September Sunset

September Sunset

 

The sunsets of late have been spectacular as September makes her exit in style. Her departure comes as God bids me to end my old testament. It’s human nature to want to stay in the familiar, albeit painful, past; but staying there keeps me from writing my new story.

The lesson this week has been for me to put away the old songs and stories that no longer apply to my heart. I’ve been mired in the muddy mess of my childhood for over five decades, and God is ready for me to move on. He brought cleansing tears that opened my eyes and cleared my heart last night. I saw myself in the role a victim and began sinking into that muddy water that almost drowned me as a child.

My old story is my old story. It explains and enlightens, but it isn’t who I am anymore. Satan continues to dredge up past hurt, and I continue to find those in my path who will repeat old patterns. God made it clear that the difference between my old and new story is the fact that I had no choice as a child. I do have a choice now. I must make the conscious decision to learn from and leave my past behind me.

September has always been an important month in my life. School started in September, and I loved going to school. The summer before my first September in school, I almost drowned in the muddy water in Lake Hickory, and I’ve been struggling to get out ever since. My journey almost ended that summer, but school offered an escape. I still remember the thrill of walking home from school with my sister Linda my first week of school. I was only five and small for my age, so my teachers made quite a fuss over me. My sister and I had matching red plaid kilts, and I still remember how much I loved wearing mine. I was a big girl, and I was going to school! I also remember wearing the kilt my sister wore six years later in seventh grade.  I’m still wearing a kilt woven five decades ago, and it’s even more inappropriate than the hand-me-down one I wore in seventh grade. I’m ready for a change!

Kilt or no kilt, that same feeling of excitement accompanied me to school every fall for fifty years. A big part of my decision to go into teaching was my love for school and for fall. I got a new beginning every year, and I could escape the outside world within the walls of my safe haven. School was always place of escape for me, and September has been a time of endings and beginnings. It’s fitting for God to use this month as a backdrop for the change He has in mind for my heart.

Fall is a time of dying, and death accompanies both endings and beginnings. The victim in me died last night, and I know God will use her death as an important transition to His transformation. It’s time for a new story, one that is rooted in the past but routed in Christ’s precious love.

Love is the Way Out

I’ve never been nearer to God than when I walked up Indian Creek today. He made it clear that there are no endings or exits when it comes to love. Love is love, and that’s all there is to it. It isn’t something I can control or manage; it simply is. When Moses asked God His name, He replied “I AM WHO I AM” God is love, and there is nothing I, or anyone, can do about that.

Love doesn’t go away because it’s inconvenient. It doesn’t end because people change or grow apart. Circumstances do not change the nature of love, but the nature of love changes circumstances in a beautiful way. The surest sign of love is that there are no endings or exits, and that is taking some getting used to on my part. I begin looking for the exit as soon as I enter a building, and my heart does the same when I enter into a relationship. God showed me today that I can never deny or escape love.

Exits and endings are easy, and I’ve relied on them all my life. Love is not something from which I can escape; believe me, I’ve tried. Love is a gift from God and should never be taken for granted.  It is meant to be embraced with an open heart and cherished dearly because it is a piece of God’s own heart. It is the only thing worth holding on to in this world, and the only thing I can take with me into the next. 

Love will not be ignored, and it will not go away at my command. It becomes a part of who I am and cannot be separated from my being. Like the threads in a tapestry, love weaves itself into every aspect of my life. Unraveling a tapestry doesn’t make the thread go away, so God urged me today to leave the weaving in place and trust Him with the outcome. His outcomes are always better than my exits, so I plan to leave love in His hands and see where He takes my heart. I’ve done all the running away I plan to do in this life, and I’m no longer looking for a way out. Love is the way out.

Reality is Real

Photo credit: Lauren Davis
Photo credit: Lauren Davis

When daddy was drinking and in a philosophical mood, he would say, “Reality is real!” My sisters and I would try very hard to hide our grins; but when daddy wasn’t around, we would mimic him by repeating his famous line with serious faces.

As teenagers, my sisters and I didn’t understand what daddy was trying to tell us, but God made it clear that daddy’s wisdom was right on target for my heart. Reality is real, but I have always preferred fantasy to reality. The world of fantasy is a safe one where I can pretend all is as I wish it were. Fantasy is a beautiful hiding place where I can create my own world away from the pain of reality. The problem arrives when reality will no longer be ignored.

Reality sent my heart reeling this week. God gently, but firmly, showed me the futility of fantasy while I was wallowing in self pity on the ground. It takes a while for me to process information, but when I finally do get it, I don’t forget it. God showed me that the place where my heart was hiding was not where He wanted me to be. He has been over and over this same lesson for years, but I keep taking His reality and twisting it into my fantasy.

Whether a decision is made for me or I come to the learning on my own, the results are the same. Transitions and transformations are painful. Leaving the known has never been easy for me, and reality means facing the truth. I’m an eternal optimist and hope to stay one, but sometimes that optimism gets in God’s way. He reminded me this morning that I’m like Charlie Brown trying to kick that illusive football, and that is keeping my heart in limbo.

I never have found the image of Charlie Brown and Lucy on the football field to be a funny one. My heart went out to poor Charlie Brown, and I wished Lucy would stop messing with him. I knew it was never going to happen, but that didn’t stop me from wanting it for him. Perhaps I simply wanted it for me. I am a lot like Charlie Brown when it comes to love. I keep running toward it, but it is always snatched away at the last moment.

Charlie Brown seemed doomed to fail forever when it came to that football, but God showed me there is always hope. Lauren Davis gives Charlie Brown a new ending in her version. I had to laugh when God placed it in my path. The Holy Spirit takes on some unusual forms when helping me find God’s way, so I wasn’t surprised when God used Spiderman, Charlie Brown, and daddy’s words of wisdom to teach an important lesson.

Reality is real, and that’s a good thing. Trying is a good thing, but trying to make things be what I want them to be isn’t. It’s comforting to know that God is always there to catch me when I fall, and His sweet Spirit will teach me a new way to love. Every ending is an opportunity for a new beginning, and that gives me the courage to get up and kick that ball. When I find myself failing over and over, I need to remember that God knows more about love that I ever will and is always right there to help me get where He wants me to be 🙂