I started asking myself questions several years ago. Does anyone else do this? Ask yourself a series of questions throughout the day?
There is a cost for every choice. And what you sacrifice or willingly offer up either wounds your soul or else repairs it. Because you are not just flesh and bone and blood pumping through veins. You are spirit. You are soul. You are deeply and irrevocably eternal.
Let the haters go. They are too heavy to carry very far at all.
Let the abusers go. They will only teach you to drown yourself. Continue reading Let The Heavy Things Go
I remembering telling someone once to stop saying sorry to me because they didn’t mean it. And I was tired of hearing it every day.
That simple, childhood realization was the first time I remember distinguishing between an apology and a repentant heart. I didn’t know what to call it. I just knew I was being lied to. Continue reading When Sorry Isn’t Enough: A Christian’s Response
A few years ago, I decided to learn to grow things.
I sat in this free “back yard gardening class” and listened to scientists from the University of Washington discuss the microbiology of soil. Who Knew!
It turns out soil is actually quite alive and full of all sorts of crawling, microscopic organisms.
Honestly, I was fascinated.
I learned about soil erosion and native plants and French drains and mini-ecosystems and how to turn your small yard into a gorgeous vegetable garden.
I was hooked! I bought so many plants. You don’t even know…
We got six little chickie ladies and named them ridiculous names like Petunia and Olive and Carl. And I learned to dig my fingers deep into the earth.
I loved every second of it. And I transplanted and rearranged and layered and stuffed in flowers and blueberries and tulip bulbs and lavender. It didn’t matter that my knees got dirty, or that I ruined several items of clothing, or that I got the very worst tan lines.
And I decided pretty quickly that gardening is the best metaphor for life that there is.
You have to dig in to pull up the weeds. You have to work really hard to plant something new and then work even harder to keep it alive. And there will always always always be more weeds than you ever imagined but the best way to get rid of them is persistently, steadfastly, day by day.
The morning sun and the evening light make the best times for gardening. Morning because everything is fresh and dew-covered and probably missed you all night long…so it grew and grew for you as best it could through the dark. Evening because it is the restful-doing at the end of all the being.
You might stick a bulb into the dark earth and you won’t see it bloom for months. Early spring flowers, like tulips and daffodils and blue bells thrive in the cold, in-betweenness of winter turning to spring. The frost doesn’t bother them. Even when you cut them you can add ice cubes to the vase, and plop them in one at a time. Tulips live longer that way.
And every section of my yard I worked in brought me joy. And I often found myself outside, hot coffee in hand, cold cement sidewalk under my toes, just looking. And that was the first time I ever understood why God created for a whole day and then stood back to look at it. That always confused me. But then, all at once, I understood: he was finding joy in the beauty of creating.
And then his great Father’s Heart created us. And that never really made sense to me either, until I had babies of my own and felt the joy of life inside my body.
He creates with joy and leaves a trail of wonder behind, a trail that leads us right up to the doors of heaven.
He is steadfast. And he reminds us in the fading and growing.
Nothing blooms forever. Seasons come and go but the word of our Savior…it never changes. Tulips bloom and fade and give way to fields of new flowers, and summer always comes with its plenty and its bright light and the sticky air that makes you long for frost.
And down on my knees…that is where I learned about the stillness of obedience: one small obedient action at a time we transform. Like a garden of flower beds…each bed thrives in its own way. And you learn where to water more and where to let the Great Gardener do his growing. You learn where to prune and you learn that some plants aren’t really meant to be pruned at all…like how love isn’t meant to get smaller ever but only larger.
And then, at the end of a glorious spring and summer you stand back and soak in the beauty. You lay to rest what needs to be. And you cover the roots of the fragile plants. You prune. A lot. And you prep the soil for winter and let all the rain do it’s work to wash away the dead things and guide all the good things deep down to the roots.
Healthy roots make for a healthy plant.
And so you learn to grow in seasons. And you learn that God teaches in seasons, teaches in beautiful things, living things, ever-changing things.
Each morning may be new. No two same mornings ever existed, not even once. But his Mercy is fresh for us each morning, unchanging in it’s fullness and steadfastness.
And now you see it, don’t you? That God is the constant and time merely offers us the fleeting glimpses of glory.
I took a walk to the sea-salt water with my daughter today. She is 9 months old. And a year ago, when I first learned I was having a daughter, fear overwhelmed me. Because I had deep dark scars and mothering a girl terrified the still-broken parts of me.
We walked along the road. Mercy riding on my back in a carrier, gravel smacking together under my boots; the soft sound of mud too. Dirty drips of water squeezing between blades of spring grass.
It was a perfect evening for a sunset walk. And my soul padded along to the pace of my steps, perfectly present in that moment.
Life happens in the now, a friend of mine said. Right now, this very moment, this is your life, your next breath is the future, your last breath was the past.
I drank in the moments. The feel of a baby against my body. The way I could tell how she looked back and forth at everything. Is there anything more sacred to watch than a child delighting in newness?
I thought about my healing. And how sick I felt over the repeated jargon we use describe the immensely spiritual and emotionally painful wrestling with abusive people. Abusers, toxic people, narcissists…it all falls so horrendously short.
Soul-stealers I thought. That’s what they are. Like the dementors in Harry Potter.
We turned a corner. And Mercy spun as best she could to watch a black cat laying flat in a patch of sun.
Down the hill. And there we saw the water, heard the hum of boat engines, laughter from across the water.
I walked to the edge, you know, where land meets shore? It’s always such a reverent moment. Like even the dirt doesn’t dare get too close to the sea, it keeps to the edges of the sand and watches in awe at all the happenings of a small beach. Earth contains the sea, cups it into the deepest crevices and lets it fling itself into the depths and shows it all the deepest parts of itself. The sea knows things about earth we never will. Earth and sea. They are intimate friends.
And there we stood, Mercy and me, drinking in the smell of the salt stuff in the air on our skin, the way the birds were settling in for the night. It’s all for you to enjoy, whispered the Holy Spirit. That voice I’ve come to love and crave.
This is what I know: there is an unspeakable joy present in the lapping of water on a shore.
We turned to walk home. Already, the sun felt lower, cooler.
And Mercy sung softly in her little baby voice and I knew she felt it too: God, here with us. It has taken me a long time to learn how to welcome God into the everyday walks. He hovers, ever-present in the air around us, like a bright-winged eternal friend.
And then I smiled, because I just knew deep, deep down, something in me healed…
Fear is rarely release all at once. It is the daily, momentary surrender that changes us so. And it is the daily, momentary choice to refuse to hate, to turn your face to the Son and let him carry us.
We are not just persons. We are souls. And if souls be pained, then they must be healed by an Eternal Healer.
And to be healed we must let him heal us…
The last two weeks have weighed heavy on me.
A friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. A friend of mine is struggling with depression. Another precious soul is deeply addicted to illegal drugs.
Life feels broken and dim.
And all the pain and brokenness feels like a wet, heavy sweater around my shoulders that I can’t shake off. Like its stuck to me.
I’ve had to remind myself that God is near. He is here. And fully present. He is not surprised by the grief or the brokenness. And he will not shift himself over to a dark corner to protect his own heart. He leans in, close, and loves with utter abandon.
Life is a journey. And so is healing.
I am learning that more and more. How healing isn’t one good cry and a single release of emotion that somehow equals forgetting all the pain…it is an ever-deepening relationship toward fullness.
And the benefit of emotional healing is joy.
So keep going. Don’t give up. Let yourself feel and grieve and bear the burdens of others – this is a hard and beautiful reflection of the way Jesus leans in so close to us when we are breaking apart.
All love involves risk.
And letting God heal you involves risking your pride and your clenched fists and your anger and the way you put back your shoulders and refuse to be vulnerable.
This is how he heals us: he unfolds the hurts, pours love and truth over all of it, and then slowly takes it from us as we release.
And in our open palms, he places joy…