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.

 

Broken but Worth Everything

imagescalyn33j-720x340You know those days…

Or maybe it’s the weeks or months or years.

The ones where your cracked and put-back-together self feels the spotlight shining on all of your splinters and glue.

The ones where your roughly restored edges rub up against and scrape anything within a mile radius.

The ones where you are SO AWARE of how many times you’ve been broken.

And restored.

Over and over.

jug-347327_640But with each new restoration… your ability to see your own beauty and worth fade.

All you see are the lines. The chips. The evidence that this which was once whole and perfect and unblemished… is now one more crash away from the trash bin.

Or, if it’s a good day, then from someone’s mosaic.

I’m a broken jar. I’ve been pieced back together more times than I can count. Rough edges. Chipped corners. Beautiful from only one angle. Seemingly value-less from the other angles.

But oh, how I delight in the treasure we have in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us! (2 Corinthians 4:7)

If my value rested in what is visible… oh boy.

But instead:

broken-jar

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

2 Corinthians 4:10-12 (emphasis mine)

Praise the Lord, oh my soul, oooooh my soul! Worship His holy name! I am not defined by my cracks or my tears or my wounds or my broken places.

NO!

I am defined by my contents.

Bandaged up as I may be, fractured as I may appear, damaged as my exterior is… it is HIS life in my jar that makes me whole.

His light that makes the scars beautiful.

His joy that overflows to water the ground around me.

You are defined by what you carry. By the purpose for which He has prepared in advance for you. Others may see only marred clay or where His light highlights the flaws.

They are blind and broken too.

It’s always, always easier to notice the crags of another’s jar than to look in the mirror and embrace our shattered-and-pasted-together selves. To notice where this piece keeps falling off and needing to be re-attached. To see the stretch marks and wrinkles and gray hair and acne and thick-whatever-we-want-thin. To see our superior attitude and prejudice and negativity and critical spirits and self righteousness and apathy and quick tempers and impatience.

We see our disfigurement and cringe, ashamed and embarrassed and afraid that it’s proof that we truly are worth as little as we feel.

It’s always easier to look the other way and point out the rifts in another’s jar.

When we submit to this “ease” of escaping our own mirrors and the pain we feel… and target the pain of others, we are SHOUTING how much we need the truth of Jesus’ love in our lives.

We paint a banner over our heads to proclaim that we are only worth the quality of our container and at least mine is better than yours. Or at least yours is the one I’m looking at so I can ignore mine.

Ah, but then how we miss the point! How we miss the beauty and the glory and the joy that is ours to take and rest in.

 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (emphasis mine)

Oh friends, how we know what little boast-worthy material we have when we see our splintered jars.

But this is NOT where your value lies.

It is because of the fragility, the frailty, the weakness of our vessel that we can be strong.

Because our boasting is in the Lord!

And He is beauty. Perfection. Priceless. The Deepest, Truest Love. Justice. Mercy. Grace. Peace. Rest.

THIS is our banner.

That not even though, but because of our blemishes and imperfections, we make the perfect vessel for God’s glory.

You, sweet friend, are the perfect vessel for God’s glory.

And what could be of greater value than THAT?

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