Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Childlike Faith

Forgive me. 

I'm going to use rather common metaphors to illustrate some revelations God has been slowly working into my consciousness.  I hate over-used imagery, but it's what He's doing so here it is.

This morning, my three-year-old daughter Lilian strolled into my bedroom at 5:30.

Did you catch that?  5:30.  In the morning!

We normally wake up around 7 so I was, naturally, concerned.  What in the blankety-blank could she want at such an ungodly hour?

It turns out her need for me was legitimate.  There was a potty issue and a "my back hurts" issue and who knows what else.  It was pre-dawn, people; I had a hard time focusing.  Needless to say, I tended to her needs with bleary eyes and then pulled her into bed with me, shushing her so that she wouldn't wake up Big Brother (down the hall) or Daddy (one pillow over).  I informed her of the task at hand in one simple word: "sleep."

She's three, and she was up, so sleep was most definitely not her top priority.  But being with me was.  When I tried to get her to go back to her own bed, being way too tired to get up and carry her there myself, she politely refused, opting instead to snuggle under Mommy & Daddy's covers and pretend to sleep just so that she could be near us.

I drifted in and out of consciousness for the next thirty minutes until I finally rolled my you-know-what out of bed, but in my half-awake state I noticed one, simple thing.

My daughter has to be touching me.

Constantly.  Preferably with as much of her body as she can.  Arms, legs, fingertips, noses, torsos...you name it, she crushed it up against me.  I was tickled, patted, snuggled, held, combed...you get the picture.  When I turned away from her (I was tired people!  Cut me some slack!), she would immediately snuggle up close and throw her arms around me, her tiny limb barely making over my mountain of a profile.

Even in my tired state, I thought, "that's pretty adorable."

And I also thought: "she sure knows how to get her needs met, doesn't she?"

This is something I've often thought about Lily.  If she needs something, she goes and gets it.  If she can't, then she'll either figure it out or find someone who can help her. 

Gunnar, my four-year-old son, also has no problem expressing his needs and wants.  He's just a little more dependent when it comes to getting them met.  He wants Mommy to do it for him, more often than not (thought that's changing as he gets older), but not Lily.  She's been like this since she was a baby.  A laid back, low key, get-her-done type of gal.  I really like that about her.

While I've reflected on this aspect of her personality a lot, I had yet to extrapolate to a greater truth.  Until this morning.  In the pre-dawn hours.  In my half-awake state.  In that moment, it hit me:

Children never apologize for their needs or wants.

And they never hesitate to ask me to meet or fulfill them.

Obviously, this made me think of God.  Am I that childlike with my Father?  Do I do whatever it takes to get close to Him, snuggling into the nooks and crannies of His frame with unashamed abandon?

But more than thinking of God, Lily's snuggles made me think of my human relationships.  It takes trust to put your needs and wants out there, to feel safe enough to express them without fearing reprisal.

My children don't think I'll make fun of them or deny them out of spite.  They expect me to take care of them.  What's more, they expect me to want to.

Do I expect the same of the people that love me, the people I love?  Am I willing to be so open that I am not self-conscious in how I relate to them?

I know I'm not.  I'm way too afraid.  What will they think of me?  Will they hate me, find me needy and annoying, think I'm self-centered, and, ultimately, grow so weary of taking care of me that they leave, in the name of something big and adult like 'boundaries'?*

Or will they - will I - love with abandon in a way that makes me go to the Lord to find the energy I need to give to those who need it?

I'm in a process with this.  Not sure exactly where I'll land, if anywhere.  It will probably continue to be a process.  But I know this morning's tangible picture of Lily smashed up against my backside with her arm thrown over my shoulder won't soon leave me.  When the time comes, and I really need it, will I be able to smash myself up against a friend or family member, giving and receiving love with all of myself?  I can only hope so.

*Just a quick note to clarify: I definitely believe in boundaries.  We need to be able to self-love in order to love outwardly.  But I also think we often put up too many roadblocks to authenticity and that, sometimes, we could use a little abandon where the boundary walls have become too thick.

Linking up with Soli Deo Gloria today, because it's Tuesday.  :)

Ramblings & What Not


I'm supposed to write a post today.

Let me explain that: technically, I should write a post every Monday or Tuesday, so that it will be ready for my weekly link-up with the online community called Soli Deo Gloria.  Somehow, I never quite 'get her done' that early in the week, so here I am.

Furthermore, I'm "supposed" to write a post today because that's where I hear God leading.  I sat down with Him this morning, at my computer, as I do every Tuesday and Thursday, ready to work on my novel.  No.  Eager to work on my novel.  I'm loving the flow right now and can't wait to get to it whenever I have a spare moment.

(Side note: for those of you keeping track, I'm on revision two of my first novel.  I've written it, revised it, gotten feedback, and now I'm revising again.  This is the best iteration yet.  I really like it!  Woo-hoo!  Feel free to give a little cheer in my honor.)

So, back to my point, I sat down, ready to go, and heard the Lord say, "write a post."

Ugh, I thought. 

"About what?" I asked.  No clear answer, just the same voice I hear saying in my head, "write a post."

Now I realize that it's rather brave of me, if I do say so myself, to put out there, for the entire blog world to read, that I hear voices in my head.  (And what's more, I sometimes listen to them....)  But, I figure we all hear voices; we just don't normally talk about it out loud, to other people, who might think you're, you know, unbalanced.

Don't worry, I'm definitely unbalanced.  You don't have to wonder about it; I can just about guarantee it. 

That might be where I am, but it's not where I'm going.  I'm in a lifelong journey toward balance, a journey that involves seasons of pendulum swings, settled equilibrium, steps forward, leaps backward.  If I were to claim that I've achieved it, I'd be lieing.  I'm closer than I was but not as close as I can be.  How's that for clarity?

I seek balance because I truly believe that that's where God lives.  Some wouldn't agree with me.  They'd point out how radical Jesus was (is), and they'd be right as well.  They'd interpret the word 'balance' to mean compromise, 'tolerance' as relativism, and 'grace' as giving in.  We're supposed to fight for truth and justice, after all. 

Like I said, there are aspects of those interpretations that I agree with.  As Christians, we are called to stand up for something greater and not apologize for it.  But we can't pretend to understand it completely, to understand Him or this journey called Christen-dom.

Since we don't know everything, can't know everything, we have to be open to other ideas, interpretations.  We need to be genuinely sensitive to other perspectives, allowing for the possibility that we might not see the whole picture.  And we need to be willing to meet in the middle in order to function as a whole body, not a fractured one.

I guess when I talk about balance I'm not just referring to support, where beams must be placed strategically on all sides of a structure in order to make it stand upright.  And I'm not just referencing that 'happy place' between anger and euphoria, where one can receive what the world gives without becoming controlled by it. 

I'm speaking about a space of grace where not everything has to fit together and have its place.  A space where I can serve a radical, fierce God and a God that pulls me toward tolerance and grace.  A lover and a fighter all rolled into one. 

Ultimately, I'm talking about a place where I do not have to understand.  Where questions can go unanswered.  Where the unknown can remain unknown and I can be okay with it. 

Balance is a fluid place.   Like a tree that bends in the wind, we have to be willing to move in order to be able to stand.

In this space, faith prevails and grace abides.

So I don't have to know what to write about, exactly; I just have to write.

Where's your balance?  What does God call you toward that helps hold you upright in good times and bad?  Can you remain in a space of incongruities and simply let it be?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Holy Yoga

I'm back.  I know, I've missed you too.  But, to be honest, I've stayed away on purpose.  There have been a few posts here and there, of course, just to let you know I'm alive, but I haven't been present.  Not really.  I've been avoiding you.  There.  I said it.  And that's the truth.


I'll tell you.  Since round-about July I've felt this little tug on my heart, the Holy Spirit gently pulling at the edges of me to do something I absolutely, positively do not want to do.  And since I didn't want to go where He is calling me, I simply avoided the issue altogether.  (You can't relate, can you?)

What was the tug?




There are things I don't talk about.  Things from my past that I, honestly, don't know how to talk about.  Not yet.  But I come here and I write and I give...parts of myself.  I package my pain and hide the truly awful parts behind the only sort-of embarrassing moments.  I let you see what I want you to see in a way that I know will impress.  You'll say, "wow, thank you for sharing," or, "thank you for being so vulnerable." 

I am being vulnerable, truthfully I am, but there's more.  There's more that I don't want to share.  There's more that is so painful, still, that I can't even go there inside my own head, much less in this completely public forum called a blog.

Last weekend I went to a retreat.  The Soli Deo Gloria retreat put on by my dear friend Jennifer Ferguson.  We're a community of female bloggers that link up every Tuesday.  Some of us also meet "boots on the ground" at Jen's Bible Study Monday mornings at St. Luke's on the Lake, Austin, Texas.  Some of us are just friends who became part of this group because another friend invited us.  Our purpose is to serve Christ and encourage one another.

The retreat blew me away, and I highly recommend that you join us - online, at church, or at our next gathering.  It's amazing what happens when we retreat, when we leave the noise of our lives and create a space to meet with God.  He loves community.  He loves vulnerability.  He loves to use us to help one another.  ("As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."  Proverbs 27:17)  If we stay in our hiddenness, we remain dull.

On Saturday afternoon at the retreat a wonderful woman from Ignite came in to lead us in a yoga class.  She led us through a series of postures, half of which help you physically open your chest to make room for your heart.  She kept saying, "lift your heart". 

I kept thinking, "I can't lift my heart to you, God, if I remain closed."  There has to be a willingness to become vulnerable for there to be space to reach for Him.

Interestingly enough, it's these poses in yoga that are the 'energetic' poses.  As I bent my head, shoulders, chest backwards, imagining my heart connected by a string to the ceiling above me, I could feel energy pulsing throughout my body.  It's when I let go and exposed my vulnerable place that strength coursed through me.

So, I will keep meeting you here.  I will try to be as authentic as possible, bringing all of myself into this space.  I'm sure it won't look pretty at times, I'm sure I will "fail" and be less than authentic, but I'll keep trying.  And I know that He will honor it, just as He does whenever we choose to trust in Him. 

Linking up with Soli Deo Gloria this week.