Wednesday, December 28, 2016

for when you think you are not known

You sit, wondering, do they notice me, notice my presence, notice my smiles, notice my tears.  Amidst the conversation, the fellowship, the friendship, am I that forgettable, that invisible, that insignificant.  In the world so big and wide it is that which glitters that gets the awe and attention.  The golden chalice draws the eye while the humble clay cup dutifully serves day after day.  If the squeaky wheel gets the grease, what do all the other wheels get...

Lest anyone reading become worried, no I am not, Praise God, currently in the depths of despair so while kind words and encouragement are never turned away and always treasured more than the giver can imagine there is not a sudden need to be boosted up out of the pit.  However courage of Spirit does allow me to admit that this is not an unfamiliar feeling from the past and will be recognized again in the future and experience has taught me that more than a few instantly recognize and empathize with the feelings.

New surroundings can bring about the oldest of memories.  That which has never been truly confronted, hurts that have never completely healed, or even pains thoroughly prayed over, dealt with and moved past can be plunked upon your door step once again tempting you to open them up and set them upon your shelves when the senses begin whirling trying to make the unfamiliar places your body resides in familiar places for your mind to understand.

As easy as it is to succumb to these feelings of insecurity, of vulnerability, it is also just as easy to push them down away from the surface of completely tangible.  Pressing them just far enough to the point where they are barely covered by whatever you have chosen to hide them from visibility.  It can be found laughable the way in which the human heart tries to readjust the negative things we feel.  Those with the introverted tendencies I know so well turn into themselves even more attempting to swallow themselves whole in hopes that no one will notice them even though being noticed is what their heart cries out for.  In their equally as confusing but completely opposite way, the extrovert becomes more extroverted drawing attention to themselves in an effort to confuse and keep your eyes on the parts of them they seek to show so that the other ones will hopefully go unnoticed.  Misdirection on both accounts.

As always, it is the speaking it into existence, the bringing it into the light that causes the fog to lift, the dust to blow away, and clarity to begin to form.  Darkness never gives a true story.  Light is the only thing that shows Truth.

The Truth is we all want to be noticed, all want to be known and all fear them both as well.

Years ago in the car the other half of my heart who has vowed to love me forever, and I him in return regardless of life's curveballs and our own sinful stupidity, played me a song on the tail end of our biggest struggle to date.  That song, Josh Wilson's song titled One Safe Soul, beautifully simplifies this oxymoronic struggle within our human hearts.

Man's greatest fear is being alone,
And his second greatest is being known,
But if you are both known and loved,
You've got nothing to be scared of

We don't want to be alone because we feel rejected but we don't want to be fully know because we fear rejection.  It's being both known and then loved that gives our hearts the ability to soar.

Tim Keller puts it another way and then adds in the key component for all aspects of life, the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, makes all the other pieces make the sense the were designed to make.
"To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial.  To be known and not loved is our greatest fear.  But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God.  It is what we need more than anything.  It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us." 

This desire of our heart, this desire to be noticed, sought after, recognized, known is our soul crying out for something to fill a void only able to be filled by our Creator.

Thank you for the people placed in our lives who know us well and love us despite their knowledge.  They are an extended grace of which we are so undeserving.  But to place all hopes on them, to place upon them the burden of keeping you upright, to sit and seek out only the love of others to keep your spirits up and your Spirit well, will leave you alone and unknown more than any heart needs or desires.  

We will each find ourselves around a bend we on our own would have never journeyed toward.  A path on our own we would have never trodden.  A corner turned because the way in which we wanted to go, the planned route we never assumed would go anywhere but straight, was blocked forcing a new direction.  The unfamiliar will come up without a familiar face around in which to hold a gaze unless you know and understand One who knows and loves you,  who has known and loved you, since before time began.

In countless places, with countless personalities, amidst countless individual situations we sit wondering, do they noticed me, notice my presence, notice my smiles, notice my tears assuming the answer is no.  Sometimes it will be, sometimes by the other struggling souls around you the answer will most definitely be no, you are not noticed by them, but always, always you are noticed.

Because O Lord, you have searched me and known me!  You know when I sit down and when I rise up;  you discern my thoughts from afar.  You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.  You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.  Psalm 139:1-6 ESV

With the end of the year coming, with the analyzing of the past year's events and the desires of the new year ahead, I pray we see all the ways we were known and loved, yes by each other because we are the hands and feet of Christ here on this earth, but mostly by our Father who, no matter the paths we each took or were taken on this year, loves and knows us and always has and always will.

Pray for me as I seek to make that my focus and reflection, I'll be praying for you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

for when you long for simplicity

FRIENDS is my favorite.  Yes friends are my favorite too, but FRIENDS, that beloved show of the late 90s and early 2000s, will always have a top ranking in my heart and to my eyes.  Their humor and friendships, the way none of them could take themselves too seriously because each was a hot mess in a different way, even the way they titled their episodes make me love it more.  Seriously, the way they titled their episodes, the one where..., was not just witty but quite helpful.  While I'm thinking about it, efficient wittiness is one of my favorites as well.  For never before seen footage, you had a hint of something that was going to happen by reading the title and later while searching for a desired episode you are reminded at a glance of what that episode held thus providing a quick end to  your search.

There is a large part of me that wants to go back and change the title of everything I've written renaming them each with efficient wittiness, both for myself and for others, so that at a glance it is known what might be held in the heart of the words; so that at a glance the hard fought lessons, encouragements, and words of the past can prick the consciousness giving reminders to carry into the future.

For today the title would be for when you long for simplicity.

At first glance, it might seem like a thematic seasonal post is coming next filled with reminders that in this season, this bustling December brimming with parties, appointments, shopping, and whatnot, you must force yourself to stop, slow the race around you, and breathe to soak in the peace of Advent, the peace we now get to have because we are no longer waiting on the Messiah's first arrival but living in Him; anticipating His return while remembering long ago those who faithfully waited on His initial appearance.

Yes, all good things and just writing those words immediately brought a calm to my Spirit and a smile to my face, but what about the rest of time?  The other days when the Christian calendar might not be as obviously beckoning for your stillness.

Does it seem, as of late, to anyone else besides the controller of these words, that there is a heavier overall desire to minimize, to simplify.

Whether it's paring down the number of objects owned, or cancelling appointments on the calendar, or deciding what to dos on the list really aren't necessary, or cutting out relationships in your life that require more work than seems worth it, or, or, or.  It is a real, and becoming much more common, occurrence to do whatever can be done to make life more simple and less arduous because we feel in our hearts that complication is what is reigning.

To the human heart and mind it makes perfect sense. 

A handful of friends spent this year magically tidying up and shed themselves of gobs, yes I said gobs, of unneeded, undesired items.  I even followed suit, just without reading the official magic words.  Getting rid of items can mean less work on upkeep and therefore more time available.  It teaches and reminds that wants and needs are not the same thing and having more just to have more is just more.  Purging your life of things that don't bring joy will, in theory, allow more focus on things that do.  However, seeking joy from any material possession will always leave you lacking.

Likewise with those over scheduled schedules, the obvious solution is to get rid of the things you don't want to do or don't feel called to do if you want to add a more socially, 'christianly' acceptable spin.  We all have a breaking point, some of us just require a little extra pressure, and the first thing done is paring down those schedules.  Gone will be the weight from doing what is expected, what is assumed, instead of what is desired, what is meant specifically for you.  Somewhere in the lessons you realize you could not keep up the pace, you realize you just cannot do it all.  The blessing beneath that curse is that you were never meant to. 

In a recent sermon I heard a now favorite colloquial phrase in regards to this subject, and I quote, the bible is chock full of things you can't do.  I just love that phrase chock full.  To a southern heart it means full to the brim, not one more thing can be stuffed in there without it overflowing and making a mess everywhere.  It also doesn't hurt that it is straight Truth.  The creator of the world, which means your creator as well, never required you to do it all, and He certainly never required you to do it alone.

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer has quickly become one of the books I will forever treasure for opening my eyes to life as it was designed to be lived, for helping me pay attention to that sweet Spirit within who has never ceased pointing and guiding all the way.  Though not even quite finished reading it for the first time through, my copy is already worn from use and heavy from the extra ink, and the occasional crayon, needed for underlining and margin notes.

Tozer, or A Dub'ya, as my Friday morning ladies and I call him writes, "Be thou exalted is the language of victorious spiritual experience.  It is a little key to unlock the door to great treasures of grace.  It is central in the life of a godly man.  Let the seeking man reach a place where life and lips join to say continually, Be thou exalted, and a thousand minor problems will be solved at once.  His Christian life ceases to be the complicated thing it had been before and becomes the very essence of simplicity."

The very essence.  Simplicity.  Be Thou Exalted.  God first.

Life as a Christian was never going to be easy, going against everything the world holds in highest honor is a hard row to hoe, but holding the same things as the world in highest places is when everything becomes disjointed.

For this girl who yearns for simplicity, for all of us who seek and change and ignore and purge and do without just to taste a hint of a simpler life, this is balm.  This is a single step.  A scary one for some, a difficult one for some, a giant leap for some, but one that brings immediate and lasting simplicity.    
There will be no perfection, for only One is perfect, or even the illusion of perfection, that are what many see as the greatest success of life.  But there will be peace no matter the chaos around because the lines are now in order, the rightful one holds the lead spot and everything else can see where they fit, where they have longed to belong.

Everything falls into place because of God.

Yes, 'tis the season now but 'tis the season always.  Life in Christ changes you not for a moment, not for a five week period between two holidays, but forever.  Your inner disposition finds simplicity when it's only focus is Christ and your attitude about life falls into step as your heart clings to Him.

Praying for you to simply need Christ, pray for me.