Not-rainy mornings in Washington? They are something special.
I can’t do them justice with words or Instagram pictures, so I don’t (and won’t) try.
Instead, I just let my eyes soak up the beauty and wonder and majesty of the sunrise, and mountain, and fog, and clouds, and world still gently cloaked in sleep.
And how all of it proclaims GOD IS.
Today at work, (with the help of Pinterest), I made a list of happy things. I tacked it to the bulletin board above my desk where my clients (and I) can see it regularly and be reminded of all there is in this brutiful life to love.
And as I was writing it? I caught myself smiling. I would defy you to read it and not smile as well.
Some of my favorites:
1. Making babies smile.
2. Getting letters in the mail.
3. Looking down at the clouds on an airplane.
4. Friends who are like family.
5. How excited dogs get about everything.
6. Meeting someone with the same birthday as you.
7. Watching someone talk about something they love.
8. Flannels in the winter.
10. Resting your head on someone’s shoulder.
11. 2 a.m. conversations.
12. Making someone laugh.
13. Looking forward to things.
14. “I love you,” “good morning,” “goodnight”.
15. When you can hear a smile in someone’s voice.
16. Sunny rooms.
17. Handmade gifts.
18. Being trusted.
19. Being brave enough to do the right thing.
20. The sound of a crackling fire.
I have become that person who sobs in her car, and then walks into the store without checking her face/makeup in a mirror first.
And then I buy myself flowers.
I am also the person who pulled my car over illegally the other day to ask a man in a wheelchair holding a sign if I could do anything for him. Food? Money? Warmth? “No,” he said. “I just need a job.”
Guys, he didn’t want anything but work. He was old and had no legs and no teeth and no home and he was dirty and it was cold, and if ever there was a person who had the right to give up, it was him. But he wasn’t giving up. He wanted to work.
It made the back of my eyes sting with tears. I apologized, sincerely, that I couldn’t provide work for him. And he looked at me with tired eyes and said, “It’s okay. God bless.”
And I returned the blessing. “God bless you, too,” I said. And I meant it.
And I had stopped for him, but I think the real gift in my stopping ended up being for me.
And there I was, in my warm car, with my green tea latte, driving back to work. So blessed. And still I had reasons to cry.
And I felt the warm hand of Jesus tip my chin upward to look Him in the eyes. And He smiled. And that was enough.
It’s enough to look like Him.
And maybe the sadness is, in some ways, a gift. It’s my tender-heartedness, after all, that led me to stop and talk with the man in the wheelchair.
And if I could wish my sadness away, I would. But not if that would mean trading in my tender heart, which I pray is coming to look more and more like Jesus’.
My eyes are on Him. He smiles down at me. And it’s okay. The sadness is okay. Because in His eyes, I see that I am held.
At church the other day, Pastor Billy was praying that the kids of our congregation would come to love Jesus- more than television, more than video games.
And I don’t think the problem is the video games. Or the children.
My foolishly bold (and undoubtedly unfair) complaint is with Jesus.
Because if only He was more real to us—if only our seeking paid off in a way that we could perceive—there’s no question in my mind that children (and adults!) would prefer Him to all other things.
And I know there’s this “walk by faith” thing, and that’s an important part of this life. But also, it feels like rejection and abandonment and it feels lonely, when you fall to your knees and come to Him and wait and wait and wait. And your heart grows heavier with every passing moment instead of lighter because WHERE IS HE?
And then, when my heart can’t handle it anymore and I feel defeated by the silence all around me and the heaviness within me–the desperation for Him that seemed to go unmet–I turn on the TV. And I laugh. And I don’t feel so alone because there are other voices filling the air and it’s not just me and my thoughts and my wanting and the silence.
And I know He promises we WILL find if we seek… AND KEEP ON SEEKING.
So I will. I will keep on.
But I’m just saying, I don’t blame kids.
It’s painful to go to Him and hope He’ll meet you, but silently fear you’ll leave feeling even more alone.
We need Him to be more real to us.
And I HAVE to believe that’s possible. Somehow, some way.
And so yes, I pray our kids will love the Lord above all else, but I also pray for that- that His presence will descend on us in a way that we can’t deny, and that our hunger for more and more of Him will make everything else lose at least some of its appeal.
I’m desperate for Him, and so I call everything a reflection of Him. I embrace it all.
I believe that God is in the bird flying overhead, and the cool fresh breeze of late autumn, and sound of salt crunching against pavement underneath my feet.
And color and yellow.
And getting inside a warm car, the heat taking the cold out of your limbs with a shiver.
And He’s in frosty windshields and blue skis and even the ability to cry.
He’s in dust particles floating across sunlight, and the smell of snow, and the way the bare trees look orange as the sun sets.
He has to be in those things. Because if He’s not there, if He’s not in those simple, everyday, often over-looked things, where is He?
And it’s beautiful and it’s wonderful, and it’s probably even more beautiful and wonderful than I even realize because it’s all I’ve ever known, so I take it for granted. I need fresh, child-like eyes with which to view the wonders this world has to offer- all of which are marked with His fingerprints.
And yet, even still, if He’s ONLY there–in the smile of a baby and the sound of the wind blowing through grass and the warm, comforting hand of someone you love–how is that the fulfillment of the promise that we will find Him when we seek Him?
It doesn’t make sense that there’s not more.
I want fire from heaven.
Wind that’s alive.
Thunder that carries his voice.
A dove to land on my shoulder.
Waves to cease at the mention of His name.
I want His presence to fall like rain, saturating us all.
I want His face to be bright in my mind and painted on the inside of my eyelids when I close my eyes.
I want my heart to be unmistakably, inexplicably His.
I want the truth that I carry the Holy Spirit within me to feel heavy with significance and purpose, and light with joy and hope.
I want to talk to Him as though we were face-to-face.
I want to feel His arms around me.
And still, as mere human, I have to accept that He knows how to be More Than Enough. Even if it doesn’t look the way I wish it would.
But I’m still going to hope for fire and things so impossible that they have to be holy.
I think one of the reasons movies are so deeply impacting to us is that they tell a story in which everything the characters feel and think and experience MATTERS. And that resonates with us, because how much of our lives do we feel like nothing about our hearts and lives really matter?
And not only that–the inarguable truth of the value of the characters’ lives and depths of their hearts–but also, in the end you are (usually) left with a heart-warming, life-affirming sense that it’s all going to be okay.
I texted Pauline yesterday afternoon.
I told her that it seems the happier I get, the more content I get with this life, the sadder I get as well. And I said I don’t understand how that’s possible and I’m so frustrated by my inability to just simply love life.
And I posted on Instagram:
“Today I am pondering how happiness and sadness can coexist- how often the happier I feel, the more there is this bubbling threat of tears within me. And I don’t understand it. But I try to welcome it- be gentle and patient with my tender heart.
And sometimes I wonder if what I call sadness is actually something else. Because my brain doesn’t have words for the sadness, and tears can result from many things. Gratitude, for instance. A heart that is reawakening and slowly, timidly coming back to life. Hearing someone say the words you didn’t even know you needed to hear until they’re spoken- hanging there in the air, while your cheeks turn red with the effort to keep tears from spilling from your eyes.
I don’t know what this is- this hope and joy and love and sadness(?). Belonging? Longing? A prayer?
And it’s days like this the child in me wants to reach out to those I love and remind them every hour ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’. Because the words–the truth of them, having someone to say them to–it’s like a hug. And tender, tear-filled hearts need that.
And also, burning within me–teary and holy and shouting ‘hallelujah!’–is this: I am living out, in my life and in my heart, the proof that Light drives out darkness. And He is coming.
And I’m young and fragile and scared. And His.
And it’s more hard and lovely and awe-inspiring and beautiful than words can say.
And so I cry.”
Oh, Jesus… Hold my heart…
I can’t do anything.
But You can do all things.
I thought this was beautiful.
Be well, friends.