I don’t think God ever wastes our pain or tears…
This morning, my alarm went off and, after I turned it off, I said good morning to my husband and then stretched out as long as I could. While my feet moved around under the sheets and blankets, I could feel little warm puppy bodies laying near my knee and elbow and then I heard the sound of something small and hard hit the floor. I hopped up to see what had fallen and was straining to see in the dark until I found it…a rock. It made me giggle a little because it was definitely another “gift” from my two little pooches, Shiner and Bock. They are super-sweet pups…they are great companions…but they don’t do the things that other dogs do to “earn their keep.” They aren’t sporting dogs. They don’t catch any pests. They don’t fetch and they aren’t intimidating at all. What they do well is just joining in our pack…Team Massey…they follow me every where I go in the house… when I go run errands, they beg to ride in the car with me…they like to run upstairs and wake up the kiddos for school…and on occasion, they bring me a rock or an acorn as a gift.
So, why am I telling you about puppies and gift rocks? Well, I guess it’s because I think I have learned something about God through my exchange with these pooches. There is no doubt that God does things to bless me every hour of every day…and because he’s God, I don’t think he “needs” my help…but I think that he smiles when I make efforts to bless him in return…whether it is praise coming from my lips, finances intentionally dedicated to him, or kindness invested into someone he loves but who I deem unlovable. He can accomplish these things without me, no doubt…but I think the effort and motivation to love him and be more like him pleases him. It is much like the pups bringing me a rock this morning…do I need the rock? No. Can I see the motives behind the gift? Absolutely! And it will have me smiling all day long!
So, how are you doing with this? Do you have gifts to offer God and others…gifts that you are holding on to because you think they are only rocks? Are other people offering you gifts? Do you recognize the gifts being offered to you or do you just see a worthless rock? What gifts do you talk yourself out of giving away? Do you think they aren’t good enough? Do you think others will find them silly? Can you be vulnerable enough to give them anyway?
My prayer today is that we would freely offer God our gifts. I am praying that we would make the Creator of the world smile when we humbly offer him our little rocks. I am praying that we would bless other people with our gifts and use our little rocks to lift each other up and give each other something to stand on.
Much love friends,
This week, the country has been virtually vibrating with the news of Brock Turner’s conviction and puny sentencing. I’ve read the articles, the letter from this man’s father, and the 12-page testimony by the victim. There are several things about this that really bother me and so I write this post as a way of sorting through all of my thoughts and feelings:
First, a prayer for the victim: Father God, I want to lift this amazingly brave woman up to you so I am asking for blessings for her and her loved ones. Lord, please ease her pain as she steps forward into her forever-changed life. I know that this trauma will be with her throughout her life but I ask that one day, it becomes a source of only strength for her instead of pain. Lord, I ask that you continue to turn her scars into something beautiful…strength and an un-quenchable passion to take a stand for the marginalized…for the abused…for the ones who have been cast aside. Lord, I thank you for this woman. I think the world needs her and her story. Please continue to speak into her who you say she is: Not a victim…a warrior. Not worthless…priceless. Not unloved…worth dying for. Help her to see that she is a beautiful, valued, treasured daughter of the King. Finally, Lord, please help her to restore her relationships that have surely been damaged because of the fallout of this trauma. Father God, please hold her close to you. Amen.
A prayer for Everyone: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the outrage that is felt on behalf of this woman, but Lord, I ask that we would not merely settle for the addictive high that comes with righteous indignation. I ask that you would spark in us an insatiable need to stand up against injustice, oppression, and evil. I ask that you would grant us the gift of sight…that we would see the invisible ones…see the marginalized…see the voiceless…see the hurting ones around us. And once we see, Lord give us passion, creativity, and compassion so that we might be able to help meet the needs of those around us. Lord, give us a willingness to be inconvenienced and to get messy so that we might be able to be real. Finally Lord, I ask that you would please help us to see that, while Mr. Turner is the criminal in this case, we are all responsible for some bit of this woman’s pain (and the pain of all victims) when we feed into this prevalent evil attitude that further harms the hurting and blames the victim. Please help us to be willing to change and Lord, please do some much-needed work on our heart-spaces. I love you Lord. Amen.
A prayer for Brock Turner: Father God, as outraged as I am at this young man’s actions and lack of remorse, I am deeply saddened about his heart-space. Lord, I ask that you would help him to come to a place of true understanding of the depth of his broken-ness. Lord, please help this young man to stop resisting accountability and…well…Lord, I ask that you would change how he sees the world…not to harden him…but to help him to see outside of himself. He can’t take back what he did…he can’t undo what has been done…but I ask that he be changed so that he no longer sees the world for what he can take from it…but sees opportunities to give. Father God, please help this young man develop compassion and empathy and a desire to submit himself into a position of serving others. Despite Brock Turner’s crimes, I know that you love him God…just as you love everyone of us despite our sins and broken-ness…so I ask that you would heal this young man while he lives out the consequences of his actions. In your name, Lord, Amen.
A prayer for Dan Turner : Father God, no one understands the heart of a father like you do so I ask that you would do work on Dan Turner’s heart. I can not imagine the pain and grief that he is experiencing so I ask that you would minister to him but Lord I also ask that you would do work there. Please help him to lovingly and wisely guide his son to a place of accountability instead of dismissing how Brock has injured others. Lord, please speak truth into this father’s heart. Amen.
Much Love Friends,
A few weeks ago, I was at a doctor’s office and found myself speechless (and anyone who knows me know that never happens! As Stan says about me: “There are just so many words!”) Let me back up a bit. I was trying out a new location for getting my testosterone pellet implant and was talking with the doctor about normal stuff when she noticed how I had noted something in my file. I had written something in a manner that indicated that I had some understanding of medicine and so she inquired about my educational background. I proceeded to tell her that I had learned what she was asking about when I had worked for a veterinarian but that I had an undergraduate degree in biomedical science and a master’s degree in integrative physiology. She asked me what I do now and I told her that I was a stay-at-home mom. It was her following question that left me momentarily speechless: “But why would you waste your education?” Do you hear it? Because to me it was loud and clear: “You aren’t enough! What you do isn’t valuable. Investment is wasted on you.” After a few seconds, I recovered and told her that I never thought that education was a waste because regardless of the field of study, learning to think is valuable. Now the truth is that I really learned to think after all of my education but I wanted her to understand that investing in people is never a waste.
As usual, this got me thinking…a lot…in fact, I haven’t been able to let it go for the last 5 weeks…and I think I have finally figured out why it has stuck with me so much. I think that, for my entire life, my biggest struggle has been in understanding and accepting my identity. Now before I lose you, hang in there with me for a minute while I explain with a few examples. When I was young, something happened to me that made me question and doubt my value as a female…as an integral part of God’s family. With the poisoning a few years ago, I came to question if I was worth the expense that I was costing my family. That also led to spiritual upheaval and doubt as to whether anything that I had spent my life believing was true. Recently, I left my job at our old church and that led to me questioning whether or not I could do ministry the way that I am designed to (I mean, if I can’t do ministry at a church, is it likely that I will be able to do it on my own outside of church?) There are tons of other examples but what I am getting at is that I have experienced attack, for the duration of my entire life, on my value as a female and as an image-bearer of God.
So, going back to the story at my doctor’s office, that is why her seemingly innocent question did not feel so innocent to me. I don’t think that she meant to offend me at all…but I do believe that her words betrayed her thoughts…and those thoughts were clearly that I am not living up to my potential. I, however, disagree with her. See, my constant question over the last couple of years has been “What does obedience look like right now?” I’m not making a five-year plan. I’m not climbing the ladder anywhere. I’m not trying to make a pay check. What I have been doing is trying to be present and obedient to God in the now. Some days, that doesn’t look like much to most people. But some days, it looks like everything. My availability to be obedient to God now has helped a friend with an eating disorder in recent months. It has allowed me to have life-breathing conversations with women who are experiencing marital problems. It has allowed me to be present with my kids and talk with them about who they are and how they are designed. It has allowed me to grow closer with my husband during this time of questioning what God would have him do as he searches for a job. I may not have a title or job-description that impresses anyone, but I am fully present with the people in my life when they need it…and that is what obedience looks like for me right now.
So how are you doing with this? Do you know who you are? Really know? Do you know what you were designed for? If you don’t, think about the things that really get you fired up and energized. Think about what it is that you can do for hours and then look up and wonder where all that time went. What I’m getting at is this: Do you know what your calling is and are you doing it? I firmly believe that what we choose to do with our short time here is either life-breathing or life-consuming. Can you identify the things in your life that fall into each category? If you are unsure, ask yourself how you serve others…because if you are only serving yourself, it falls under the life-consuming category. You have gifts…and by definition, gifts are meant to be given away…don’t deprive the world of what you have to offer.
My prayer today is that we would be life-breathing people. That we would not be content to just consume and discard things and people…but that we would invest in others. I am praying that we would start by learning more about Jesus so that we can learn more about who we are as image-bearers. I am praying that we would discard the conversations or events that we play on repeat in our minds that rob us of life and an understanding of our callings. And I am praying that we would be here now and that we would be still enough to ask God “What does obedience look like right now?”
Much love friends,
Last fall, I went to a conference specifically for Christian women in leadership. I was really excited to go and there was one particular session that I was looking forward to: Working With Men: Dive, Survive, or Thrive. I was familiar with the speaker for this session and knew that she was a pioneer for women where she is employed. Since I was working in a place where the overwhelming majority of leadership positions were filled by males and the majority of supportive roles were filled by females, I had found myself chaffing…struggling under the weight of this. Now don’t get me wrong…I was never looking to climb the ladder…I wasn’t even looking for a job when I got that one…I just wanted to minister to people…to help people see and embrace the truth and grace and freedom available to them…I wasn’t interested in money or position and so I was able to approach things without an agenda.
Anyway, I went to this session with some of my work friends and the most humiliating thing happened: The speaker began to speak and I began to furiously take notes. As the session progressed, I began to feel heavier and heavier until I just sat there open-mouthed and confused. Is this really happening? Did I really just hear her say that women needed to suppress their emotions in order to work with men? And thank the men that allowed them to be a leader? What? And then it happened. I felt the first tear fall down my cheek. No!!!!! Stop! I berated myself as my vision blurred while I sat there on the second row and cried as the speaker asked this room full of women leaders to suppress what is a big part of many of us and is fully God-given. The message I received loudly and clearly was “If you want to be successful in this male-dominated field, you will need to become more masculine so that the men can feel comfortable with you.” The speaker made eye-contact with me and was visibly disturbed by the expression on my face complete with the tears, sniffing, and red blotchy skin. No poker-face here!
My co-workers who were with me were trying to help me out but I just couldn’t seem to reign it all in. It took me a while to find words for why I was so broken by that speaker’s message but I finally did. I was grieving. This woman, whom I had looked up to was giving me the same message as the men that I had struggled with: There is a specific persona that I would have to embody if I wanted to get to really do ministry. I would have to suppress the strongest parts of myself and be inauthentic in order to get the opportunity to speak truth to people. Do you see the irony? I would have to lie about who I am to myself and others if I wanted the chance to speak truth…any truth I could ever offer anyone would have to begin with a lie. I couldn’t stomach this at all. I had come so far from the self-doubting girl who didn’t understand why God had made her “incorrectly” (a female with “male” gifts of leadership, pastoring, teaching, etc.) I had finally reached a point of understanding that I, too, was an image-bearer of the Almighty despite being female…had finally started to accept my God-given and carefully designed character and personality and this message directly attacked the freedom that had finally become available to me. I had gotten this message a lot over the years and had been able to disregard it most of the time because I figured that we all learn our lessons at different rates…just because I knew something was true didn’t mean that everyone else already knew it. What made it so very painful this time…was that this message was coming from a woman who had paved the way for me…she should have known better.
I lost respect for one of my role-models that day because she was asking me to be inauthentic…to lie to myself and others about who I am…to hide. I have a lot of flaws…and I own them fully…but inauthenticity is not one of them. I can not and will not pretend to be less so that others can feel good about themselves.
So, how are you doing with this? Do you know yourself? Really know yourself? Do you understand how your specific characteristics are meant to benefit the world around you? Do you sometimes doubt your gifts and design? Where do those doubts stem from? What usually spurs you to deny who you are? How can you change that way of thinking around so that you can honor not only how you were designed…but also the One who designed you?
My prayer today is that we would be authentic people who love others, ourselves, and God well by speaking and living out truth because if what we offer isn’t truth, we are just filling the world with noise.
Much love friends,
In the aftermath of the poisoning, I used to go to the gym every single day without fail. A full two hours I would spend there. Even when I had pneumonia (again) and pleurisy (which I would not wish on my worst enemy.) Now, before you go believing that I was some highly-motivated health nut that was working out right through the pain, let me set things straight…I wasn’t actually working out…I went for the two hours of guaranteed child care. I went there to take a shower in water that wasn’t over-flowing with the chemicals that had poisoned us and stolen my health. I went there to sit in the sauna for an hour at a time, read a book, and pretend that I was a normal, healthy person. I went there to escape. And it was glorious! I needed to believe that some part of my life could be normal…stable again…and that couldn’t happen unless my kids were able to be safe while I played pretend.
But the thing is…I wasn’t designed to be normal…normal isn’t really part of my story. (Now, those of you who really know me are nodding and saying “As if you could ever even resemble normal, Bekah!” And I hear you…but there is more.) I’ve mused many times in the past about painful events…about trauma that has left it’s scar on who I am…and I think that the point I am making today is that I was sabotaging my own healing when I sought out “normal.” I was stunting my own growth…because “normal” is not something to be aspired to…at most, it’s a resting place while catching your breath (if that.) While I was aspiring to be normal, I achieved it in some ways: I was bitter, angry, vengeful, unkind…and in the end…I was still unhealthy…hurting. (Look around and tell me that those characteristics don’t describe a good many “normal” people!) No. No amount of pretending healed the brain damage, liver damage, pancreatic damage, crapped-out immune system, and haywire sudden onset of allergies to every thing I came in contact with. (And that is just the physical stuff.) No amount of masking offset the fact that I had a name and a face for the person who had stolen my health, invaded my home, harmed my family, damaged my house, broken my mind and memory, and directly caused all of my painful isolation. No amount of simulating normalcy would level back out the spiritual upheaval that was occurring. It only numbed it so that it could be prolonged another day.
It wasn’t until I realized that God never designed me to be normal that I was able to let go of normal as a goal. That invisible draw to fit in and be like everyone else…it isn’t where renewal and joy live. It isn’t really even appealing when I think about it: Normal does not look like forgiveness regardless of whether you receive an apology (or justice.) Normal does not look like love in response to evil intentions. Normal does not look like releasing anger and choosing contentment despite life not looking remotely like you had hoped. Normal does not look like deep gratefulness for the small things…the good days…or even just having another day at all. And normal certainly doesn’t look at all like the God of all pouring himself out on behalf of the ungrateful and undeserving. No…so normal is not a goal anymore…because when I desperately seek to be normal, I reflect God less…I become an image-bearer who is not accurately bearing his image…and what is a mirror that does not reflect a true image? Worthless at best and harmful at worst.
So, how are you doing with this? Is normal something that you aspire to? Is that really what you want? If you are “abnormal” in some way, is it possible, that God desires to use that to bless people in some way? Is it possible that you could offer up the pain of your difference to him as an act of worship? How might your difference give you a unique perspective on the character of God? How could that be a blessing to others?
My prayer today is that we would stop seeing normal as something to achieve and aspire to. I am praying that we would all allow ourselves to stop, right where we are, and learn what we can about God from the angle…the perspective…that we have right now…because we might not have this same perspective later and God doesn’t waste pain. Rest in it and lean in.
Much love friends,
A lot of illness has rolled through the adults in our house. My niece Abigail was sick for a day, then I ended up compounding my last two months of daily migraines with bronchitis and some sort of flu-like virus complete with whole-body aches (those are the worst!) and now Stan is recovering from a cold as well. Of course, the kids and puppies are still going full steam while all the adults stare glassy-eyed at them…unable to keep up with them visually much less physically. So, it was a surprise to me when, on top of being sick and needing to go in to work an hour early several days last week, I discovered that Stan had scraped the ice off my windshield for me each morning. I would go out to the car to warm it up before taking the mini-Masseys to school and would see the remnants of scraping on the windshield where he had already cleared it off in the early morning cold. Some women want flowers and candy…I want a man who sees me and chooses me anyway (ha!!!) My love language is acts of service so I do for those that I love…and when they do for me, I really notice.
Well, as it often does, life happened and I didn’t get a chance to thank Stan right away. We got bombarded with papers to sign, decisions to make, events to plan, presents to buy, rental house stuff to handle, etc. A few days later, I saw a spray bottle that I had put aside last year with rubbing alcohol and water in it for frozen windshields. (I read in a magazine that it melts the ice quickly so that you can get through the ice and get going faster but never had a chance to try it because I read it after the last frost of the season last year.) I called Stan to tell him about it and thank him for scraping my windshield and in the course of the conversation, I learned that my sick husband had not only been out there at an ungodly hour scraping his windshield and mine…but my niece’s also! What?! That…that right there is the stuff that melts me. When I see a man who, by all rights, could have simply looked out for himself and moved on (and nobody would have faulted him for it or even thought about it) but took the time several different mornings to serve those of us who were still warm and sleeping in the house…when I think about how he was probably shivering and his hands were stinging and nose running while he served us and loved us well…when I think about the selfless heart space that that comes out of…well, that is my idea of an aphrodisiac! Whew!
What’s the point Bekah? Well, I think that we are naturally selfish…all of us…our selfish natures reveal themselves so often that we don’t even take notice…it’s normal…common. Because of that, we are touched by stories that defy that selfishness: generosity of strangers, communities working together for a common goal, kindness from unexpected people, children using allowance money for charity or using free time doing community service, etc. We are touched by this because it doesn’t come naturally to us…it’s uncommon. Being in the Season of Advent, I can’t help but make the connection to Christ’s call to us…to be uncommon: Forgiveness of sins, loving your enemy, treating your neighbor as yourself…none of these are natural human reactions…they are uncommon…which is why we take notice.
So, how are you doing with this? Are you so wrapped up in the details of your frantic life that you are missing the large themes running through it? Take a step back…take a beat…look…see…when you get a glimpse at the big picture…the large themes…is what you see common or uncommon? Do you like what you see? If you don’t, I would humbly suggest carving out time to do work on your heart space…not the stuff you do. If you have love, love will flow out of your heart space. If you are grateful for God’s generosity, generosity will naturally flow out of your heart space. Whatever you value in your heart space always finds a way of revealing itself (usually when you are sick, tired, or in a hurry…like Stan was at the beginning of this musing…since it’s the season for all kinds of little cooties, you may get the chance to examine your heart space while sick sooner than you think!) Just know that where ever you are in this process…no matter how common you think you are…God wants you right now…as is. There is no need to clean up or change in order to meet him…just be willing to meet with him and let your heart respond how it will. **Note: If you are in a “busy season” of life and “things will be better after this season” I would urge you to make changes now…my experience is that the next season will find a way to be just as busy (kind of like starting a diet next week.)**
My prayer today is that we would not do “fake it ’til we make it” Christianity. I am praying that we would be authentic, broken people who are willing to be made uncommon so that others would get to see our uncommon God. Much love friends,
I have had a really difficult time writing lately. I sit down to do it and think and try to feel inspired and it doesn’t flow like it used to and so it leaves me feeling anxious and with a warm heat in my face that I only experience with failure…shame. From the beginning of this journey with writing, I have felt strongly that it has been a way that the Holy Spirit talks to me…so being without it has left me feeling that he has withdrawn from me. Of course, my mind knows otherwise but it is still distressing to feel this way…evidence that our feelings can be liars, I guess. But truth and reality hit me this morning as I sat down, once again, and tried to force the Lord to write through me again. Did you catch it? The absurdity of me trying to force something on God? Me trying to manipulate the omniscient one? It would be laughable if not so ludicrous and blasphemous. And yet, there it is. I have tried to “American Dream” my relationship with God. Before you get offended, I am a patriot and love receiving the blessings that being an American affords me…but I think our culture feeds into some pretty unhealthy patterns and values in the name of the “American Dream.” One of those beliefs is that you are only as valuable as what you produce…that working and doing are the same thing…that we have to produce something every minute in order to justify our existence. This is how we…or at least I…get caught up in that idolatry that I love to serve so much: busy-ness.
I am guilty of being one who has, when I have seen people sitting and “doing nothing,” judged them as non-contributors. It is this very thought, this unfair judgement of others, that had held me in-prisoned for years: I was unable to take naps at all when my children were babies because I had a thought in my head that sleeping during the day was something that people who drain the resources of others did…people who didn’t contribute to society…people who leached off of the efforts of others…so I would keep myself awake and super-productive (as productive as I could be while sleep-deprived) during their nap-times as a way to justify my existence. As if the fact that my Creator wanted me to exist wasn’t reason enough. Do you understand how completely absurd that is? It would be as ridiculous as if the benches, that I made recently, decided that they had to learn to sew in order to be valuable. I created them and determined their value…I created them for a purpose that I understand…I spent the time, resources, and energy in designing them with care, all while knowing what I planned to do with them. The benches themselves do not have the master vision that I have as their creator…they don’t have all the information…they don’t understand the joy and satisfaction that I experienced in designing them and carefully making them exactly how I wanted them to be…and when they add pre-requisites of their own to their value, instead of simply fulfilling what I would have them accomplish, they will reduce their effectiveness in what they were designed for.
When I self-impose demands on what I should produce or fulfill in order to earn my value, I am no different than my benches requiring themselves to sew. It’s absurd…and insulting to the one that created them for a unique and beautiful purpose. So instead of earning my worth, today I will quiet myself and receive…I will listen to my Creator speak into me words of purpose and mission…words of love and investment…words of meaning and value…and it will fill me until I can’t hold any more without some of it spilling out of me and that…that bit right there…will be what I contribute to the world…that will be how I am productive…that will be my contribution…and I can’t think of a better one.
So, how are you doing with this? Do you feel like you are in a frenzy to get more and more done? Are you rushing from one thing to another and left feeling inadequate across the board? How about how you see others? Do you place value only on what they can do for you or how hard they work? What if you suddenly were rendered incapable of “producing” the way that you do now? Would you still remain valuable?
My prayer today is that we would all slow down from being so productive and ask God what he values in us. That we would take a good look at the gifts and opportunities he has placed in front of us and thank him for them by investing in them…developing them…and sharing them. I’m praying that we would learn to accept that there is value in each of us and the stories that our lives are meant to tell…and that we would be brave enough to live out those stories. Much love friends,
In the last week, people were killed just because they existed…their lives were such an affront to some terrorists that they felt they deserved to die. This week, I went to a religious women’s conference (that I will not name) and ended up in tears because I was so frustrated by the mis-information that I was being handed there…and I knew that people were totally buying in to it (including the speakers.) In the past week, I’ve learned of several friends having loved ones diagnosed with horrible diseases that will brutally ravage their bodies until their souls are forced to find alternative homes. For the past several weeks, I have endured horrible cluster headaches that have consumed so much of me when they are occurring, that I am unable to think or function.I am not telling you all this to bum you out…but this is the reality of the past week(s) for me and it feels heavy. I’m grieving.
I’m grieving the senseless loss of lives…those who were victims of the attacks as well as those terribly confused and lost people who perpetrated them. God wanted better for them.
I’m grieving over the lost opportunities for the women who were fed false information at that conference…and they probably don’t even know it…which makes me grieve even more. God wants better for them than this.
I’m grieving the upcoming loss of loved ones that my friends will be facing…grieving their loss of health, their fading sharpness of minds, and eventually just their ability to be physically present with loved ones. God wants better for them than this.
I’m grieving my own loss of health and energy in recent weeks…it makes me fearful that I could relapse into the poor health that I’ve endured over the last decade. God wants better for me than this.
I’m frustrated and I’m grieving because I know the character of my God…and because I know him, I also know that he wants better for us all. I know he values life because, as the Creator, he spoke it into existence. I know he values health because he is the Great Healer. I know he values truth, because he took on truth as part of WHO he is. (“I am the way, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.”) For that matter, I know he loves the lost and confused ones because he wants to be the WAY for them. (His statement would hold no value if we weren’t in need of it…we are lost, buying into lies, and dying…which is why his offer of the way, the truth, and the life is such a beautiful gift.)
But here’s the kicker: We were never designed to experience this stuff…it wasn’t part of God’s plan. He did not intend for us to ever experience death and illness. We weren’t supposed to ever feel lost or lonely. Relationships were not expected to ever be broken and humans were certainly not designed to endure suffering. So, it is no wonder that I am grieving (and I assume that you are as well…if you are allowing yourself the space to experience it.) God did not intend for us to experience this brokenness and pain and that is why we grieve…that is why we feel robbed of shalom…that is why we are offended all the way down deep in our very essence when we are confronted with the stark contrast between what we were meant to experience and what is our reality. And it is important that we do the messy work of experiencing this and feeling all of the nasty feels that go along with it…because if we don’t feel it…if it doesn’t make us grieve…then the contrast becomes a little less obvious each time these types of ruptures happen…and with less contrast, truth becomes less clear…becomes a little bit fuzzier…blurred…and then we will not only forget who our God is, we will forget who we are…because that God that we might forget…is the same one who gives us our identity.
If you are like me, you don’t like to feel the messy stuff…it doesn’t feel good to grieve…but it is necessary because if I skip this part, I will miss the opportunity to learn more about my Creator…and instead of growing from this experience, I will be forced to experience it again and again due to stuffing all the feels down deep inside. See, it is like having a glass of water: You can keep putting a bit more water in…and that water will go deep down inside…but when the glass gets full and overflows, you can’t expect it to overflow with wine because that isn’t what was put into the glass. If you don’t allow yourself to grieve and properly process things, then understanding and holiness can not flow out of you…and this broken world could really use more people with understanding and holiness couldn’t it?
So, how are you doing with this? Are you allowing yourself the space and the freedom to grieve the things that break your heart? Or are you stuffing? Are you feeling all the feels (even the uncomfortable ones?) Are you allowing those that you love to grieve when their hearts get broken or are you trying to force them out of the grieving process so that you can feel better about things? Are you attempting to make everything in life fit into a nice, neat package with bow on it or are you allowing the messy things to be messy?
My prayer today is that we will grieve the things that grieve the Lord. I’m praying that we will allow our hearts to break and be softened so that we can be strong and whole in the end. I’m praying for health, protection, understanding, and wisdom for us all as together we learn to link arms and do the messy business of living. Much love friends,
**Please excuse any errors in typing or thinking…I took two benadryl before working on this.**
I have an incredible girlfriend whose adult son was in an auto accident about 3 weeks ago. He has survived (although with traumatic brain injuries) and is having to slowly relearn the most basic of functions (like how to breathe) on his own again. Every time the son makes some progress, no matter how minor it might seem, my friend…his mother…rejoices at his progress. She praises God for his goodness with each small victory…because it is that…a victory.
While my girlfriend and her family are celebrating every nuance of her son’s life, I am struck by how much of my own life I am wasting…missing…allowing to slip past me in a blur. I’ve always been a busy social butterfly…flittering here and there…finding social interactions everywhere I turn but also able to “get stuff done.” Recently though, I started discovering more about my personality and found that I am a creative (Seriously, who’d have thunk it? Not this girl!) and I have been trying to test that side of me to see how it holds up: building things, tweaking or improving on already existing items, and creating art in order to discover what God would reveal to me within me. I have found that this is where real passion exists in me…I feel alive when I am doing it!
The problem? Well, I didn’t make any changes to my life other than adding in these new projects to an already full-to-bursting schedule. I kept adding on…more…and more…and there have been consequences…real tangible consequences: I have not yet eaten lunch with my children at their school this school year, we have gotten out of the habit of reading together as a family in the evenings, we haven’t had a family game night in months, writing has been something that I think fondly about but never get to do, and my mind doesn’t know how to settle down at bed time anymore. These may seem minor to you but they are big for me because they are things that I would consider to be among my priorities…but by looking at how I spend my time and energy, no one would guess that those are my priorities.
So, recently, I gave a talk in our marriage class about fun and connectedness and one of the big points that I made was about our out-of-control schedules…how every time we say “yes” to something, we are saying “no” to something else because time is a finite resource. I think we get stuck in a habit of saying yes to good things and we feel ok about it because we look at it and think “I’m doing what I should because this is a good thing.” Before we know it, our lives are full of good things and we end up missing the best things: sneaking into the kids rooms after they fall asleep and watching their chests rise and fall with their breath, snuggling on the couch in the quiet house with the pups while they each try to burrow in closer to me than the other one, taking the time to let my husband know that I am still excited to study him and learn who he is and what his heartbeat is about…these are the moments that make a life…accomplishing things is not a life…it’s a to-do list. (Yes, Bible studies are great but do you need to participate in 10 of them? Where is the cutoff?) The task before us isn’t to fit as much as we possibly can into our lives…the most productive person does not actually win…the American Dream of having and doing it all…is falling short (in my esteem.) I think my goal is to do less…to accomplish little…but to live more…and to learn to see and celebrate the little things that make it a life…the things that I take for granted every day…the things that my sweet friend is praising God for when her son is able to experience them for another day in that hospital room. It’s time to celebrate the every-day miracles: life’s breath, deep renewing sleep, fits of belly laughter that leave me out of breath and with a cramp, the warmth of my children’s bodies as they sit next to me on the couch, holding my husband’s gaze as we communicate across the room without moving or saying anything, and truth spoken to my heart by El Roi (God who sees me.)
How are you doing with this? Is your life flying by? Are you experiencing your life or missing it? What is your purpose? Does how you spend your time reflect your purpose? Do the people that you love know that they are a part of your purpose? Are they a part of your life or a part of your to-do list? We can’t change the past but we can absolutely make changes today…what changes do you need to implement in order to live in a way that shows what your heart beats for?
My prayer this morning is that we would slow down and look with honesty at our time and how we spend it. I am praying that we would feel convicted about areas of busy-ness that need to change as well as areas of neglect that need our attention. I am praying that we would not take for granted what my friend’s son is fighting to accomplish…that we would not waste the good gifts that our loving God has granted us…and that we would not trade in God’s best for something that is merely good. Much love friends,