Sunday, January 17, 2016

heart stuff

I know I post a lot of sappy things about Casey, but bear with me for a second while I gush. I promise I have substantial things to say in just a second! My reasoning is that I'm only gonna fall in love once so I might as well be as obnoxiously sappy about it as I can while it's all so new and wonderful.

Gush: Casey far exceeds my grandest hopes of what I might someday end up with. Like many girls who were raised in a southern baptist church, I had my little list of expectations and hopes and he blows them all out of the water. He slow dances with me while in line for hot dogs at baseball games. He plays hide & seek with me in Target. He lets me walk down the laundry detergent aisle because he knows I like to just walk down it sniffing. He holds my hands and blesses our meals together. He always encourages me to "be a light" in the workplace, and his constant prayer is for us to keep finding ways to love each other and Christ better. He tells the lady at Baskin Robbins that I changed my mind and want two scoops instead of one, when I am too passive to ask for it. He hugs me tight when I cry, wipes away my tears, and always tells me to stop apologizing for myself. He listens to and cherishes my rambling opinions and thoughts. He kisses my tired eyelids after a long day of school. He takes me on roller coasters that terrify me- literal and metaphorical- because he knows in the end I'll be better off for it or enjoy it, or maybe both. He leans his forehead against mine and sings the boy part of Baby It's Cold Outside in perfect harmony to my girl part, in the middle of the bike section at Academy. He sits on the wooden benches of Barnes and Noble reading aloud poetry with me. He looks at me That Way and holds my face in his hands and LoveQuirks like mad. And these are just some of the things that I remember off the top of my head. Casey is too too good to me and I'm obviously just the most twitterpated little thing you ever did see.

Obviously there is a lot that Casey does and is that I love dearly.
Sometimes, though, people what to know what about Casey I most treasure, and that is a hard things to decide on. But I finally, over the past few months, have found my answer.

When people ask me what I love most about Casey or what most attracts me to him, I always tell them about how he embodies Christ as He is described in Zephaniah 3:17. "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing."
If you want me to expound on that, ask me and I will, but this is not the time.

I love how Casey's heart reflects my Savior's. I love that he is a physical representation of Christ to me, that they way he cherishes me and bears burdens with me draws me closer to Christ. The problem is, Satan hates it. My flesh hates it.
It is excruciatingly difficult for someone you adore to just so tenderly and gently reveal your own heart-gunk to you. You might think that's dumb, it shouldn't be painful since they're being so gentle about it. But no. The simple loving manner used is almost 'burning coals'-esque. It somehow is worse when he's loving and humble about it (which he always is and UGH how annoyingly wonderful to have someone so freaking patient and meek pursue my heart daily) because it makes my gunk be revealed more realistically, and alllllllll the gunk comes out.

Sometimes for me the best way to clean out my gunk is to just announce it and share all the gruesome sin-details of it all so here goes.
My heart gets very proud, on both ends. It never sits stably in the middle, in selfless humility, but drastically wavers between arrogant pride and inadequate pride. Between "I am everything" and "I will never be anything". Really it just centers around Becca so dang much. Pride tricks me cause really any kind of thinking about me before/above others and Christ is pride, but that's not really how it's billed. We're led to believe that arrogant self-reliance is the only form of pride but my heart is the prime example of there being two sides to the coin.

Lately, there has been so much realizing how gunky and prideful my heart gets. I'm pretty sure that half the time Casey doesn't even realize he's being a vessel for God's conviction. He is so often a mirror-holder to me that helps me compare my heart to the Lord's and stop comparing myself to other humans.

This morning in church I was reminded of the deep truths of Proverbs 4. Most of us who were raised in church are familiar with Prov. 4:23, but how many of you know the verses that precede and follow it?

“My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” Proverbs‬ ‭4:20-27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A while back I was struck, upon reading this passage, by the various parts of the body/life that this addresses. This morning, I was reminded of those realizations once again.
When Solomon tells us to pay attention to his WORDS, he tells us they are LIFE and HEALING to "all their flesh". These words that follow are directed at various parts of our flesh that can easily lead our HEART, or spirit, astray.

Crooked speech & devious talk: someone please explain to my why it is so much easier to engage in judgmental thoughts and words as an adult in the workplace. Is it just teachers? Is it just because I'm new to this and insecure and feel the need to judge others more harshly so that my failings don't seem so glaring? Or is it just humans in general, and I've been in such conservative circles I've avoided it this far? Either way I hate it. I hate feeling the drive to gossip or use less-classy language. But it's so present and it's such a struggle for me, which is weird and humiliating, cause it's never been much of a thing I dealt with before.
But sure enough, "crooked speech and devious talk" drag my heart down. However, when I let my mouth overflow kind and grace-filled words, my heart is refreshed constantly.

Eyes & gaze: this one is a no-brainer. Where your eyes focus, your heart focuses. If my eyes focus on others' strengths and weaknesses compared to my own, my heart sits stagnant in pools of self-love, pride, and comparison. If my eyes focus on others' achievements and things that I lack, my heart surges with jealousy and envy. If my eyes focus on my own inadequacy, my heart slumps into self-deprecation (which is also pride) and negativity. No matter what my eyes focus on, eventually my thoughts and heart will center there too. So I must be constantly asking myself: what are my eyes fixed on? What do I spend my time on? What do I invest mental and emotional energy in?
One of my all-time favorite verses, Philippians 4:8, gives us the key to centering our thoughts around Him.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
‭‭it's as if God knew Becca would need these recommendations and gave them to Paul back when he was writing to the Church in Philippi. He knew my eyes would focus on everything but Him. He knew my heart would get distracted by what I let fill my vision. So He said, "okay. Instead, here's a list of things you should think about and fill your mind with: true things. noble things. right things. pure things. lovely things. honorable things. just things. commendable things. excellent things. and things worthy of praise. dwell on those."
Because the only things that exemplify those traits are gifts He showers, so ultimately we are looking back to Him. We are fixing our eyes and hearts on His goodness. "I steady my heart on the grounds of Your goodness," says Audrey Assad in her song Good To Me. That is the only way to combat wandering, distracted gazes- steadying our hearts on His firm foundation of goodness and righteousness.

Feet & their ways: where I go and what I actively do has so much effect on my spirit. What am I walking toward? What am I actively doing? Do my feet walk to my bed (to watch more Netflix) more frequently than they walk to others' aid? Am I honoring the temple of the Lord that my soul lives in? Immediately after sharing with us what we should fill our minds with, Paul says in Philippians 4:9
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Christ has taught and given and spoken and shown us everything we need to walk with Him and abide with him. It's now a matter of putting into practice what we have already learned and received and heard and seen.
It's not necessarily a matter of 'discipline' to follow Christ actively (though it often requires discipline to be effective and efficient as His ambassador). It's a matter of the heart. It's about setting my heart on the "Christ" setting and not letting my flesh distract me or delay me from that.

The great thing is, this is not a work I can do. It's a work I can invite and put into practice once it starts, but I cannot initiative a move of God. Only He can. Only the Spirit working in me and weeding the garden of my heart and filling me daily can change the direction of my eyes, thoughts, words, feet, and heart.

Someone once asked Charles Spurgeon, "Why do you have to be filled with the Spirit?" To which he responded:
"Because I leak."

I'm realizing that I leak a lot. And I rarely fill my heart back up with Him. And that's where all the problems start.
BUT I'm forever grateful to be surrounded by people who care to point out my leaks and hold up a mirror to me and fill me back up with His truth + grace.

welcome to midnight.

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