Beloved

A book is not beloved

If it’s sitting on a shelf

Collecting dust and waiting

There with others by itself.

 

What makes a book beloved

Is the time I spend with it.

The same is true for people

When I take the time to sit.

 

Love is to be tended

Like a garden or a tree.

It cannot be neglected

Or it will escape from me.

 

Hearts, like books, sit on the shelf

Too often they are broken,

Not by being all alone,

by words that were not spoken.

 

Books long to be touched and read

And will wait until they rot.

Hearts long to be loved and held

But will break if they are not.

 

(photo credit bonpic.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Better Let Somebody Not Love You…

I’ve struggled, in the past, with letting others love me. I’m not sure if that was because I felt unworthy or perhaps, I was simply afraid. Letting somebody love me isn’t easy; the Eagles make that clear in “Desperado.” The song cautions those afraid of love to “let somebody love you before it’s too late.”

I’ve loved the song for decades and could relate to its lyrics, but the lessons in love of late have been very different ones. God is helping me see that I must let somebody not love me if I want to love as He loves. God loves everyone, no matter who they are. That bothers some, but brings great peace to me. He loves completely and perfectly, but He never forces anyone to love Him back. He could, but He knows better than anyone that love isn’t love if it’s forced upon us.

I’ve always had the need to be liked, so it’s not surprising I would have difficulty letting someone not love me. I find myself trying to convince others to accept my love and to love me back. It hurts deeply when they don’t. I am learning I can only be a loving presence and choose whether to accept the love offered to me. Life and love are wrapped together beautifully in relationship, and I’m slowly learning to relax into relationships and not worry if they are not what I expect them to be.

Chasing love is pointless because it can never be caught. Pursuing it only distracts, disturbs, and deters the love already in my life. The notion of relaxing into obedience has brought powerful growth during the past year. I’m finding that relaxing into whatever God has in mind brings a sweet sense of peace. Relaxing is not easy for me; but when I remember it’s simply believing God is Who He says He is, it becomes much easier.

I’ve been getting deep tissue massages since April to correct some health issues I’ve had for years. I was groaning yesterday when I felt my tendons and muscles begin to relax. The difference in my body over the past few months is unbelievable, and I know it has to do with the fact that I’m learning to relax just like those stubborn, twisted muscles. I told Braden, as she massaged out the sore spots, that learning to let others not love me was having the same effect on my heart that her massage techniques were having on my body. Does it hurt when someone doesn’t love me? Absolutely!! Can I make them love me? Absolutely not! Does allowing them the space to not love me bring them closer? Sometimes 🙂

If love is meant to be, it will be. If it is not meant to be, it will not be. I can cajole or coerce with some success, but I will miss the kind of love God has in mind for my heart. Wasting time and effort trying to get someone to love me keeps me from enjoying the sweet love already in my path.

So, let somebody not love you before it’s too late.

 

Write On!

I’ve wrestled with writing for the past few months and thought about not renewing my WordPress account. I haven’t written faithfully in 2016, so I figured it was time to stop blogging.

As I’ve prayed about it last week, several folks told me how much they enjoyed reading my posts. I was humbled by the comments and amazed that some came from folks I hardly know. God continues to bid me to write, and I continue to make excuses not to. I had to laugh when the girls began watching an old Disney show called “Do With a Blog” last week. They love the silly sitcom and so do I. Lillyann asked what a blog was when we started watching the show, so I explained it and told her I had one. She wanted to see it and asked me what I wrote about. I told her I wrote about my feelings. She asked if it was hard to do, and I told her it was very hard. She may only be seven, but she seemed to understand exactly what I meant. I love that about her.

I started writing for Lillyann in 2009 because I wanted her to hear my heart and know me deeply when she was older. Mylah came along in 2011, so I continued to write with both girls in mind. In November, little Kylie will join us on this wonderful journey. I don’t know if any of the girls will read what I’ve written for them, but I do hope they will. I printed over 300 pages of the posts that relate to them so they can read them when they are older. When I showed the notebooks to Lillyann several years ago, she said she was going to read them when she was my age. I smiled and thought of how much I would love to hear my grandmother’s right now.

Writing is a pain filled process, but like the deep tissue massages I’ve been getting over the past few months, it’s pain necessary for healing. The peace I feel after I write makes the pain of sharing bearable. I don’t know how God will use writing to transform me into who He wants me to be, but I do know that sharing the journey through my writing has been a big part of my healing.

When I taught, I urged my students to open their hearts and share their writing with others. I never followed my advice because I was too afraid. The Pollyanna in me preferred a happy face to a healed heart. I didn’t want to burden others with my sadness. God placed a young women in my path yesterday who had the same fear. I met a friend at a small cafe to catch up and reconnect, and this young lady was working there. She knew my friend, and I heard the young women tell her that she was deeply sad but didn’t want to make others sad with her dark feelings. I jumped in and told her she didn’t have to make others happy. I knew not to say anything, but I just couldn’t help myself. She told me sadly that it was her reality, and I understood completely. My plea was meant for me.

Writing is not for the faint of heart, but nothing else gives me the catharsis I find in the transparent honesty that comes when I share my heart with others. So, I’m renewing my WordPress account and trusting God to do what He does best-open my heart in ways that always surprise and heal. Living and loving as God desires isn’t easy because it requires a level of faith I cannot reach on my own. I’m finding that the more I let go of my need to make others happy or be who they expect me to be, the closer I come to being the beloved daughter God created me to be. I have come a very long way since I began writing in 2009 and even further since I decided, in August 2012, to share my journey by blogging. I still have a long way to go, but inviting others to come along as I learn makes the journey a joy.

Thank you all for sharing the journey. You encourage me to keep going. The journey truly is better with company.  That was God’s powerful lesson this week.

 

 

 

 

Heartburn and Heartbreak

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I think that’s a lot of sexist nonsense; but God did manage to get to my heart through my stomach this week, so maybe there is something to the old saw.

I’ve suffered from acid reflux for three months, and it’s driven me to distraction. The nagging burn of stomach acid in my throat was becoming common place because I opted to eat what I wanted to eat, carry antacids around with me, and accept the burning as my new normal.

My father used to tell me that I was born hungry and would die hungry. I told him I planned to eat as much as I could in between. I was born prematurely and couldn’t nurse or suck a bottle, so mama cut a hole in the nipple of a bottle and let the formula flow into my mouth a few drops at a time. She was afraid I would choke, so the process took forever. According to daddy, she fed me every five minutes. He attributed her obsession with feeding with my obsession with eating. That theory made perfect sense because I turned to food when I was hurting, and I ate all the time.

Weight was never a problem when I was growing up. I was tiny in elementary school and stayed a constant 110 pounds throughout high school and college. I ate heartily, five meals most days. The first time I gained a lot of weight was when I was pregnant with my son, but most of that came off as soon as I got home. My sweet son filled a void that needed filling, so I put all my energy into loving him. In my forties, a slower metabolism and a broken heart took a terrible toll on my heart. I couldn’t keep up any more. In fact, I didn’t want to keep up any more.

My heart’s hunger has always been greater than my stomach’s desire to be filled; so when the two pains merged, food became my drug of choice. I cooked and served and pretended all was well. Mama taught me much more than how to cook. Her death left my heart in a lurch I’ve been trying to crawl out of for six years. I gained twenty-two pounds trying to recreate the comfort of her unconditional love. The more I tried, the more I failed. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I kept on doing it because I couldn’t face the truth.

Thanking God for acid reflux may sound bizarre, but that’s exactly what I found myself doing yesterday. If you’ve ever had acid reflux, you know it will not be ignored. It’s been nagging me unmercifully for three months, and I finally had enough on Tuesday.

I love researching, so I took to the internet to find answers. I was tired of hurting and ready to change my ways. I found a list of foods that cured and a list of foods that caused acid reflux and decided to give it a try. On Wednesday, I ate only foods that cured and avoided all foods that caused. I couldn’t believe the difference and kicked myself for waiting so long to do the right thing.

God used my relief to remind me that my heart needed relief as well. It had been broken for a very long time and it was affecting my health and my happiness. I took a hard look at my heart habits and realized I had some changes to make. No one knows my heart better than God, so I turned to Him for answers.

It isn’t easy to give up what I want. I missed having coffee, chocolate, and cheese on Wednesday, but I did not miss the terrible burning that came with their consumption. It is human nature to want what isn’t good for me, but God showed me that what He wants for me is so much better than what I want for myself. His lists for living aren’t designed to punish or deny; they are designed with a full heart in mind.

My heart and belly have been full of good things for the past two days, and I’ve lost a pound in the process. I wasn’t thinking about my weight on Wednesday. I simply wanted the pain to stop. God showed me that doing the right thing is the simple solution for both heartburn and heartbreak.

I had to laugh when I thought of Paul in Romans 7:19 last night. I decided to eat a little chocolate before heading to bed, and I immediately regretted that decision.

“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.”

Maybe writing that little verse a few hundred times will help me remember to stick to the good list when it comes to my tummy and my heart 🙂

 

 

 

 

Back on Track

Running with a heavy overcoat isn’t the best way to travel; but I have a hard time laying aside encumbrances and staying untangled. Holy Week is always difficult, but the pain has been overwhelming this week. Christ’s passion is more than I can comprehend, and it breaks my heart to think of His suffering. Hebrews 12:1-3 helped me change my focus and get my heart back on track.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (NASB)

I was lost in the weariness of the world this week, but God put these scriptures in the path to remind me to lighten my load and run the race He has set before me. Christ saw the joy set before Him, and knowing that joy allowed Him to endure the cross, despise the shame, endure the hostility, and end up at the right hand of His Father. He did it all so I could share that joy with Him.

I cannot run the race Christ ran, and thinking I have to is what makes Holy Week weigh me down each year. I can, however, run the race specifically designed for my heart by One who knows me better than I know myself. No one is able to run my race for me, but sharing the joy and pain found on my journey humbles and fills my heart with wonder. That was a powerful part of the learning this week. If I try to run Christ’s race, carry His load, or carry my burdens alone, I will quickly become entangled and encumbered. I came to a place of quitting this week, but God bid me to get up, keep going, and trust Him.

Good Friday is the perfect day to fix my eyes on Jesus. He is, and always will be the author and perfecter of faith. If I keep my focus upon Him, I will find the love, joy, and peace I was missing this week. Encumbrances will continue to entangle as long as I am in this world, but I can keep my balance and run the race with endurance if I remember I am never alone.

Walking Together

Shattered Heart

Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
    a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
    when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
    don’t for a moment escape God’s notice. (Psalm 51:16-17 MSG)

I love Eugene Peterson’s translation of verse seventeen because I truly believe that a heart must be shattered before a life is ready for love. A heart-shattered life can no longer go through the motions, and God’s notice is captured in such a life.

A shattered heart cannot simply be pulled together. Appearance doesn’t matter to one looking at a heart in pieces. My heart has been shattered and scattered many times, and I’ve vainly tried to put together that which only God can repair. He knows that going through the motions won’t help a shattered heart, and that’s why He isn’t pleased. He wants whole hearts for His children, and He knows pride must also be shattered before He can begin the work only He can do.

Psalm 51 has long been a favorite of mine, and I turn to it when I am hurting. David’s heart was shattered, and his pride was in pieces on the ground when he wrote this beautiful song. God heard his plea, and he hears mine when I come to a place of repentance and confession. The world provides easy answers for shattered hearts and provides many ways to go through the motions, but God will not give even a flawless performance His attention.

God is struck by a heart-shattered life that is ready to love. His repairs that which is irreparable, and that changes everything. The world says sweep the pieces under the rug and don’t make that mistake again. It also says to get even. God says give me those precious pieces to Me and let My Son’s perfect love give you a fresh start and a new heart.

Photo Credit: Hive Resources
Photo Credit: Hive Resources

Broken Bride

I’ve always believed God wanted me to be a bride, but I could never see myself as one. I’ve never really been a bride even though I walked down the isle in a long, white gown forty-two years ago. After a year of dating and a summer of living together, I made it clear to my boyfriend that we were either going to be married or I was leaving. Billy said, “Fine, you pick the month, and I’ll pick the day.”

I picked September because it was August at the time. He selected the 31st, and I was thrilled that he remembered that we had met on the last day of September. I said with surprise, “You remembered!”

He quickly proceeded to recite, “Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November….” I cried and told him I wouldn’t marry him if he were the last man on earth. He felt guilty and told me to pick the day. I opted for the 15th and down the isle we went.

Twenty-nine Septembers later, I left a marriage that was never meant to be. I thank God for my son and granddaughters that came from my marriage, but I realized early on that I was not, and never would be, a bride. I missed my chance to be a beloved bride, so I put my fairy tale dreams away.

My idea of a bride came from the perfect princesses of childhood stories. I never imaged a bride could be broken until this morning when God made it clear that His bride is a broken one. The church is described as the bride of Christ or His body to emphasize oneness with Him.  Christ, God, and the Holy Spirit are One; Christ died so we could also become one, as well. Husbands and wives join together in a unique and beautiful union, so Christ used the powerful metaphor to make His point about the power of love to unite.

God knows I am not perfect, but He never expected me to be. He knows His bride is broken; it’s why He sent His perfect Groom. The church isn’t perfect by any means, and neither are the individuals that make up the body of Christ. Christ  finds belovedness where the world sees brokenness. It’s the biggest difference between God’s way and the way of the world. I’ve always seen myself as damaged goods; perhaps that’s why I could never see the beloved bride He created me to be. The use of bride to describe is not about an earthly marriage; it is about my relationship with Him.

A bride loves her groom with abandon and cannot wait to be with him. A groom cherishes his beloved bride more than anything or anyone else. That sometimes changes after the wedding; but before the ceremony, there is an air of exhilarating expectancy in both the bride and the groom. The difference with Christ and His bride is that expectancy becomes eternal exhilaration when they are joined together.

I cannot begin to imagine how wonderful eternity with God is going to be, but I get a sweet taste of it while I wait and prepare my heart to meet Him. Before I can begin to wait, I must first see myself as His beautiful, beloved, broken bride. With the help of His Holy Spirit, I caught a glimpse of that bride in me this morning.

An earthy bride wants everything to be perfect for her special day, but Christ’s bride understands that brokenness prepares the heart for the perfection God will provide when we are finally in His presence and filled with His Son’s precious love.