Why the Truth Sets Us Free

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) is a verse I quote when I want the truth of others to set me free. I believe this verse is more about coming to terms with the truth in my own life.

Truth is easily distorted, and some argue that we have our own version of the truth. Twisting the truth gets me off the hook temporarily, but getting off the hook never sets me free. More often than not, I am dropped into a dark hole that’s worse than the hook.

The first step on the journey of finding the truth is admitting I’m wrong. Only I can take that step, so the first step is a lonely one.  It is a narrow gate to pass through, but it opens up quickly.

Christ waits patiently on the other side of that gate. The journey becomes more bearable, but far from easy. After admitting I’ve said, thought or done something wrong, I have to turn and go in a new direction.

Reparation comes next. God knows that a simple sorry is never enough when it comes to sin. We all know the effect fast, forced apologies have upon us. They’re worse than the original offense.

Truth is about sincerity, and that must come from a deep place in my heart. I was particularly sickened by the news last week as I watched the truth being battered around like a pathetic ping pong ball in a grotesque game of politics.

I can’t know someone else’s truth, but I know that when I am honest with myself, others, and God, I experience a freedom unlike any other. The truth sets me free because it helps me see that I am not perfect. That puts me in the perfect position to call upon One who is. Admitting I am wrong is the most difficult thing in the world, but nothing is sweeter than the peace and freedom that truth brings.

 

 

 

Firing Squad

Standing with her back to the wall

Blindfolded and bound

Waiting for the inevitable.

The soldiers take aim and wait.

Truth comes with the call to fire.

Bullets forged from if’s, when’s, and but’s

Find their way to the center of her heart.

She cannot survive the assault.

Life pours out upon the ground.

Freedom’s found in its flow.

New life comes.

Love grows on.

Love Grows On

His Journey

During the past four years, I’ve focused upon writing my story so I could share it with Lillyann and Mylah when they are older. Lillyann saw a printed copy on my desk one day and asked me what it was. I told her I was writing it for her and Mylah to read. She said, “That’s a big book Gigi!! When I’m your age, I’m gonna read it.” I laughed and told her I hoped she would.

Writing has opened my heart in a way I never expected. God knew that hearing and sharing my own story was an important part of my journey. As I wrote, I remembered. As I remembered, I wrote. It was very like cleaning out and going through my storage unit last month. Leaving memories hidden away is the easy thing to do, but like those boxes in my storage unit, they have to be dusted off and sorted at some point. Otherwise, treasures get mixed in with trash and end up lost.

Taking the time to go through each box was not simple or easy. I cried and laughed in equal portions. My heart came out feeling much lighter as I got rid of the stuff that needed to go and cherished that which needed to be kept and passed along. Some things, like Tyler’s Ninja Turtles, immediately came out to play. I’ve enjoyed watching the children play with those old toys. I know the little turtles were ready for some action, and they certainly have gotten it and blessed me for a second time.

Writing about my journey has been very difficult, but it has been instrumental in healing my heart. When Billy died this week, I realized my heart was clear. It was as if it finally caught up with me. When I stopped to remember our time together, I realized that half my life was spent with him. We had good times and bad times throughout the  thirty years we were together, but the bad times increased and became more intense at the end of our marriage. I knew I had to go eleven years ago, but I carried a lot of guilt with me when I walked out the door. I left my marriage the same way I entered it, with a heavy heart. It was good to let go of all that this week.

When I woke this morning, I was shocked to find I had slept eight hours in what seemed to be a split second. It was as if I slipped in and out of a time warp. The girls were at Pepe’s; Gina was still in Florida, and Tyler was already at work. I soaked in the sweet stillness and prayed. I felt God’s presence as powerfully as I’ve ever felt Him. He bid me to tell His story now that my heart had caught up and used Biddy Chambers to help me understand what He meant.

Many people know her husband Oswald, but a lot of those who enjoy his books don’t realize that she is responsible for writing down his messages over the course of his brief ministry. He died at forty-three leaving behind only three books. Biddy took her transcriptions of his messages and came up with over thirty beautiful books and booklets. They have been a blessing to me, and God knows the sweet connection I have with Chambers. His love for God is obvious and enviable. My favorites are The Love of God and If Ye Shall Ask. I’ve transcribed before, and it’s the most tedious and frustrating thing I’ve ever done. That’s with a computer and a recorded message. I cannot imagine doing it by hand without a rewind button!!

Biddy Chambers spent her life making sure that her husband’s love for God was written down. A friend gave me Chambers Complete Works seven years ago today. I had forgotten the date and was taken aback when I noticed it in the volume this afternoon. I love it when God does that! The book marked the beginning of my spiritual journey to draw nearer to God. I remember being amazed when I learned of Biddy’s devotion to God and her willingness to tell His story instead of her own. She could have written a sad, self-serving autobiography about how much she gave up and how tragic her life had been. That seems to be the way writing is heading today.

I heard two commentators discussing why the Nobel Prize for Literature hasn’t been awarded to an American author for two decades. One noted it was because we are a society obsessed with writing about ourselves and our tragic lives. I thought about that for a moment and realized there is a lot of truth in that statement. It’s a me, me, me world anymore. We love to write about our hurt, and others love to read about it. This morning, God bid me to be more like Biddy and let His story be my focus. Don’t misunderstand my heart; it’s vital that I tell my story and hear the stories of those around me. God just reminded me this morning that it would be nice for His story to be told and heard, as well. The inscription in the book from my friend reads, “Truth and light for the eternal path. Companions together on His journey.” That pretty much sums up the message God had for me this morning.

Thanks Biddy for your beautiful example of love.

Biddy Chambers

Happy First Anniversary to Me :)

Happy first anniversary of blogging to me! The year has been filled to the brim with lessons that have taken me out of my comfort zone and pushed me beyond what I thought possible. I marvel at how God has taken my desire to share my journey with my sweet grandbabies and turned it into something so much more. In my thirty-three years of teaching, I was constantly telling my students to write about their lives because no one else could write their autobiographies. I journaled my pain, but I never found the courage to write my own story until a dear friend encouraged me to write for Lillyann. Audience makes all the difference when it comes to writing, and I was suddenly motivated to tell the truth with love so she, and now Mylah, could hear Gigi’s heart.

Life and love are about hearing one another’s heart, and that has been the biggest lesson I’ve learned as I’ve brought my story into the open. It’s a lot like taking off my clothes in front of a large group of people, and I almost didn’t do it. I put it off until God made it clear that I needed it even more than my little granddaughters. Telling my story has opened my heart in a way that I could never have imagined a year ago. I thought it would be easy to blog about my life, but that has not been the case at all. For those of you who write and share your stories, you know exactly what I mean. Writing takes a toll on the heart, and I’ve always known that. In my classroom, I had photos of famous authors all around the room. I thought it was important for my students to see the face of the person who wrote the literature we were reading.

One day, a middle school student asked me very seriously if all the authors on the wall had sad life stories. I was cautious how I answered that question because I wanted my students to be encouraged to write, but I also wanted to be honest. I told him that many of the authors did have tragic lives; I saw a teachable moment and knew I needed to be honest. I love middle school students because they are so very real and know the pain that brings into their own lives. I told my students that writing takes a willingness to let others see your pain and feel your hurt, and that takes a toll on the heart and the soul. It isn’t for the weak and takes more courage than anything else in this world. I didn’t tell them that was why I avoided real writing like the plague. I wasn’t ready to reveal that much to them. I wish I could have been a better example in that regard.

They understood as only middle schoolers can, and I’m sure many of them saw my own cowardice. They didn’t call me on it, so that means they either didn’t notice my fear or they understood and respected it. I do remember wishing I was as brave as those faces looking down from the wall that day. I have thought about that question many times and find great irony in the fact that I taught writing yet didn’t write. I see now that my passion came from the fact that I could not do what I so wanted them to be able to do. Like a prisoner pleading for those on the outside to enjoy the open air, I was pleading with them to do what I could not bring myself to do. I was fifty-seven before I found the courage to write as I knew I should and fifty-nine before I found the courage to share my writing with others. I would say late is better than never, but I know timing is much more complicated than that.

I know the importance of readiness when it comes to learning, and the teacher in me knows that my heart wasn’t ready to write or admit that I couldn’t in that classroom long ago. God used my passionate desire to write to encourage my students to write. He really does make all things work together for good. He was writing His story on my heart all along, but I wasn’t ready to hear it. The most difficult critic to get past when writing is self, and I imagine that’s true for all writers. A year ago today, I struggled with sending my first post. I know I read it a hundred times and cried almost as many times before finding the courage to take my clothes off in front of the world and say here I am. I smile when I read that now because my heart has truly come home, and I love myself in a way I never believed possible. I marvel at how God works, and I thank Him and all who have given me the courage to open my heart and be who He created me to be.

Here’s my first post. Lessons in Love

Lessons in Love
Lessons in Love

Bringing My Heart Home

In his commentary on Jeremiah, Walter Brueggemann says, “We become like the god we serve. Pursue a bubble and become a bubble.The object of love determines the quality of love.” My study of Jeremiah over the past two weeks has been a challenge. Jeremiah has a way with words, and his poetry always touches my heart very deeply. However, his message from God is not an easy one to swallow. All prophets must struggle with the temptation to say people want to hear, but there is another word for those who do that. Prophets and harlots have very different agendas. Harlotry is easier in the short term, but prophets who speak the truth with love have a sweet closeness to God that is far better than anything this world has to offer. Jeremiah knew the cost of proclaiming the truth, and God’s messengers know it today.

The past three days have been powerful ones for me as I’ve been given the rare gift of seeing a glimpse of my nineteen-year-old self through the eyes of a dear friend. Forty-two years ago, I went on a camping trip with a very special friend. It was a time of connection that brought us closer to God, and it was wonderful to get to relive that time. He wrote a book based on conversations we had that weekend and shared it with me this week. As we talked about the book today, I was deeply touched the healing our honest communion brought both then and now. Sharing the truth with love changes the one telling the story as well as the one hearing it.

Jeremiah knew the importance of sharing Gods truth with love. He was given a difficult message to pass along. Those words were for the people of Israel thousands of years ago, and they are for me today.

Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:10 NASB

It’s been a month of dying to self and having my very foundation pulled out from under me. The razing prepared my heart for the building and planting God has in mind. God put loving friends right where I needed them, right when I needed them. He always does, but I don’t always notice. I hope to become more aware of all He has at every turn and pray I never lose my sense of awe when it comes to His glory.

I was reminded this week that childlike faith is to be cherished, and I also learned to love who I have been, am, and will continue to be under God’s loving care. I am grateful for those willing to love honestly and share the path in a way that gives me the courage to share my own story. When I find the courage to tell the truth with love, I find God in that telling. It changes me and those with whom I share the path. The lessons this week have been very difficult, but I love the way God brought them home to my heart. In fact, those lessons brought my heart home in a beautiful way. It’s His and always has been, and I know He has wonderful plans in store as He continues to “pluck up, break down, destroy, and overthrow” so He can “build and plant” what He has in mind. 

The sunset this evening was just God showing off, and I absolutely love it when He does that!!

Bringing My Heart Home

Love and Truth Go Hand in Hand

Nothing in this world is more powerful than the truth told with love. God is love, and Christ brought His love to earth with an honesty that promises freedom if I take it to heart. My relationships and witness must rely on the same love and honest communion if I am to walk in God’s kingdom and help others do the same. Love lives in truth, but truth isn’t always easy to accept. The lessons of late have been about the trust necessary to accept the truth with love.

I wonder how our judicial system would change if all witnesses were asked to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth with love. I wonder how God’s world would change if His witnesses did the same. The truth isn’t a problem unless I struggle with love. Love isn’t a problem unless I avoid the truth. They are a bundle that God will not allow to be broken. Satan would say take one or the other, or better yet, forget both and go with lust and lies because they are much easier. Many do just that, and I’ve been tempted to do the same because my heart can’t process love and truth without His help.

Christ gives the Holy Spirit to ready my heart for the beautiful combination of God’s love and His truth. With the Spirit’s help, my heart can accept love and truth as they are. Without it, love and truth become what I want them to be as I fit my wants and needs into both. God doesn’t allow any bartering when it comes to love and truth; He knows there is only one way to have the peace He desires, and that is the two together. The early believers were called “The Way” because of their belief that Christ was the way, the truth, and the light. The world sees its way as the better way. I am guilty of the same. Taking the easy route when it comes to love and truth cause me to miss the joy  God’s beautiful combination brings to my heart.

God asks me to be His witness by accepting His love and His Son’s truth in a way that frees me to serve and love Him and others. The only control I have is saying yes to a truth that defies definition and a love that cannot be described. My futile efforts to understand and control lead to misery, but my willingness to believe that God is who He says He is leads to a freedom unlike anything I’ve ever known. Religiosity offers safe boundaries, rules, and definitions that have good intentions at their core, but God’s love and truth will not be confined or defined by anyone. God simply wants me to accept and express His love. It’s what being His witness is all about 🙂

Open Heart

The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Me Thinks:)

I love Shakespeare because His words tickle me. I have always loved the quote, “The lady doth protest too much, me thinks.” I thought of those words this week at a time I needed to be ticked. Powerful truth lives in the words of Queen Gertrude in Hamlet. Protest in this context isn’t what you might think. Wikipedia describes it well, “The phrase’s actual meaning implies the increasing likelihood of suppressed feelings for the contrary of that which is being argued.” 

Too much protesting is a sign that something is amiss, and the more I protest, the more likely it is that I’m guilty of what Shakespeare is describing. Unfortunately, I can relate! I protested too much and listened to far too much protesting this week. God used the line from Hamlet to teach lessons about placating and holding on. Shakespeare always gives me food for thought and chewing on his words reminds me to catch myself when I find myself protesting too much. My fear of imbalance and failing when it came to love kept my heart from being balanced. My need to lead and be who others needed for me to be kept me from being who I am.

As I begin my sixties, I plan to seek peace and be myself. Like Mylah, I’m new at navigating without holding on. We both are squealing with delight and optimistic about our new found freedom. I may fall and fail or get pushed down as little Mylah did yesterday when Lillyann got too rough with her, but I plan to shake off the dust and get right back up again just as she did.

The fifties have been a decade of finding, and I’ve found a lot. I began the decade leaving a terrible marriage, and I begin the new decade by celebrating my son’s marriage, a full circle of sorts. I see love and life in a new light and feel better about relationships than ever in my life. True love thrives on truth, and that is the best way to describe the lessons learned. Honest communion set my heart free, and I’ve finally found the courage to be myself and speak my mind honestly without worrying about what others may think. My problems with love stem from my fear of being who I am and not speaking the truth with conviction. A middle child tends to keep peace at any cost. That’s not true of this middle child any more; that’s not the kind of peace I’m pursuing:)

Truth stops the protesting that Queen Gertrude noted and enables me to find my voice and speak that truth with love. Knowing the truth about myself brings sweet stillness and peace and makes silence much simpler. I’m looking forward to seeing how this new freedom will affect my heart and my life as I let go of the baggage I’ve been carrying for six decades. I know it will help me live, as my dear friend puts it, a life worth living forever and love in a way worth loving forever too:)

Happy sixtieth birthday to me! It is a happy one indeed, and I honestly believe from the very center of my heart that the sixties are going to be the best decade yet:)