Saturday, June 21, 2014

regret

This has been a challenging four years. A lot has happened in my time in Arizona… a great deal of joy and laughter. Even more growth and stretching. And many tears.

Tonight, for the first time, I actually heard a small voice inside me say, “I regret coming here.”

And right now isn’t even the worst of times I’ve had here.

So I had to pause.

(My version of pausing is to write. Well, first I cleaned and organized my office. Then I sat down to write. Because I don’t know how I feel until I write it.)

I panicked as soon as those words entered my mind, because I don’t know if they are real. True. Or the enemy working against me.

There is something keeping me here. It’s a strong and powerful force. It would have to be to keep me tethered to a place so far outside my comfort zone. So far away from my family. So far away from what I consider home.

But it’s home here, too.

It happened when I fell in love.

With this season.

“But then I come down here… and this fits, too.”

I am just waiting for the thing that is keeping me here to reveal itself fully. I don’t mind having my faith strengthened, but I’m not sure how much longer my heart can take it. (It was pretty fragile to begin with.) There is much joy and much sorrow here.  I’m trying so hard for the joy to overcome my sorrow because of this tether.

I think this tether has a label. Not a name, exactly. Because it’s not that powerful. But it has a label.

Hope.

I will go so far as to say that if one particular thing changed, a decision would be made. And interestingly, it has nothing to do with my call. This is a new revelation for me and it is why I am thinking about regret and love and hope and tethered ropes.



Do I love you? Oh I do. I’m going to ‘til I’m gone. But if you think that I can stay in this same old, same old way. Well, I don’t. I don’t.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

unsettled

I sat down to write today, remembering I still had one more post I wanted to do to finish off my series on expectations. I don’t think I’m going to do it. I realize I could write about expectations a lot more, and the last topic is one that I think would be too much like the others. And while I’ve enjoyed the consistency of doing a blog series, I go back and read them and see what sounds like a self-pitying martyr. I don’t want that.

So here I sit, staring at a blank white page on my computer screen, knowing that writing is just as much a discipline as it is an art. That’s why it often hard for me to go back and read some of what I wrote. It’s not great writing, but it is self-reflection, which, as you may remember, is what I feared would go away in my life once I moved here and entered a different environment, one that didn’t have that focus like my time in St. Louis did.


I’m wondering if I’m doing too much self-reflection, and there is nothing attractive about navel gazing. Then I remember the importance of offering myself grace, because, after all, I practice my words here. I don’t have this life figured out. I’m in the process of screwing up things in my job, my relationships….heck, I can’t even get around to getting my yard work done. I’m a complete mess. 


There is something not right in my spirit. I’d been feeling this way all week as I worked on a message for church, something I normally enjoy (hard as it is). But I struggled all week, and not in the normal way I do when I have a big message to give. The week is normally a mess of emotions, research, frustration, napping and chocolate eating. Not this time. This time I was apathetic.

After a trying emotional experience Thursday afternoon, something shifted in me. And I still haven’t been able to figure it out. I’ve read that INFJ’s often think in pictures, yet we only understand what we feel after we’ve written about it. (This is most often the case with me.) We utilize both side of our brain with equality… so basically, both emotions and logic try to rule us. That’s not very fun. It means I don’t always know which path to follow in order to figure it all out. The logical and straight path? The creative and winding side? Beats me. So I sit in this anxiety, and it feels like something is under my skin that I just can’t scratch enough to get relief.


Halfway through giving my message yesterday, I realized that what I was struggling with involved the fact that I had not yet connected to what I’d written. There were parts that were emotional for me (as always) but I hadn’t hit that groove… it’s hard to explain, but when teaching Scripture, there is a point where you realize that the work and research you did had the Holy Spirit’s fingerprints all over it. I didn’t have that moment until yesterday morning and I didn’t like that it took that long. All weekend, I had this itchy anxiety that I could not place. That i couldn't name. That I couldn't put in a neat little box, label it and put it away on a shelf. I didn’t want to give the talk, I didn’t want to go to work, I didn’t want to be here.



I still don’t know what this anxiety is rooted in, but I am fearful of what I suspect it is rooted in. Experience tells me it will eventually reveal itself, but only after I spend time connecting some dots. I know that when I connected with the words I wrote, while I was speaking them, that a big part of that connection simply comes from it being my call. God has called me to teach. So perhaps that connection happening, despite my apathy, is simply because of God’s graciousness towards me. I can only pray for the same grace as I sort out what is not right in my spirit at this moment.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

crushing grapes

There is something powerfully heart-crushing about realizing you don’t mean as much to someone as they mean to you. If you’ve been reading around here for a while, I’m a pretty intense feeler, particularly since the beginning of this year, when I finished writing the talk I gave for the Women2Women conference, and made a significant breakthrough: that we are completely known and loved by the God of the universe (anyway), and to feel and understand that kind of love on earth we have to let yourself be known by others.


This caused me to be very intentional with my communications with others, my best friends and co-workers, the friends with which I feel a kinship and the family members whom I love. It’s had varying results, to be sure. It’s been painful, without question… which is where I come to the “heart-crushing” part.


You know that awkward moment when you’ve carefully and thoughtfully picked out a Christmas gift for someone and you didn’t get anything from them? That’s what this is like… when you realize that the connection you had to the other person just isn’t there on their side. While this may not be intended to feel like rejection on their part, it makes us feel rejected. It’s a lot like being in a relationship and saying “I love you” without getting it back from them.

“I gave her my heart and she gave me a pen.”

These are the moments when ask ourselves, was it worth the risk I just took? The risk to let a person see me, let a person inside my heart, and let them walk around the swampland of my soul?

I once read a devotional by Oswald Chambers, in this book, about grapes. Grapes turn their sweetest when they are crushed and squeezed to make wine. “God can never make me wine if I object to the fingers He uses to crush me,” he says. “…when He uses someone who is not a Christian, or someone I particularly dislike, or some set of circumstances which I said I would never submit to, and begins to make these the crushers, I object.” It is in moments like these, when I’m wondering if the risk was worth it, that I must remind myself that it’s not about the risk. It’s about what the risk taught me. How the risk made me sweeter wine. How being in full allegiance to God is about the sanctification process… the process that will change us. It will hurt (pruning always does) but will make better fruit.

“Let God do as he likes,” Chambers says. “If you are ever going to be wine to drink, you must be crushed. Let God go on with His crushing, because it will work his purpose in the end.”

I don’t like being crushed. I particularly don’t like being crushed by people, especially people I’ve let know me. I also know that putting the weight of my hopes and longings on the people I love will crush them with my expectations. (I think Tim Keller said a version of this somewhere.)

I think what I find so difficult about this is when I want that person to be part of my hopes and longings. I want them in there with me. And when they choose not to come – when I find out they mean more to me that I do to them – that’s when I find myself getting crushed, desperately not wanting to be poured out into sweet wine. Because that means they probably aren’t with me anymore. And that is heart-breaking.