Thursday, March 20, 2014

Reaping Joy

Last week I slid on a patch of ice while driving and bent my tire rim.
My car wobbles. 
Yesterday my cup leaked an inch of water into my car’s cup holder. 
Today I read an email from a woman who wishes I’d stop sending her those church updates while I’m filling in administratively.  She’s done with that church.
The weight of a conversation with my father presses heavy. 
And one more person asks me about my job search.  Then another. 
Ever so subtly, failure settles in. 
My heart hurts.

Too much flesh revealed, too jaded of an expression on her young face, and the evidence of too much sex and drugs appear in her vacant eyes.  My heart squeezes as I look at the latest photo of my foster daughter.  It squeezes and breaks to think that I have held this girl, still so young, when she cried on the anniversary of her miscarriage.  I’ve tucked her in, heard her prayers, cheered her on (in totally embarrassing mom style—which earned me a huffy sigh and eye roll) at sporting events, and wrestled with English homework.  I love this girl, and it hurts my heart to see her like this.  And so I click off her facebook page so I can regroup, try to numb my heart by distracting myself with something else.  I push the sense of loss far away.

A few nights ago I headed off to Target to buy a birthday gift for a one year old.  He’s precious, and growing up way too fast when I compare the 6 month garments to the 12 month ones. 
Being an only child, I don’t have siblings with children.  Which of course gives me full license to appoint myself as this wee boy’s God-Aunty.  (In case you were wondering, Target does not sell onesies with the slogan “My Self-Appointed God-Aunty Loves Me Best.”  You’ll probably have to settle like I did for a plain ole “Aunt” onesie.  C’est la vie.)  In wandering the aisles of these darling little clothes I hold up rompers and the tiniest little shoes, and yes, even a clip-on tie.  My uterus is quick to cheer “Yes!  We need two of everything!  It’s so stinkin’ adorable!”  My brain will have none of this nonsense and promptly sends a response back “Traitor.”  If looks could kill, I’m sure my brain would’ve murdered my uterus many times over. 
“Pierce Brosnan and George Clooney are NOT available.  Simmer it down down there.”  Cue evil glare.
“You don’t even have a house, WHERE are you planning on putting that tasty, modern furniture set?”  Followed quickly with a belittling look, maybe even a headshake.
“Enough with the baby clothes—you’re not getting one of those anytime soon.  Probably never.” 
And so on.  These internal dialogues happen a lot in the aisles of Target.  *sigh*

Although I momentarily grin at this internal dialogue, I’m aware that much deeper, hidden underneath it, my heart pinches and twinges. 

No baby.
No husband. 

And not even a prospect of one.

 At one time I would have been A-Okay with that. 

But I’ve had time to heal and process, and now every so often…in the quiet spaces…sheltered deep where no one can see or touch or laugh at…
I know I yearn for these things. 

And ever so quickly, I push the thought out of my mind, because although the healing is significant, the lies still raise their voice. 

The sense of inadequacy and shame wraps me close, deeper than flesh, fighting to remain part of my identity.

This week my morning readings have focused primarily on peace.
Yes.  I breathe it deep.
I let the word flutter through my mind and try to settle on me.  In me.  And it won’t.  My thick heart-skin is tough with the pains of life.  Peace is a heart word, and right now my heart wants protection and lets nothing close.  Except pain.  The unintentional wounds.  I wish I could embrace that peace, but my thoughts are too busy, too dense, too something and I am reminded that the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.  I strive to take those thoughts captive.  And again.  Again.  Again.  They persist and the weight of failure presses me down.  I see it, I know it, and it angers me because I feel so feeble, my attempts so futile.  I fail.  I am not good enough.  I cannot do it.  My worth…well, what little there may have been, it’s dwindling fast.  My shattered heart yearns to throw a fit, to yell, to push back because I know, I know, better. 
I am angry with myself.  Psychology tells us anger is a secondary emotion, that it is the product of either pain or fear, sometimes both.  I see it in me, the pain and the fear.  I know it…  I know…

I know the truth, and the Truth sets me free.  I know.
I know. 
But where oh where is it?  I must be doing something wrong.  Straight away my head corrects that thought.  Puh-leeze.  Head knowledge schools me, but my heart…  Oh my heart throbs for the experiential knowledge of a victorious giver of life, and life to the full! 

I slow.  I think of these things, look close at them, feel their shape in my hand, turn them in my mind. 
I think of this week and the snap shots I’ve experienced above.  And I stew.  These things I’ve pondered an embarrassingly long time in recent days.  In what has felt like self-preservation, I’ve tried to not look at them, but even without my eyes on it, the feelings edge in, pressing close, not seen clearly but felt. 
But as I slow and allow myself to focus, to examine the mess that rages chaotic, I hear another voice.


Beloved, I love you.
You are mine.

The voice is slow, quiet, not at all hyper or bitter like my own thoughts.  In the past I have been told that I belong to another, but this…is different.  Not ugly with entitled possession.  It is the voice of the Shepherd.  My Abba Father.  My Jesus Savior.  And the voice seeps slow and rich like honey, golden heavy, into my heart.  I sit quiet in His presence, my focus finally shifted from the sin ugliness of self.
Beloved, I hear you.  Let me step into those aches and ask you
what is beneath them all?  Hmmm?

Good question.  Long have I felt worthless, known it.  Seen time and time again that my striving and seeking after perfection to earn love, well, it’s not good enough, and I ache with the realization I can do nothing to be loved.  I cannot cover enough the scars cut and branded on me, in me. 
I.  Fall.  Short. 
It is that knowledge that throbs dull, that I try to tune out.
Again, the voice…

Beloved, I have good news for you.  I bind the brokenhearted, proclaim you captive no more.  No more!  You are free and released from darkness, no longer a prisoner.  I comfort you as you mourn.  I do the work, a new work, in you.  I take your ashes, and give you a crown of beauty.  I restore you, because I chose you.  I paid a great price for you—not merely to own you as an object, but as my Beloved.  I took your dead self, breathed my life into you, and you live.  You live the full life I give to you.  I have taken your shame and given you a double portion.  I have taken your heart of stone, and put in you a heart of flesh.  It is for freedom that I have set you free.  It is you I woo Beloved, you who I am shaping to be my bride.

And there it is, in the quietness, the leading of the One who knows me through and through.  The voice that spoke stillness into the storm speaks stillness into my heart.  The hurts and worries and shame, they turn transparent, empty, in the pure light of the Word.

I am loved.  Loved.  And the longer I hold those God-truths in my heart-hands, turning them over, memorizing their shape, weight, feel…the more real they become.  
Falling into my being like a rounded rock plunks through cold water, substance sinking deep. 
I breathe.  And breathe again.  Gone is the claustrophobic cage gripping my heart and lungs.

That peace that seemed like mockery?  It is soft now, pliable and tender and saturating.  My heart skin has thinned thinned thinned.  Warmed free by the love of my Abba Bridegroom.  It matters not what cares and worries have weighed me.  Even if I had none, (none!) I would still not be enough, and I am freed from the striving, free to just be, free to look beyond self and see Him. 

It is good that I stop to savor, process, and record these God-experiences.  All too soon I am going to forget the truths that bring me life.  All too soon I will flail in failed brokenness.  But here it is, a captured moment to soothe and heal, to woo and nurture.  I will rest in the vine branch, abiding in Him and He in me, authoring the gift of peace and love.  Cheap words, pretty ideas.  But oh the beauty of their full substance!  Lavished upon me time and time again. 

I will waste it, careless at times, and still it will be poured on me.  Why?  Because I am His and He delights in me. A mystery.  But there you have it, truth nonetheless. 

And now I grin easily.  My thin-skinned heart light in the knowledge that I am enough for the I AM. 

When we were freed,
released from captivity,
it was like a dream for us all.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
And all around us people said with wonder
“The Lord has done great things for you.”
And it’s so true, isn’t it?! 
The Lord HAS done great things for us and we are             
filled, filled, with joy!
                 Restore us, O Lord, like winter-fresh streams through the
                                       desert sands.
                        Do it again, Papa God!
            Those of us who sow in tears, our hearts heavy,
                        we will reap with songs of joy.
            That Dear One who weeps?  Carrying that seed to sow? 
            Guess what?
                        Dear one, along with a full harvest
                                     you return with songs of joy!


Melissa AuClair said...

Timmery, you are an artist with penning the words of your heart! Thank you for this: this is a post from the deep places. I resonated with it in so many paragraphs, especially in wrestling with the Father and really feeling and knowing and living in His truth when I'm so aware of my own inadequacy and failure. We can never earn it and we can stop striving- Love it; I needed the reminder!

Timmery said...

And you're a fantastic Encourager, Melissa! I had to look deep in my self to write this, and I wasn't thrilled about it initially. But then I had that heart transformation moment with God, which would never have come about without the looking! Womp womp womp!
God is so good, and I'm thankful for His joy :)