Sunday, November 25, 2012

How He Loves Me

In the midst of digging through Christmas decorations, I found it.  A box I had forgotten even existed.  I spent about an hour pouring over its contents, piece by piece, memory upon memory, falling in my lap.  Each old photo, card, and letter told a story, held a glimpse of a part of my life long past.

The ones that meant the most to me included a letter from my Grandpa Harrison, written to me late in my college career while I was active in campus ministry, seeking after God with all my heart.  To my knowledge it is the only letter I have from him.  He is with Jesus now.  And then there was the one written by my father, after he helped me move into my very first apartment on the campus of Lexington Theological Seminary.  It was full of a father's encouragement, but more than that.  It held the blessing and prayers of one farther down the road, who had also followed God's call into ministry, speaking hope into the new journey of another just beginning.

There were pictures from my graduation from college, graduation from seminary, and all those adventures I had as a young associate pastor in my first church.

I looked at that young woman, so full of promise, so full of dreams.  And then I went and looked in the mirror.  I don't look so young anymore. 

I walked through the rest of yesterday with a faint sadness tugging at my heart. 

I've finally put my finger on it, that sting.  It is the question that I have trouble answering:  Did I live up to the letters?

This season is so hard.  I never dreamed that God would ask me to surrender everything.  I never dreamed that the Holy Fire I felt when I knew I was serving Him in the way I was created to, would make its way to the altar.  Nor did I reckon on having to surrender passion and purpose as well.  I sometimes wonder if I was mistaken all those years in campus ministry telling young people God had a purpose for their lives, something they were made for, something that would bring them great joy.  Was I lying and didn't even know it?

I wonder at my purpose now.  I see it in those three angel faces that call me "Mommy."  I know that I only have one chance to be their mother, to share with them my heart, to be the instrument God desires me to be in forming their hearts.  I only get one shot.  And it means the world to me to be here.  So I don't want to blow it. 

But at the same time I struggle with the thing I believe other mothers struggle with:  I just don't get over-the-top-excited about packing lunch boxes.  And I remember what it is like to live in the sweet spot where inward desire, meaningful purpose, and fulfilled calling meet.  I was there not so long ago.

Did I miss something?

Last night I lay in bed, silent tears tugging at the corners of my eyes, daring to spill.  Tim was saying such sweet words to me.  I interrupted him with my "But . . . ," telling him of the ways I no longer feel worthy of love.  He said to me simply, "You are telling me how you feel about yourself.   I'm telling you how I feel about you."

His love trumps my self-doubt.  Self-pity.  Self-concern.

Love wins.

I believe God was showing me something through him.  All those years of serving, I believed God loved me because my service made me worthy of love.  And the truth is . . .  Oh how He loves me.  And He chooses a plainspoken man to show me His kind of Unconditional Love, a man who adores me, who sees me as beautiful, who is proud to be my husband, who finds joy in in my arms.

Today was better, easier.  When I feel lost in the randomness of ordinary, understanding the why of it helps.  And sometimes locking us in ordinary is the only way God can get through to us, to get us to be still enough to understand His truth--that Love loves.  And it is His Love that makes us lovely.  Not because of what we do for Him or for anyone else.  Not because of what we accomplish.  We are beloved because He loves us.  Little ol' us, without the bells and whistles of anything noteworthy.  Learning this little Truth is horrible and wonderful all at the same time.  Oh, how He loves us so.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Mystery of the Meantime

It's hard to know what to write about.  My daily experience repeats itself--I have no real sense of anticipation or direction.  I am just waiting.  And I can't even name the thing for which I'm waiting.  I mark days, noting how working days number themselves, melting into weekends, moving steadily towards the next season, holiday, bump or break in routine.  I am lost in the familiarity of it.  My life is this tick-tock progression.  And I wonder at God's plans for me.  Is this it?  Is there more?

So it's hard to write.  Usually the words flow from a deep place that has been kindled into Life, seeing a greater Meaning, and Opening, and Expansiveness that infuses my ordinary with something quite different--Other and Unknown.  And the Revelation thrills me, stirs up all kinds of joy within, making this living less daily, more amazing, each drop of life so unique and special and altogether Gift.

But something entirely different is happening now on the landscape of my soul.

Sheesh! This is hard. 

I'm watching my life tick away, each grain of sand floating through the narrow funnel of the present, so quickly becoming the past.  And I mourn the passage because I think I missed something somehow.  I want to be joyful and amazed again.  Joy and amazement escape me.

But the Faith part of me says there is value in the boredom of waiting.

Because the stretching out of this waiting time, this interim is really shaping something in me that cannot be shaped any other way.  In the innermost part of my character I am seeing those uglier parts of my being, that only come out when the more "spiritual" parts are not being entertained.  They come forth and show how far from Glory I really am.  The only reason Glory exists in my life is because Glory comes near.

My prayer has been, "O God, do so thoroughly what You have to do in me so that You only have to do it once."  Perhaps I shouldn't have prayed such a prayer.  Because the me I love most is lost in His thoroughness.  I wonder if I'll ever see her again. 

But the Faith part of me says there is a more substantial her coming.

The woman God is shaping in this meantime has more depth, more trust, more clarity, more knowing, more yieldedness, more real hope to share.  This peson God is shaping in me is less concerned about accomplishing and more concerned about getting out of the way of God's accomplishing.

I'm not there yet.  I'm not her yet. 

But this meantime refining is helping me to care less about what I do for God and more about just belonging to God.  It's who I am and nothing else matters.  I'm learning that.  The irony is that in the desperate boredom I'm learning more about God's Glory than any wonder He has ever shown me.  Because He absolutely will not bend to my will.  He is Holy.  Oh so Holy.  There is nothing to distract me from discovering how profoundly different I am from Him.

And this is the discovery in which I must rest, waiting for Him to lift me up.  Knowing He loves me.  Just as I am.  Imperfect. Waiting me.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Glory All Around

Every now and then I look through the pictures on my phone.  Often I get tickled at what I find, frame after frame of random snap-shots from the vantage point of a very small person.  I've begun to understand that when my little one says, "Mommy, me play your phone," it usually means I have a budding photographer in the making. 

What is it that he looks at?  What does the world look like from where he stands?  What does he take notice of?

Sure there are lots (and lots) of pictures of carpet. . . . or concrete.  But then I notice there are some great pictures in there too.  And I begin to realize that he sees the world in a completely different way than I do.

So often I am focused on accomplishing a goal, moving through a process, completing a task, just trying to finish something.  My mind is preoccupied with plans, problems, and possibilities.  And it is so impossible sometimes to just be in the moment.  To take in all that is available to me.  To taste and see in each moment that God really is good.

And when I see my littlest boy's pictures I realize that this is the only way he knows how to live.

I remember a time when I looked at grass.  I mean really looked at it.  Flopping a beach towel on the lawn in front of the chapel at seminary, I laid down on my belly, and from ground level I watched the grass grow.  I still remember the pain of that day.  I had left class feeling the weight of rejection and depression full upon me, so heavy I could barely breathe.  And Sweet Jesus I just needed to breathe.  So I went outside to watch the grass.  Somehow watching slender green blades reach toward the sky helped me forget the pain of my brokenness for a moment.  And I could sense God was there with me, Big and Enough to make grass grow.  Big and Enough to rescue me from my own sadness.

Oh that was so long ago.

I can't help but wonder what my little one sees when he looks at me. 

Does he see the woman who knows that God is Big and Enough or does he see the one who needs to spend some time watching the grass?  Does he see me living in faith?  Or does he see me as the one who wonders about God's faithfulness?

Maybe this is what it means to enter the Kingdom of Heaven as a child.  To have child-like faith that takes each moment as it comes, full of hope and love, ready for the next adventure, open to the Promise of the day because the Promiser can be trusted, eyes to see the Glory of God bursting out all around.

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now I'm found, was blind . . . .

But now I see.