Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Mirage

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*this is a spiritual post. I hope to have more of these. I am no theologian, nor preacher, not even much of a writer, but I'm just sharing my heart and snippets from my own pilgrimage.


This past May 30th, I turned 30 years old.  The last five years of my life have been marked by transition; moving, growing and stretching into an adult, a wife, a friend, and a mother.  Transition has also been the case spiritually.

In my early twenties I experienced the presence and the love of God so profoundly and tangibly it wrecked me in the best possible way forever. The presence of Jesus felt more real to me than the glass of water sitting next to me right now, and I drank Him up, letting him fill and overflow all my aching places. It was beautiful. And it was real.

And then....

And then...God didn't feel so accessible anymore. My closest friend now seemed disinterested and silent. It felt like He left me. And I was heartbroken. Connecting with God felt like such an uphill battle. This had little to do with my outward experiences or trials. It was something that was happening on the inside.

And so the last five years have been finding my way out of that place, stumbling through the maze of my heart.

Christians love to use the desert analogy when describing their spiritual life. It usually goes something like this, "So how are you doing spiritually? or "how is your Walk?" or some other kind of Christianese. And if everything isn't cupcakes and roses the person may reply with something like, "Oh you know...just feeling kinda of dry right now." Or "I think I'm just in a desert season." You get the idea. You can probably overhear this conversation happening right now in a coffee shop.

The feelings and experiences that can make someone feel like they are in a "desert season with the Lord," are all valid.  I not only claimed the desert as my spiritual landscape but thought I was wasting away there and dying a slow spiritual death.

And five years later, this is my conclusion:

The desert is bullshit.

Yep. I said it. Just go read the New Testament, because that is basically what it's all about....the absolute ACCESSIBILITY to God through the work Christ did on the cross. Always. Regardless of difficult circumstances, of feeling, of sin. If you are in Christ you can always have immediate access to God. He's never far off. Jesus died and the rose from the dead so we can always, always enter into the Presence of God.

And I would get so angry at God because I would read about how He promises His Presence and I would be like, "So where are you??" There was a disconnect between God's promise and my experience. And I believed the lie that my experience is what was true.

I was that wanderer lost in the desert, so desperate and thirsty for God, believing that he was far off. Sometimes I would see glimpses of his Presence like an oasis in the unrelenting desert, only to run to and have it disappear, a mirage.

But somewhere along the line I just decided to believe God at his word, regardless of my feelings or experience. And slowly, clinging to the Word of His promise, I looked around me and realized I was out of my "desert."  And what had changed? Not much, besides my perspective.

And that's when I realized....the desert is bullshit. The presence of God isn't the mirage, the desert is the mirage.

This is the picture I got in my head:

Through Christ I had inherited the land of milk and honey, rivers and streams, the green and the good, living water that cannot be quenched, aka: the Presence of God. I was walking around with scales over my eyes, believing I was trapped in a desert. But the desert I was seeing was just a mirage. Reality was the green and the good, the rivers and the streams, God Himself. All around me. Near to Me. And His nearness to me is my good. And He is always Near. I was stumbling around in my mirage of a desert and when I opened my eyes and really saw, the whole time I was living in the land of Promise, bumping into God Himself.


"He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him." 1Thess 5:10



   

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Way of Grace

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"The nuns taught us there were two ways through life - the way of nature and the way of grace. You have to choose which one you'll follow.
Grace doesn't try to please itself. Accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked. Accepts insults and injuries. 
Nature only wants to please itself. Get others to please it too. Likes to lord it over them. To have its own way. It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it. And love is smiling through all things." ~ from the film Tree of Life



I'm well aware its been quite quiet over here. I've taken a bit of a hiatus from the blog world, both in writing and reading other blogs. It's been a rush of transition with moving and settling, birthdays, and trips. I've been soaking up precious moments with the little souls in my care and quiet moments with my husband as much as possible. There has been a lot going on in my soul as well, which introvert that I am, I tend to withdraw a bit. I need time and space to sort through things and realign myself with Truth.

The quote above, from the movie "Tree of Life," is one of my current favorites. It's the place I am in, trying to choose the way of grace. I've debated sharing this at all but this is my space and I am fond of transparency. And it's hard to be transparent when I feel like I'm never talking about the thing that I actually want to talk about. So then I end up never sharing, writing, or posting at all. And there it is, the real reason for my infrequent blogging.

 The past few months have been a bit of a waking up/ breaking point with me with a unhealthy parental relationship. I've realized for my own mental well being and for the protection of my family I need to, for the time being (and at the advice from a counselor), remove myself and my family from that relationship. I'm wading through a turmoil of emotions; guilt for having to establish such a hard boundary line, hurt and even bitterness over past and present wounds, sadness over a relationship meant to be a safe place that has been anything but, and disappointment with the realization that it may never be. I'm taking steps to move forward, coming up for air after many years of an unhealthy and manipulative dynamic which has been exacerbated these last two years with my parents divorce. I'm actively seeking healing for years of wounds through the help of a christian counselor. I'm asking the Holy Spirit to help me choose the way of Grace and the way of forgiveness. And realizing that loving and forgiveness doesn't mean I need to be or do what that person is wanting or expecting from me. That I actually don't have to be in active relationship with them at all. That to really effectively love them I have to be outside of the cycle of wounding and manipulation. Sometimes love, God's love, doesn't look like what we think, what we've been taught, or what other people expect. It's a revelation, actually.

So all of this it's a lot. 

Sometimes it feels really overwhelming. 

But there's a lot of truth in that "Tree of Life" quote. How can I choose to be unhappy when all the world is shining around? When Love is smiling through all things?

And as I swim up to the surface and I come up for air, I know that it's true. God is Love personified, its not a counterfeit love or love of our own making that pleases itself, and I see it written throughout all the lines of my story. And today, I'm choosing to see.


{And for anyone out there faced with similar or difficult relational situations, here are some resources I've been given that have helped immensely:}

Books:

Boundaries. When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud

Keep Your Love On: Connection, Communication, and Boundaries by Danny Silk

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Dr. Karyl McBride

Ministries:

Christian Healing Ministries

Bethel SoZo
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