The Secret Place

There’s a place we hardly talk about; a private place we don’t advertise, a secret place we navigate alone.  Getting there is easy, too.  It usually starts a little like this: You’ve prayed for and encouraged someone—the 7th or 8th someone—and within days, they’ve received their healing, or breakthrough, that almost-given-up-on thing.  And you’re happy for them.  You really, really are.  But just as you finish praising God and high-5-ing, your hand slowly falling back to your side, it hits you.  You’re here again, in this place.  This quiet, cramped space where it’s just you and that familiar oversized question:  So. Where’s your miracle?  But this time, you’re prepared.  You talk back to it and walk away, because you’re bigger than that now.  You’ve been walking with Jesus too long; you’re too mature to be sucked in by that rusty trap, right?

But it comes back, that question.  Because it’s relentless.  And this time, it’s brought reinforcements.  When is it your turn, huh?  How long are you going to wait?  Who’s praying for YOU, honey?  Relentless, they follow you—to the shower, the wedding, anniversary and going away party—breathing in your ear when no-one’s looking, smiling behind you in the bathroom mirror.  But you keep rebuking them and you keep smiling, because you’re happy for him and her, and them.  You really are.  Plus, you know what you’re supposed to do when someone you love walks away almost by accident with the thing you’ve been praying for—for years.  You’re supposed to smile and pretend like your heart isn’t breaking.  Right?

So you suck it up and stick around to clean up.  And you wish them the best—again—before you go home.  Alone.  Back to the very thing you’ve been praying for so long for God to change.   You close the door; lock it up tight behind you.  And then you put some worship music on, really loud, while you clean your own kitchen.  And the bathroom.  Then you send an email, saying congratulations.  Again.   “Because,”—you whisper, the last song fading as you fall apart in your familiar place,—“I’m over this.”

Right.

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Mother’s Day?

This year, I find myself thinking about Mother’s Day and the hype surrounding it. Honestly, I think I’m kind of over it.  Maybe it’s a passing phase, but I keep thinking about the things no-one talks about…like how, after the gifts are opened, she’ll be the one to clean up the wrapping paper, the one to tidy up and discard the dead flowers, who laundered, ironed/folded the clothes everyone wore to take her out to eat.

But I’ve mostly been thinking about how Mother’s Day is so focused on the ladies who’ve had children.

I think it’s generally understood that bringing a child into the world doesn’t make someone a mom. I mean, we’ve heard the stories—women who’ve sold their little girls’ bodies to purchase an outfit, accepted money from a school-age daughter’s “boyfriend” to pay a bill, or who’ve just taken off without a backward glance. True, we don’t uphold and laud these examples, but we don’t talk much about them either.

And there’s another group who gets lost in the fray: those women who may not have physically had children, but who deserve just as much hype as those who have. More, in some cases. So, while I wish a great and stress-free Mother’s Day to everyone who has loved and cherished the children she bore…this year, I want to remember the ones who are easy to forget.

So, Happy Mother’s Day to you, the woman who waits (kind of) patiently for the right man, praying over the sound of your biological clock, refusing to settle for just any “sperm donor”. Though it means you often stand alone, you won’t compromise. You get it: the importance of the right support to raise your children. For that, I salute you, lady.

A Happy Mother’s Day to you—the lady who’s lost more babies to miscarriage than she cares to admit, you who have so much love and no baby to give it to. Yet.

Happy Mother’s Day to you, who’ve suffered the unspeakable loss of the child you bore, perhaps the child you raised. Your empty arms make you no less a mother. This year, I celebrate your love—because I know it will live forever.

Happy Mother’s Day to you: the educator, neighbor, babysitter, the lady who cares for and guides other people’s children. Thank you for being the one who watches over them, catching all those little unspoken things—except for that one glance when your back is turned, the one that says they wish yours was the womb that carried them.

And there are so many still unnamed, including the men who’ve stepped up to fill those empty spaces. So Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, but especially to the ones who aren’t smiling this year, the ones who hurt.

As I celebrate you, I pray that your Mother’s Day will be an unforgettable celebration of YOUR love, of the lives you influence, the sacrifices you’ve made, the assured hope that your prayers will soon be answered. Until then, I send you Blessings and my prayers. Know that while you may not get pretty gifts or spa dates or huge bouquets, I am thinking of you, with love.

Firefly

Sometimes those who surround you don’t understand why you can’t do what they do, go where they go, be who they want you to be.  You’d like to show them, explain it, but – you don’t really understand either.  You just can’t fit and be yourself at the same time.  There’s something burning in you, something that just won’t allow you to conform in peace.

Something that won’t be hidden, no matter how hard you try.

Then, one day, you finally see it: you’ll always be different.  You’ll always stand out, because you’ve been chosen to carry this burning thing.  And, as you accept that it really has no communion with darkness, you also accept that you might get lonely for a minute.  But somehow, you know it’ll be okay.

Because a Light like yours is bound to surround you with the beautiful creatures who seek It.

When God moves the goal post

God asks you to do hard things sometimes, doesn’t He?

But there comes a point when you buckle down and wipe the fears away and just do it. Then, if you’re like me, you feel really proud of yourself. Kind of like you’ve arrived, really. Like, “YES! For sure, He’ll give me what I want now that I have accomplished this amazing thing, or accepted this difficult truth.”
But – as you’re eagerly anticipating the download of your miracle – suddenly, out of the blue, you get a message (or three) that there’s something else you need to work on. Something you didn’t even know was wrong with you. Something deep; nestled under layers and years of heavy masks. Something you know won’t be fixed by a prayer of repentance and a teary rendition of  Just As I Am.
And you crumble.
You crumble because it seems so unfair. It seems like you’ve been jumping through hoops forever. And it looks like the reward for all your jumping is that He keeps moving the goal post. So you kick and scream and cry and whine. Maybe for days. And then, in a quiet moment, you consider the alternative:
What if He didn’t deal with the mess – if He didn’t clean you up and let you mature some more? What if you got everything you asked for—and then ruined all of it because you weren’t ready?
Sure, a nice house and a shiny car would be great gifts. But not for everyone. My 11 year old would probably destroy himself now with those gifts. But the exact same gifts would be such ripe blessings for him fifteen years down the road.
You understand this, even if you don’t like it.  So with a deep sigh, you get up and get a hold of yourself, resigned to finally admit that He’s God for a reason.
Then, you wipe the tears away.
Because you need a really good look at that goal post.

2016

What I’ll take away from 2016: A reflection.

  1. Truth. This year brought me some hard lessons in what I should accept vs. what I must refuse; what I need vs. what I want; what matters—and what doesn’t. What I’ve been taught to accept as reality is not always the same as Truth.  Reality is a shape-shifter; it’s dependent on my frame of reference.  My experiences, knowledge and information determine my perception—how I’m able to see a thing—which affects how I’ll react to it.  “Reality” can be influenced by the voices that surround me, by who and what I let feed me.  But the Truth will never shift for my sake; It doesn’t care about my esteemed judgments, current facts or worldly wisdom (1 Cor. 3:19).  The Truth will always be stable; It will always be what God says, not what someone else would have me believe.
  1. Revelation. I re-discovered that my journey never ends. That’s tiring and exhilarating at the same time. It’s kind of like parenting—there are no vacation days, but participating in the raw process of growth and maturity seems like a fair enough trade.  That’s what I think this journey is: a fair trade.  Sure, there are hard days; some harder than others.  But we’ll constantly be discovering hidden strengths and veiled Truths, so we never really arrive.  Until we leave this place, we’ll always be journeying towards new Revelations, richer relationships, deeper understanding.  And while that can seem tiring, there’s an upshot: God always has fresh, new secrets to share with those who seek His Truth, with those who pursue His friendship (Psalm 25:14, John 15:15).  I think that’s more than a fair trade.
  1. Confrontation. Mostly with myself. Because Truth plus Revelation will always bring Confrontation. This year, I’ve been challenged to use what I’ve learned to confront what I’ve been taught, to tackle things outside of my comfort zone, to put to action what I say I believe.  Words are my lifeline, counted among my most valued possessions. But they are weakened—and cheapened—when my actions don’t support them or where there is a confrontation between faith, feelings and fear.  Under pressure, when I’m wronged or wrong, when I mess up and fall down, when the Dream seems distant and hope lies dormant, then what I really believe will be exposed by what I do.  But this year, I think I’ve found the secret: I just have to do it afraid.  Because for me, 2016’s toughest Truth and greatest Revelation is this: The true test of what I say lies in what I do; so until my faith informs my actions, there will always be Confrontation.

Here’s to a safe, healthy  rest of the year for you and those you love. Have a happy, productive, Truthful 2017!

“Sensible drawz”

When I was little, before I left the house, my mom would caution me to wear decent underwear (“sensible drawz” she called them) . She said that I’d be sorry if something terrible happened and I had to be undressed (read: if a truck hit me and people saw stringy elastic in my underpants, she would probably die of shame).

I was thinking about that recently. Not the shame stuff—the underclothes.

We spend so much time on our appearance, on perfecting the outside things, the tiny details we think people see. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s good to remember that whatever we feed will grow. The things we ignore …won’t. So, I was wondering about how much time we spend nourishing our insides. Do we feed our spirits so they’ll mature? Are we developing the muscles we’ll need for those unexpected “terrible” situations that will undress us before the world and expose what we really believe?

Underneath all those pretty things, are we wearing “sensible drawz”?