In Every Moment

“I just think that there’s meaning in everything,” my client said a couple weeks ago. “I think God is in everything and that our days matter so much more than we could ever understand.”

Sometimes my clients help me.

Sometimes they don’t. Another client of mine has told me two times in a row that I look crazy.

Her insight is unnerving.

*

I cried at the doggy daycare last week.

I was petting this sweet, little dog with the most gentle eyes, and the woman behind the counter said, “You know, she’s up for adoption.”

And everything in me wanted to take her home and be her mommy.

And I looked at her eyes, so filled with hope and delight at having my attention, and I thought about how she doesn’t have a mommy, and it made me tear up.

Because her tail was wagging and her eyes were gentle but no one loves her the way I love Arlow.

*

How do we stay in this fight?

If I was with God, His love would feel like a hug.

If everything here, everything I love and everything I desire, is just a mere reflection of the goodness that awaits me in heaven, why wouldn’t I want to be there?

Because love chooses well. Love chooses not to abandon people, not to give up on this life that’s a gift. I know that. In my head, I know that.

But inside of me, I’m a child lost at the carnival and everyone around me is laughing and talking and eating cotton candy, and I’m standing there, terrified, with no parent’s legs to grab onto.

And does anyone see? Does anyone see how alone and scared I am? Only Him. Only heaven.

*

Some people think you go to hell if you kill yourself, but I think that’s dumb. It’s professing, in essence, that God’s grace is big enough to cover every sin but one.

Plus, God doesn’t fault us for being sick.

Not to mention, that black and white philosophy leaves so much unanswered. Like what about people who die from an accidental drug overdose? Do they immediately go to hell? Even though they weren’t trying to kill themselves? Even though they might believe in Jesus?

I wonder about my clients sometimes, how a loving God could send to hell a person who can’t possibly believe in Him because they hear cupboards speak to them and think Michael Jackson is preparing a palace for them to live in. How could He fault them for not believing? I don’t think He will.

I don’t think He does.

I watched my client die the other day. I went to deliver her meds, and the next thing I knew, EMTs were trying to get her heart started again.

The only coherent thing she said to me before she died? “I have to say a prayer.”

“You have to say a prayer?” I asked.

And then again, she said, “I have to say a prayer.”

*

My face was pressed against the couch this afternoon. Lies and truths swirling about in my head, fighting for a voice.

And then, I felt God’s gentle urging to just let it be.

“Let the lies and truths coexist for now; it’s not as important to piece them apart as it feels. The real issue at hand is: Who are you?

When it’s just you and the couch, when all your relationships could fall away and it would just be you standing alone, apart from who loves you and who doesn’t, apart from where you belong and where you don’t, apart from what someone thinks of you or if they think of you at all, who are you?”

Yours.

I am Yours, I am Yours, I am Yours.

*

Whenever I need a hug, I watch Narnia.

There’s just something about Aslan. The eyes, the laugh, the roar.

They remind me of home.

*

I don’t know how to do this.

When Hunger Keeps You Alive

What do I feel and why do I feel it and is it her or her or him that I want to hear “I love you” from or is it Him?

And am I going to be able to satiate all that’s insecure and lonely within me by soaking up others’ words or hugs or presence? Can I crawl into another’s soul-comforting words and live there- pulling another’s affirmations and love up and over me like a blanket?

No. And I know that. We’re wired in such a way that we need Him. Nothing else will do.

But even that brings about its own questions. Even that comes with a desperate, panicked clinging.

Because how do I wrap myself in His arms? How do I fold myself within the pages of scripture and breathe in the peace and shut out everything that hurts or confuses me or scares me? How do I bury myself so deeply into Him that my thirst for love is met?

Can I spend an hour on my knees and trust that it’s not futile? Can I really, fully believe Him to be as near as my very breath?

Do I have any idea what it really means that He loves me? And if I did, if I had even the slightest sense of how He loves me, wouldn’t that be enough? Wouldn’t He, indeed, finally resonate within me as More Than Enough and Life Abundant and Living Water for my thirst?

I refuse to let myself numb my hunger by feeding myself things that aren’t Him.

But I also refuse to let myself stop looking for Him in all things.

Because the sin isn’t needing to be loved, the sin is putting a higher value on the things of this world than the One who created it.

He knew we’d long to be held by Him. That’s why we have each other.

But He also knew people would fall short, they’d let us down and love us imperfectly and, even when relationships were perfect, there’d still be a part of us hungry for something more.

He is my 3 a.m. confidant and the one who I’ve, on multiple occasions, met with as I cried in a bathroom stall, my head tilted toward heaven, uttering only these words: “Who do I have in all the world but You?”

He is the warmth of the cat curled up and purring against my neck.

He is the comfort I feel when I wrap my favorite blanket around my shoulders.

He is the creator of the ones I love. He is the creator of my heart. He is the one who is orchestrating all things.

Here I am. In this place. For a reason.

And I don’t understand everything that is unsettled within me, but I know that if I keep running to Him, seeking His face, I will come to know Him as More Than Enough. I will come to know Him as the one who can quench my thirst and satiate my hunger.

Because He is good. And He IS enough.

And He’s the giver of good gifts.

And so I’ll wait and trust and breathe in all the blessings around me that are marked with His holy fingerprints.

And I’ll over and over and over again remind my soul to worship Him alone. And to trust.

And I don’t know why it’s so hard for me- why I have to fight so hard against this depression that threatens to pull me down. I don’t know why I only get glimpses–days, moments–in which I see life the way I remember it being- good and worth it and full of light and hope and joy.

But I know the depression won’t win. I know it lies. I will not stop fighting.

And neither will He.

This battle–the battle within my heart and my mind and all that’s broken within me, this battle to know and love Him more and above all other things–it’s not just mine. Ultimately, it’s He alone who can set all things right. It’s He alone who can teach me how to dwell and abide in His love and to never thirst again.

And hunger doesn’t have to be painful maybe. It doesn’t have to be a scream that this world is not my home and that He cannot hold me. Hunger doesn’t have to become a taunting voice, leading me to despair, mocking me as I kneel before the Lord, asking me what that’s actually accomplishing.

I will shut out any voice that isn’t His. Because the voice of my Lord reminds me that hunger is a gift.

And actually, it can become a bubbling well of joy, can’t it? If it keeps driving me toward Him, if I’m living my life with eyes wide open because I believe He has given me this hunger for a reason and knows how to meet it, then hunger can be a source of life and excitement for what’s to come, yes?

But only when I trust Him to provide.

Not when I think I can x, y, z my way to a solution. Because then the process stops being an adventure, rather is becomes a reason to beat myself up and ask if I’m doing enough and think it’s all pointless because I cannot SEE the progress being made. After all, when have we ever been able to say we’ve “earned” our blessings? It’s all grace. Grace upon grace upon grace. It’s not my fault, and it’s not because I’ve earned it.

And so I’ll cling to Truth and hold tight to His hand and keep my eyes locked on His face, while I wait, and trust, and pray for deliverance and peace and love like a waterfall.

We Are Safe

Last night, I wrote this:

“Satan has no real power. Yes, life contains tragedy and sorrow, but that’s not because Satan is powerful. Sometimes God allows us to walk through unpleasant things. Satan has no power. He can only do what God permits. The only ‘power’ Satan has is what we give to him. It’s not what happens to us that is powerful but how we let it shape our beliefs and actions. When life causes us to hold firm to the belief that we are unloved, alone, without hope. We must stay in the Word. We must let God’s voice be the biggest one so that we know right away when we’re believing a lie. Satan is powerless when we find our security in the Lord alone. Satan wants us to believe things that will make us want to isolate ourselves from others; keep us from living; paralyze us until we are unable to live a life of reckless abandon, chasing wildly and passionately after our Lord and Savior. Life events don’t have that power over us. We do, when we make agreements with Satan instead of listening to the Voice of Truth. God will fight for us. We will be okay. We just have to trust and hold firm to Truth. God cannot lie. It’s not in His nature. When He says we will be okay, when He says He loves us and will provide and protect for us, He isn’t kidding.”

Then, today I read this:

“The beauty of Paul wasn’t his superhumanity but his unwillingness to let his weaknesses, feelings, and fears override his faith. Like us, the fiercest enemy he had to fight in the fulfillment of his destiny was himself. To Paul, the essence of the crucified life was daily dying to the part of himself that would deny, destroy, or distract from the great work of God in him.”

“One of the most common human claims is that we can’t change the way we feel. That may be true, but we CAN change the way we think, which will change the way we act. And as we change the way we act, the way we feel also begins to change. In the breaking of every habit, someone wills it first and feels it later. Whatever you do, don’t shrug your shoulders and decide the prospect is too hard to do and too much to ask. What could be harder than fighting a lifelong battle with insecurity? Thank God we don’t have to wait until we feel more secure to start acting more secure. That’s the heart of living by faith until we live by sight. We act on the basis of scriptural fact and supernatural power rather than mercurial feelings. If a woman doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ within her enabling her to do what she can’t, the pressure will prove too much and her strength too small.”

“Insecurity is more than a complex emotion. It is a lie about our God-sanctioned condition. While something may cause us to feel sad, confused, angry, or threatened, we have the power to choose whether or not it gets to assault our security. When we decide to be strong willed about what God strongly wills, that, beloved, is the epitome of empowerment.”

“God has promised that His grace will be given according to our need and that not only will we survive by the skin of our teeth, if we trust Him and hang on to Him for dear life–grieving, yes, but as those who have hope–we will also thrive again. We can give ourselves to something greater than painlessness. We can give ourselves to purpose. If we cooperate, good will indeed come to us and others around us, and glory will most assuredly come to God. Otherwise, He would have forbidden the tragedy. Those of us who are in Christ will also spend eternity with the loved ones who have shared our faith, and this life will seem like a vapor in comparison.”

“When you feel that familiar panic begin to rise in your heart like a river coursing its banks and your soul begins to roll with another round of ‘What will i do if…?’ what would happen if you were willing to hear the voice of God whisper these audible words? ‘Child, you are asking the wrong question. Here’s the one that would assuage your fears: What will God do if…?’ Here’s a smattering of answers to that mighty good question. ‘I, the Maker of heaven and earth, will:
Perfect everything that concerns you (Ps. 138:8),
Work all things together for your good (Rom. 8:28),
Fight this battle for you (2 Chronicles 20:15), 
Equip you with divine power (2 Corinthians 10:4),
Be your power in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9),
Do immeasurably more than all you could ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within you (Eph. 3:20).'”