like that ought to be for my glory. Like You called me to make me something here, but that’s not the case at all. You have called me to make Your name known. Your presence. And You have been right here with me through moments of ecstasy and heartbreak both. Are You who You say You are?

You are. I am watching You work, and I know that You are. I know that You are good. There is so much healing and so much transformation taking shape here, in me. There are gifts and blessings poured out on my life that I could hardly have imagined and would never have dared to dream. You have given me Your promise, and I believe it. But I don’t know who I am any more.

I don’t know what I would be if I couldn’t be competent. Does the world take notice? Does anyone know whether I live or die, show up or fail? Does anyone care? I am…stuck here trying to figure out who You are making me or have made me to be, and yet…all I can know right now is that it is not this. It is not behind this mask of intelligence and competence and hard work, though these are all things that I enjoy. The torture that living by these facades has put in my life has made me weary and diminished me to merely a shadow, something intangible that moves about but has no presence nor purpose in this world. That’s no way to live, and I cannot do it anymore.

Every moment, I must surrender the moment. And not just the moment but so many things of myself. My hopes and dreams, my attitude and words, my spirit and glory – they are changing. Perhaps they changed a long time ago and I just didn’t notice until the pain of living a divided life started eating away at me. I haven’t felt rested. I haven’t felt satiated. I haven’t felt valued or worthy or purposeful in awhile, it seems. You have taunted me with tastes of what You have and yet something has held me back. And I realize it is myself, the only me I have ever known and the one who is scared to consider that there might be something more.

Because it is all death. Every bit of it at this moment is death. It is pulling weeds and dying to pretty much everything I have always relied on. When an opportunity arises, I know there are some I would have always jumped on, taken on my shoulders as another show of my dominance, competence, strength, will, whatever it is that would prove me as something. Yet now, I sit idle. Knowing You have not called me to that or at least knowing that my heart is not in the right place to serve in that way. Not right now. When it’s still about me, then it’s not what You have.

I just feel like I’m lost. I know I’m so lost. It’s…I don’t know. I don’t even know. I know that I don’t want to try to be what has held me back for too long. I know that I don’t want to give away my power to darkness or to self, but only to You, God. I want You to take my life and transform it, and to do that, I have to get out of Your way. I have to set myself free from expectation – the world’s and my own. I have to believe I can live a different way. I have to believe that it will be better. I have to trust that I can be faithful even though I know without Your help, I cannot. I have to turn everything over to You and let You answer the nagging questions of my heart.

What I believe about You is what You have said. You are good. You are worthy. You are glorious. And You do a tremendous job of kicking my ass. You humble me and break me and crush my heart under the weight of something higher, something more beautiful and more daring than I could even identify.

What I struggle with is what You say about me. Am I worthy? Am I loved? Am I good? Am I anything? And to that, You say always the same – I am Yours. I am daughter. And I am so loved.

Why can’t my heart believe that? Because it is blocked by my own attempts to confirm or deserve that. It is blocked by the way I try to control everything down to the minutest detail and refuse to be simply normal. Refuse to relax and rest. Refuse to just be. Refuse to give up what I have so long held onto that now tries to keep a hold on me because what You plead with my heart to accept is so foreign. So foreign that I do not know it by name or word yet. Only that feeling that there is something more. Something so much more.

And about holding on – am I holding on to these things of my own fear or are they holding onto me? For much of my life, I felt they were holding onto me. They had firm claws in my heart and would not let me go, for the darkness needed me. It always has. Lately, though, as I sit up through the nights and cry and pray and my body begs for rest, but there is none there for my mind cannot stop racing and my heart cannot stop crying out, I have begun to see that it is still me that is holding onto the darkness. And if all that it is is my holding on, then it is time for me to let go. I do not need the darkness any longer; I want to live boldly in the light.

Lord, I surrender and humble myself before you – darkness and light, faith and doubt, hope and despair, questions without answers, self-indulgent and self-satisfying habits that control my every thought, my feeble attempts to validate myself, the way my heart rests on other things beside what You have said, even the deep stabbing pain of Your word ‘daughter’ that does something in me I still have not deciphered as joy or heartache – all of me, Lord, I surrender and humble before you. Free me from the death grip that has such strong hold of me. Restore to me Your peace. Your call. Your presence. Your perfect plan for me. Let me live naked before You, before the world, and before the mirror that I may see what You see in me, that I may believe what You say about me, that I may know without proving it the worth of my heart and that I may stop obsessing about anything otherwise.

I am Yours, let me live as Yours. Every moment, let me surrender every moment. Let me hold my head high even as I bow my knees before you.

Let me be normal. Let me be Yours. Let me be “daughter.” Let me be light.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cry of a Heavy Heart

One of the hardest things we ever do is try to be something more than we ever were. It’s a process I find playing out in my life over and over again…and you probably do, too. We are none of us as we should be, but it is still a tough pill to swallow.

It’s a painful experience. Humbling. It really takes a chip out of me and makes me just stop and say “whoa!” for what seems like forever. It is a question without a lot of answers because, as I am finding, becoming something more than you ever were is not a hungry pursuit. It is rather…a fast.

That is to say, I don’t find myself running toward anything in particular. Instead, I am quietly (though inwardly tumultuously) aware of being something less. I am aware of what I am that I should not be, and the process of changing that is not so much replacing it with something greater as it is simply giving up what should never take hold in my heart. I mentioned that last week with a status update when I said that often we cultivate best what God is growing in us simply by pulling the weeds. I don’t know where God is leading me or exactly what He is trying to call out of me. I have hints and enough to only make me thirstier to see it come to fruition, but He’s not telling me all of the details right now. All I know is that I am falling way short. Over…and over…and over again.

I’m finding it every day as my life, and the way I live it, runs right up against that nagging, gnawing knowing in my heart that this is not how it is meant to be. It is watching my life unfold and knowing there is a deeper, truer, story in my heart but recognizing plainly that it is not being shown anywhere that anyone else could ever see it. It is tucked away in the midst of all of these indescribable little things – a million little things – that God keeps doing in me that wouldn’t mean a hill of beans to anyone but means the world to me.

I’m still talking, telling stories. And they are true stories, but even as I speak words these days, I know that even in truth they are not Truth. There is something bigger going on, and I feel like I betray it every time I try to fill the void with something else. Void is hard. Emptiness is draining. But trying to fill it up with something less than what God has for me in this place is worse. It is dishonoring to Him, degrading to me, and a heavy burden that my heart is crushing under the weight of.

I hate myself for it. If I let it get the better of me, I even curse myself. That only increases the burden. When all feels as it should, with its due weight and worthy of the contemplation, quiet, and even grief…it is still a heavy burden but God takes away the hate. Somehow. He replaces it with stillness and a loss for words that has PLAGUED me for months as I have wrestled around in this. It still does, actually. This? This is just rambling. A heart pouring out because it has nowhere to go being both filled to overflowing and empty all at the same time.

It really is a beautiful place.

But it’s also a place where it’s tempting to be pissed. Yes, I said it. I look around and see so many familiar things and know that I don’t relate to them the same way, but I haven’t figured out how that’s changed yet. I mean, I don’t know what to do with things. Emptiness and wandering. Or lostness. It is not the content of my life that has changed – it is the content of my heart. That’s a tough pole to wrap around when your days are pretty much the same.

It’s easy to think there’s a problem with the world. If it knew what was going on in me, it would change somehow. If it knew the content of my heart, it would be different. It's that wanting to run away and be somewhere different so you can just start over. As it is, I see myself stuck in this place in-between. Where I am not what I used to be, but not sure what I’m going to be and hoping that I can find something to be in the meantime but understanding that the world still expects the same of me. The world wants what it wants, and it interprets everything I do with one eye toward the past. The world runs me ragged trying to convince me to catch up to my past. What a phrase! Catch up…by going back. By returning like a dog to its vomit. That’s no way to live, and I refuse to turn back.

And there are relationships, too. Oh, how I long for the coming day when my relationships change. When I can be seen for what is in me and not what darkened my soul for so long. It is human nature to judge a person’s words by what you know of them, and that is why two people can say exactly the same thing and be taken two different ways. It is why I am watching my words lately; I know they will be held to my past though they come from somewhere foreign to all that.

It’s always been this way. This is nothing new. It is tough to overcome a former reputation. I’ve been in this situation before. I grew up a liar and a manipulator. For good reason, probably, but the closer my heart draws to God, the more I wonder how things would have turned out if there had been more Truth and less fear. That’s neither here nor there at this point. The story is that this is how I was known – by family, by friends, by peers, by teachers, by acquaintances, by professionals. Everyone took what I said with a grain of salt, knowing it might or might not be some version of the truth.

I haven’t been a liar or a manipulator in many years. God has been working hard on the part of my heart that was so wounded by the vulnerability of truth, and He has done wonders. This pissed me off then, too – waiting for the world to see that I was honest, that I could be trusted, that the words out of my mouth were more than a means to an end. It was many, many years in coming and in a few holdouts, still a day to wait for. But lately, I have seen how people’s reactions have finally changed toward me. How I have the credibility and the reputation for honesty that I have been seeking since this change started taking hold.

I’m not pissed anymore; I am humbled.

So I’m waiting on the current situation to humble me because there are a lot of stories out there that have been told through my life for many years that I’m waiting to get out from underneath. In my heart, they have no hold (or perhaps only a little one because it still comes close to pissing me off); but the world still sees them in play. The world wants to still judge by that, wants to keep me running to catch up to my past. I can’t do it. I won’t do it. But it sucks being stuck in the middle and wanting to be so angry with everyone and everything for not seeing this beautiful, dramatic, and yet quieting shift that is going on.

Then, just when it is all about to break and I could either lash out or fall into self-hatred, never expecting better of myself…I find that the fault is in me. The new story, the one taking hold and taking shape in my heart, the one that runs so counter to what I never should have been but too often was, is disappearing under the old story that I continue to tell out of…habit? Intimidation? Both. It is looking at my life and saying, “That’s not what’s in my heart” and in the same breath looking at my heart and saying, “That’s not what’s in my life.”

Habit of course, is hard to break. So is intimidation. And this emptiness is intimidating. It is hard. It is heavy. It requires a strength and courage that I would not have were God not constantly here giving it to me. To shrug my shoulders and say, “I just don’t know” (Yes, ME! Not knowing!) but to have such a clear and heavy, too, understanding in the depth of my heart. To be thirsting and crying out for whatever it is God is calling me to but knowing only what to never turn back to. What to never be again. And grieving that ever it was.

For many years, I have prayed and cried and yearned to figure out what it is that has been missing from life. From my life. God has shown me – it has been authenticity. That is what has changed in me that has set this work in motion. That is what He has called me to and cried out. But it’s nothing I gain by waking up one morning and deciding to be authentic.

It is about pulling weeds. Waiting patiently. Responding to the new story. Embracing the emptiness. Trusting in His plan. Raising a hand in worship. Letting tears fall – both of grief and of joy. Humbling myself. Simply being.

I simply am. Humbled. Broken. On the verge of being pissed. Lost. Wandering. Empty. Quiet. Stilled. Filled to overflowing. Deeply grateful, honored even by it all. Intimidated. Scared. Anxious for what lies ahead. Confident that it’s going to be awesome.

I simply am.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wander in Wonder

The Israelites. God’s chosen people. All they had was His promise, a beautifully crafted promise with the images of milk and honey, expanses of land to call their home, and an unhindered relationship with their Maker.

I wonder if they thought this Promised Land was the beginning of their journey…or the end.

Were they waiting until those first drops of milk and honey touched their tongues to start earnestly worshipping and seeking God in a new way? Did they believe they would find something invigorating in that place that would set in motion a beautiful harmony, a perfect existence that would only draw them closer to their God? Were they standing in Egypt worshipping an empty deity they believed would not be a real and vital part of their lives until Canaan?

Or were they holding on to that promise as their final destination, as that place where everything would just stop and become bliss? Where they would have earned their reward and be placed in honor as God’s people, without another care or worry to haunt the remainder of their days?

Did the Israelites believe they were a people created for Canaan…or that Canaan was created for them?

They were a people who felt lost, a bitter people after awhile. And why shouldn’t they be? Back in Egypt, they knew what life was like. They knew how to worship their God, where to find Him amidst their trouble. They held on to the hope of His promise, of that land flowing with milk and honey. It was a stark contrast to the life they knew, but they could picture it.

Forty years in the desert will change a people. Forty years wandering in the wilderness. Where you swear that you have passed that rock before, probably a dozen times. Where the heat beats down on you day after day until you can’t tell if the sun is rising or setting, or perhaps neither at all. Where beads of sweat pour down your brow and cloud your eyes. Where you don’t know whether you’re coming or going, from where or to where or why. Where God is nothing more than a figment of your imagination because you can hardly hear His promise any more, can hardly imagine a taste of any milk or honey, though there’s plenty of manna and quail to go around. Where you’re so sick of manna and quail that you could puke.

The desert sucks. It is…nowhere. How can you ever hold out hope for a promise of the future when you’re nowhere, stuck in the middle of nothing, and just wandering? Making a nick in the rock every time you pass it to make sure you’re not crazy the next time around, that the hot sun is not playing tricks on your mind.

Yup. It’s the same rock.

We have all been there. Walking in circles, not knowing why. Struggling under the weight of things. Searching for direction. Thinking back to the place we left and longing for its stability. We know in our hearts that it was not what we were created for, that there is nothing back there for us. But we can barely remember the promise we left it all for. We hardly know what it was we thought was out there. We only remember feeling like we had to move, then striking out with purpose only to grow weary and lose it as we pass that same rock, that same bush, that same tree. Watch the same sunset, the same sunrise, the same expanse as nothing seems to change and whatever promise we thought was out there fades into a mirage somewhere between the manna and the quail.

We know the desert. We know the wilderness. We know the wandering.

But were they wandering at all?

Were they not following God, whose constant presence led them in cloud by day and fire by night? Did He not show them the next step, the way to move, how to walk? Did He not feed and care for them?

They were not alone. They were not lost. They simply felt that way. Because they had given up everything they’d known for a promise. That’s all – just a promise. A dream of something better, a deep conviction in their hearts that God would bless them with that milk and honey. They had nothing to go on but His word and that unignorable feeling in their hearts that they were made for something more, that something better awaited them.

They said they were wandering and we believed them. Because we have known that feeling ourselves. But not for a moment were they lost.

They were merely unsettled. A people without a place, but only for a time. A people knowing they could not turn back, knowing that nothing waited in Egypt for them. Nothing valuable, anyway, except perhaps the stability they had come to depend on. The predictability. The routine. Knowing that they heard the faint echoes of the promise, still deep in their hearts, even when they couldn’t remember the exact words or what had been so enticing about it. They were just unsettled – not where they used to be but not yet where they were going. Called, but not fulfilled. Journeying, but not yet arriving.

They felt like they were nowhere, and getting there fast. Or perhaps endlessly dragging out the journey, getting nowhere never.

But they were being led, so they were never wandering. They were simply following, responding as they had been called, going out in pursuit of the promise. Holding onto something unseen. Being hallowed and holied by the journey itself, shaped in the wilderness on the way to Canaan.

Following the Lord by cloud and by fire, forsaking all for the promise – just the promise – of more.

Reading the Bible

Nearly two thousand years after the last words were penned, after the ink has dried. Two thousand years after Christ walked this earth as God made Man for our benefit. Two thousand years…and we’re just now starting to feel like we might have this Bible He left us all figured out.

But we are way off. Tragically so.

We have invested a great deal of resources into proving the historical accuracy of His Word, and our discoveries make us feel like we’re closer to proving the existence of a God that no one in our generation has seen. There is a mountain where He told us there was a mountain. Evidence of a great flood. A still-missing ark that we swear we are close to unearthing. We have even found the shroud of cloth, so we say, wrapped around Christ’s face for three days in the grave. From this, we hope to one day know what He looked like.

Looked like here. Once upon a time. Then, we will rejoice and say that the Bible is true, that at least in the historical sense, these events really happened. These stories took place. They are about real people in a real time, and we have the evidence to prove it.

It doesn’t tell us a great deal, if anything, about our God, though. Except perhaps that He’s better than any high school history teacher because He actually got most of us to open the text. We don’t read history to change our lives.

And we have thrown ourselves into the stories of the pages of the Bible, looking for ourselves in this or that parable, this or that account of faithfulness or faithlessness. We have tried to define ourselves by its standards, by the things God has said about the men and women who went before us. We want to be the repentant tax collector, not the Pharisee. We want to give all we have like the poor widow and not just a tenth like the wealthier elite. We want to pray with the heart of David, whose raw honesty with God still touches something inside of us today. We want to walk the streets with Paul, rock the prisons, and refuse to escape. We want to heed the words about the dangers of pride, somehow humbling ourselves and sacrificing all we have for something greater than we could dream of. We want to be bold enough to put our most precious firstborn on the rock of sacrifice, to build an ark when people think we are crazy, to go into the dangerous street corners where people are not looking for God’s word, to bring hope to the hopeless, to watch our words and our drinking and our sexual morality (or lack thereof). Heaven forbid, we gasp, that we could ever love our money or our wealth so much that we couldn’t fit through the eye of a needle – camel or no camel. We see ourselves in these stories, and when our hearts ache, we run to the pages of our Bibles and turn to the places where we know we will see others like us.

Rahab – who stood in the gap between God’s people and His promise. How we long to stand in that gap!

David – naked and prostrate, but beautifully honest. God always seems to answer this man; what is he doing that we cannot grasp?

Isaiah, Elijah, Elisha, a host of other prophets who were bold enough to speak His word, even when it was unpopular.

Job – suffering indescribably yet with that lingering hope that something more must be out there.

Even in the lesser characters, in the more debased, we often find ourselves and see that they, too, had their place in the story of Christ. Perhaps He can redeem even us and put us in His story. History.

It’s not that this is necessarily bad. It shows one dramatic truth that I think we lose even in the present, but through these words, we know it must be eternal: people are basically the same. The fact that at any given moment, no matter the state of our heart, our feelings of worth, our questions or answers – we can find ourselves in these pages.

The problem is…this Bible, this book we look so dearly to for guidance, for instruction on how to live, is NOT ABOUT US.

That strikes a hard blow to a lot of people, and I often find myself included in that. It’s not about us. If it were, it would be a burden too big to bear. We would (and we already are) set ourselves in a cycle of endlessly trying to prove and improve ourselves, to boost our worth, to live right lives according to the stories we find in those pages. It is impossible; these are not the things we can simply do.

For example, and I will only give one though there are many, take the teachings on selflessness and sacrifice. We read those words, and we think, “Yes, Lord! That is so beautiful! To be selfless!” Then we concentrate our efforts on cultivating that absence of self in ourselves, stopping to check every now and then whether or not we’re succeeding. Stopping to think about ourselves to see if we’re thinking about ourselves, even in the hidden parts of ourselves, or if we have truly given up ourselves to be less ourselves…and all of a sudden, all of the questions are about us again. The opposite of selflessness.

This – this Bible – is not about us. This Bible is about God. It is HIS story, and He’s been gracious enough to include us. Because we are half of this relationship. But we are the half of this relationship that we know well, that we know best and most intimately. We know what we are like. In our highs and lows, our darkness and our light, our moments we would boast from the mountaintop and those we’d rather bury in the basement. We know how we are as people.

What the Bible teaches us is WHO GOD IS.

It is His involvement with His people. His plan of redemption. His goal for creation. His love and mercy. His grace. His response to what we already know of ourselves.

When Christ walked the earth, teaching in the cities and followed by hoards of people, some often asked Him about this or that. He did not turn them back to the Scriptures they knew and say, “See how you are kind of like Moses here…or like Job…or like Isaiah?” He wasn’t interested in them finding themselves in the past; what good would that do anybody? Instead, He pointed to the stories – His stories – History – and said, “See how I responded to Moses…or to Job…or to Isaiah? I am STILL a God like that.” It is not that we are copies of the men and women who walked before us.

It is that God is a carbon copy of Himself, perfectly loving and present throughout the stories of all people.

This is why our hearts ache. This is why we never seem to find that which we are thirsting for. And I am guilty of it myself. Opening the Book to read a chapter here, a verse there, or to dive into full study, and winding up either praying for the same answer He gave to a prostitute in a doomed town or else bitter that He doesn’t seem to be giving me just as He gave the prophet on the mountain. I don’t get what they get; that was His gift for them. But for so long, it seems we have been unspokenly taught to read the Bible and find ourselves.

It is better to read it and find God.

To find not the deeds of God, but His character revealed. To pray for His promises instead of the very specific answer He gave someone thousands of years ago. To embrace our relationship with Him, which is the only way to come close to living a right life. We lose ourselves not in trying to lose ourselves, but we lose ourselves in WHO HE IS. We find out about our God, and are encouraged by His people but more by His presence. His absolute, unshakable presence that reveals His promise and fulfills His work in us. Sets us free. Allows us to simply be.

We stop looking for ourselves in His word, and we lighten our burden. We don’t have to hold ourselves down or beat ourselves up because of what we are or are not, because of what He said to someone sorta kinda like us in the remote past.

The one thing we know about the men and women we look to, the ones we identify with in those pages, is that they were simply themselves. They came with no pretense, no comparison of themselves to the past, to someone who lived long ago and they’d never met. They approached their God as they were, individuals with a unique heart but the bold honesty and vulnerability of simply being.

It is that to which God responded – not to Abraham or to Moses or to Job or to Jeremiah or to Paul or to Peter. He responded to man being man, regardless of man’s deeds. He responded to that openness, that thirst, that yearning. That is what the stories of the Bible are meant to show us. That is how we should read it – looking for Him, not for ourselves.

Looking for His presence, His promise, His intervention, His grace, His mercy, His love, His attitude, His posture, His character. Because we are His people, each one of us unique. We will never find anyone, not in all of His stories, just like us.

But if we change our thinking and read in search of Him, we will find Him even now. Because He is STILL a God like that.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Parable of the Water

Suppose you have a pitcher of water, nearly full to overflowing, and you pour out all you have into an empty vessel. When you are ready to leave that place, you pour the water back into your ewer to carry with you on your journey. Inevitably, you will not have the same fullness as before. There is always one or two drops that refuse to leave the empty vessel, falling back down and leaving a thin presence around the bottom. This leaves your supply just a few drops short. But suppose then that a gentle rain begins to fall. Won’t your ewer then collect those few extra drops and something more? And won’t those few new drops spread something new through the whole ewer?

Or suppose you take a handful of popcorn and lay it on a plate. Can you pick it all back up again in one grasp? Of course not! If your hand truly was full, not every kernel fits in the same way. Inevitably, you leave a few behind for the scavengers.

So it is with God. When you pour yourself out or lay down your life, you never get fully back what you have given. Not here. But God is doing something greater, using what you could not take with you to start a new plan in motion where you have laid the seed and sending the gentle rain to fill you anew with something fresher, cleaner, and more pure than you’d had.


God truly has changed His servant. Perhaps this is what has made the past couple of weeks so challenging. The whole tone is different, and my heart is in a new place. It is hard to understand the persistent peace and the sense of resolution in my heart. It is new.

I’m a young woman who has fought many battles, most probably unnecessary had I let anything but fear or pain control my heart. But at the time, I knew no other way to live. And so I fought. Life was battle after battle, why me story after why me, this continual sense of victimization and questioning whether I could ever be good enough. Then wondering why no one saw in me what I was seeing in myself, though even I knew it was masked beneath this exterior that had to fight to feel like it was living. There are people, I know, who could easily have looked at the events of the past two weeks and come to one of two conclusions: “This stuff always happens to her” or “She was looking for a way to fail.’

For much of my life, I had been one of those people. Feeling the victimization of this stuff “always” happening, of being targeted. As much as I got beat up in middle and high school, this would be a logical conclusion. Or that I always looked for a way to fail. This, too, was something I knew of myself. This fear of things going smoothly, this excess energy if I didn’t have to fight that sent me searching for a brawl, for something to break and go wrong. I’ll admit that I have held myself back too many times, stopped myself short, expected less of myself then mourned at not having the strength to push through.

Truly, God has changed the heart of His servant.

I don’t feel victimized, don’t feel like life is just a series of horrible, unbelievable events that will inevitably define me. His peace and presence overwhelmed my heart, and it was HIS voice, HIS Truth that echoed loudest. Knowing He had something better for me, that He would fill me to overflowing soon. He promised.

That something better is already here, and it’s beyond words. There is, of course, the change in my heart as I’ve already mentioned. It is knowing that I am not at fault, having no guilt, telling a story in full truth without hiding anything. Those concepts are new for me. I had always considered myself a truthful person, and that is to say that I’m not going to go out of my way to lie nor will I tell a story maliciously or out of spite. But in this story, I finally realized how I had protected my other truths. How I had always had some remnant of guilt – something that made me feel culpable or disgusting or less than worthy, something I always felt I had to hide to protect my image – that prevented me from just laying it out there. In this story, there is none of the above. I accept my role in things, and I know I have not been perfect, but I don’t feel the need to hide even the less-than-glowing parts of myself to protect anything.

I simply am as I am, as He has created me to be. And I am fully ok with that.

A few years ago, this would have been a story that I would have told forever, that I would have recounted and tried to show that I am good and the rest of the world is evil. I would have used it to garner attention or sympathy or support or whatever. I would have played it to the max because I would have felt like I didn’t have any other story to tell. That’s not the case today. In fact, I hardly consider this a story at all and from the first day, I was ready to let it pass. This…is not Truth. This is the world’s fiction, and I can’t let that define me. The pen of the dirty little ratfink who thinks he authors this world doesn’t change one bit of Truth that the Author of my life wrote. This is not my story.

And then there is my reaction and my part in all of this. It will come as no surprise to those of you who know me – and particularly to those who have been on the receiving end – that I can be vicious. I can be mean and spiteful, hateful and rude. Absolutely mean and relentlessly vicious. Even though I have known for a long time that my lion’s roar was more a kitten’s meow, that the beastly anger that burst forth from me in moments of trouble…was not truly a part of me. There was something deeper that should have overridden those outbursts, but I shoved it aside in favor of showing my strength.

Strength that was no strength at all; strength that merely was fear, that fight or flight when I neither wanted to brawl or fall. God has redefined in me over the past several months, slowly but surely, what it means to be strong. He has changed my understanding of strength to mean things I never would have imagined. He has made me strong in ways I never would have defined strength. And what I always considered strength…He has revealed as folly, as fear. Now, I have true strength, but no words to tell you what that is like.

In the past week, I had the opportunity again to be vicious. Perhaps if I had felt that same victimization, had those thoughts that would have made me hate the world or worse, myself, I would have lashed out. If His peace had not been there, if His voice had not been louder than the four berating me, if my heart had closed and refused to listen, if I had chosen the fight over the stillness…things could have gotten very ugly. Let’s be honest – that would have done no good. I could have yelled. Cussed. Put my feet down and stood my ground, refusing to go without an apology and demanding that I keep my job. I knew what they were doing was wrong; I knew they couldn’t get away with it. Yet…I chose something quieter, something more in tune with the truth of my heart. I did not give in to their message. I denied their conclusions. I stated unequivocally that they were wrong. I cried many tears. But that something quieter prevailed.

I played by the rules, navigated the situation with grace. No one knew what was going on. When the story started to come out, those who knew nothing commended me for my grace. They praised the way I’d handled the situation, telling me that I truly was walking without shame, with my head held high and the fullness of my integrity. They added that they’d never had a problem with me. And oddly, for a girl who would normally be loud to overcompensate for her discomfort, her awkwardness, or those lingering questions she usually has of herself and her abilities…I had a reputation for being quiet. A little too quiet, maybe, but we all know that wouldn’t have lasted long.

One of the coolest things maybe I have noticed is that I have not been alone. God has been beside me every step of the way, but there is something more, too. I mentioned that I am a young woman who feels like she has fought a lot of battles (admittedly, many probably needlessly). There have been many of those where I was fighting alone, pushing aside the voices of loved ones and friends trying desperately to calm that fighting feeling and tell me it wasn’t necessary. Standing alone because no one would stand behind me, no one was going to fight with me. In this, though, I am not alone. Friends, family, even from the most unexpected places – you have been standing not just behind me but beside me, and that has not gone unnoticed. I am…speechless, and it only reminds me once more how incredible His change in me has been.

God is doing tremendous things in my life. I have known that for a long time, and it has scared the Hell out of me. (I never understood why scaring the Hell out of someone was mentioned as a bad thing; shouldn’t we want the Hell scared out of us? I know the powers of Hell fear me now.) He has softened my heart and quieted my spirit, redefined my strength, blessed me beyond my wildest imagination. Now, I have listened and heeded that presence, His presence. I have embraced His peace. I have lived according to my heart instead of my fear. I have refused to question myself, to stop myself, to demand to fail. I have refused to hide even the pieces of the truth in which I don’t come off so well.

For the past couple of years, and more earnestly for the past several months, I have prayed for God to make me alright. Then prayed for Him to make me alright with being alright. He has answered.

I like this softness, this quietness, this peace, and this presence. I love what He has done in me, continues to do in me, and calls in me. It is beyond words to know this strength, to be this full, to have contentment, and respect and integrity and the millions of other little gifts included in this new heart. I am a woman truly changed, and I can’t wait to see what He is doing with me. In me.

In deepest praise...