Friday, February 11, 2011

Embrace Your New Story

Embrace your new story.

We’re thrilled when God starts doing something different in our lives, answering our deepest prayers (the ones that often remain unspoken because we don’t know what we’re longing for…we are just in deep yearning). And we think we’re taking it all in, making it a part of us. It makes us, giddy, and we have noticed that it changes us.

But are we truly embracing it or simply celebrating?

It’s true that it makes us dance. We want to twirl around in the open air like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. We harness the new energy, the new hope, and the deepened faith that His honest presence has created in us. It sparks us. And it seems we can never wrap our minds around His power, around His goodness, around His new story in our lives.

With that attitude, we never will. It’s something I have noticed in my own life, but couldn’t put my finger on until recently. I suspect I am not alone.

We lay awake at night thinking about it, about the changes He’s made in our lives. We wonder how He ever could have taken us from there to here. We describe our lives to others in precisely those terms: “I was…but then God….” We want them to celebrate our transformation with us, to see the difference we now know lives in our hearts. We want them to understand the depth and the power and the difference of it all and be a part of our new story. We want them to let us break free from our old story and be as God has created and as He has intervened…

But too often, we are not giving that freedom to ourselves. We’re not letting go of our old story to fully embrace our new one. We’re not stepping up and letting God do in our lives what He’s trying so hard to do, what we’ve prayed so hard for Him to do. So we still feel unsettled, we feel a little lost or confused, and we can’t understand why what seems so perfectly real and wonderful in our hearts, what makes us dance in the fields, loses its luster so quickly and somehow…drains us.

We’re drained because we’re trying to live both stories. We’re drained because we’re dragging who we used to be along with us. To prove what? That we aren’t that any more? How’s that working for us? And we know this is the case because what God is doing in our lives, the ways He is changing us, the ways He is redeeming us…is always a ‘but’ in our stories. It is always the alternative. We speak in such a way that what is most real about us is what we formerly were. If we’re not using a specific “I was, but then God” statement, we’re still twisting it around. We say things like, “I can’t believe God took an abandoned little street rat and made her beautiful” or “It’s hard to think that God took a crack addict and transformed him into a messenger of His word.”

When you say it like that, you are identifying yourself as a street rat or a crack addict, and it is only secondary whatever God is making you. If we once were lost and now are found, shouldn’t we tell our stories that way? Shouldn’t we talk about our freedom and about God’s interference in our lives as our truth? Our deepest truth, the core of who we are, the honest man or woman that He created us to be. Shouldn’t God’s answer to our prayers be FULLNESS?

I know that what He’s done in my life has made me feel more whole, more humble, and more authentic than anything else I have ever experienced. But I know, too, that I still too often draw the contrast between what was and what He’s trying to do. Trying…because I’m not fully letting Him. Because like so many of us, I’m stuck on the contrast, on the difference. I’m constantly figuring out and analyzing and overanalyzing how what is now is so contrary to what ever was. And suddenly, I realize how that hampers His presence, how that keeps me more tied to the former than it frees me to embrace the now.

The closer I draw to what He’s doing, the more I realize how it never was. The more I almost embrace what He’s doing, the more I question because I realize it’s not what I’ve ever known of myself, of my world, of my God. That makes me hesitate; it makes us stop for just a moment and in that moment, we miss our holy encounter that is our freedom. We miss that chance to be our truest self…because we allowed our history to confuse us, to make us question whether we are what we always have been or whether God’s truth is something more real, something deeper.

God’s truth, His story in our lives – a story that is always new – is our deepest truth. It is our most real self. It is as He has created us to be. We have to let ourselves not just believe that but KNOW that. Without doubt. Without fear. Without hesitation. We have to let go of what we have known in favor of what Truth is telling us. We have to stop drawing the contrast that keeps us tied to what used to be and keeps us from the fullness of what SHOULD be. We have to take His truth at face value and do more than celebrate by dancing in the fields.

We have to embrace our new story. We have to let it be. We have to stop judging it, analyzing it, and even questioning it. We have to stop being flabbergasted and awestruck to the point that we’re constantly wondering if that could really be us, if that could really be our story, if that could be our lives, if that could be our freedom. Yes, it can be. It is. God is pleading with us to embrace it. To let it be. To follow our hearts and do what seems natural.

Because what He’s doing in you is the most natural thing in the world if you’ll just let go of it. It is the most real, the most authentic, the most humbling, the most joyous, the most energizing, the most faithful, the most TRUE thing you could ever do, the most you could ever be – fully what God has made you. Stay grounded in the One Who holds the pen, who changes your story…and just live it out.

Embrace it. Embrace your new story. Embrace your Author’s vision. Embrace the truest you.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Fight or Flight

This is your basic fight or flight battle. It is the product of living a life where I’ve always had to fight, where fight is my natural setting. Where I wake up in the mornings ready to rumble…

But there’s nothing to rumble against any more. God has taken away the darkness in my life that made me fight. He’s replaced it with a peace that is indescribable; it surpasses even my understanding, a tough pill to swallow for someone who has always known everything…or labored to figure it out. I still sit up at night wracking my heart and my mind, analyzing the day and trying to find something, anything to say.

Often, there is nothing. It almost feels like a waste. Nothing happened today? Nothing significant? Nothing to beat myself up over or to work harder at or to run through my mind until I’ve run it through the ground and still don’t have a good answer for it? The times I find something to remember, something to ruminate over, it is only praiseworthy. Only beyond my wildest imagination. Only the goodness of God in the most unexpected places.

You would think this wouldn’t be a problem. To be filled to overflowing with the graces of God, to have not a care or worry in the world. To finally be freed from the fight, the constant fight that has defined literally every day of your existence. To know peace, to know freedom, to know that deep breath of simply being.

To be ok. After all these years, to have no other words for what you are than simply…ok.

The problem is that I’m still primed to fight. I wake up every morning looking for a battle, and when I don’t find one (IF I can convince myself not to create one), I am left with all of this excess energy, mostly emotional energy. I don’t know what to do with that.

It deepens my worship, and my solemnity. It makes me quiet because I’m afraid of ruining the moment. I know myself, and I know that if I think about it too much, it will vanish. Do you know how hard it is for an analyzer not to sit up all night wondering what this change is taking place inside of her? To not overthink and overcontemplate what this means? It’s…the change that seems so thoughtworthy now, that makes me want to never stop thinking about it.

Yet I realize that all of this thinking…is detrimental in its own way. It is one thing to be in awe of this incredible gift of a God who loves me so much, but thinking about the freedom and its contrast to the fight dampens the spirit of the freedom itself. It is hard to embrace and to be as God has made me if I can’t stop thinking about what He transformed to create this, what He healed, what He redeemed, how He restored. Drawing that contrast over and over and over again, while it leaves me in awe and with the tears of repentance, does draw me back. It keeps me focused on the fight, though the fight is long past. Maybe that’s why I’m always still primed; because I never stop thinking about it. Because it seems to make the current situation all the more beautiful.

But really, it doesn’t. It breaks the current situation. It shackles the freedom and takes away the peace.

So I surrender. I give up trying to figure it out, trying to analyze it, and I give up even being in awe. For I know, and I have always known, that my God is good so why shouldn’t He give me this gift? And why would I work so hard to take it away from myself in favor of what? The fight? Because I’m ready to fight?

He’s caught me. He’s put me somewhere I don’t understand, in a situation I don’t know. He’s made me perfectly ok. Just ok. I’m determined to let Him do that. I’m determined to stop fighting it.

I am ready to be ok, and I’m ready for being ok to be ok. I’m ready to be perfectly fine…and to be perfectly fine with that.

And as for all of this excess emotional energy that leaves me primed for the fight that isn’t coming? That, I turn to praise. In deepest worship and in earnest heart, I praise Him for the beauty of this place, the gift of this moment, and the peace of His presence.

I will simply be.