Embrace {A Five Minute Friday Post}

Wow, it’s been awhile.

I can’t begin to explain the last months or years of my life and the way circumstances can sneak in and rob the energy or desire to write. Some days I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around life enough to put words to it.

It’s been a season of listening. Of learning. Growing. Changing.

Of practice.

Practicing the hope I preach. The faith I stand on.

Practicing belief.

And trust.

Messing up and practicing mercy. And grace. And forgiveness.

And today, suddenly, I can write again. The air has cleared enough, the weight lifted enough, the timing just right… enough.

For words.

So today I once again join the Five Minute Friday crew in taking five minutes to write to a theme, unedited, and sharing it with you. The word is embrace.

Start:

Oh, the things I never knew I’d be asked to hold. The weight I had no idea I’d be expected to carry. And the failures in trying. The times I dropped the load and wept, knowing I couldn’t carry it any longer. The shame and the fear… that I’d said “yes” in my naivety and pride to carry this burden, only to find myself weak and inadequate and not-enough… and that in this revelation, my “yes” would destroy everything. Not just me. But my children. My marriage. My world. Too late.

With a passing pat on the back, cheer of encouragement, the light of hope, I’d pick the weight up again and keep walking. Keep trying. Keep believing.

But sometimes the right thing is the hardest thing.

And sometimes the right thing looks like the wrong thing. And it feels like failure and guilt and condemnation and despair… if we let it. Because that weight has a voice. A loud one. A demanding one. A controlling voice.

It demands our service while playing a tape of lies to motivate us in fear. Lies that say, “A good person would never…” “A good Christian would certainly…” “A good mom wouldn’t dream of…” ” A good wife always…” And with tears streaming, we press on. I pressed on. I wanted to believe that I was better than my fears told me.

But you know what? I’m really not. And that’s the thing.

I want to be the glittery image of all things put-together and right and disciplined and controlled and, well, perfect.

I want to live up to my idea that my worth comes from my achievements and my successes and my heroism.

And this keeps me lugging that weight around, hoping that just around the corner, I’ll arrive. I’ll cross the finish line and get my medal, my medal of value and worth and lovability. I’d be worth love. If I could find that finish line…

But then He stepped in. Shook His head with the most tender compassion. “Did you think I’d leave you like this?” He said, gently coming to my side. I wanted to make Him proud.

“See?” I said. “Look at me! I’m doing it!” My legs shook under the crushing weight.

And He knew.

He gently lifted the weight from my shoulders and set it down. My arms ached. Shoot, my whole body ached. And it felt so good, SO GOOD, to set it down. I almost felt like I could fly. “It’s time,” He said. “Time to put that away. I don’t need you to carry that. I don’t need you to do or be anything.

I just want you.”

And now I could see the burden more clearly, now that it wasn’t bearing down my soul.

Rotten. Filthy. Decaying.

Worthless.

It had been such a strong voice, so confidant and driving.

But it was nothing. And everything. And still only death.

And He took it from me.

Wrapped in His love, I finally felt myself rise. Felt His affection, not for how far I’d traveled or how much I’d done along the way, but for being.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. -2 Corinthians 12:9

My ragged, frayed clothes didn’t put Him off. In fact, I sensed they drew Him to me.

This road had been long. Hard. Treacherous. And He’d been with me, step for step. The times I thought I was strong enough to carry… He’d been holding up the back, letting me struggle. And grow. And change.

Because sometimes it’s in the adversity that we discover who we are. Who we’re meant to be. Our true worth. And it will never be because of what we’ve done, who we know, the size of our bank account, or brain, or home.

This is what I’m learning to embrace. Not to hide my mess and call it clean. Or to pretend and call it real. To try to bandage and cover my cracks and crevices and craters of heart, soul, and mind… but instead, to leave them exposed.

Because THESE are where my need lies. And it’s only in my need that I meet my endless lovability and grand worth.

In Him.

 

Five Minute Friday – Happy

Five-Minute-Friday-4-600x600Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted… and that is wrong and sad. Fittingly, today’s Five Minute Friday word is Happy… and that’s just how I feel about posting again!

First of all… I’m excited about the release of a new book that many of my favorite writers are raving about. AND, Jennifer Dukes Lee has an awesome website… where you can take a Happiness Assessment (to see what kinds of things make you happy). Fun and free and well marketed 😀 I bought the book. And, I learned that I’m an Experiencer. Which, according to the description, is spot on.

Alright, on to FMF!

I think Happiness is something Jesus-followers often skim over. I mean, it’s all about joy, right? Happiness is the superficial, shallow, lesser-emotion to be pursued only by those who don’t truly understand the gift of joy. I mean, surely, why would one pursue the carnal realities of happiness when you can have joy? 

I don’t mean to downplay the beauty of joy. The deep-seated grace that comes and holds your hand regardless of life’s ups and downs. The gift that stays just as strong and available in heartache as well as celebration. The mercy that doesn’t rely on our circumstances, but rather on an inner peace and trust. Joy is precious.

But I’m beginning to wonder if happiness is as frivolous and un-holy as we’ve made it. Yes, we’ve watched many people sacrifice much, including their families, their jobs, their future… in the name of the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness has sometimes been devastating to everyone else.

The U.S. constitution even includes the right to the pursuit of justice alongside life and liberty! And that these unalienable rights are given to us by our Creator.

What? Our forefathers and foremothers believed that God gave us a human right to pursue happiness.

But wait… what about our Biblical call to sacrifice? To take up our crosses and suffer? To die to ourselves? To not be conformed to the patters of this world (which often idolize personal happiness?) I imagine the Happiness Dare will address many of these questions and I’ll leave it to her book to unfold.

But it does make me realize the ways we’ve lost our way to happiness… in a healthy, God-gifted, humble way. I believe God delights in our delight, just as I am excited when my children enjoy life- the gifts I give them, the moments we spend together, etc. I’m afraid we’ve flushed happiness down the toilet in fear that we will want it, find it lacking, or find it addicting and lose our way. Instead, let’s face our fears, delight in the delightful, and experience the riches of joy and happiness as our Creator designed.

The Hole in our World

SHOP1-600x600 The world is a heavy place.

More and more, we are swept away by confusion, pride, self-righteousness, anger.

Our emotions have us chained as their slaves, yet we think we’re the master.

We seek to fill voids and holes and unhappiness with whatever promises to fill it the fastest… only to be left more dissatisfied than when we started. We plunge deeper, dig further, compromise more… until we don’t recognize our own faces in the mirror.

The suicide rate increases. Depression and anxiety medications help us get through the day. The hour. Sometimes the minute.

Really? Is this all there is?

Then I have them over for dinner. Or we go out for coffee. Or I eavesdrop on their conversations from the bench. Or read about them.

The Korean couple who serve as doctor and nurse in Jordan.

The missionary kid who became a mother and her heart expanded beyond her home and into a South African community- again. Or maybe it never left.

The ceremonies that bring in families from over 52 countries where they serve as orphanage directors, well-diggers, church planters, hospital help, language teachers, school maintenance staff, counselors… friend to the lost and lonely and hurting.

There is still light in the world.

And it shines bright. It refuses to be put out.

Because there are some, imperfect and insecure and fragile as we are, who know our weakness leads to something bigger and more beautiful than we can imagine.

Who know that the impossible is possible with One.

Who, having tasted WHOLEness, want to extend wholeness, in all its joy and freedom and rest.

Whether it’s through a meal to a hungry child. Or to a small group of hormone-crazed teens about to take over the world. Or through clean drinking water. Or a community center. Or a smile to your German neighbor.

We who know that no amount of physical transformation, sexual “freedom,” the “right” spouse or the clean house or the perfect kids or success or… none of it will make us whole.

That void in our souls and in our world is meant to remind us that we are all foreigners here.

To draw us into our homesickness.

We are meant to feel uneasy in our skin. But we have become a people so reviled by discontentment that we’ve forgotten its purpose. Forgotten the treasure waiting for us. We keep settling for false quick-fixes that leave us less.

When He’s handing us every bit of what our soul needs.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300 This has been another Five Minute Friday 🙂

This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Just write.