Monday, March 24, 2014

When the answer is both Yes and No: Part 1 (and the SDG party)

Welcome to Soli Deo Gloria!  This group exists to empower women to authentically share their hearts.  Want to learn more?  Click here to find out ways you can be involved here.
Some things to know:
1.  It's important to take some time to visit a friend.  If you decide to link up a post that reflects your heart, be sure to stop by your neighbor's place.  We want to make sure everybody at this party feels a little love!
2.  We are a safe place to be real.  I deeply cherish your involvement in the community.  Consider answering the question from "Let's get real" at the bottom of the post in the comments section.
3.  Please be sure to check out our Woven with Love auction item at the end of the post! We are raising scholarship funds for the 3rd Annual SDG RetreatMore than Conquerors.
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I'm laying in my bed and it starts to creep, this anxiety that makes my heart feel like a mess of tangled thorns.  With each breath, it feels like someone is pulling on the terrible twine and it gets tighter and tighter, sucking out any ability for me to breathe.  For the moment, I don't know if I'm feeling my anxiety or someone else's, but at this point all I can think is, Please, Lord, take it away.

Craig is out at a friend's house so I move into the middle of my bed, on that ridge where no one sleeps, and I spread my arms out wide, letting my limbs relax, and I find myself in the shavasana pose.  And immediately, I am transported back to the very first SDG retreat, on the brown hotel carpet of the meeting room where we are gathered for a time of restorative yoga.  I see myself on the mat and I feel the fear I felt immediately in that moment.

It was near the end of class, all of us in shavasana (or corpse pose) and she said something about God seeing us.  And my first inclination was to wrap myself up in fetal position because I was afraid that He would be displeased with what He saw with my heart splayed open to the sky like that.

I've come a long way from that moment two and a half years ago.  I've grown deeper into His love for me, His pleasure in me, His delight in my presence.  But here I am again, chest bared before my Father, no limb to guard it, and I realize I'm still a little afraid, not of God, but of my own heart.

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I've been on this journey for Lent to give up my Love Idol and what I have laid down is criticism -- of myself and others.  Because I've been one to search the crowd for nods of approval, knowing smiles, and sweet tears of understanding.  I've used those to measure my worth.  And I've used the disproving words and down-turned lips to cut me down small.

And just recently, I've meant with mentor and she tells me I have no margin and she is right.  And I tell her I've gotten so locked into my routine that I don't even question what I should do anymore. I just do it.  And this has left me tired and in great need of being refilled.

So this knowledge fresh on my brain Tuesday morning, you'd think I'd make different decisions. And I do, sort of.  I pray before I head to the upstairs computer because my laptop died and I ask God, Do I really want to write a post to be published on Wednesday?  I'm trying to discern if my writing is a should or an ought to in this moment.

Do I really have something to say or is this just a day I'm in the habit of saying something?

I write the post, but I'm still not sure.  I suppose it can take awhile to filter through habitual things.

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Back to the shavasana, back to me fearing my heart -- my motives, my desires, my seemingly endless need for someone to tell me I'm doing a good job, that I'm not failing or flailing or falling.  And I hear Jesus asking me:

"Would you like to get well?"

It's those same words He asked the lame man in John 5, the words I'm studying for my Monday class. It's the very same question I plan to ask them...

Would you like to get well?

We may not be lame physically, but we all have afflictions.  And Jesus is a gentleman.  He doesn't force His will and He knows that if we choose healing, there are ramifications for accepting it.  And though this miracle is purely based on the power of God, it requires effort on the part of us humans to allow the world to see its fruit.  The lame man did have to choose to stand up.  To pick up his mat.  To carry it.

The lame man wouldn't be able to stay in his same spot anymore, dependent on what people did and didn't do for him.  He'd have to go and get a job, support himself, enter into society in a way he hadn't done for 38 years.

"Would you like to get well, Jen?"

Would I like to be cured of my affliction of needing worldly acclamation? Would I like to be freed from the power of the critical word?  Would I like to be released from a routine that has me crying out for a fresh, full cup of water?  Would I like help in smashing this idol?
Click here to order

Yes.

And no.

Yes.  And no.  They are both true.  This is one of those posts that just isn't wrapped in a bow with a scripture at the end.  Victory hasn't been won yet because I'm still figuring out what I'm fully saying yes to.

I know what is best.  I know what is right.  I know what I should say, but how many times have I begged God for healing me of these needs and then I've continued in my own deeply rutted habits?

I haven't been healed because I haven't been willing to give up the crutch.  Or maybe I have been healed, but I've stayed on my mat, unwilling to fully surrender to the power of God.

I've not gotten up because I'm afraid my legs won't work.
I've not gotten up because I'm afraid of what will happen if I don't play by the world's rules.
I've not gotten up because what if people leave? What if they're disappointed in me? What if I miss something vital?

Who am I apart from everyone else's opinion?  And why have I let that opinion count so much?

But I'm close.  I'm looking into His eyes and I'm seeing Life.  I'm looking into my life and I'm seeing that one lived with no margins pretty much feels like death.

I'm glad He's patient.  I'm glad He stands there all the time with His offer.  And I'm glad He allows me to be real, that He doesn't demand the shoulds and the ought tos.

I'm glad He loves me enough to stick around until the very last bit of the Love Idol is smashed to the ground.

Let's Get Real: What is your affliction? Do you want to be healed?  What is your crutch you'd have to give up?

photo credit: spazzgirl555 via photopin cc

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Time for a bit of fundraising for the 3rd Annual Soli Deo Gloria Retreat!  Last week was such a success!  Thank you, Gena, for bidding and winning! This week's offering is from Valerie (I happen to own a scarf she made. It's very similar to this one and people ACTUALLY STOP ME TO ASK ME ABOUT IT.  The picture just doesn't do it justice:
A note about the auction's set-up:  Because I know every one's budgets are different, I wanted everyone to be able to have a scarf and not lose because she was always outbid, hence the pledging.  Because we all deserve some tangible love around our shoulders, right?

How to participate in this silent auction:
1.  Click on "Place your bid." in the Rafflecopter widget below.
2.  Fill in the blank with the maximum you are willing to pay for this scarf, knowing ALL monies are going directly to the SDG Retreat.
3.  I'd be honored if you'd share this giveaway with your friends.  Not only is it a fundraiser, but I'd love for women to be physically covered by her sister's art!
4.  Next Monday, Rafflecopter will choose a winner and I will announce it at next week's SDG party.  Check or credit card will be accepted (I'm working on the credit card option. Stay tuned!) for payment and the scarf maker will mail the scarf to the winner after I have received the payment.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Time to link up, sweet sisters! Show us your heart and then visit a friend...

14 comments :

  1. I'm glad He's patient, too. :)

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  2. Yes and no. I think that's the answer many of us would give, if we're honest. I thank you for sharing your honesty with us; it's contagious.

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  3. Praying with you and for you, sister Jen. God truly is patient and is right there with you and for you. You are a blessing to me. May we each depend and trust so openly in our Creator.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda

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  4. I tell my boys that God isn't like their mama, who rushes in without invitation to help solve their problems (currently working on that) - God waits to be invited in, to help. Maybe my crutch is problem-solving, solution-seeking - not waiting, not leaving my challenge in His hands but taking it back! Praying for both of us as we try to lay down these crutches and become strong in Him.

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  5. Love this post Jen...having been out of the loop for a while, the reflection helped me into your heart...Well, if anyone is having a hard time knowing their affliction...their idols of heart...moving overseas has a way of stripping it all bare;) The absolutely priceless stunning beauty of it all, is that you are physically in a place that you HAVE to become God's and His alone in a way that you never have in order to make it long-term. That's my over-arching answer and the more specific is what I have been finding this Lent as I let go of the leisure reading that is a good mental break after language-learning, cultural adjustment, etc.is the millionth reminder over my life of how He blesses beyond our wildest dreams when we truly surrender our wants, wills...let go, really, really let go. This process is so often painful...about 2 years of some of the greatest pain I have ever known, but He is pursuing, loving ferociously and as He reveals our restless yearning He allows us to spend ourselves on all that won't satisfy so that when we truly surrender, it is all of us...

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  6. No margin. I know that one, all too well. Its own kind of idol for me...

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  7. Jen - I am grateful to have read your post this morning. Funny you are wrestling with the shoulds & ought tos. I have been wrestling with the can'ts & won'ts. But as I went back to reread your post & think on it a little bit....I wonder if it is not a wrestling with the same thing - the approval of man. Oh Love Idol, you truly are getting in our business. And like you, Jen, I am ever so grateful this morning that our God is patient. And I am grateful to have been on this journey with you. Thank you for writing & sharing this post with transparency. Blessings!

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  8. Thank you for being so open. It helps the rest of us that our thoughts and struggles are experienced by others too. That ministers to your readers in a unique way. I love that you pushed through and posted this even when you questioned yourself! Putting yourself out there to the world on a blog is a vulnerable act in life. It creates all kinds of questions and needs in us that may have not been there before. Being aware and pushing through is a process with the Lord. It is a beautiful thing that you grapple with it and are thinking about it!

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  9. I love how you share with us, Jen and in your own growth and wow what growth in the last few years - you encourage us too. Thank you

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  10. LOVE this: I'm glad He's patient. I'm glad He stands there all the time with His offer. And I'm glad He allows me to be real, that He doesn't demand the shoulds and the ought tos.

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  11. I think we all honestly answer yes and no at times. It reminds me of Romans 7 - Paul finds himself doing what he doesn't want to do and not doing what he should do...but hang in there because the victory of Romans 8 is coming! As for myself, I'm giving up on perfectionism, which is why my life verse is Phil. 1:6 - learning to be confident in that work-in-progress. :)

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  12. Oh, Jen, I have been there with the 'shoulds'; I think we all fight it. If we would be healed we have to look into his face and listen to His voice. My challenge? I just walk away so many times and become dull of hearing.
    I'm blessed to hear you are working with a Christian mentor who mentioned the 'margins'. We tend to fill those up, don't we? You are in the perfect place to be healed....I'm confident of that.

    Thanks for this honest post, friend.

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  13. Jen,
    it is such a work in progress...healing for me at least....thanks for sharing your beautiful honest heart....may you know how God sees you clothed in Christ's love....and since you talked about margin, you may be interested in my interview with Ann Kroeker about that....blessings :)

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  14. Good stuff, Jen. Love you, not just your words, but I love them, too:).

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