Friday, July 4, 2014

the power of freedom

For so many years I lived anxious and restless, never resting in the present.

One foot in the past, my heart longed to know why certain things happened in my story.

     Why did we lose a child? 
     Why did my father move away to not be a part of my everyday life? 

One foot in the future, my heart longed to know if certain things would happen in my story.

     Will we have another child? 
     Will we ever have a real relationship? 

I wanted to make things be a certain way, yet I struggled to let them be as they were.  

At the beginning of this year, a word was impressed upon my spirit. A two-letter word that I questioned in all it's simplicity.
God is loosing me from all that has bound me from experiencing life, from living in joy and abiding in peace, from experiencing his grace to live, as I am.  

In preposition form, it's active and present. According to Merriam-Webster, as is:

-- used to indicate how a person or thing appears, is thought of, etc.
-- used to indicate the condition, role, job, etc., of someone or something.

     as. she. is.
     life, as. it. is.

: : : 

I tried to make a lot of things happen in my life.

With enough coercion, maybe I could convince my groom to try for another child . . . 

With enough forgiveness, maybe I could persuade my father to give me more attention . . . 

With enough good, maybe I could keep my groom happy and not frustrated with me . . . 

With enough perfect, maybe I could get people to notice all my heart work . . . 

With enough intensity, maybe I could control the behavior of my child . . . 

With enough effort, perhaps even the response of anyone and the outcome of anything . . . 

I was a selfish brat who did whatever I could to get whatever I wanted, until I couldn't.
I was never "good enough" to make anything happen. And the painful truth is that I never will be.  
I'll never be good enough to measure up to any standard or make any thing happen while I'm this side of Heaven. And when there, it won't matter to me anyway . . . just as it's becoming less and so while I'm here.

Even when I was given eyes to see my father as a broken human being and forgave him for not being as actively engaged in my life as I had wanted him to be, I couldn't create the kind of relationship I wanted.

Even when a temptation would present itself and I was willing to make a choice that wasn't good for me, I couldn't create an opportunity to experience it whenever, or wherever, or however I wanted.

Even when my groom was finally ready to try for another child, I couldn't make myself conceive whenever I wanted.

Somewhere along the way I thought I could do whatever I set my mind to, whenever I wanted. 

I thought I could make things happen; that I could create and contain and control the outcome of anything. And then, through a series of real-life experiences, I realized that I can't control any thing . . . even myself.

     I can't make myself not crave . . .
     I can't make myself not want . . .
     I can't make myself not care . . .
     I can't make myself not whine . . .
     I can't make myself not control . . .
In frustration, I came to a place where I finally said: "I am a mess and I can't fix me . . . so what!" The place where I came to was to His feet, completely and fully and freely as. I. am.
I told God that I was done with all the trying to be someone I wasn't.

I was done with trying to pretend I was Him and live up to some superhero image. Though angry, I accepted that He made me with faults and failings and fears. I was finally willing to face that I am human. Because, I can't change who I am.

But, I didn't know any other way to live. So, I gave up even trying and said:

     "God, You have to do any work in me that you think is necessary . . .

       I can't make myself be someone who I'm not!" 

And in place of the anger, God gave me acceptance.

     . . . for my self
     . . . for my tendencies
     . . . for my faults.

I've been disappointed at people's inability to understand me, to know me, and to affirm me. And so I lived angry for such a long time. I hovered and tucked myself in a corner. With an angry look plastered to my face, I was satisfied at my ability to keep the doors and windows to my heart sealed shut.

But, God . . . is so much bigger than us.

And He'll do whatever it takes to show us.

So, again, through a series of experiences, God showed me that I cannot even keep a lid on my heart.

I began to crave the communion of others -- a real community where rawness is sipped and savored. And in His faithfulness, God weaved me with the lives of others all across the world, people who have become my true friends. I discovered that I am not alone in my aching and my wondering.

And God gave me an overwhelming passion to tell others that they, too, are not alone.
God gave me a vision for a place where all of us travelers in the journey of life can lodge together without much cost, a hostel of sorts whereby we commune together, sipping and savoring life, as it is -- simply and freely, as we are. A place where brokenness is shared and raw, real life is experienced in abundant joy. 
I dream of opening the doors to an on line hostel called: C'est La Vie: The Magazine. A name quite literally meaning: Life, as. it. is.

The journey of even getting to this vision was long, even claiming it as a dream specifically created for me to receive and be a part of.

: : : 

For so many years I wanted a vacation-like life.

I wanted happy-clappy . . . sand between my toes (just not in other places thankyouverymuch) . . . a gentle breeze from the south with no humidity . . . and French-blue colored sky.

Basically, I wanted perfection. All the livelong day.
As I journeyed through my own story, I learned that vacation and perfect isn't real life. Trying to create a life like that is exhausting, depleting the heart of what life is all about. 
It literally took a recent awareness that I am at risk of a heart attack for me to realize that running and working out and being physically strong doesn't equate wellness, and that strong muscles can actually become weak by constantly contracting. In order to live, I had to rest.

The truth is, I spent what I was given. I gave away my heart and my hope with the expectation that I'd exchange it for happiness and certainty. And when I wasn't entirely understood or challenged for my view, I'd slam the doors and windows shut and hide myself from the world.

I was created to be an influential person and I took advantage of my gift. I can change the setting of any environment and I used it to blame others, positioning myself as the victim and giving myself rights I didn't deserve.

I wanted so much that wasn't mine for the taking, at least not for a time. 
I was an angry person for so long who resented everyone, including my own very life.

In all my wanting . . . .

     a different house . . .
     a different family . . .
     a different job . . .
     a different life . . .

I realized that my groom stayed.

Even though he could have left and wouldn't have been to blame if he did.

My groom stayed wedded to my heart and to our home.
And his staying spoke deep into my soul that I am loved, as. I. am. 

     . . . even with all my curves and all my edges.

I realized that my groom looks at me with a kind of love that accepts . . .

     even though I'd lusted for things that weren't a part of our real life . . .
     even though I hurt him time and time again . . .
     even though I made promises and broke them over and over again . . .

I realized that kind of love is Real, God-created and gifted love.
God showed me that I am welcome at here, even though I am sometimes a terrible, horrible, not so good person. I realized that I can be me, completely and wholly as I am. This is the greatest gift. This is freedom. This is love. 
God invited me to choose life. One that is free to live by faith.

Because of how I'd seen Him show up in my life time and time again . . .
Because of how I could see and understand love in a way I never had before . . .

     I was able to believe that I am purposed and I have a place here, as I am.

Because of the ways I could see I am beloved . . .

     I was able to choose to trust Him . . .
     I was able to stay in my marriage . . .
     I was able to pursue hope . . .

          even though I won't ever be good enough . . .
          even though I won't ever be certain my dreams will be realized . . .

God created me to be His Rock, a solid believer whose thoughts and perspective aren't shifty, based on symptoms or conditions. And He's helping me to live this.

He's changing me from being a raging lunatic to radical lover of people.
He's changing my muscle memory from clenching in fear to resting in trust.

As God looses my grip and I turn my back on the try-hard, rigid, angry, fear-based life that is really more like dying a little bit more with each passing day, I'm choosing grace that focuses on life . . . the Eternal kind.  

When I sit back and examine the first 34 years of my life, I see only a mere spattering of joy across the canvas, not huge sweeps of it.

I want to spend the rest of my life, however long that may be, on joy 
     . . . not jealously or justification.

: : : 

God looses us from all that binds. Though the journey may look long and we may wander off the beaten trail, we're never lost.

He knows just how far we'll go and lets us go as far as we need to in order for us to cry out for His rescue. And He always appears in just the ways we need Him.

As I've journeyed, God has taught me that I cannot make things be and that there is rest to be found when I embrace life, as. it. is.

I am free. 

     I can live.
     I can trust.
     I can hope.
     I can rest.
     I can be.

I'm not quite ready for the fullness of community, or the fullness of family that I hope for in the dreams God has impressed upon my heart.

I'm still recovering from the rigidity that I called life.
I'm still getting to know the life He's called me right now.

But, God is readying me for all that I hope for, every moment by blessed moment. I trust in His perfect timing.

I recently said to my groom that I feel like the seasons are all mixed up for me. He nodded his head as if he understood and that one moment warmed my heart, just as these words do for me:

There's planting and reaping and harvesting, and there's the practice of letting the field lay fallow for awhile, allowing it to prepare again to produce. For the first time in a long time, I'm practicing silence, laying fallow, trusting that the world will keep spinning quite happily without quite so many words from me." (Shauna Niequist)  

So even though the calendar says it's summer and my spirit feels like I've been stuck in winter, I'm patiently waiting as I hold my cup.

I'm letting my favorite person love me, and I'm letting other people love me, too.

I'm exhaling after holding my breath for so long.

I'm accepting me more and more, as I am
     . . . and our simple life, as it is.

I'm living free -- as me -- and this is my offering, this is my worship.

Linking with Jennifer and Bonnie.

1 comment:

  1. Amy, thanks for sharing the tender spots in your heart. I'll be thinking of this thought in your conclusion: letting other people (husband, friends, family) love me.

    I came to your site via Jennifer's link up.