Lean In

I wrote this last summer. A song on my playlist kept whispering to me as I was out running on my trail. The thoughts and connections wouldn’t stop, so I did. I stopped along the trail, attempted to catch my breath in a million different ways, and started writing in the notes app on my phone.

I’m sure I looked crazy: swaying back and forth, smiling, nodding at the thoughts, watching the water and other runners pass by, letting the words flow through me. Crazy as I may have looked, I know all my words are for a purpose. So, while they have sat in my phone for months, they needed to gently remind me today… Lean in.

I pray that you are blessed by this today, wherever you are in life.


 

When it all hurts and you want to curl up or just run far, don’t. Don’t. Lean in. As hard and as contrary as that sounds, lean in a little bit more.

You don’t have to lean in so far you lose your way. And you don’t have to lean in so far you forget where you started. And don’t lean in so far you lose yourself.

But sit.

Quietly.

Gently leaning closer. Closer to the problem. Closer to the uncomfortable. Closer to the anxiety. Closer to the fear.

Come closer, let me whisper this to you gently my dear one. It’s some sort of fear that’s making you want to run. Some sort of misunderstanding. Some sort of uneasy. Maybe some sort of hurt you’ve caused. I get it. Fear is anxiety producing. Fear is scary. Fear is hurt. Fear makes us want to run.

But don’t run. It will only chase you harder. I know you want to escape it. I know you want to pretend it’s not there. I know some days you want to pretend you’re stronger than the fear. But it will always creep back in until you learn to sit with it. Until you make friends with it. Until you learn to sit in the deep dark with it and understand each other.

Be cautious in this space too. It’s not okay to spill your hurt on other people. Yes, share it with them. Let them in. Hurting people can hurt other people. Don’t mistreat those close to you out of your pain, but let them in to see it.

It’s okay to show up and be vulnerable. I know that’s scary too. Let safe people in to help you. To hold you. To see you. There is something magical when people see you as you really are.

Some days you may feel hollow. Incapable. Trust those days too. They are for a purpose. The hollow is God emptying out the uncertainty. It’s Him emptying out the demands life has placed on you. It’s Him emptying out the doubts others have filled you with.

Empty it all out.

Let it all go.

Let him take it all.

Be hollow.

So that, the divine can fill you with Himself. He is he absence of fear. And when you’re filled with Him, you’ll have the strength to lean into the fear. You’ll have His strength. His power.

Trust this.

And if you don’t know Him and that light, ask Him to show you. Ask Him to show up for you and be vulnerable with you. Ask Him to be all around you, reminding you, revealing Himself to you, comforting you.

Then watch.

Listen.

Hollow.

Be filled. Lean in. Get comfortable with the fear. Let Him work in the fear. Let Him pour in the love until it fills you up and runs over.

Just let go and lean in.

woman-happiness-sunrise-silhouette-40192

 

Advertisements

Pieces

 

The past few weeks we’ve been learning a Remember Verse with the students I teach. It’s one of my favorites at Christmas time. “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6.

One of the things I have loved the most in teaching this is helping the kids grasp the enormity of God’s plan as he revealed this. Not just pieces of his plan, but seeing the fullness of his plan. We look at the beginning of the verse to understand it’s God the Father sending his son, Jesus. It’s such a great verse to ponder over during the Christmas season. Then we pause and look at where this verse is found. Isaiah. I then ask the kids if that’s Old or New Testament. They now recognize this is in the Old Testament which means this verse was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

It shows me that God had a plan. He had a good plan that included his son. You see, God Created. In the beginning, God created all and said it was GOOD. And Jesus was part of it.

The opening verses of John remind me of this:

“In the beginning was the WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (1:1-5)

v:9 “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him… v:14 The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, FULL of grace and truth.”

He didn’t have to come to earth. He had a plan though. God revealed himself to the Israelites. He gave the law, not to provide law itself, but to show his love. So that we would know him, honor him, love him, desire to be with him.

We made a choice, as his creation, to turn from him way back in the garden. We were separated from him because of our choice. But he had a plan. A plan to love us. A plan to restore us. A plan to redeem us.

And we didn’t choose his plan.

We kept doing things our way. In our time. AND he still loved us. Still revealed himself to us; out of His abundance of love.

He is slow to anger, slow to judgement, giving us time to know him, time to love him.

He was silent for a moment. There was 400 years of silence where he didn’t speak through any prophets or reveal any miracles.

Then God quietly began to reveal his plan. On a hillside, out away from the crowds, away from the affluent, away from the “religious” leaders.

pieces

God didn’t just give a piece of his love. He didn’t just give a little of Himself. He poured all his power and majesty and love into this world through his son Jesus. Fully contained in the human form so he would know. So he could sympathize not just in part, but in whole.

Even though that human body died on a cross, love did not. Love conquered death. Love rose stronger. Love remains. Not in pieces, but in whole. And it’s here for us today. WE can still choose to turn from the wrong things we do, we can ask for forgiveness, we can ask to know him. Not just with part of our lives, not just with pieces, but with all our lives. We can love with not just part of our love, but with all our love.

Because He doesn’t give us just part of his heart. He doesn’t give us his leftover pieces.

Do we do that to him? Do we just offer back our leftover pieces? Do we wait to come to him at some point when we have all of our pieces fixed and figured out? Do we get so busy or feel so broken that we remain in pieces, keeping them to ourselves? Or do we think that somehow we must put ourselves together perfectly before we come to him?

He loves all your pieces. He’s the one who wants to step in and put your pieces together, perfectly, and love all of you, with his fullness.

So let us remember this Christmas, as we recall the birth of Jesus long ago, he came as love, as light, in full. And he satisfied our debt, in full.  And now, when Jesus looks on us, he doesn’t love just parts of us. Pieces of us. He loves all of us. All the time. We can trust in that.

Don’t let what feels like broken pieces in you hold you back from the one who longs to restore, renew, and pour in full love.

Love Always Wins

My heart hurts for our nation today. Not because I voted one way or another. Or because you voted one way or another. I hurt because I see hatred and division running unchecked. Because I see people clinging to their view only and lacking any sort of tolerance. Because I see people holding so tight to fear that it’s driving their actions and reactions.

That’s what scares me the most right now. People are living and acting out of their fear without regard to what they’re doing or who else they may be hurting.

Friends, it’s okay to feel some fear. Yes, it’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to grieve. It’s okay to be angry. Anger is God’s intended warning light in your life. Pay attention to it. Rest with your anger for a moment. But just a moment. Because you can’t live there. You can’t live your life based on fear and anger. And how you choose to react to your anger can have very real consequences.

Whichever side of the country you feel you want to sit with, I know where I stand. I stand with the one who made me, the one who made everything, the one who is in control. But that can’t be the standard answer to all of my friends; to just trust God and it will all be okay. I know God was in control before the election, is in control today, and will be in control tomorrow. But just saying those words to many, many of my friends who don’t yet know Him, well, that feels confusing and hurtful. Because so many of my friends have been hurt by the religiosity of this day. And just knowing He’s in control doesn’t remove the pain or the hurt and it doesn’t automatically heal the divides that have been created.

heart-love-romance-valentine-medium

Instead of living from a place of fear, what if we were to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly? Together? What if instead of holding so tight to our preconceived notions and living divided by differences we chose to extend mercy to those around us? What if we were compassionate and kind towards those who offend us? To those who are different than us? What if we react out of love, not fear? And when we see others not being treated fairly, especially if the unfairness comes based on the color of their skin or country of birth, what if we stood up for them? Or gave them a step up? Instead of just speaking for them and what we think they want to say, what if we just let them speak freely? And we listen.

As we listen, love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly, what if we also ask ourselves what is the next right step for me? What choices do I have (we always have several) but what is the next right step for me in my life right now? And how does that step help those around me? How do I step away from fear and closer to love? How do I step out of the divisions around me, and closer to love? How can we be a bit kinder to those around us rather than arguing party lines and further dividing our country?

I pray that you sit with this for a bit. Then I pray the step you choose leads you closer to others. Closer to understanding. Closer to kindness. Closer to forgiveness. Closer to love. Because love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. I pray that love always wins. In your life, and in mine.

Be blessed, my friends.

nancy


 

Here’s a song that’s inspired me the last few days. I hope it helps you to care a little more too.

“Forgiveness is the only real revenge…

Keep yourself open…

Peace and love aren’t so far…”