Stepping out in faith and back from things, allows one to see life from a different angle. Like a mountain climber who’s reached the summit the view is breathtaking and clear. Instead of looking up at the task before you, you look out at the beauty in front of you. It was worth the work, the wait and the wonder.
Here are some things I learned in my four-month hiatus (with more to come I’m sure)…
1. Pounding on a locked door keeps you from noticing the open one.
I was so very sure I knew which door I was suppose to knock on and walk through that I stood at it for way longer than I ever should have. I feel for Celia Foote in The Help when she rang the doorbell then stood in the bushes with her chocolate pie, peeping in the windows wishing, hoping, desiring to be let in, to be a part of the group. Instead of the rattle of a latch, she heard the prattle of laughter. She learned quicker than I that that door wasn’t going to open.
Stepping out in faith and back from things allowed me to see I can’t force anyone to open a door…especially God. It allowed me to see that door had become an idol…something I desired more than what should have mattered.
Closed fists pound. Closed fists can’t receive.
Once I opened my fist and stopped pounding, a different door opened. Had I not stepped out and back, I would still be peeping in the windows with my chocolate pie.
2. Not acknowledging our emotions doesn’t make them disappear. It makes them fester.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, until it gets buried deep down in my own marrow (and yours), It’s ok to say you’re not ok.
Can I take it one step further? It’s ok to say what you need.
Saying you’re not ok and asking for what you need does not make you weak or needy or typical for a woman. Saying you’re not ok is one of the strongest things you can do. Asking for what you need takes hutzpah and heart.
When we don’t, we fester. When we fester, we eventually pop…usually in the wrong place at the wrong time with an odiferous oozing that’s plain nasty. Anybody out there?
3. Out of order love doesn’t last over the long haul.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’
The most important one is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:29-31NIV)
The God of my faith is a God of order. I believe he put this verse in that order for a reason. We truly can’t love others or ourselves without first loving him with everything we have and all that we are.
We live in a self-centered society. If you don’t believe like me, look like me, act like me, think like me, dress like me I can’t possibly show you any kind of love (or mercy or kindness or grace or much of anything really).
I can’t tell whether we love ourselves too much or hate ourselves but either way, self-absorption or self-loathing creates a heart unable to love your neighbor.
Loving the Lord above all else allows us to see others (and ourselves) as made in his image. We see beyond the beliefs, looks, actions, thoughts and clothes to see people…Imago Dei…able to extend grace and mercy and truth and kindness.
Spending time with the Lord, creating space just for us, helps me keep love in the right order.
4. Life is too short to take my ball and go home.
My very best friend since kindergarten is sick. Last fall she went to the emergency room thinking she had a bad gall bladder and left with a stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis and a poor prognosis. For her, each day is a gift, one that she gladly opens. Each day is an opportunity to use the gifts and talents she’s been given and continues to share with her fourth grade class because she hasn’t quit.
I can’t quit either. It’s ok to step out in faith and back from things because we all need time to breathe on occasion. We all need a moment to be still, gather our thoughts and get our bearings but not for forever.
Part of me wanted to take the best of what I have to offer and say forget it. If the door won’t open, then I’ll take my gifts and talents and go home.
But then I talked with my best friend. The one who shared her crayons and didn’t laugh at me when I didn’t know my grandparents had ACTUAL names. The one who taught me that cows are nice, roosters are mean and how to sneak around the fairgrounds when you are there for 4H. The one who has been dealt a hand that isn’t fair and completely sucks but gets up everyday wanting it to be her best just in case it’s her last.
No. I’m not taking my ball and going home. I’m using the gifts that have been graciously given to me, sharing my chocolate pie with those who open the door and invite me in (and even those who don’t when love is in the right order. 🙂
I am thankful for what these past 4 months of soul searching solace has taught me. I pray I continue to uncurl my pounding fists and open my hands to receive so I can in turn give back. I pray that I don’t allow feelings to fester. I pray that I keep the Lord in the forefront so I always see those I encounter each day through his lens and not my own. I pray that I make the most of each precious day given to me.
I pray these things for you as well dear reader.
Fiercely for you,