Monday, June 27, 2011

Confessions III

I sincerely want to live the rest of my life practicing all of God's ways. Christ, I want to be to the world what you were. I want to save them as you saved them.

What is a baptism? It can't possibly be just one isolated event. God's baptism, that of the heart, happens over and over again. It is like walking up a long, slow staircase. Each time we put a foot down, we have a new peace, a new understanding of our place in His work. 

He fills us with what we can carry. He fills us again and again. And the cup deepens.

Some of us wade into the ocean up to our ankles. Some of us wade up to our knees, our waists. God, I want to tread water. Eventually, Christ, I would like to walk as You walked, pace back and forth across the ocean knowing my Father's hands are around me. I will be His adopted child, His smallest flower, His wild thing of faith.

I do not think there is shame in wanting this. I do not think it is blasphemous. I think only God can know my sincerity, and if God planted these desires in my heart, then I only pray that He fulfill them. I do not know what that will mean. I do not know the road. But even if it strips everything from me, as it already has... even if I am brought to my knees again and again, and made to crawl... I will not change my mind. God has graced me with His innocence and insurmountable courage. God has given me His Heart and Armor.

I have seen His mountains, and I will not turn away.
You can't earn God's love. You have nothing that He needs that He hasn't already given to you. Focus instead on giving God's love to those who may not feel it so strongly. Love is what marks a believer. Love is what makes a believer. The Word of God is Love.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

And sometimes, God is a poem....

"-- For I have learned
to look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue.  And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.  Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear -- both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognize
In nature and the language of the sense
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being."

-William Wordsworth, "Lines"

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A walk in the gardens....

Summer has come. I am feeling the thaw.

Every time I have prayed for a man in my life, for someone to love and share my burdens, I received back the answer that "he will choose me." Meaning, he will pick me and pursue me, and I have little control of when or who that will be.

And so, after months and months of desperate longing, I have reached a place of solace, a cottage of sorts, muffled from the world. I am not whole. God knows I will never be... but that is what God wants, and in the sightless way of my own small heart, I have finally stopped looking. I have made peace with loneliness. I have stopped looking for a savior in anyone other than Christ.

I am far from accepting all of the imperfections of the world, but God is showing me how to continue to love the world despite them. Faith is a long journey -- as my 90-year-old grandfather often says, we never stop growing in faith. I am very new to the road.

Did I mention that my Uncle died? My father's only brother, the last of our bloodline. This is God's impeccable timing. We went to Washington to visit my grandparents and I was worried that it would be our last time seeing them, since they are in their 90s, but instead it was my uncle who passed away. We spent the night at his house -- the next day he was gone. His heart stopped with no warning. Despite the shock of the death, I am somehow unsurprised... when I lost my mother at 12, I prayed for God to always give me the chance to say goodbye to those I love. So far that prayer has been answered.

God knows what death is and what it does to us... yet all things that God makes are good, so death must not be such a horrible thing, and the misery it raises in us must be for a higher purpose, something far greater than we can understand. I am as sure of this as I am of my own name. In all the strange contradictions of my person, I, too, am death, and death is alive in me, and we are siblings, he and I.

And finally, finally, I have reached that place of calm summer nights and long sunsets, where I am happy to be alone. Perhaps not always or in every second... God knows we waver as an ocean... but this is a peace I have found deep within myself, and I can return to it as often as I need. God's gardens are a deep walk through the heart. God's happiness is in valuing all things, and most importantly, in seeing what we have... and accepting that it will be taken away....

But what always, always remains is God's magnanimous love, His awe-inspiring presence, His endless grace and the foundations He has laid in my heart. Even in misery, I am in bliss, for I walk with my true Father and the One who will always love me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


It can only be the spirit of Christ who has kept me alive this past year.

So many times have dark thoughts passed through me... so many times I have doubted, tossed and turned, thrown God's gifts away and then driven back to recover what was lost.

I do not think anyone will truly understand what happened to me. Losing my father was not the death of a person. It was the death of myself, the death of an entire future that lived inside of me. Even now, my feet often trip over moments and minutes where I am once again lost and collapsing. Everything I ever thought of myself, everything I ever looked forward to, that I ever expected to have, was struck from me in one fell blow. The only thing that was not taken from me was God.

And now that the ocean is calming, that a new season is beginning, I can see exactly the barren landscape that I am leaving behind. I can see the winter that God turned into a garden; the dormant flowers that still found enough Light to bloom. I can see the hopeless, spiraling tunnels where I wandered indefinitely in search of what I had lost, knowing I would never find it again, not in this life and who knows what awaits in Heaven. I have been walking a hellscape with Christ at my side. How do I ever explain to an atheist what faith has done to me? It has built me anew. It has made me more of who I am, and more of what He is, and more of what God wants me to be.

And my longings, my desires, my painful and sacrificial love of God... it is Christ. It is Christ who loves me so much that He gave me some of His grace, some of His magnanimous spirit, to keep me alive. To keep me from descending into a realm where I might have been lost forever. That is where my desires arise from, my longing to serve, my need to submit to God. It does not come from myself. It comes from Christ, who has found space in my heart to live through me -- to save me.

I am finally beginning to understand that Christ never died. He is next to all of us, inside of us, living with us and suffering with us. Christ carried my cross for the past two years and I have been lifted by His unconquerable heart. I have done nothing but cry and complain. I am so weak, so far from what I want to be for God, and yet exactly what God has made. Any beauty that has come out of me these past two years -- beauty in verse, in life, in word and in love -- has come purely from the Spirit of my Lord and Father.

God, thank you for being my family. Thank you for giving me Your Son. Although the tides are changing, I pray only that I may continue to be your daughter, and that wherever these new fields take me, it will always be in greater service to Your Will.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Confessions II

And sometimes, we let people go.

It's always for the best. 

It doesn't always make sense why God brings certain people into our lives, and then ushers them out, as though they were only meant to be displayed for a short while. At times it feels like nails being pried from an old board. We want to grasp others and hold them still... but as St. Therese of Lisieux once said, life is separation, and we must learn to happily let go.

I allow people to effect me. For every person I meet, I watch for God's message, for what God wants me to see. And then, when I have seen what needs to be seen, God has a way of taking people away.

I don't resent God for this. I have left behind many who I felt were impinging my personal growth. But it doesn't stop the decision from hurting, and it doesn't keep us from loneliness. I often wonder if Christ was lonely; I know he must have been, doing all of his work by himself, with all odds against him. 

We outgrow some, while others outgrow us... and yet, there is always a sense of abandonment, a feeling of being left behind, even when it is by choice. I have said my share of harsh words and dealt with situations perhaps in the worst ways... but my goodwill has never left those who I've left behind. My heart does not linger, but is always inviting. Anyone may walk with me -- but walk I must, and it is they who choose not to stay by my side.
Because God reached beyond Himself to show me that I am Loved.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

We are not in a place that we are not meant to be. There is no missed opportunity. I keep saying this to myself because what I have asked from God must be planned perfectly, and it is not something that I can plan or do by myself. I cannot know the future, I can only trust in the present and the path God has placed me on. I see evidence of His design... but I am constantly on the watch for the next step.

God, put a rope on me, close your hands around me, keep me from pushing and shoving my way forward while you are patiently clearing a path. God, stop me from leaping; there is a time for rushing, and there is a time for standing still.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Speaking and Listening

It's hard not to dwell on the things people say.

But the honest truth is that most people don't speak very carefully.  We rarely consider how our words effect others. We rarely consider what our words say about ourselves.

No matter how confident a person seems, their opinion is still just an opinion. You don't have to listen. Just remember -- the voice a person uses to speak with is the same voice they have to live with in their own head. Highly critical people probably suffer from a feeling of personal failure or shortcoming, because their own internal voice won't allow them the sense of personal satisfaction. Likewise, those who speak encouragingly also think encouraging thoughts, and are probably much more forgiving of their own shortcomings.

Those with God in their hearts will speak encouragingly to you. They will consider how their words effect you. They will go beyond themselves to lift you up, to put the right message in your mind to allow you to succeed.

Those who try to tear you down are also tearing down themselves.

Don't dwell too long on the things people say. Instead, seek to develop a forgiving and encouraging inner voice. When your encouragement and forgiveness come from the inside, you stop looking for it from others, and you become that much stronger in faith and in personal character.