Calm Yourself

Stop yourself for a moment. Do you hear what you are saying? The same words flow off your tongue, the same questions quiver in your mind. Over and over again, you stitch them together so no answer can slip through the barrier you have constructed by your own human heart.

You are wearing yourself thin, spinning in circles as you are. You say you want answers, yet when I speak, you push over My words as if you did not hear them, as if they could not be the answer I would give you. So you press on, raising more doubts, entangling yourself in lies when it has been My truth holding onto you this entire time.

You walk with blinders, you rub yourself raw. You keep your head directed to the ground and tune your ears to the noise that swirls around you. Can you not see Me? I am right in front of you. Lift your weary, heavy head and see Me, leading you on, holding out My hand to guide you.

I am here. Always have been. But you have been so persistent, scanning your eyes for what you already know. Round and round you go, winding yourself up so tightly in your mind your heart has no room to breathe, to beat in tune to what I am singing. You are a broken record that skips the best parts of your favorite song. You are a clinging vine of fear that coils around your mind, squeezes tight and clamps down and spills a paralyzing poison in your heart. How you writhe and in place and choke the most important pieces of you!

Relax; don’t strain. Don’t flail in desperation or forsake how far you’ve come. Don’t get so distracted with the roaming rambles of your worries. Your heels are scratching into the sand from attempting to draw near to Me on your own. And you are not moving.

Stand still. Allow Me to come to you. Loosen your limbs, release what you can never control. Close your eyes and feel the whisper of My voice, flowing in your ear and washing through your heart. Let it take root, find its footing and settle in for the long haul. What I have for you may not be what you expected, but I am with you and wish for you so ardently to see and accept.

So calm yourself, beloved. Calm yourself. Sit down beside Me and open your heart. You cannot let Me love you if you are clutching so tightly to your own thoughts. What you have is fine. The way you are has worked alright until this point. This is true. You have been ok.

But you are meant to be more than ok. You are meant to be so much more.

Will you listen for Me? Can you clear your heart and mind and let Me in to revive you, to untangle you from the webs you have spun so haphazardly around your soul?

Unclench your deepest hurt, that vulnerability you try desperately to hide. Let it into the light. Let Me touch those wounded places, that we may be gentle together and begin in a safe place to heal.

 

I promise, it will be worth it.

 

Prayer:

Father, can I relinquish all that I have been holding to You? You promise me it is worth it, though it isn’t easy. I have held so tightly to my own thoughts and ways, yet I see they have gotten me nowhere. Oh Lord, how I long to release myself and trust You! Help me to be strong, and have the courage to follow where You lead. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Carried Closer

Here I sit, middle of a sun-drenched park with sweet scent of hibiscus heightened by the fresh fall of overnight rain. Sky spread robin’s egg blue before me in loose canopy, fat firs and lithe oak growing into their bark-skin, this is my normal solitude, the kind that curls around my soul and warms me in quiet.

Yet as beautiful as this scene is, and how I am a small, breathing part of it, I do not sit satisfied. God and I, we have been exploring the inner-yearnings of my heart, gently exploding truths into me and safely exposing my desires, my needs, the longings I have long locked dormant. This is self-discovery in this raw form, rare bones of breathing in the new tears in my universe that free me from bondage and into acceptance that this humanness—this womanhood—is actual design and deemed okay from my Creator. Because He knows how I am made—He wired me this way—and I am, for the first time in my scared, shriveled life and always afraid to reattach with my heart, allowed to let these longings in, rub them around my fingers and pull my ear close to listen to what they have to say.

Sometimes alone no longer is enough. When I have a God-placed hunger within for communion, for connection, for the pull of my soul towards another’s, I am taking this new trail as far as it will carry me.

Wind runs its hands along the grass, cups my face. Errant bikers pedal slow and lazy, nowhere intentional to be. The hair on my skin trembles like antennas for my insides. For the length of my years alone has been alright with me. But not today. Not any longer.

Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires, Song of Songs 2:7 reminds me. But it has woken me, and I never noticed its wings unfurl until the pressing beat has brushed my heart alive.

My lungs inflate, balloon against my rib cage, slowly settle. Faith. Hope. Love. But the greatest of these is love, which is calm, patient, kind, always trusting.

Movement in the water. Sparks on the shore. Stirring in the air, circling my heart. Fluid patterns dripped into this mysterious current, one I am willing and eager to lift into and be carried closer to you.

Elements of Silence

Today’s the kind of day where the damp goes straight to your bones.

Where the wind laughs wildly and slaps the waves of Lake Michigan and makes them jump ten feet in the air.

Where rain and snow merge amidst the clouds and storm to earth as slick and sharp sleet. Like your skin’s stitched with daggers.

The boards of this house creak and rock like a ship sloshing through the mass of water. Cold filters through the windows as if there are no panes at all.

I keep the lights off and let the muted gray move its way through the halls; pace the room and collect the silence, save the howl.

Howl.

Is that what this noise in me is doing?

Looking for you in all the wrong places and lashes out in frustration when you’re nowhere to be found? When the truth slips my feet from under me and turns me upside down?

Wind rolls sideways, upturning the tree branches. The sky is turning slate quicker than I would have thought. Can I light a candle not in remembrance, but to forget?

Let the elements roll in. Limbs become submerged in ice and face turns to the tide. At breakwater’s edge atop this hill that holds these howls for what has been, I drink the mist into my eyes, translucent fuse of fog and dusk, become a myth, the silence.

Only You

It’s only You.

Only You can save my heart, even when You’re the only who can cut down deep enough to excavate what needs to go. It is a surgical procedure, and Your scalpel is swift and sharp, but I am finally at the point where I know You want to help me, it’s necessary to my survival, that I allow this surgery to happen.

So I sign over my permission, release my clutching hands from around my heart, leave my flesh exposed, wound open and sensitive to every small speck that finds its way to touch the surface. I am fully trusting You to operate, and receive me well.

It hurts, though. Oh sweet mercy, how Your incisions are painful! My bleeding heart, cut by Your blade. I cup my hands to catch what flows down and hold it all out to You. These intimate, tender pieces—they are Yours. Absorb them into Yourself. I scream out, for I am awake for this procedure and acutely aware of each place You stitch. Every cut I feel, antiseptic stings like madness. But such a fierce burn soon cools to a nurturing salve, even as I twist and coil, searching for comfort.

My chest parted and most delicate organ on display, I am determined to let Your fingers continue to massage, scrape, rearrange. Use the instruments You must, take time to do it right. This holy healing rips my sensors, strengthens my soul. Only You reach where others cannot, bend Your mouth to whisper words that sustain me in this state of suffering. Only You see what will be; bones must break before they reset, scrapes must be swiped clean as to avoid infection from meddlesome debris.

Strange thing is, I am more certain of Your presence here with me on this cold, metal table, than I’ve been in years. This pain still blazes, sharp and slicing through my raw heart, but You delve in to it with a willingness of Your own, reassurance that there is something eternal going on in the here and now.

Hold me. May I move as You move, bend as You bend, and lay supine for the remainder of this reconstruction. Surrendered to Your steady hand, counting breaths as Yours merge with mine. Eyes calm and locked on You, lovingly tending to this work within. This is for my good and Your glory. Chip away. I trust You with the pain, in the wire cuts, rub of my red heart. Only You feel what I feel. Only You know how to heal. Only You can truly bring me back to life.

 

Lord, this does not feel good. I have never been so acutely aware of the pain, yet also of Your presence. This is You with me, in the tapping of my bones. You are my sustenance, my comfort, my healer. I need to within me, to massage my soul from the inside out. We will walk this together, as I keep holding my heart out to You. Amen.

 

Slow Reminder

Spice and fullness of coffee steams and drips from the brewer. That hearty life-saving scent fills the kitchen and living room this morning, where I sit perched in an oversize plush chair with so much to sift through and nothing to say.

It’s been so long since I’ve assessed my heart with words. I hardly recognize the different feel of each emotion, each ripple of hope or sadness, recalling memories I make hard for myself to remember.

Sometimes I can’t bring up the recent past so I make myself busy. If I’m in a constant flurry, there’s no room to see what once was and how much I miss.

I let life here overtake me.

I am tired of trying for the other way. Nothing ends up as I’d like, evidence that the control of life was certainly never mine.

My mug is now nestled in my hand, fingers curled around the handle. There are times when I cannot understand how this is my life, how I seem to be so far away from where I’ve wanted to be. How I keep trading steps forward and back.

Easter is coming soon. Resurrection. Beginning. Life. Do I ask for my own death with Christ so I can come alive? Become empty in attempt to be filled?

To empty myself and make room for another—this is the gift, I realize as I sip slow. The slow reminder to say thanks.

Forgotten to Remember

It is terrible to forget.

And yet I have.

For clusters of months, mounting to a year.

Until I found my way, one Sunday, to Cedar Lake Park, the place that had held me in the storm of my soul’s transition into the life I never wanted, didn’t know I’d need.

I took the wrong exit off the highway like so many times before; I can never remember which one it is, but I don’t mind the turnaround. I am proud that I am now able to maneuver the back roads and find my way to the park’s swan-necked entrance.

It isn’t big, but is sizable enough to find a spot to myself, down twisted gravel lanes where my tires spray pebbles, and straight to the edge of the water’s bank, slant in the grass to the same bench I like to spread my arms and legs.

As soon as I settle on my wood bench, clouds roll over the sun, and when the breeze swings, the coolness catches my skin.

There are many people dotting the lines of the lake, throwing fishing lines into the water. It’s mid-afternoon, not an ideal time to cast, but I guess there’s simply something cathartic about creating another wrinkle in the current.

I have forgotten the quiet, the crescent of trees, call of birds, spread of sky. Forgotten the sound of my own heart when it is breathing. Forgotten what it’s like to let go and surrender up my life. To give it away, to gain it back.

There are people all around me, coming and going, and though I am by myself, I do not feel alone.

A bullfrog throbs its throat and echoes across the wind, finds my ears. There is no need to fear what is not known; this life is meant for exploration, welcome. Mystery discovered and changed into new life unfathomed. Every single piece should be treated as a pleasure and not a puzzle. Let it all go, slip into nothing, transform everything.

It feels good to write for me, because it pleases my soul and not to beat my mind up in pressure to fill a page, some self-prophesied destiny. I had forgotten how it felt to just be, wrapped up in the land, quiet and unhurried, and let the words come, rather than crash about and jam wrong ones together, break their brittle hands.

I had forgotten how good it feels for me to rest, to receive what is necessary for me to remember. In a way, I have forgotten to remember. All that once I thought I lost, now, found once more.

Dear God, let this day last forever.

Sometimes, I even forget such a prayer.

Do not let this go.

I will spend my heartbeats remembering, tell my spirit to never forget the way it moves most alive when it is immersed in simple wonders marked by the earth, loosened time.

Only an hour has passed, but it disguised itself as an eternity. It is good to be myself, bare, sacred. My true, deep, unhidden being. And when I return to the ways of life around me, there is a wiseness around my eyes, clear and soft. And in a way, I have shifted into newness with hope ballooning strong within, still the same, always evolved.

Coming Home

Your words are like coming home.

 

Each line, like a gate enveloping a warm butter yellow house, latch loose and swinging open easily to walk the path up to the painted wood porch that awaits me.

Meaning blooms from the page of Your persistency, fragrant violets and azaleas assailing my senses as the roots You plant in me strike deeply in the soil.

“I will not give you up.” Each letter delves into the fervency of Your declaration.

“You are Mine.” Each syllable strikes through the thunderstorms raining down on me, seeking to drown as I reach for You.

I was a vagabond. Dust-drenched and dry, cracking in a stagnant stubbornness. My own wandering quickly caught me in a trap of thistles. The more I shook to escape my discomfort, the tighter all the thorns stretched around me. I was becoming a wilting vine in a weary plot of land.

But You saw my snare and leapt to pull me from my folly. Tearing apart the weeds wrapped upon my soul, You snatched me from the thicket and brought me to a garden of refreshment, wrapped along a porch filled with laughter and dazzling sunlight, and wide, welcoming arms.

I reveled in the attention and listened to the winds whisper my arrival. How eagerly they swept in to see me, how languidly they lingered and let Your breath wash them through my stains.

This is a retreat and revival I have never known. This is the front porch peace I’ve always dreamed yet never seen. And You are the bright burning streak of light that glistens in the twilight. Your smile stretches across the covered caverns of my heart, filling the void with color and scent central to my prayer. You drift along my memory like a lilac and rose scented sky.

I am here. I am happy. I am closer to the clouds than I have ever known. Wrapped in a blanket of bliss, I serenely stare at the waltzing world, laughing and dancing and waving to me in shared revelry. And as You shift into the seat beside me, I turn to take in Your vibrant eyes and find the space my heart has forever longed for.

 

With Me

You are with me.

I am in silence, in a silky black realm of reality that reaches with needy fingers for my soul. A heaviness presses against my chest, squeezing out my air of expectancy. Who am I to fight this battle, to strike out with soft palms and slap at translucent taunts that laugh when I come up empty?

I squint my eyes to see movement, any sign that I am not alone with this confusion, but my vision is muddied and outlines carve my sight. In the blur, I am begging for breakthrough.

With faltering feet, I wander deeper into my shaded hope and uncertainty prickles my skin. I am surrounded by a ripping feeling that something stirs beneath the earth.

You tell me that You are here with me, tightly tucked to my side. My hand moves to feel You but I grasp at air. Just a fistful of particles that slip between the slivers of my nails. The sky gives no light, no assurance that when I place one foot in front of the other, I will walk with stable support beneath me. You see me standing, see me claw my way through the caverns of this mystery I have tied myself to. I am looking for answers and instead find silence. I reach my voice across the slipping sounds of night, praying they do not tangle with the pleas and prayers of every other enchantment inhabiting this blue space beyond my rational mind.

You are the One who first told me to open my eyes, to dream wide awake and decipher the stars. You brushed my heart with belief and curved my course to Your sails. Walk with Me, You whispered into my ear. Talk with Me and let Me teach you how to come alive.

So I soared into starlight, colored the cosmos with Your hues and floated in fantasy. I walked through waterfalls and slept in beds of beauty untouched by mere mortal magic. You spun me golden blankets of grace; I slept peacefully in their warmth and woke with Your breath in my lungs. Somewhere along my revelry I slipped from Your strength and weakened my will with a course of my own.

Navigate me. I am directionless in this circle of solitude. You say You are here with me, have always been beneath my heart, the key to my unsteady compass. Show me. Inhabit the wind and whisper the way to my craving soul so I will feel the brush of Your mouth on my face, ruby ribbons rushing through this damp and diminishing maze of my mind.

You are with me. Deliberately cupping my heart and leading it to the dawn of dreams once again. My hands may not be able to touch You, but my soul speaks in upturned secrets that spill out from the overwhelming presence of Your map unfolding in my memory.

 

Let It Go

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.   -1 Peter 5:7

I take up my pen and begin relaying my thoughts onto paper. I talk about trust, how I have more ease of life knowing God is taking care of the how. I begin to describe how God is teaching me this week, for the pressing thoughts continually on my mind. Prayer. Petition. Bringing my requests before the great and powerful Oz of the universe who sits on His heavenly throne and rules with authority.

But I am timid. I am weak and I am fearful. I doubt. Myself, the plans God has for me, even the gifts He has given me. I wonder if I’m doing anything with my life that aligns with His will.

I let the fear fester inside, corroding my heart and blocking off the air canals that guide me to God. Soon, I am so consumed with this confusion I am ashamed to even come before Him. Why would He still listen to me? Hear my prayers? My cries seem to carry across a barren sky and dissolve into the night.

Still I write, trying to somehow break through the surface. I try to not bother Him and begin to think of ways to solve my worries on my own. I wonder whether or not the decisions I make today will mark tomorrow. I can fix things, I assure myself. I can do this on my own.

But I can’t. In my decision to fight my own battles my life caves in. The ceiling presses down, I reach for the exit door and find there is no handle. I am trapped, a hostage in my maze of an unknown future, and the more I struggle to break the bonds of baggage upon me, the tighter the hold. My shoulders are frail. I need ones that are stronger.

Meek, all energy drained, I dare to decode my confusion at God’s feet. I stumble before Him, face buried in humiliation as I realize that while I have been doubting my abilities and the haze that appears on my path, I have also doubted God, because He gave me these desires and attributes. I am His daughter, created in His image. And if I think it is impossible to climb out of the muck I’ve stepped in, then I do not fully comprehend the immensity of my God. For when I am weak, He is at His strongest. His shoulders are solid, His mark always on target. And through my utter despair, it is at my lowest point where He can take charge and show that ALL things are possible through Him, because He is incomprehensible in power and love.

When we try to take matters into our own hands, we lunge into the ocean and expect to keep in the shallows. We swim, bob, dog paddle in our own currents until we reach the middle of the sea and find no land in sight. Legs pumping, heart crashing, our bodies tread water, killing time but getting nowhere. Soon, the more we struggle, the more we are swallowed into the abyss.

Until we release the fears and insecurities that keep us weighed down, we slowly sink to the bottom. We whisper in the waters, “Father, I cannot do this on my own,” and He gives strength to our weary limbs, tosses a life vest out to our eager arms. And, with gentle, guiding hands, He lifts us to His side and charts our perfect course.