It's Wednesday afternoon as I am writing this and I should be doing a number of other things, like preparing for our small group, restocking our empty cupboards... probably a ton of other errands or tasks that I normally scratch off my bossy list on Wednesdays.
But not today.
Today I am giving myself grace and a bit of space... I am letting go of all the Should-Do's and Must-Get-To's and instead, I am sitting quietly, praying intently, and waiting for God to continue to bring form and focus to a blurry vision.
I know that since attending the Faith and Culture Writers Conference in Portland, OR last weekend, He has been at work beneath the surface of my heart... of my soul... I could gulp it down, swallow hard, and just move on. He would allow me to do that. But there is something holy in this unrest... something Sabbath in the unsettling... and while I do not yet know all that He is unearthing, I can tell you for certain that He is at work!
He is so for us, y'all. So much so that He will go back to the past, to bring healing to your future! He's good like that.
I said yesterday that the conference was amazing. (It was.)
I said that is was part confirmation (hello, life message?) and part challenge (hello, consistently living it out!)
I said it was part Hallelujah (Spoken Word, divine Storytelling, Poetry, and worship! And did I mention Tony Kriz?) and part Holy Crap (*That thing I think He is going to make me do? I think He is really going to make me do it!)
I said it was part What I Expected (Awesome!) and part I Had No Idea (and even Awesomer I'm sure... you know, later... as it unfolds!)
I said it felt like some things were brought there to die... some old thoughts and opinions and even dreams maybe... sure. But in their place, it feels a bit like Resurrection! And if you know me at all then you know that this is my jam!
In one of the mini-workshops, Tony Kriz and Romal Tune instructed us to make a chronological list of life events that have made you who you are today.
Sure. Easy Peasy.
Actually I've done this several times in the past decade, so even the 'hard' parts (vs. the 'good' parts) were not too deeply buried.
They gave us time. They talked a bit with us and gave us more time. Next, they asked us to pick one event, -preferably one that we had not written about before, and do a timed writing exercise.
I picked an event that happened in my teenage years. This is what I wrote:
It was, at the age of 13, my biggest fear. It was the call that I never wanted anyone to make. That sounds so dramatic, but at 13 this was the worst mistake I had made and while I questioned the possibility of being able to disappoint my father, my fear was that it could be done - and that I would do it.
My older sisters had both crossed that bridge years earlier, but me? I was the good one --the miracle baby, the smart one who learned from others' mistakes. But on a Friday night in a neighboring town, on a dance floor with DJs and lights, and the taste of Raspberry Champagne on my lips, I was not thinking of fear or learning anything. I was thinking of how it felt good to be in a different place where no one knew me and I didn't have to be good, or smart, or -anything.
When the officers approached us and pulled us outside for some fresh air and a little walk, (you know, in a straight line) THAT is when I thought of disappointing my present but absent Dad.
They called. He came.
And that was the longest, quietest road trip I can recall. The only thing he said in the slow ride home was this:
"But you were the good one." in a shaky voice, tears fighting to fall.
I know, right? Ouch! I was not a Christian in those days, and I have since found healing in relationship with both my earthly and my Heavenly Father, but that one cut deep. And here's the thing - I know he didn't mean for it to. I know he was just in his own head with all of his own hurts and disappointment.
I know on this side of healing (and this side of parenting) that he had his own dreams and hopes and this new turn of events didn't line up with his plans for me. I know this now. I didn't realize it back then.
As the weekend continued, God kept whispering and every speaker talked of identity and voice and knowing who you are. (All the things that I talk about and believe. All the things that God has been showing me and stretching me into and pushing me out of a bit, too! Remember that Comfort Zone? Yeah... he keeps reminding me that that was never His idea!)
Wm Paul Young was our final speaker and he said some great things, but the one thing that he said that connected all the dots for me was this:
"Learning to be present inside your own history matters."All of the sudden I realized that even though I didn't say the words that my father said, in the midst of my own girlies' teenage --ahem, poor choices? ...I knew immediately that she must have felt the same impact.
For who among us wants to disappoint our father or mother... or God? And what parent among us doesn't have dreams and hopes for our Little's and oh how we want to shelter and protect... we want them to grow up perfectly and not ever make a mistake. But that way of thinking itself is a mistake.
For me to be present in my history, I had to face that even though there are plenty of things that we purposed to do differently, some things are repeated when we are unaware. Throughout our girlies' struggles - we loved her full-on and whispered truth of who she is (--still 'good', by the way! Our mistakes don't wipe out who God created us to be!)
But in the midst of our own pain and disappointments we can forget how connected we are -or how connected we are intended to be. We can let wounds cloud our vision and block the sun in ways that we cannot see past the pain to realize that who we are goes deeper than what we do/have done. We stood beside her and lifted her up... but I hadn't noticed how my reaction took a bit of ownership of her story and how it could have added pressure instead of relieving it. I didn't recognize the repeat.
As a Kingdom people, as people who know and value the weight of words, we choose them carefully and use them to speak life and to call out the gold. But we are human people too, and when we miss the mark, or fall short - there is grace. But there is also opportunity to make amends.
I came home and sat myself in front of my girlie and fell deep into her eyes and said the words that never get old, "I'm sorry." I apologized for ever making her feel like one night carried the power to change my perspective of her. I assured her, yet again, that she is good, still. Not in the heavy Good Girl sort of way that Emily Freeman writes about, but in the good sort of way that brings grace and freedom and that says we are rescued and redeemed.
He is good. We are good.
It's the whole saints not sinners deal.
So we sat across from each other with watery eyes and shaky smiles and she said over and over again, "No. You're good. We're good." and I pray that she meant it.
In that moment, I pray that she felt it, too. I know I did... that healing balm that soaks in deep and covers the wounds that we thought were already scars.
Words can wound and they can heal.
They can chain us up and they can set us free.
They can release a slow death or a resurrected life.
I want to choose life!
We are so connected, y'all!
All of our stories matter because we are all intertwined and mixed up... messed up. We are all a glimpse of Him in the fog and when you tell me your story, I see a bit of my own.
When I remembered my own past and was present in it,
I saw a cycle that had the power to continue repeating.
Seeing it is the first step.
Doing something about it comes next.
And dancing all around the grave is something else all together!
Here's to healing, to resurrected life, and to dancing in to more freedom... more grace... more healing.
Here's to remembering that words matter - whether they are spoken aloud or felt through silence. Here's to owning them, writing them down, and speaking them out.
Choose wisely, my friends - with intention!
And remember to:
* That thing He is going to make me do is still unfolding... It's not something I have ever talked about on the blog, because - well... it's not been something I wanted to entertain or consider. But again, with the comfort zones and the risk taking and the just follow His lead promptings... again with His hilarious sense of humor... so we inch ourselves up to the edge, and prepare to leap. (Prayers are welcomed.)
More to come as the vision gets clearer...
P.S. I'm linking up with these lovely writers:
Holley Gerth for #CoffeeforYourHeart