Obedient Fear

Obedient Fear

Do the thing that scares you

Look into the eyes of grace

And go where you dreamed on your darkest night

Do the thing that you haven’t been able to hear

For fears heartbeat pounding loudly in your ear

Are you where you want to be

Or sitting on your hands

Afraid of the clenched fist that they might become

Do the thing that scares you

Learn to love, with grace and forgiveness and trust

Do the thing that scares you.

And He who breathes heavenly hope into our hearts will not deceive or fail us when we press forward toward its realization. ~Streams in the Desert 3.26.~

Let me just say that 2015 has started off weird, not bad, just weird.  Namely I am sensing change is needed and realizing that most times that requires that I get up and do something about whatever is going on in my life.  Granted there are times life changes everything for you and there is very little you can do but hold on and enjoy the ride, but sometimes, sometimes the change most certainly starts when you confront that part of you that’s been scared of the great big what if sitting in the room.  And the following thought has been my diving board to the deep end of the pool.

Do the thing that scares you, the thing you look at wish could be apart of your resume of life.

I do not know how to quilt or really sew for that matter. Up until two weeks ago the last thing I had sewn of significance was a placemat project with my Aunt Ardene. I was trying to raise money for basketball trip overseas and hiring myself out for odd jobs. She decided it was time for me to learn to sew and that my first project would be learning the Lincoln log quilting pattern (it is every bit as ridiculous as it sounds).

(photo credit http://madlibster.blogspot.com/2013/05/alphabet-quilt.html)

Yup, that is it right there, each of those is a separate piece of fabric that has been cut out and then sewn together. I am pretty sure I heard brain cells exploding when she sat me down in front of the machine to start the whole thing.

Anyhow for each one of the completed squares (the above pattern is one square and mine were a little bigger) she would pay me $0.25, so basically it was the beginning of indentured servitude. I finished 4 squares, enough for one placemat (you are welcome Thompson family reunion) and then begged her for anything else to do, like scrubbing toilets. So she cut me loose and Melissa somehow got roped into doing the project and I decided that I would never ever sew again… ever.

Flash forward 15 years, I decided to try something that scared me quit frankly. You see Aunt Ardene was something of an artist, she painted with fabric, yes it was a blanket, a quilt, by all logical definitions, but art tends to defy both logic and definition, because it tugs at emotions that you were unaware of running beneath the still and silent surface. In the back of my mind I didn’t want to mess with memories happy, sad, or otherwise but I looked at my Mom and showed her some pictures of patchwork couches and said ‘Do you think we could do this?’

Do the thing that scares you.

What’s the worse thing that could happen, it wouldn’t look good? At least I could say I tried.

It is so easy to guard myself by the boundaries of things that scare me, it’s safe, I don’t get scars, you know those pesky emotional ones, especially when I stick only with what I know.

Do the thing that scares you.

It keeps echoing in my head, like a mantra I have been unaware of up until now because the pounding of my heart has been hiding this very simple truth, I am made of much more than I know.

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Waiting

 

Ozark Riverway (1 of 19)The fireflies are thick at night here, a silent symphony of sparkling lights, speaking to one another in some fractal pattern I can see but am to simple to understand. Yet I can sense the music they are speaking to one another because despite my inability to understand them, I can see they understand one another and work in an easy sort of harmony and that I can appreciate.

Lying in this hammock under an umbrella of trees, with the thicker forest behind me, I feel myself wrestling with many different realizations

* I love Jesus, but I am a jerk

* My sexuality is not my identity , yet it is how I judge those around me

* And while I am mostly okay with my singleness, I also let it rob me of my joy because in my heart I want to share life with someone and have in turn, let an idol become my identity

I don’t know who you are or when I’ll get to meet you or whether we will have 2 months or 42 years. What I do know is that I am sorry that I have been selfish and have judged you. You may wonder why I’d even say that but it’s the truth of all close relationships. I will want something out of it for me and I will judge your actions or lack there of because they don’t look or conform to mine. Inevitably my humanity will raise her head and she will be fully lacking in grace.

I find that my heart is somewhat bitter and jaded, as if fighting inner truths of myself I can’t yet understand. I have had made very poor choices for the most part about whom I have dated.  The man I should have stuck with I ran from because when you aren’t good enough for yourself, you seriously doubt the motives of those who see goodness in you. I am not that person anymore, pieces of that girl still exist but I am learning it is less of who I am and much more whose i am. Please know now, whom ever you are, that while I desperately want to share life with you it is only because my God, in whom my identity lies, has known my heart fully first.

I ask you please pray for me.  Please know I will need accountability to not idolize you or this relationship; I will prioritize it in such a way that it won’t reflect the glory and love of our Savior.

Henry Nouwen reminded me awhile ago in his book The Way of the Heart, about identity, I had forgotten what he had said until re-reading it.

“Only in the context of grace can we face our sin; only in the place of healing do we dare show our wounds; only with a single minded attention to Christ can we give up our clinging fears and face our own true nature… Christ points the way in walking with the compulsion of false self saying, ‘ You must worship the Lord your God, and serve Him alone.’ He affirms that God alone is the source of true identity.” {Romans9:16&18}

And truthfully, I am maybe understanding He is the only spouse I will ever know. In a hypersexual world where choosing to abstain and live a chaste lifestyle is nearly looked upon with distain, maybe this is how I will be called to be ” in the world, not of the world”, because let’s be honest, our current society worships sex and relationships at a level few are willing to take a look at. If I am to be completely candid, the church has done a poor job of mentoring the singles, I may vent on occasion about my frustrations of my relationship status, but the response shouldn’t be one of listing off possible and potential partners’ as if we are playing a non-cyber version of e-harmony. As with any struggle we face, the response should be one of encouragement of pressing in to Christ.  Praying with and for those voicing their struggle, and listening, because as much as I love my friends, none of you will ever be able to fix my problems, ever.

It hasn’t been an easy choice. I’m in my 30’s not dead.  To deny that I have sexual urges would be a lie but to give into them would only declare to the world that my Jesus isn’t enough. That is something I do very well every day already and my tendency is to take this pain to the desert and isolate, convincing myself that I am getting away from it all, but truthfully hidden pain festers and becomes an outward ugliness.

That is why I am writing any of this right now; the culture is changing.  What I believe is being called out as straight up crazy and the bottom line is I can say I don’t know why I believe, Christ is the Savior. I feel like a heretic even saying that but it’s the truth. In my darkest, moments when I doubt myself, my salvation, and yes even my God, there is a conviction that lays at the foundation of my heart, that I did not place there.  That quietly states “I am the truth, the way, the life.” and I cannot tell you why, or how, but I know its the truth. And because I am human, I try to live life as though its not the truth, as if my version of truth is somehow more true.

So I find myself on my knees yet again praying for you, for me, for God’s will to be blatantly obvious, a place I should have gone to at the beginning. I will go on living and I am sensing part of my problem has been I have been holding a piece of my heart aside for you.  And guess what? that’s wrong,… because it doesn’t belong to you.  But because of that mindset I haven’t been living fully in the promises of Christ. However its a dichotomy of sorts because I am still waiting for you, because it’s what I am being called to do. That being said, I look forward to the day of knowing your face and sharing your heart and living in the promises that are ours from the day of Abraham.

 

 

Tension of the Strings

February Blizzard Days 001

 

I have been staring at my guitar for a while now and am realizing how much I take for granted the tension of this instrument.  When the strings are in tune and someone with talent places their hands to the strings and frets, melodies that will make a person’s heart soar and cry can come forth from metal and wood.  What I like to forget is that a piece of metal that runs the length of the neck of the guitar, unseen, is keeping the wood straight which with time and humidity can warp, causing the guitar to become impossible to play and horribly out of tune and the harmonic echoes nearly non-existent.  I want beauty from this instrument but it requires a beautiful and very necessary tension, which includes the strings that must be drawn tight, which is exactly how my soul feels right now.

Drawn tight, it is a strange thing to say because a string loose over the sound hole of a guitar will not produce any sound worthy of being noted, it will be flat, it will not hold its own amongst the cacophony of noise…. it must be drawn tight.  If music is the purpose of the guitar and the string, it must be pulled taut and sometimes it will be broken but the master luthier knows how to fix such things.

I came to a conclusion this November and it really wasn’t a pretty one, it came back to identity.  I have always struggled with negative titles of myself and God has been good to rid me of them, however the negative titles of myself that I have idolized are not the only thing I have been bowing to.  Even the positive titles detract from who I really am, identifying myself as anything less than the daughter of the King says the Cross is not enough.

Acknowledgement of my past and shelving it isn’t enough because it still owns a piece of my heart and my God loves me enough to cut away anything and everything that will keep me fully from Him.  Which includes positive titles of myself and seasons of grief that I have allowed to rule and breathe fear into my very being.

Historically November has been a month of trials and loss and at some point my fear of what might happen began to rule to the point of me feeling as though I couldn’t breathe and I might possibly snap.  Having walked a season of healing and letting go (mostly) it was as though God was asking me to not forget those I have lost in November but actually give them to him.  If I truly believe that they are in heaven, then why do I idolize each November as though they must die again?

Romans 14:7-9

For none of us live to himself, and none of us die to himself.  For if we live, we live to the Lord and if we die, we die to the Lord.  So then whether we live or whether we die we are the Lords.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and the living.

He died once and rose, so that they in him could die once and rise again in him.

The grief of losing parts of me and their presence in my life will come at random times, I don’t know that you ever forget these things, but I also cannot place them on the mantle of my idol making heart.  That place belongs alone to God and he is asking me to trust him with November.  Meaning I am to trust, in him they are safe at home, I am to trust that my pressing into him means I am safe, something I am quick to forget.

God brought these people and circumstances, good and bad, into my life so that I might understand him in a capacity that I may not have been able to do without them.  They were not placed in my life to become a focal point of my existence.

I have noticed that when we lose people or things of value in our lives we are handed a book with stages of grief and I think that some get stuck in the grief because the pain becomes familiar and safe.  I know that, that was my truth.  However rarely have I heard someone say it’s okay to miss them and move on.  If I am to be constantly pressing in for comfort from God, than me standing in my grief does not really leave a whole lot of room for Him.

So the master Luthier does what he does best, he gets my attention.  He lets a string snap and then replaces it, pulling it tight across the sound hole of the guitar, so that what is played next is a sweet, sweet sound in his ears.

It is the sound of what is sometimes uncomfortable but always necessary, the tension of the strings.

Two Truths on a Snowy Day

snowy march

It’s March and it is snowing in St. Louis and in the midst of the flakes piling up on the trees yesterday, each with their own specific design, not to be replicated, I was yet again reminded that you never see creation trying to be something less than what it was created for. Not once did the muted snow argue with each other about where they would fall, or whom they would pile up with or where their end might be. Creation has no problem what so ever trusting the creator.

So as the blue shadows of the frozenness expanded through the day I was reminded of two very contradictory truths in my life right now:

1) I love Jesus
2) I do not trust that Jesus knows what is best for me, I just like to give it lip service
I wrote that and then had to take a step back because it hurts to admit it and it hurts a bit more to see it on the screen.
You see it is easy for me to have faith that God will provide those things that feel safe, however once things flip into the scary faith zone, those things that I would really have to fully let go of and let God work through me in, in those moments my inner 4 year old shows up and tries to take over the kitchen.

You know the kid I am talking about the one who wants to “help” with the scrambled eggs in the morning and you end up with a half-gallon of milk on the floor, 5 raw eggs smashed on the stove and a screaming child in full meltdown mode. I am driven slightly crazy by that kid, I want them to understand that if they would let me work through them and guide them it would go just fine, but the truth is when it comes to God I am that stubborn four year old thinking my wants are really my needs.

I am reminded of a story from when I was a kid, my family was traveling via car from St. Louis to Northeastern Montana, I was probably around 3-4 at the time. It is a long trip, roughly 2 days equating 20 hours or so of drive time, that is a lot of driving for adults let alone small children whose sole form of entertainment is a fisher price radio with a worn out Psalty tape. I sincerely have no idea how my father stayed sane, seriously children’s music is slightly terrifying.

My parents stopped at some rest stop in the middle of the Great Plains and they took a picture of me being my squirrely self, grinning like a fool have a good time, the picture that followed was one of a child being told the world might end. My shoulder were slumped, my face dejected I looked deflated, life had no purpose in my little brain, from the looks of this picture. Apparently right before that shot was taken I was told by my father I needed to get back into the car, my response was “ I can’t want to.”, now grammatically that is an improper sentence but it speaks the truth of my heart, then and even now.

When I want to do things my way, when I shove Jesus to the side and He comes to me in the silence of the valley and asks me to have faith, my response is I can’t want to, because I am not allowing him to work in me and through me so I can in turn glorify him.

Which brings me back to the snow, my purpose is to glorify my creator. By being in him, so that Him through me can be shone to the world. When I lose sight of my God because I am not in the gospel remembering his justification, sanctification and redemption, my ‘I can’t want to’ attitude shows up in in full force and I forget very easily what my purpose is and get caught up in worldly wants, but our father is faithful, our father is just, our father is a steadfast loving covenant keeper.

It is so very easy to get wrapped up with all that goes around and lose sight of the fact that life is not about independence but complete dependence on he who made me, that in Christ I am for freedoms sake free, that death isn’t the finish line it is the starting line. My God came to me and my response needs to be repent, rejoice, repeat because all of this is for His glory.  Not that I am any paradigm of this truth because I mess it up everyday, but thankfully my God loves me enough to keep reminding me even if it’s two truths on a snowy day.

I John 4:13-17
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.

The One

Me oh my, my dear Montana sky, I think maybe I’ve missed you.

The clouds dance here, though it is no dance I’ve ever seen before, across a sapphire blue sky, east to west.

We chase after things of this world because we are told by this world it is what we are supposed to do, but as Watchman Nee points out, all things of this kosmos, even with the intentions of being good are from the tree of knowledge.  James further points out in the end of his letter that despite us thinking this life is ours, it is really what the Lord wills, a bitter pill for our humanity to swallow but a sweet sigh of relief for our souls.

Somewhere along the line, at a tree in a garden, we as woman bought the lie that our one perfect and true love is somewhere on this earth; that, that person who can make our dreams come true, love us selflessly, meet our every need and desire, that, that person is of this earth, this kosmos.  We have somehow deluded ourselves to believe whole heartedly that something on this earth, a result of the great divorce, could possibly be what our eternal souls crave and need.

How ridiculously unfair have we been to the men of this world, fallen creatures just as us, fruits plucked from a tree we had no business with to begin with.  How quick we are to blame them for our un-happiness, when it is our own fault for loving the wrong One.

Daily I forget it and daily I beat myself for it, getting stuck in the endless, woe is me mentality.   Wishing for the “better” life, wishing for a “different” life, with nothing left but my sticky pride, keeping me from turning, from all things of this earth that fade and feasting my eyes upon my true north star, the hope of the earth, lover of my soul and keeper of my heart.

Is there one true love for everyone? Yes, but you will never find him on this terrestrial ball.  You must starve your eyes of all things to see Him and be in the silence to hear Him and sit in the night to know His touch upon your heart.  For he is a jealous lover, he will not stand for other things or other people to come before him, but oh, how he loves.

My One true love

Comforts in the night

Is the healer of all sorrow

Sees me & knows me & wants to be known

My One true love

Has chased me since I was born

Has relentlessly pursued my heart

To make it His own

However, I like Hosea’s wife, have turned away time and time again, thinking I have found something more true and more real than the creator of the universe.

Yet he says,

I will betroth you to me forever.  I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.  I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.  And you shall know the Lord.

Hosea 2:19-20

~heather.leigh.~ 11/26/2012