Sunday, March 22, 2015

on pilot lights, being a garden, and springtime.

It’s testing month at school, which means every day this past week I have had a few hours each morning to just sit and breathe and think. Which you know, if you get me at all, is quite dangerous for me.
But last week it was beneficial.
“Somewhere along the way, my dears,” (she says, quoting a favorite musical just because her brain turns everything into song) my little flickering flame inside me got turned up, I think. For a long time I relied on the pilot light of my spiritual gas heater to keep me okay. I know it’s not a good consistent state to be in, but I also think it was a necessary phase and for a while it was the best I had, so it was good enough. But somewhere in those months of relying on the pilot light to warm the house, God refilled the tank and turned the heat up. And I had this realization the other night that my soul, at some point, settled into a toasty 4 on the heat dial and is thawing out the numbed extremities.
Please understand me; this is not my “I’ve made it and have everything together, guys, so you can stop trying to help me” speech. I am far far far from making it and having things together (the very thought of which ever being possibility for me literally makes me laugh). I don't think I will ever stop needing people and flailing around in life a little bit (or a lot-tle bit) as I go.

This is simply a public recognition that the clean-up work in my heart, the renovation, the Big Remodel, the turning me into His cathedral is happening. It has been, little by little, unrecognizably so, until a glimmer caught my eye and I took a peek back into the land I’ve been trekking these past three months.
There He said, “We’re moving. Do you see that we’ve moved? You’re thawing out. Your weeds are being pulled. I am tending you every day, my little garden, and Spring is on her way to us. Life is ebbing in.”
Sure enough, as I looked down into my own often-too-small heart-garden, I saw He had expanded it a size or two (enlarge my borders, Lord! including my Grinch heart that needs so badly to grow!). I saw He had planted a few things- I know not what they are or will yield yet- and the little bumps under the soil promised fruit soon enough. I saw a few more holes in the ground where the deep-rooted weeds had been excavated; I saw new weeds trying to settle into the newly fertile soil.
Rain and sun that fall into me are nurturing all they touch, and He reminds me we- He and I- must be careful to tend this garden every day. We must be careful to arise early and pull the new weeds out before they have a chance to be nourished by the smiling sun or crying rain.

The cathedral has a garden! I love that! I love cathedrals with courtyards and gardens and life!

It’s as if my heart is literally undergoing spring cleaning, and I’ve been lathered up and scrubbed down and rinsed off, and set by the nice, toasty, 4-on-the-dial heater. What a tremendous feeling.

Recently, I’ve been reading a few books that are changing my life (as good books tend to do) and that I think have induced this Springtime.
  1. LOVE DOES by Bob Goff. It’s unexplainable how this book both wrecks and revitalizes me at the same time. I don’t understand it. It’s obviously God.
  2. Parables of the Cross by Isabella Lilias Trotter. Honestly, this book (or pamphlet, I suppose, as it’s only 23 pages) makes me feel like such a Christian hipster because NO ONE has heard of it. Literally no one. I discovered it because Elisabeth Elliot referenced it in her life-wrecker, Passion and Purity, and it was just a few dollars on Amazon, so I ordered it and wow. Just get it and don’t try to read it all in one day. It’s too deep and rich.
  3. If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher. I feel like this one explains itself. It’s her story, her weighty words, her heart in a book. So far I have cried every time I’ve picked it up and it is astonishingly beautiful.
  4. Winged Life by Hannah Hurnard. Her first book, Hinds’ Feet on High Places has always been one of my favorites- it’s an allegory centered around the journey of Much-Afraid as she follows the Good Shepherd’s leading to the High Places. And man, Winged Life doesn’t disappoint either. So far it’s teaching me a lot about what Love really means and goodness knows I can always use more of that.

if you couldn’t tell, there’s really one main theme in these four books that are transforming my heart and mind:
Which is great because it just confirms in me that this is His work. Because He is Love, so of course it makes sense that the books and many other facets of entertainment in my life right now are just pointing me back to Love- even the ones that seem like they would never be able to teach me anything about real Love. Funny how He can turn anything into a window.

While I am learning about Love and being bowled over by my God at least four times a day, I’m in need of prayer and support and encouragement and life-giving truth.
Here’s how I need you to pray for and with me, beloved people:
Pray for consistency. Pray that I would have a new sticktoitiveness (which I rarely have the motivation to find in a lot of cases). And pray that I would stop making this about me and just abide.
We all know I tend to be a person that throws herself into things. For the most part, I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person.

That has its downfalls, certainly. I tend to give up on things: I start projects and never finish them, I start books and stop ⅔ of the way through, and when I start a new friendship/relationship I either give up too soon or go a little overboard showing that person love. It also means I tend to ramble, as I’d rather give too much information than not enough. Additionally, people think I’m constantly exaggerating. Granted, I exaggerate all the time (irony). But in the moments when I’m not exaggerating and I’m genuinely IN LOVE with a lovely plastic box of perfectly yellow paper clips, it’s easy for my words to mean less than I want them to, because so often I use the same exaggerated words when I’m trying to make a point or tell a story, and now all the sudden no one understands just how much a tiny clear box of yellow-coated metal thingys can cheer me up.

However, I am also beginning to see a lot of strengths in my throw-myself-in-with-no-looking-back personality. I’m GREAT at starting projects or books or road trips. I love easily (or maybe ‘quickly’ would be more accurate, because GEEZ don’t I know that real love should never be easy) and wholly and, if need be, fiercely- that also means I tend to forgive quickly. Everything in my world is rose-colored, and I don’t even need glasses for that; it’s just constantly rose-colored and I love it because rosy hues are probably my favorite of all the hues.
(she realizes even in her explanation of how she loves easily that she proves how sickeningly optimistic and enjoying-life-at-all-times she tends to be)

And here comes the part where I know I need the prayers and intercession::
I throw myself into projects and relationships and even God’s Work.
And then when it starts getting kinda hurt-ey, when I’m getting cramps in my Faith muscle or when someone hurts my heart or when I realize I still have to go back and edit and re-write the entire paper, I stall.
I find it really really tough to stick to it. To be consistent. To be a train and chug ahead.
I say, “eh, good enough” and turn the paper in because it’s 4 AM and if you include the bibliography it’s 8 pages, so that should pass, right? or because I’m a pretty good person and God loves me and there are other, better Christians out there who can do it better than I can anyway. or because that was the third time they have spoken hurtful words to me in the past month, and I don’t need people like that in my life bringing me down.

“Brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
I need to do the paper to the best of my ability. I need to do what I feel God tugging me to do, even- no, ESPECIALLY- when it makes me feel inadequate or uncomfortable. I need to love and treasure that person anyway, because the only thing that can drive out darkness is light, and the thing that draws me closest to the heart of God is my own pain.

In the end, though, I know it’s not about me. That’s a thing I’m having to remind myself second by glorious second. Abiding in Christ and making much of Him is my ultimate goal. This is a portion of my journey in which I’m extremely introspective, but my end goal is not my own profit or gain or goodness but simply CHRIST.

So yeah, it’s Spring in my heart again, and for that I am unendingly grateful. But there are weeds to be pulled and work to be done in this garden. Feel free to step in and water the soil and help me pull up weeds when you’re around. I’ll need a reminder to stick to it, to abide with His nourishment so these plants can grow.

welcome to midnight.

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