Reality

Sometimes it’s hard for me to know what’s real.

I don’t mean to say that I am out of touch with reality, (although that too, sometimes ;-)). I have no problem being able to say, “This happened today,” and know that’s true, but the trouble comes in when I, without realizing it, start assigning meaning to the events of the day.

I look at the facts and start answering for myself “why did that happen?” and “what does that mean?” Like an architect examines a structure for stability, I pace back and forth over the events of my life, examining them second by second, inch by inch, asking the questions: “Is this thing solid? Am I secure? Am I safe?”

I don’t feel very safe today.

And that’s why I say I don’t know what’s real. Because nothing bad happened, it’s my own analysis of events, my own answers to the “why’s” and “what’s” that has me feeling like the ground I am standing on is shaky.

And is it? Am I safe? Is it shaky? I DON’T KNOW. I don’t know what’s real and I’m scared because I need to know I’m safe.

Which brings me to another one of those fork-in-the-road moments though, doesn’t it? I can either choose to act out of my fear, or I can choose something better for myself.

I can choose to view my day through the lens of fear and trauma, or I can choose to view it through the lens of: “Where was God?” That doesn’t make it any easier for me to know whether or not I’m safe, but it does help me get back to the basics of what ACTUALLY happened today.

Remove the emotion, get down to the facts: Where was God?

He was in my slow-start morning.
The willingness of Laura to bring by my medication.
Having people to call when I need to be emotional and messy.
The warm day.
Watching Arlow play at the dog park.
Finding a ball at the dog park, after realizing I forgot to bring one of ours.
The woman I met, who I talked with about her divorce and daughters and dogs.
Not hitting traffic on the drive back home.
A good sermon.
Flickers of hope.
The invitation to have dinner and s’mores at a friends’ house tonight.

*

I heard a sermon today about the men who lowered their friend through the roof of a house to get him to Jesus. They would’ve done anything to get their friend to Jesus. They weren’t concerned about being impolite or interrupting or making a hole in someone’s roof. They just wanted Jesus.

And I heard that, and I thought about my theory about love. How loving someone means doing the least selfish thing.

But what those men did? That was pretty selfish. And it might not have even been motivated by love, but by need. And yet, Jesus still responded to it.

People can’t handle desperation. People can’t handle it when you come to them with a “cut a hole into someone’s roof” category of need. But God can.

With Him, I’m safe.

But He’s not here.

He’s in my day, but He’s not here.

And I wonder if it’s more important for me to love Him well in the midst of this life that is too hard for me, or if it’s okay to come to Him desperate and ruled more by need than by love.

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The Things I Choose To Hold On To

I sent Pauline a text last night and asked: “How many more nights am I going to have to cry myself to sleep?”

It was a rhetorical question, obviously, but one that hung heavy in my room last night as I sobbed and hiccuped and wiped my nose on my shirt because I am disgusting and a child.

And this morning, my pillow was stained with my mascara. And my eyelids are swollen and puffy from so many hours of tears.

And yet, as miserable as this feels, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to cry, and I’ll take this–FEELING!–over numbness any day.

I’ll take sorrow and grieving over trying to demand control and being unable to breathe.

It is my prayer that the tears are accomplishing something. I pray for a heart and mind and emotions submitted to the Lord. I pray for tears of grieving and acceptance and surrender, and not tears of self-pity. I don’t want to get stuck. I don’t want to feel sorry for myself. It’s a fine line, I think- feeling without feeling sorry for yourself.

I’m truly at the end of myself. It’s all too messy and too painful, and the battle in my brain and the contents of my heart are TOO MUCH. I know that we can do anything with the Lord’s help, though. And I know He loves me and He is good. So I will continue to battle.

But sometimes I honestly just want to fall to my knees in defeat and surrender and desperation for Him to intervene- to be the lifter of my head.

I did last night.

I worshiped in my living room for a long time, arms raised to the ceiling, tears pouring down my face, some words sung with a smile, some accompanied by a little dance, and some barely understandable through the teary quivering of my voice.

“I will take You at your unfailing word
More than all I want, I will seek Your first
I will bless Your name when the night is long
God, You have my surrender.”

I sang those words. And then I fell to my knees. Because it freaking HURTS to make that proclamation. It’s scary and painful! And yet, it is still what I will choose (with His help!) over and over and over again.

Lord, help me to choose You. Help me to choose surrender. Even when it hurts. Remind me Your way is the only way to true, abundant life. Help me rest in the confidence that You are good, that You have a plan, and that you have a purpose for my pain. But oh, Jesus, how I HURT. And how I NEED A VICTORY.

And yet, I have to choose to surrender even that–my desire for victory, my pain, my weakness, my “I don’t know how I’m going to survive”–to the Lord.

And I have to surrender my concept of family.

Pauline asked me recently how I’d define family. I said family is who shows up at your house unexpectedly, and eats food off your plate without asking, and whose shoulder or lap you can rest your head on while you watch TV in the evenings. Family is the people you belong with, the dinner table that would be incomplete without you there, those who love you unconditionally and are permanently committed to you no matter what. Family is who you can call when you’re crying, or when you’re excited because you got a cute new shirt on sale, or because you’re bored, or just because you want to hear their voice. And family calls you too. Because you are on their minds and in their hearts and you make their lives better.

I don’t have family as defined that way. And maybe I never will again. I don’t know.

But I know I am not doing life unloved.

And I don’t know what His plan it, but I know that the pain in my heart matters to the Lord. And I know that it is safe to hope in Him.

And so I worship, and I cry, and I go for long walks and sometimes I feel better afterwards and sometimes I still feel like crap. And I pray- not for things, not even usually for family, but to love the Lord more. Because I don’t know any other way to stop hurting but to fill my heart up with Him- with He who is reliably loving and present.

“Satisfy me, Lord.
Yeah I’m begging You, help me see
You’re all I want, You’re what I need.”

I don’t know how to get to that place. I don’t know how to achieve victory over all of this. Maybe it’s a “one day at a time” thing. And even though I’m hurting, maybe I can hurt for a little while longer as long as I cling tight to hope. A little hope can go a long way.

I pray for satisfaction and fulfillment in Him. And I give Him my desire for love and family and belonging, even if I have to surrender that over and over again all day long, and frequently through tears. “I choose You,” I say. “I choose to trust You.”

So much of faith and our relationship with God is a choice, isn’t it? You don’t have to feel trust or feel like He is more than enough for you, but you choose to believe those things because of what scripture says. It’s a deliberate choice. One I have to make constantly.

And I pray He honors that.

I pray for less frequently swollen eyelids and less nights of hysterical sobbing.

But more than that, I pray for healing. I pray that I will come to know and love Him more.

And so I say, even as I’m terrified and sobbing, or on my knees with my face pressed against the carpet of my living room, or reaching my arms up to the ceiling like a child raises their arms when they want their parent to pick them up, or dancing in my car because HE IS GOOD and it makes me dance even when I’m struggling to look at my life and call it good, I will say, “I choose to trust You.”

And in the meantime, I will be patient. I will wait on the Lord. And I will trust Him with that, the waiting, too.

I pray also that the surrender is an exchange. That as I lay down everything that matters to me (apart from the Lord), I’m able to grab onto Him with both hands. I pray He comes and fills up every broken place and corner of me that aches.

I want to live in a way that ushers heaven into our world. I don’t know what that would look like, I just have to believe there’s more for us. More Holy Spirit activity. The ability to live so aware of heaven’s reality that we operate in that one instead of this one.

I just feel like there’s got to be more.

That there should be a way for Him to be more real. There has to be a way to live lives undeniably marked by his involvement- to be flames to the world, not just lights, but fire, igniting everyone and everything that we come into contact with.

I don’t know. Maybe that’s not what He has for us right now. I don’t know. I don’t know anything. But that He is good and loves us and delights in spending time with us.

So I will wait.

I will choose hope.

I will choose trust.

I will choose surrender.

I will feel my emotions and refuse to believe lies.

I will hide myself in Him.

I will abide (is that not the most beautiful word!?) in His love.

I will worship, hands to the heavens.

And I will kneel, forehead to the ground, and wait.

My Hand In His

Why am I so quick to give up on the hope of a life worth living?

I am so quick to believe that the only way to get through life is to shut down everything within me. Stop hoping, stop dreaming, stop laughing, stop expecting God to be loving and generous and benevolent.

He is FATHER! Abba!

He is the author of love!

I feel like I know what love is. How it feels. How it wants the best for the other person. And yet God, our Father, loves us more. Our concept and understanding of love pales in comparison to how He feels about us.

If I desire good things for the people I love, how much more does He desire good for me (Matt. 7:9-11)?

Of course, walking in faith means trusting God to define “good”. I cannot define good for Him. I cannot expect that, if He truly loves me, my life will look the way I think it should.

I don’t know what good God has planned for me. But I trust that it IS good (1 Cor. 2:9).

I have to believe that He would whisper to my soul, “Dream, child. Laugh and cry, but beyond the emotions that come and go, let there always be underlying hope. It is safe to hope. I am good. And I desire for you fullness of life. My plan for you is joy. Joy that is not dependent upon circumstances.”

I’m not in a good place tonight.

But I am trying to breathe in Truth.

Depression and defeat? Resigning to live a life of disappointment and heartache? That doesn’t sound like the voice of Jesus. That sounds more like the voice of the one who came to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).

If I don’t feel like doing life, I can know that isn’t God. This isn’t our home, but this life is still a gift.

God is the part of me that I can barely hear right now, the small voice that whispers to me hope and joy and good things and what I have to be happy about. He is the voice that reminds me that tomorrow is supposed to be sunny, and how great will it be to get out and take a walk. It is He who calls me to pause a moment in my chores and hug the clothes I just pulled from the dryer, appreciating their warmth. It is His joy within me that bubbles up and makes me surprise myself by laughing about something. His voice is what stops me dead in my tracks to gaze up at a starry night sky, and causes me to tell Him I love Him when the sunset makes the horizon pink.

And even though right now what I’m feeling isn’t an eagerness and excitement for life, I will, to the best of my ability, not give power or a voice to that. I will, instead, keep my eyes on heaven. On my Father who has a good plan. Every day is written in His book (Ps. 139:16). Every day has purpose and significance. There are no days I go unseen by Him.

I’ve discovered lately that I cannot trust myself to have thoughts. Anything that fills my mind is fleeting- a quick observation, a prayer of gratitude, a tender love for someone. I feel that by emptying my mind, by freeing myself from trying to process what I see and feel, that is the healthiest way for me to do life right now.

What I perceive isn’t all there is. There is a reality greater than what is right in front of me.

Lord, help me to submit my thoughts to You. Transform my mind.

I want to be held. I want arms around me. I want to be someone’s beloved child.

And yet, I already am. I am held. I am beloved.

Lord, You are enough for me. Help me to really know and believe that.

I feel like a small child at a crowded event, wide-eyed and afraid, clinging tight to her father’s hand. Everyone is taller than me. All I can see is legs and shoes. And I’m scared I’m going to be bumped around or ran into. I’m scared no one will see me and I’ll get stepped on. But I’m trusting my father. I am assured of my father’s presence by the firm grip he has on my hand. And I know, even though it’s all overwhelming and scary and I could never navigate it on my own, that my father will see me through. I am loved and treasured and seen and not ever, not even for a second, forgotten.

Lord, help me to feel Your hand in mine. Be real to me, Lord.

And Lord? I pray You bless me. I pray for a life of fullness and joy and love and laughter. Please, Lord, let that be Your will for me.

But even more than that, help me to know and love You more. Consume me with You. Nothing else will satisfy. Be enough for me, Lord, so that all other blessings, any other gift from You, is just additional- the sprinkles on an already delicious sundae. Help my joy not be dependent on things or blessings, help my joy be complete in You.

I trust You with me. You know what I need. I trust in Your plan for my life.

Help me stay alive- not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally as well.

Don’t let me stop living a life of expectant hope.

Don’t let me stop expecting to see evidence of You.

Don’t let me stop expecting to see You move.

You are alive. You are present. And you are Abba.

These things I know to be true.

*

Is. 64-66 excerpts:

“Since before time began, no one has ever imagined, no ear heard, no eye seen, a God like you who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who happily do what is right, who keep a good memory of the way you work.

My servants will rejoice…and laugh from full hearts,

Look ahead with joy. Anticipate what I’m creating.

Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her, celebrate! And all you who have shed tears over her, join in the happy singing.

As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you. You will be comforted in Jerusalem. You’ll see all this and burst with joy—you’ll feel ten feet tall—as it becomes apparent that God is on your side.”

Is. 65:17 commentary: “God will create a new heavens and a new earth. This prophecy awaits the Second Coming of Christ (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:1). In the meantime through faith the saints experience in part the blessing of the age to come.”

Is. 66:9 commentary: “The purposes of God will not be frustrated, or begun only to be left unfinished.”

Is. 66:13 commentary: “The Lord likens His tender love to that of a mother.”

*

2 Corinthians 1:20:

“Whatever God has promised gets stamped with the Yes of Jesus…”

Commentary: “Christ fulfills all the promises of God to us, and all our confidence in God’s promises must come from our trust in Jesus Christ as a person whom we know and can rely on.”

*

1 John 5:20:

“We know that none of the God-begotten makes a practice of sin—fatal sin. The God-begotten are also the God-protected. The Evil One can’t lay a hand on them. We know that we are held firm by God; it’s only the people of the world who continue in the grip of the Evil One. And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God—what a gift!—and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life. Dear children, be on guard against all clever facsimiles.”

Be Still

“We are no longer under the law and authority of our pasts, but like Peter and John we are also free to use them as they lend expression to our faith in Jesus. As much as you might not want to hear this, you couldn’t become the servant God is calling you to be without the threads of your past being knitted into the Technicolor fabric of your future. If your heritage had absolutely nothing to do with your future, God is far too practical to have allowed it.”

Sometimes I worry that the future God had for me has been marred by past mistakes and experiences. I worry He has had to move on to Plan B.

That’s not the case. There is no Plan B.

Lord, help us remember that You are mighty. That You can use ANYTHING. Help us to remember that as long as we seek You, what we can accomplish for You just grows more intricate, never less.

Help us, Jesus, to trust Your word and never doubt it based on our limited human perspective. Help us not to question “why” or “how” something is possible. Help us never get stuck in believing that we have to understand every aspect of our faith. Help us to know that we don’t have to understand (and usually won’t!) how everything is going to work out, and help our lack of understanding not be a hindrance in our ability to believe that You are working things together for good. Help us to remember that You are GOD. God! It’s completely arrogant of us, mere humans, to think that we’d understand everything it is You are doing.

I was thinking about something the other day, something that I knew, of course, but that struck me differently than it had previously: God has all the answers. There is nothing Einstein discovered and revealed to humanity that God didn’t already fully know and understand. God can speak every language. Calculus homework? He knows every answer. Physics and astronomy and neuroscience? God would pass every test.

And maybe that seems simplistic and obvious, but it still kind of blows my mind. Even though I consider myself to be moderately intelligent, there is so much academically that I know I don’t know and would have no idea how to even begin to answer.

But God? He knows everything. Not only does He have every answer, but He created it all. He is the author of everything around us. The framework from which our questions grow, that is His doing. He knows the science behind how the brain works, even though we don’t. He created it.

My point is, if we as humans know (and accept!) that there is so much scholastically that we don’t know and cannot understand, how is it that we struggle so much to accept that there is a whole other element, a whole other reality, to which we are blind?

I don’t understand the science behind airplanes and I doubt I ever could, even if I studied it. My brain just cannot really comprehend the “how” behind something so big and mysterious.

And our minds? We cannot really comprehend the how, or the why, of a God so big.

Help us to find comfort in that, Lord. Help us to know we can trust You, even when we cannot understand.

Help us not gauge Your trustworthiness based on our ability to understand what You are doing.

It’s laughably (truly, I’m smiling) naive to think that we’d understand everything God is doing when we cannot even understand trigonometry or how to speak French or why bumblebees can fly.

I LOVE that You are God and I am not. I love that I don’t have to understand. I love that, like a little child, I can just answer my questions with a shrug, knowing You will reveal the answers to me when (and if) it’s time, and that in the meantime, I can just be still and know.

More Than Enough

It is incredible to me how, no matter what thought enters my mind, God’s word is the salve. Or the confirmation.

I don’t know how people do life apart from Him. It is way too hard when you go through life without the comfort of His word and the steady assurance that you are loved in a bigger way than you can even fathom, and you are never alone.

He is my best friend.

When I am going to sleep at night, I picture Him bending down to kiss my forehead and smooth back my hair. Because He is Abba. And I am His daughter.

When I see Mt. Rainier in the distance, glowing pink from the sunset, I know He is smiling at my enjoyment of His creation.

When I come home after work and greet my fur-babies, I feel Him delighting in the fact that I am embracing the nurturing nature He gave me.

When something funny happens, I can sense Him laughing with me. And sometimes maybe even laughing at me a tiny bit. 😉

When I don’t feel like I fit in or worry that I don’t measure up, He is there, whispering truth into my ear.

When a semi truck comes into my lane, oblivious to my presence there, but I see it soon enough to slam on my brakes, I feel gratitude. And I know that the only reason I stayed safe was because He was protecting me. And I marvel at how many times a day He protects me and how often I am completely unaware.

When I am crying, He comforts me.

When I’m scared, He is strong.

When I’m lonely, He is present.

When life seems overwhelmingly big, I can rest in the knowledge that my God is bigger.

I’ve known all this for a long time of course, but it’s like a Polaroid that is gradually darkening. I thought I really understood and saw Him clearly, but the more time that passes, the richer and more detailed my knowledge of Him (and love for Him!) gets. And I hope that never changes. I hope I never get so familiar with this religion of mine that it ceases to be a relationship.

Lord, thank You that every single day is an adventure when I go through it with my eyes wide open and my heart tuned in to You.


“God’s word is more certain, more secure, more immovable than any event on earth. Reality itself must conform to the perfect purpose and plan of God.”

I love that. I love that God is bigger than our understanding of reality.

That’s one of the main topics that has been on my mind lately, and I loved seeing it confirmed in writing: any time you make your understanding of reality bigger than God, you are putting Him in a box.

And God doesn’t fit in a box.

He is unchanging, yes, but He is also the creator of this “reality” we think we know so well. The rules of reality don’t apply to Him.

Hallelujah. 🙂


“The disciples are gathered in a room ‘for fear of the Jew’ (John 20:19). Imagine this situation. Feel the oppression of the fear of man in the air. Picture the bars across the doors and the captives inside who only a short time before had wielded power to cast out demons and heal the sick. Had they been stripped of their authority? Of their abilities? No, indeed. Powerless is always the message the enemy sends fear to bring.”

Such a good little liar the enemy is.

Lord, help me to never mistake Satan’s voice for Yours. Or my own. Help me know when I am being lied to, and help me be quick to remind Satan that I belong to You.

Thank You, Lord, for Your word. Thank You that You gave us the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Thank You that we are well-equipped to do this life, whatever may come.

And help us to remember, Lord, that we are never powerless. Help us remember that we never need to do life afraid.


“Don’t default into our past. Don’t jump the gun for our future. Just behold and know. Instructions will come when the time is right. In the meantime, being is so much harder than doing, isn’t it?”

Again, I find that incredibly comforting. Yes, waiting is hard, but the hardest thing about it is that you worry you aren’t doing enough, that you are somehow missing the boat or not keeping up with life.

However, your life isn’t going to rush on ahead without you.

Don’t forget that your life is more than what you hope to achieve or what you dream for, your life is today. It is this moment. And God is in control. And if you have no direction and you sense God telling you to wait, it is for a reason. Your life isn’t just just made up of action and activity, it is also the pauses, the moments of rest and reflection. Your life is continuing to take shape and unfold beautifully, even in the waiting. And so, you can eliminate the fear that you aren’t doing all that you “should” be.

No matter what you are waiting on, whatever God has for you in this moment is just as important.

Lord, I thank You that even in my discomfort and uncertainty, there is the opportunity for growth. Thank You that You are good always and that my needs (both actual and imagined) are familiar and important to You. Thank You that You are invested in my life.

Help me to stay present.

Help me to think of the future, not with anxiety, but with joy and excitement.

No matter what happens between today and the day I die, I know the ending already. I already know heaven awaits me. And so I don’t have to be afraid of what this life holds. I can do life with joy and comfort. I can do it fearlessly and boldly.

Thank You, so much, for every single breath. Help me not to waste this time I am given. Help me not to be overwhelmed by life. Help me remember that You are bigger and that my concept of reality is clouded. Help me to remember the world as I see it now is a hazy Polaroid. I cannot see the whole picture.

And help me, Lord, to rely on You for joy and comfort and boldness and not try to create those things within myself.

I am like a balloon, Lord. I am a balloon, and when I try to do life on my own, I am a balloon filled with CO2. I don’t float. I catch some air occasionally on a bounce, but gravity (reality) keeps me pinned pretty firmly to the earth.

However, when I go to You for life and love and comfort and joy, I am a balloon filled with helium. Nothing can get me down. The rules of reality and the confines of this world don’t call the shots- You do.

And life with You in control is a life that is destined to be beautiful.

So, we can wait with confidence.


“Do you belong to Jesus Christ? If so, the Holy Spirit dwells in you (Rom. 8:9), and He did not cheat you of a single ounce of His power. He came to show off in you. As He does, your whole life will become a living witness just like the disciples. Our assignments may differ, but you and I have exactly the same Holy Spirit that Christ promised to His first disciples. If we only knew what we had, our lives would be so different!”

Lord, help us become aware. Help us never to minimize Your power or presence or what it is You want to do with us today, in this very moment.

Help us not to forget that You are God.