A reckoning

In the moment
his affection will make you feel wanted,
his words will make you feel heard,
his eyes will make you feel seen,
his hand will make you feel held,
but until you are able to see yourself
as made whole by your Savior
and no one else, 
you will constantly go
from moment to moment
and person to person
in search of a Love
that is only ever felt
in the arms of the One
who knows you better than you know yourself,
and loves you more than anyone else.
                                               -Morgan Harper Nichols
Truth…I am a tiny bit jaded and freaked out.
I’ve had some people really hurt me in my dating (loosely used for sure) experiences.  It’s not all their fault, I have made some poor choices and there is  a consequence for everything we create…currently, it’s an emotional state of empty sadness.
I’m reflecting (read: ruminating) on the people I’ve been trying to impress by giving things that don’t belong to them…specifically man people.  Giving beyond depletion. Giving what I didn’t have to give and yearning for more than they were able to give in return. I have erased that fifty billion times and re-written it because I fear being judged or shamed.  So.  Treat with care.  It would be difficult for one  to judge me more harshly than I judge myself anyway.
I desperately want to feel cherished, not rejected.  I want to be understood, seen, accepted and appreciated for who I am.  I want to be held in the arms that embrace me with protection, respect and deep love.  I want to trust wholeheartedly and without fear of the future.
In the case that I never have those things, I accept the arms that are not equipped to keep me safe and the heart that isn’t healed to love me well.
I want to believe the truth…the stroke didn’t break me, the divorce didn’t break me, my childhood didn’t make me broken, my struggling finances and home in need of repair do not define me.  My mistakes are my fertilizer, my life is a miracle that I don’t need to ‘earn’….the list goes on…I want to believe that I am not broken, I am whole.
Because..you see…if I believe the truth that defines me as whole rather than the lie that I am deficient or broken;  perhaps I will stop accepting casual when casual is not what I want.  Perhaps I will seek out those who appreciate my quirkiness and my intelligence.  Perhaps I will seek out someone who thinks the things I consider broken in myself are the same things that make me beautiful.  Perhaps I will cease justifying when someone essentially dumps me on my ass without warning.  Perhaps I will cease my hateful self talk when I tell myself that this one dumped me because I wasn’t as pretty/thin/wealthy/fun/etc as his new focus and when he treats me less than, I will peacefully walk away.  Because…I will believe that I am worth.so.much.more.
Recently, I was awestruck by the picture I have here of Jesus holding the little girl…I looked at this in a moment of tearful frustration. I treasure this picture.  I have felt held like that before…but it seems like a lifetime ago since I felt that connected to God.  Even longer since I did a trust fall with God.
The deepest part of my heart was pinged.  “Sarah, if you want to be loved fully, you have to let me love you fully first.”  So reminiscent of something a dear friend said to me a few months ago but it wasn’t my friends voice I heard.
Why don’t I let God love me like only He can, preferring to keep him always at a slight distance?  I know the why’s…I’ve analyzed this forever but they aren’t nearly as important as what I’m going to choose now.
Going from moment to moment; person to person, in search of this Love I am intensely afraid of never experiencing…there is loneliness.  Not one moment nor one person is filling me up with this love I am longing for.  I get sad at the end of these ‘moments’, especially when I have earnestly cared for someone and honestly believed they were different.  Again, I can’t expect someone to give me something they don’t have.  I guess I can thank them for helping me see that my focus belongs elsewhere.
The embrace I long for is the same embrace I continue to push away.  I want to be fully known.  I want to know that I am fully loved, even though or maybe because I am fully and truly known. It’s maybe my deepest desire within myself.
So here we are, my God and I.  Together we face some unpleasant situations of my own making.  Together, we deal with those things.

Reckoning. Reconciling.  Learning to trust again.

 

 

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Soul Spark

It has been said, “when the student is ready, the master appears”.    Could it be that when the soul is open and willing, God brings the lessons (sometimes painful) that take us to a higher level of surrender (closer to Him)?   It all fits like a perfect puzzle in the end, right?  The issue is that no earthling is privy to just what the end is.  Possibly, even, what we see as the end is truly the beginning.

My precious friend shared a wonderful Taoist parable with me, I was lost in the beauty of the words and awestruck when he asked me to consider that this was only the middle of our story.  If we are in the middle (or anywhere but the end), how is it possible to judge life circumstances as good or bad, for we don’t know the end result.  The parable goes like this:

Good or Bad; Who Knows?

There once was a poor rice farmer, who had a very small field just large enough to feed his family.

Then one day a herd of wild horses came run­ning through the vil­lage. They ran into the farmer’s rice field and got stuck in the mud, and since they couldn’t get away, they were his.

His neigh­bor came run­ning over and said, “This is good news! Such good for­tune! You are rich, this is amaz­ing!” And the rice farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

A few weeks later the farmer’s 12-year-old son jumped up on one of the wild horses for a ride, only to be thrown off and have his leg bro­ken. The neigh­bor comes run­ning over and says, “Oh no, this is such bad news!” And the farmer said, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

A week later a Chi­nese gen­eral is march­ing through the farmer’s village on the way to war. On this march, the army is con­script­ing every healthy boy over 10 years of age. So they took every boy in the vil­lage except the farmer’s son because of his bro­ken leg.

The neigh­bor comes run­ning over and says, “Yes! This is won­der­ful news, how lucky are you?!” And the father replies, “Good news, bad news, who knows?”

Life is bursting with opportunities to form dichotomies…good news or bad news, who knows?  There comes to mind a zillion personal thoughts initially perceived as bad news that turned out to be the best news.  The big ole stroke could’ve been the end of this earthly life.  Instead, it gave immediate notification of an unknown hole in my heart that was putting my life in imminent danger, that hole is now repaired.  My sweet Daddy’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was horrific.  At the same time, there was so much healing in our relationship that occurred as a result of our time together those last years.  My divorce…I struggle with the good news in that, yet I fully trust that it’s there even when I only see glimpses.  Another  consideration; news for one might seem like bad news for another and vice versa.  Again, who knows?  Additionally, in each moment we choose our path.  Is it possible, even when the ‘good’ is concealed in the dark, to live confidently,  truly believing it’s there?  It is more than possible, and I seek to live passionately and wholeheartedly while walking in love, hope and integrity.

Am I living congruently?  Do the desires of my inner being mesh better with right this minute or also with hope for a bright future?  The things I (think) I believe in my core…do I?  Why or why not?  Where did I learn them?  Yes, I’ve been growing healthier spiritually, physically, professionally and emotionally but there is far more growth to come.  I don’t have answers.  I don’t want to argue…not even with myself.  I don’t want to prove anyone right or wrong.  I just want to seek the things that spark my soul.

There is this intense desire to live life fully, embracing completely the season I am in.  Learning to love and be loved wholeheartedly, to express and receive genuine adoration…these are “worthy wishes” that are new additions to my repertoire.  I’ve prayed often recently, wishing to strengthen my relationship with God more than anything and trusting that the rest will follow.  I’ve asked God often for heartfelt relationships that are soulful, deeply engaging and bring me closer to  Him. It should be no surprise that my eternally inquisitive spirit has recently been exposed to endless discussions that cause me to ponder and question my own belief system in every area.  I  cherish this journey, for every opportunity to investigate myself grants the opportunity to live a richer life.  There could be a blog written on each question, but until the internal chaos settles a bit, I can only name my ponderings.

  1.  Now that I’ve dared to dream the possibility of a future relationship, what would I dream that it looks like?  Heart flutters (the good kind), belly butterflies and googly eyes are excellent; but what beyond these precious prizes?
  2. I believe that God loves me and that I am secure in my salvation.  I am baffled that there is so much doubt surrounding that for so many that I love.  I’m left wondering how to defend my assuredness and my faith or if defend is even the right word.
  3. Conversations about God and spiritual practice make me happy.  They also make me think outside of my box.  In the end, all I can do is seek wise counsel and trust that I am on the path God has for me.  I really cannot fathom that my path is better than anyone else’s or that there’s is better than mine; I can keep an open heart and mind and seek the value.  I guess the challenge in this is searching my own soul and trusting that small, still voice.
  4. I am intrigued by the practices of worship, adoration, meditation, contemplation, and in how we all perceive God and our relationship (or lack of) with Him.  There are so many times that I have run from God, still he pursues me.  I wonder how I live out this unconditional kind of love in my own life?
  5. Where in the heck should I intern and how will this (work, family, growth, school, internship, etc) all come together?  This feels like another exercise in trust….am I on Candid Camera?
  6. It’s pure loveliness to be respected, doted over, and presented with fun surprises!  It’s lovely, novel, different and feels so grown up.  It makes me wonder why I have ever been okay with being treated as less than the beloved girl my Father created me to be.
  7. I don’t have a crystal ball or magic wand yet, I’m not sure why God hasn’t made those my spiritual gifts, lol! Hmmm hat I am reflecting on heavily is the joy in the journey and the impact of earnest gratitude. Gratitude is a life changer, Ranger!
  8. When I willingly lay down my burdens at the cross, everything, everything, everything changes.  Why do I insist on holding on not only to my hurt at times, but to control?  My theory…I had such a chaotic childhood that knowing the ‘what if’s’ and deciding how things should look creates a false sense of safety for me.  Time to let that illusion go.  Seriously.
  9. Some things build up slowly, other things are immediate.  One is not better than the other.  I do wonder though…what does it mean when there is an intense draw to one that I barely know and at the same time,  a desire to move away from or stay status quo with one I know well?
  10. Every spark (lots of the sparks) does NOT come through comfortable or kind vessels.  Don’t discount the spark, Sarah.
  11. We’ve all been hurt in the past. I think it’s just human nature to try and protect or defend ourselves from more hurt. Sometimes it’s covert and unconscious, other times it’s overt and intentional. Perhaps it’s worth it to investigate what fronts and defenses I put into play and to remember that before I know it, my walls become my devastating enemy.
  12. I forge out the what if’s and all the possibilities I foresee, and when others mess up my plans, I have a propensity toward an inner (sometimes outer) freak out. No! Stop. What an excellent opportunity to be reminded to trust God and his timing before my own. Those freak outs are humiliating and embarrassing and I don’t have to weigh it long to discern my own contribution to the ouch factor.
  13. Laughing…especially ay myself…even at my mistakes…it’s absolutely delightful medicine for my soul. Laughter sparks.
  14. There are places that spark my soul, and if they don’t spark my soul and I’m in those places daily…how do I change that trajectory?  Additionally, I dream of places I want to go…namely Maine and Vermont in the fall and back to the Cascade waterfalls.  Is that going to happen ever?  Gosh, I hope so.
  15. God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.  The more I believe this, the more my heart is filled with unwavering joy.

Albert Schweitzer said it beautifully, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.  It is then burst into flame by and encounter with another human being.  We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”  Life can take our flame and drown it in floodwaters until it’s seems like it’s gone; yet if we look closely, there is going to be the tiniest little spark remaining.  Much like the faith of a mustard seed that moves mountains is little spark that I feel rising within me.

I’m a ready and willing student and the teachers are coming in droves.  The good and the bad seem to cohabitation.

Good news or bad news?  Who knows.  Maybe that’s not the question.