Thursday, June 4, 2015

the long journey to peace, to Life

Several years ago I was given a dream that felt comfy and exciting.

Through a painful process and time, I learned the importance of patience and trust.

I thought surely God must be cruel because I even prayed the desire would go away and still, it remained.

How could I possibly be given such a desire and yet be waiting, still, more than a handful of years later?

I felt tortured -- gutted and raw -- and in that vulnerable state I was faced with a decision.

     Do I keep trying to make this dream happen?
          Or do I simply wait and trust?

     But what if it doesn't happen?
          What if it turns out my dream is something I made up?

There were times when I wanted to run away from everything in my life and even crawl into a me-size grave and fall asleep forever.

It seemed easier to just divert my eyes from the dream and even ignore the tugs at my heart. 

I nearly destroyed my marriage and gave up my child, thinking I wasn't good enough for the dream that hounded me, and perhaps I wasn't even good enough for them.

I gathered us three and we pursued a new place to live with wide open spaces and sunshine nearly everyday. I felt free and started to learn what life is like without the familiar memories from my growing up years. I thought I needed a fresh start and a new me.

Within two years we turned ourselves right back around and ended up in the last place I ever wanted to be -- Home.

The community where I was raised now felt scarier than ever. Everyone remembered the "before me" and I feared they wouldn't see the newness of me.

As it turned out, though I could sense the change deep below the surface, the "new me" was still only a seed. There would be a handful more years to live through until I would bloom and beauty would unfurl.

God asked me if I would stay with the man He allowed me to marry, even if I was sometimes irritated or annoyed by the discomfort of living with someone different than me.

My answer was a vehement "No!" at one point.

He had asked me numerous times to let go of the dream I tried to coerce him into making happen. Time and again I'd try to let go, only to fail over and over again; I just couldn't make this wanting go away.

I tried to coerce my groom to give up on me, convinced I was otherwise just postponing the inevitable because surely he would get frustrated with me enough to eventually give up.

Eventually, I realized my groom was right. What seemed like a good thing had become an obsession. It was my fear of thinking I wasn't good enough that was infiltrating into every single aspect of my life, including my interactions and relationship with him.

I needed to consider letting the dream go and trust that I am good enough, as I am.
     But how?

After actually trying to make my groom go, I finally realized something profound: He stayed.

     No matter how many glasses I threw and broke . . .
     Or how many times I careened out of our driveway and down the street in reckless anger . . .
     Or how much I yelled unfair accusations and ugly, colorful words at him . . .

The man who committed his life to me actually stayed.

I finally understood he was honest all the times his words said my curves were attractive and my edges weren't all there is about me. Most especially, I finally understood my groom's love is genuine when he gave me the space to process out loud.

Even though my behavior certainly hasn't been "good," it turns out I am good enough -- as I am. 

I courageously received his love, choosing to believe him and set my doubts free. After nearly 14-years, I finally married him last summer . . . this time, in my heart.

: : : 

Over a year ago I imagined sitting on a front porch with my hands cupped around a warm cup of tea, and seeing storm clouds slowly make their way across the sky.

I could feel the angst in me as the storm clouds began to whirl and twirl, and I considered making my way inside my house where I would find safety and comfort from my groom. Since he had become a person who I (finally) found rest in being with, my initial reaction was to go inside since a storm was about to brew and let him calm my restless heart.

Just then, I felt a stirring in me to stay, as if it were an invitation.


More storm clouds. More whirling and twirling.

     Will you stay? 
          Even now . . . in the midst of the storm . . . will you stay? 

     Will you trust Me? 
          I will teach you to rest, in the midst of the storm . . . now, as it is . . . 

The clouds thickened and the sky grew ever darker in my imagined moment, and I started to consider what happens during a storm.

I thought of the moment when the storm clouds part and the brilliant colors poke through the darkened canvas of the sky. That parting in the sky doesn't last long and it's sometimes really easy to miss, especially when we're tucked safe inside where it's more comfortable to weather a storm.

Brilliant orange and pink colors make their way through the clouds, though their beauty is not always indicative of the end of a storm. There is beauty in the midst. And we could miss it.

As if it's a reminder to Hope, the call to stay teaches us we can trust and rest. 

This vision grew a passion within me to encourage others to stay . . . to Chase Hope in the midst of the storm -- not necessarily for the storm to end and the hard story to be pretty-bow tied, but rather to stay long enough to see the beauty in the midst of the fog and the grey.

     To hope for His glory to be revealed in some way, even if it's not as we would design it to be.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me.
Get away with me and you'll recover life.

I'll show you how to take a real rest. 
Walk with me and work with me -- watch how I do it. 
Learn the unforced rhythms of Grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 
Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
(Matthew 11:28 The Message)

: : : 

Soon after the storm vision, I was given a dream that I tried to fling wide onto someone else . . . anyone else. It kicked at my insides like a strange-feeling butterfly just waiting to bust out and fly.

     I itched and scratched, restless and irritated.

This dream just didn't make sense. It wasn't comfortable or exciting. It was annoying and just sounded like work that would interrupt my now quiet, and rested soul. I didn't need to prove anything or achieve anything anymore. I was happy and content with life, as it was.

     Still, I itched.

This irritating "dream" kept kicking me in the belly like a fetus in utero. Though I didn't want to admit it could be real, I simply had to pay attention to this.

     Develop a magazine . . . and name it, "C'est La Vie" -- life, as it is.

     Use this to envelope others around what you've discovered:

          . . . that you can trust me, and you can rest
          . . . even in the midst of life's storms.

It was settled. I would yield.

The journey I lived brought me to a passionate understanding that I can trust Our Creator -- God. I learned that I can rest, even as the battle rages and the storm billows.

I began to believe I am good enough, as I am. 

"Strong" was redefined for me.

I now see Strong as the courage to hold all things loose and to trust God -- hoping -- not for a happy storybook ending, but rather for peace

     . . . even in the midst of the storm
     . . . even if the storm never ends
     . . . even if the dreams my heart longs for never come true.

God gave me the desire to develop a magazine that seeks to dethrone the typical, glossy ones telling readers how to have the perfect body, the perfect children, the perfect house, the perfect marriage, the perfect sex . . . the perfect life -- as if theirs simply isn't good enough, as it is.

"C'est La Vie: The Magazine," the dream God planted within my heart and that I resisted, will be birthed about the time my 10-plus year dream of having another child will be born, the dream I tried to make go away and that remained through the years -- even after my hard surrender.

Having a second child wasn't something I necessarily wanted. It was a dream I believed with all my heart God wanted for us. I wanted it so badly just because I thought it would prove He is real. I imagined saying, "Look! See? God did this! He is real!"

If there's anything my journey taught me, it's that I don't need a baby to prove God is real. 

"C'est La Vie: The Magazine" reminds us that our greatest offering is to unwrap the grace to simply be -- as. we. are. -- and to trust God has purpose for life -- as. it. is.

His heart cry is for us to know we can trust Him . . . we can rest.

     What if I didn't say "Yes"?
     What if I didn't stay?

     What if I didn't choose courage to see what it is God had to show me?

It makes me want to throw up even thinking about how different my life might look right now if I hadn't chosen to surrender my comfort and step with God into the fog-laden path of life.

Deep contentment and joy for life has finally overwhelmed me. I might not always feel this secure, even though I know He will always hold me and keep me safe.

Even if the deep fears that try to niggle at me end up coming true, I know there will be sufficient Grace when I need it.

I don't have to imagine the worst in an attempt to prepare myself for a possible hardship. God will comfort me and He will be enough. Besides, I could never prepare enough for what His Grace wants to show me.

Even in the midst of the storm, He will cascade beauty across the canvas of our sky.

Christianity as I knew it was disassembled in my life. In its place is faith -- genuine faith.

After many years, I finally came to see the wait for my dream as a gift. I didn't need the dream to happen anymore. The journey was about so much more. I now know I am treasured and deeply loved -- as I am.

After such an ugly and hard journey of stubbornness and fear-living, a beautiful peace washed over me to accept my story -- as it is. 

"C'est La Vie: The Magazine" is about to make its debut, and soon thereafter will my second son.

I don't need to see what either of these dreams end up looking like in order to love them now.

Joy and gratitude has come to me without needing to see the proof. 

As these dreams grow their lungs, I imagine them scream: Look at what God did!

     I can already hear their screams of Glory . . . of Life.

1 comment:

  1. So excited for you, Amy, and all that God is doing in and through you. xo