She Leaned In: A Companion Piece

A couple of days ago this writing arrived in my inbox.  It is from the person I wrote about in a post titled, ‘She Leaned In’.  It is too beautiful to not share.  I hope everyone has someone like this in his/her life.  

Open Doors

Ah, Monday – my brief escape from the weight of life. Those weekly two hours replenished me, sustained me. It was a rare opportunity to emerge from my cocoon and interact with others.

The window was closing. The meeting had adjourned and at least half the ladies vacated their seats. I slowly packed my bag, thinking hard and willing time to slow long enough for me to invent an excuse to delay departure: binder, journal, pens, Bible, loose papers. I rifled through the bag’s contents once there were no more items to add, stalling longer as if I’d forgotten something. I was waiting – waiting for anyone to approach me, force me out of my shy bubble and take away just a sliver of the loneliness.

Finally accepting that the excuses were absent and my lingering would soon turn to negligence as the child care volunteers awaited pick-up, I stood. Something in me gave me further pause, however, and I looked around me.

She sat two seats away from mine, to my left. I think at this point she’d finished packing her bag and stared at nothing, thoughtfully. As I gazed at her, my heart filled with compassion.

This woman, so thoughtful and fragile-looking that day, had been at her most vulnerable the previous week. She shared something deeply personal, had shed a few tears in front of the group, yet in the midst of it remained strong. Her strength, in that moment, had come from praising the Lord.

This woman, to whom I’d only ever offered a handful of words, drew me in. I’d observed her silently over a period of months, listened intently to what she spoke. I’d been inspired and impressed by the wisdom that seeped from her every time she opened her mouth – the quiet of her demeanor juxtaposed with fervent passion for the Lord. She disguised herself by selectively speaking, but her words betrayed her. This woman, who seemed a rock star of faith, sat alone beside me – and in that moment, something drew me closer still. I didn’t need to glance around to know that no one else approached us to interrupt this rare moment of private togetherness– and while I appreciated the privacy, I was simultaneously struck: Seriously? Was no one going to follow-up with her after last week’s confession?

This group who at times appeared so closely knit together – were they (we) really just a bunch of individuals leading individual lives and parading as one body? Surely our great and loving God would position a community of compassionate hearts around her, especially now – but then, maybe it’s me. I didn’t want to attract attention or invite rejection, but in those few seconds as I stood within a few feet of her, His Spirit compelled me.

“How are you doing?” I asked simply. Her eyes lifted to meet mine, a hesitation in them that surprised me. I’d expected the typical, “I’m good; how are you?” sentiment, but her eyes revealed something more.

“I’m not okay,” she confessed, her eyes locked on mine and filled with such emotion that I was stunned. Why would she trust me like this? Why would she open herself to me in a way that I’m sure I wouldn’t have done for her?

My legs collapsed and I sat, edging close to her and wrapping an arm around her back as she leaned forward and into me. Our voices lowered to a whisper, and I both listened and offered what little comfort I thought I had – though even as I spoke them, the words seemed trite and out-of-place. Yet, this moment between us was real and organic. It was a door that God opened, that we may find something greater behind it.

It was a spark, which ignited a flame. That woman, whom I barely knew that day, opened herself to me and let me in – something I so feared doing myself. That woman, so beautiful and broken in that moment, has since walked confidently and appreciatively through my doors as I have opened them to her, and the flame that lit that day is a roaring fire. She is my sister, and I am hers.

That’s the funny thing about fires, I suppose: sometimes they seem scary. They can’t easily be controlled, and often require so much tending. Yet, The warmth they provide can soften even the hardest of hearts. I have found myself to be as malleable metal, safe in the hands of my Lord, the Blacksmith, who wisely pushes me out of my comfort zone and ignites fires in my heart that will help mold me into who He wants me to be. That woman, my friend and sister, is a lovely tool in His hands.

From the pen of a true friend.  

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War, What is it Good For?

War, what is it good for?

No, not ‘War, What is it Good For—Absolutely Nothing’, but the sweet movie, ‘War Room’ I watched the other day while hubby entered his “chemo coma”. I heard wonderful things about it, so I slipped under a cozy blanket and tuned right in.

Honestly, I was bothered. Maybe disappointed. Not sure I can pinpoint the proper emotion. Don’t get me wrong, the principle of this movie is spot on.  We need to submit, sacrifice our own needs, and realize this is more of a war than we realize–one not always about flesh and blood, but a struggle against principalities and powers of this dark world we reside.

And, while I love a happy ending, the kind that brings all discord together to a climactic conclusion better than one would ever dream or imagine, and maybe I am a traitor to the Christian community to voice this, but—

Sometimes, happily doesn’t come until the ever after of Heaven

I know this was only a movie, and a portrayal of the power of prayer, but it felt as if their entire struggle was remedied in one short season of concentrated petition.

And, while sometimes things do turn out the way we hope, this is not entirely accurate, and to me, almost has the potential to make one become disillusioned if their outcomes do not turn out as expected.

Sometimes outcomes are far from what we hope.

What if the scene played out differently:

  • What if, instead of feeling intensely ill when he comes dangerously close to an affair, he actually commits adultery?
  • What if they divorce instead of reconcile?
  • What if they lose the large home at the loss of his job to foreclosure or downsizing?
  • What if the child’s pain causes her to become defiant?
  • What if the spouse’s new position is not for a nice non-profit, but one which makes little profit at all?
  • What if, after years of prayer, the family does not join together as one and read scripture and pray alongside each other?

What if my devoted prayers on bended knee for my husband’s healing do not end with my version of happily ever after? Then what?

Prayer, what is it good for?

What if it’s not entirely about results, even the good and right ones, but for me to become closer to my Jesus, no matter what the outcome?

What if prayer causes me to lean in to the One who comforts me in crisis–Calms my fears–Gives me peace in the battle–Provides rest for her weary prayer warrior…

Because, truth is, some of us may die on the front lines of battle without ever witnessing the victory on earth.

A Little Love Letter

Jesus,

You drew near to me one night while I lay alone in bed after an evening with an unknown man. I fought your former advances, but, on this occasion, well, I was just too tired. So instead, I allowed you to fully embrace me with your love.

Was it love at first sight for You?   

You would return often after this episode. Persistent you were.

Eventually, I gave up fighting Your advances, and gave in to Your love of me.

Why? That is the question. Why on earth do You love me as much as You do? Why? When I offer so little, You love so much.

You have loved me for as long as I remember.

But, I’ve loved You too.

Oh, I will never love You as much as You love me. And I think You are okay with this.

But, I will say, I will try with all I am to love You more.

You are undeniably my one true love.

Love, Josie

Sometimes It’s Hard to be a Good Christian Blogger

 

Sometimes it’s hard being a good Christian blogger.

I am not sure if it is because many writings are from former experiences, so the lapse of time and distance allows me to shave down the edginess to an appropriate scale of acceptability.

But, what I’ve learned about this strategy is this: Many years I lived a scaled-down version of myself. Like a Josie 2.0.

Scaling down hardships in order to bypass complete healing.  Scaling down the sins of others toward me in order to spontaneously forgive.

Moving on.

Going around Everest-sized mountains of disappointments without going through.

Sometimes we need to go through.

Face the pain head on. Feel it. Engage the senses. Make it through. Whether it is in regard to difficulties of life in general, or a sharp stab to the heart from another. They need to be fully embraced.

Now, whether or not I feel the need to share this struggle for all to read—maybe, maybe not.

Maybe people need to see a Christian battle through the wounds of the world, exposed, for all to see.

Maybe people only need to see the battle after the yellow tape has been removed, and the chalk lines cleaned up.

I do know that in time, peace will overtake what overwhelms me because my eyes are fixed on Jesus, and my heart is drawn to Him.

Write Where I Am

I found myself doing it again–contriving a blog post on a musing of life when I felt a slight cringe underneath the surface.

I can’t do this.  I cannot write another post omitting the mess from my mess.

I need to write where I am right now.

Truth be told, I am a mess on multiple fronts.

I am afraid. Yes, afraid. Afraid that maybe my husband might not make it through this cancer, and I am overwhelmed at the thought. So, I dismiss it as best as I can by avoidance, dismissal, an extra glass of wine, a smile, sleep, work, running, etc.

I feel like a hypocrite ministering to adults and children all the while seeing my very own stumble onto the broad path.

I am frustrated by rejection with my church. Why won’t they respond with a formal rejection letter? Isn’t this the proper response to someone’s request for employment?

I am angry at someone (you know who you are).  When I shared of Hubby’s cancer, you didn’t blink an eye, or say a word for that matter. No, not one. I feel like a lost sheep scattering about in furor without a shepherd.

I am discouraged that over half of my life was wasted in the vain attempt to please others, so to be liked, and while I succeeded, I’ve felt the fraud of self.

I am not proud of my issues. I wrestle with my thoughts. I hope to learn and live better because of them.

I wonder though, if I miss the purpose of writing.

To write where I am.

In the midst of this mess called life.

I came across and interesting side-note today while reading about the Pharisees and the adulterous woman debacle–

(The earliest manuscripts do not include 7:53-8:11)

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Why was this scandalous passage omitted from the original text?

Was it too raw for the earliest readers to digest?

I don’t know.

But, it is here, in the midst of the mess, that I wish to sit.

The places I do not desire to document are perhaps the exact places I need to delve. (If not, I will delete this post from all existence :))

Love,

A Messy Child of God

 

A Year Without Devo

This will be a first in many-a-year where I will go without you, Devo.

No, not you, Devo, you who goes around sporting little, red-rimmed hats, whipping it good with eccentric lyrics that stay permanently etched in the brain.

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No, I refer to you, my lovely, coveted devotional(s).

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It will not be easy to tear away from our brief sentimental encounters each day that feed me a spiritual nugget of truth.

In years, I have become a connoisseur of these little books of devotion.

But, it is time.

I want need more.

I need to learn for myself.

I need to dig deeper.

Ponder longer.

So, the other day I purchased a new journal bible and decided to devote my time to a small portion of scripture, and reflect on what I read.

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Maybe by the end of the year I’ll be sing the familiar tune I tend to belt out slightly out of tune, by Olivia Newton John, in which I sing, “hopelessly devoted to you…”

 

Jesus, I desire more of you.  So much so, nothing else will satisfy this longing deep within.  I hope to become hopelessly devoted to You.