Saturday, June 14, 2014

Finding You

Hi.  Hello there.  It's been a while, my blog friends.  Life has been a bit....well.....unconventional for me lately.  Sometimes I go back into my journal and read my past entries and wonder where the heck the words came from.  Usually it's because I am in a different place than I was when I wrote the entry.  But they are always encouraging to me.  The one I've included below did just that for me today.  It's a bit of raw honesty. 

Journal entry to God - May 25, 2014:

I met with a friend recently and she mentioned several times to me how well I have walked this journey with You over the past year and a half.  Sometimes I think I agree with her (only by Your strength and grace), but most of the time I look back and think what a total disaster I have been.  There have been so many days of roller coaster emotions.  Anger and hurt.  Trying to control things.  Doubting You and questioning Your motives.  Being focused on just a future with him rather than on You and the bigger picture.  Days where I would do anything to be with him and I was full of patience and grace, just to see the next day such frustration with him and the timing of the entire situation.  In my mind, that is not a picture of someone walking well.

BUT, You have always been faithful.  You have never left my side or abandoned the situation.  Whenever I had roller coaster emotions, You would steady them.  Maybe not when I thought You would, but You always did.  You supported me and encouraged me everyday in this, often showing to me glimpses of what might be, giving me hope.  You drew me closer to You along each step of this journey, holding me as close to You as I would let You.  You never let me go.  You showered me with grace and forgiveness at times when I cried out to You in anger and confusion.  You let me be impatient and doubt You.  It didn't change Your love for me.  And You blessed me with moments, or days, or weeks of peace after such emotional turmoil.  Which was the break that I needed to rejuvenate and keep going.  You have never lost sight of the end of this journey or of the purpose along the way.  You were stronger than me and my bullying and ultimatums and You loved me through even those.  You let me scream like a little girl when I needed to and then spoke Your truth to my heart when I was finished.

And that?  That right there - that has been the goal of this journey, hasn't it?  Not that I end up married with two kids and live happily ever after, but that You were able to do all of that in my life, that I was able to see it, and that I would realize that a life without You, no matter who else You add to it, is no life at all.  The purpose of this journey has been finding You.  In the midst of chaos, confusion, anger, impatience.  It's been You that I have truly been searching for.  And I found You.

"We must let go of the life we've planned so as to get the life that is waiting for us" - Joseph Campbell

"...because to receive a gift, the knees must bend humble and the hand must lie vulnerably open and the will must bow to accept whatever the Giver chooses to give" - Ann Voskamp

"Jesus calls me to surrender and there's nothing like releasing fears and falling into peace.  It terrifies, true.  But it exhilarates.  This, this is what I've always wanted and never knew:  this utter trust, this enlivening fall of surrender into safe hands.  There is no joy without trust!" - Ann Voskamp

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Behind the Scenes

I had a conversation with God this morning and it went something like this:

“It’s funny, you know. How I know exactly what I need to do, what I need to talk to You about.  And yet, as excited and eager as I am to break this new ground with You, I keep putting it off.  Finding excuses. Justifying my procrastination.  Why?  Because I’m scared.  Scared to hear what You might say to me.  It’ll be what I need to hear – it always is.  But it’s not what I want to hear.  So I sit and wait and think and look forward to the time when I can give You the focus that I need to.  When my heart is ready to receive the tough lessons that I need to learn.  Because I know they’re there.  I know I need this.  But what if it changes everything? What if…..” 

It’s funny, you know.  How I want something so badly but am afraid to actually get it.  Why is it that I’m afraid of something that I know is good for me?  If I truly am living my life for Christ, shouldn’t I be doing whatever is necessary to draw closer to Him?  So am I really living my life for Him?  Or is it for me?  Is it really for my glory or to somehow lift myself up on a pedestal?  And I do it in the name of Jesus – of course I do.  And my actions even point to that.

But where is my heart?

Is it tangled up somewhere in the web of self-righteousness?  Screaming from deep within in its pitiful yet mighty voice – “Look at me! Look at what I’ve done! Look at what I am doing!” Is it longing for attention?

I believe it is.  I believe my intentions are good but my heart is not in the right place.  I believe on the surface, I am doing everything right.  But if you were to look in the deep, beneath the surface, you would see my heart desperately seeking attention, trying to break through the surface and say “Look at me!”  And why have I been putting off this talk with Jesus?  This tough lesson that I’m so eager for yet dreading at the same time?  Because heart work is hard.  It is messy.  It requires me admitting to things (gasp!) and bringing them into the light.  It requires me to actually do something.  It is active recovery.  There is nothing passive about it.  It is, in the words of my pastor, shedding light on reality versus reputation.  It is stepping out of any spotlight that I may be in, back into the dark corners of the theater, working tirelessly yet happily behind the scenes.  Letting God have the spotlight.  And you see, that’s just it.  I've never been a behind-the-scenes type of girl.  But I need to let God take center stage in my life.  And my proud heart is fighting with me on this.  Which is all the more reason that it needs to happen.  All the more reason, that as we approach Valentine’s Day (and coincidentally the anniversary of my birth), my heart needs help. It so desperately needs help.

I can’t help but think that a heart screaming for attention is wearing itself out.  It must be exhausting for my heart.  Always wanting to be out front, always wondering how I can stay in the spotlight.  And I know that my heart is not made for this.  This pressure that I am putting my heart under is not necessary.  I know that my heart would be much happier playing a supporting role in a play, a life, where Jesus is the lead character.

But that damn pride keeps getting in the way.

And I feed that pride daily.  My pride is getting fat, actually.  I feed that pride on meals of Facebook, Instagram likes and Twitter followers.  On “atta boys” that come from people – some strangers and some close to my heart.  I feel that pride with volunteering for things.  For showing up when people are in need.  In comparing myself with others and thinking “I’m better than her”.  And I know I need to starve my pride.  Feed my humility and starve my pride.  And that doesn’t mean that I stop doing anything that I am doing.  It means that I do it even if nobody finds out.  It means that I go from putting myself in the spotlight to being behind the scenes.  I can think of so many clich├ęs that are appropriate here.  But I can say them all and never mean any of them.

I need a changed heart.  Not a replacement, but an improvement.  I know the only way I can get that is through my relationship with Jesus.  And I’m sorry to say that I’m just too scared for that at this moment.  Too afraid to let go of whatever it is that motivates me every morning.  Because it’s probably not all Jesus right now.  I’m scared to starve my pride.  What will I be without it?  I realize that pride and humility cannot co-exist.  They cannot be roommates in my heart.  But I just don’t know how to evict the pride.  And I don’t think I’m ready to just yet.  Because heart work is hard.