Saturday, August 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
All my friends keep getting married. I understand that I am in that stage and chapter in life in which it is inevitable. Fine. But I have felt as though everyone else's story is being written, progressing, and mine is...not. It's like a bad moving ending: one that leaves you hanging with all sorts of questions unanswered and absolutely no closure or clue as to what the ending could possibly be.
I know I know. My life isn't a movie, nor is it over. "It's just beginning." Thank you. I simply mean that, while everyone else's life seems to take a patterned turn, mine is on another track. And if I were the kind of person that craved adventure, spontaneity and the like, I'd be pretty excited. But I am, in fact, a very scheduled, routine, and at times I suppose fairly boring person in comparison. But I am happy that way. I like the predictability of my life. Because when things are predictable, I am always prepared. I can't be caught off guard, I'm on top of it all, which is actually, one of my many downfalls. I find myself supplementing God with, myself. Oops.
So, as a means of correcting my misguided mindset and behavior, the Lord has thrown me a curve ball, a breaking ball, one high and outside (I like baseball)... and I swung like a girl.
My lack-luster imagination has been blown away at the story that the Lord is writing in my life: the setting, the characters, the adventures, and the trials. And more than anything else, as someone who prides myself in being able to see beauty in the muck and the mire, to find the diamond in the rough, even I am anxiously anticipating what He is leading me to because at present, I'm having a hard time getting my vision to focus.
About a week ago, while out to dinner with my roommate and friend, I verbalized something that I had stifled for a while. I feel like a personified Catch 22. Here's why.
*Disclaimer: The following is really really honest and raw... I'm just saying*
I've never dated anyone. I've been on dates; few of which were ever seconds. I've never been in a dating relationship with someone though. And sure, there are "pros" to that I suppose, or say people say. No baggage. No drama. No heartbreak recovery.
I was recently talking to a friend of mine and when were describing the kind of guys we were praying for, and one thing we both mentioned was that we hoped that they were "experienced." Experienced in the sense of, they knew exactly what they wanted, they knew exactly where they were going, and they knew how they were going to get there. All of this "knowing" obviously referring to their imaginary relationship with us, their love-at-first-sight girlfriends. (feel free to laugh here... we did)
That's when it dawned on me. I don't bring that to the table. I don't have any experience. I don't know what I want in a relationship, I don't know where I am going in a relationship, and I don't know how to get the undeclared destination. I realized that all those things that I am looking for, (a) I don't possess and (b) would most likely be wanted by the guy, right? It's only fair.
So, if you follow the cyclical but irrational, reasoning, then you could probably determine that I came to the conclusion that no one will date me if I have not dated, but the only way in which for me to gain any understanding of the dating world is in fact to date. Round and round I go.
Back to the table at which I shared all of this with my roommate. The look on her face broke my heart. She literally heard me say that I had come to terms with giving up hope on ever changing my relationship status. Her eyes began to water; her chin quivered, and suddenly a single, lonely tear trickled down her freckled cheek. And with soft, genuine, and determined voice she said to me:
"Meredith, I wish you knew how much the Lord loves you. How enthralled He is by your beauty, your heart, and the way that you think, love and laugh. I was praying for you the other day and was overwhelmed to the point of tears at His zealous joy and jealousy over you. He revealed to me His passion for you and it is big."
Then I started to tear up. I know Sunday School teachers tell kids that all the time, but at some point, I guess with age and bills, that fantasy begins to fade. It becomes diluted and categorized into a fairytale because, let's be honest, it seems childish.
But I believed her. And I believe Him, wholeheartedly. She went on to say that the desire of my heart for a relationship and a husband was there because He put it there. It is purposed. And when He fulfills it, in His timing, praise and honor and glory will all be for the Lord, because He is faithful. He works all things together for good: that means singleness is good for something, just like every other stage or season of life.
I was in a wedding this last weekend. It's becoming somewhat of a hobby. A really expensive hobby.
It was my first military wedding. A friend that I met at Compassion International married an incredible man that graduated from the Air Force Academy a few years ago. It was perhaps the most beautiful, exquisite, elegant, and timeless wedding I have ever been too. "Stylish, yet classic. Lavish, but tasteful. Cheap, but expensive." (from the movie Sabrina with Harrison Ford)
The best part of the three day event was the moment that the french doors opened at the end of the impossibly long aisle to reveal the bride. This part I will never forget.
As she walked slow and steady towards him, the groom was utterly fixated, completely focused on this beautiful woman, clothed in glowing white. His shaky smile was boyishly endearing, and the tears that trickled down his face simply illuminated his pure love for her. I will never forget that look because it is what I hope to walk toward in the future.
And there, on the alter, as I witnessed two people commit to love one another above all else, a subtle hope returned for my own story. A hope that I thought perhaps had evaporated with faulty rational and shady logic.
My roommate's testimony of how the Lord revealed to her His love for me is not the first I have heard. Several other friends I have, who's walk with God is something I aspire to, have told me on numerous occasions that the Lord has told them how much He loved me. How He adored me and how big His plans were for me.
So, while I wait for the next chapter, single or not, my primary prayer is that, in the same way He keeps telling everyone else, I want Him to tell me, in my ear, in my heart those same truths.
And He will... I just need to shut up and listen.
Over and out.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Before you think that I am some sort of bitter, cynical, recently burned young professional who graduated without an engagement ring (an uncommon occurrence at my Alma Mater), I'm not. I'm just saying it seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life right now. And I'm OK with that.
I love "love" actually. I'm a HUGE fan. I'm fairly confident that if you met me in person and we could sit down and catch up over a cup of coffee, you would come to the conclusion that I was the biggest, sappiest most hopeless romantic you had ever met. And I would take it as a compliment.
So the fact that the subject of love has been somewhat saturating and all encompassing doesn't bother me in the slightest. It actually inspires all sorts of new thoughts, ideas, dreams, and truths that bring an extraordinary amount of joy and freedom.
Here's an example: I saw a romantic comedy this evening and, for all intents and purposes, it was the same as every other romantic comedy. I think most men would agree with me when I say that they are all the same: predictable, really cheesy, and completely unrealistic.
Whatever. I still like them.
In this particular movie, the main characters were in no way, shape, or form attracted to one another in the beginning. They loathed each other as a matter of fact. Long story short, the more time they spent together and began to see the root of why personality quirks and character flaws were what they were, an intense understanding, empathy and bonding formed. And of course, they fell in love and when unavoidable circumstances took the girl away from they guy, he did everything to find her, declare his love and sweep her off her feet.
Same song, second verse.
For whatever reason though, I discovered something new about myself that I was surprised by. I think that, in the middle of watching this ridiculous film, I came up with something I want to be able to say about/to the man that I marry... someday.
"I would rather be driven crazy because of you then be sane without you."
Ok, now for a bigger revelation that I feel like the Lord opened the eyes of my heart to see recently.
I'm willing to bet the most famous love story would be that of Romeo and Juliet. Written and rewritten countless times and in countless variations throughout generations. It is the one story that seems to be the foundation for most movie and novel plots if you really think about it. If ever there are two characters in love, there always seems to be an outside force trying to keep them apart.
Give it up to William Shakespear for leaving his mark on world literature. Romeo and Juliet is unparalleled. Love has never been made to feel more real or more jaded. What woman, or person for that matter, can read it and not be able to identify with a character? Who has never been at odds with their family? Who has never yearned and longed for such an unbridled, pure and passionate love? Call me crazy, but is there not something in every heart, every soul, that knows that there is a love, a relationship, and a communion with another soul that they were meant to partake in? Is there not something about the selfless and reckless abandon to love someone more than yourself that is so innately intoxicating it can not be stifled, despite our efforts?
I dare say there is.
In a moment of daydreaming, it dawned on me: I'm Juliet.
And my Romeo is God Himself.
From a different family; another world that collided with mine when he abdicated His throne for me. Ignoring the questions and silencing the lies, he has pursued me. He has sought me out among the scoffers, the pious religious elect, and those who's bloodlines would be far more worthy and right for such a calling; for such a union.
He saw me and loved me in that moment; at first sight. His untamed love and fervent pursuit of me has filled in me something I did not know was empty, thus creating a longing and desire only for that which He offers. Nothing else is needed nor is anything else desired. What He has freely and graciously showed me and bestowed upon me is unlike anything I have seen, felt, heard, or experienced in my years here; in a broken and despairing world where love has no standard of measure. It is simply an accessory.
But where there is such romance, there is war. War for my time, attention, affection, and life. The Enemy is at odds against me. He is jealous over me not because he loves me, but because he hates Romeo. And what Romeo seeks to save, the Enemy would seek to destroy.
I am unable to save myself. I am not strong enough or equipped to fend off the onslaught of lies that would tell me all the reasons that Romeo and I can not be. I have a hard time believing it myself some days. So the constant reminders of my downfalls, shortcomings, and lack of breeding takes it toll and I grow tired of trying to fight back.
It's really not even my battle.
But Romeo: the embodiment of strength, truth, love, and salvation, layed down his life in order to ransom mine. What I could not do, He did... for love. For a burning love of me.
And where the story would end in our realm, continues in His. Defeating death, conquering the grave, and overcoming those things that would keep me from him, I have now run away with him.
I escaped the lies; I was rescued from death. I was delivered from a loveless life.
I was saved.
And now, that love which first so captivated me and drew me in has flooded me completely and is teaching me, allowing me, to love the same way; to be fully alive. I never knew I wasn't living, I didn't know I had not experienced love and life until Him. Until Romeo redeemed me from the dark.
What your professors will never tell you is that Shakespear was the first to plagiarize.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Ok, slight exageration.
I have thoughts. A lot actually. Lately, they just seem short and obscure, or sometimes so simple that to admit that I have only now just come to understand them would be embarrassing. And yet, not getting them "out"or processing them outside of my own head drives me crazy. So instead of writing, I have been talking to almost anyone who will listen to everything that I am thinking about. And I am exhausted.
And this week I realized why.
For starters, the most obvious reason for my exhaustion and resulting "writer's block" is that I have simply over-talked, over-thought, and over-analyzed every situation, circumstance, conversation, glance, and all other forms of verbal or physical communication. And I'm really good at it. I can break down just about anything. I disect nearly everything, trying to find the root, the purpose, the metaphor, the allusion, the meaning, the spiritual context of any encounter with a friend or a stragner, a thought that popped up out of nowhere, or emotional reaction that is uncharacteristic.
To be in a constant state of analysis and observation, from the inside out is neither productive, beneficial, or I dare say healthy. I don't think I am a mental case, though some may argue, but I do think that I need to learn to let go, relax, and just "roll with it." Why that is so against my natural state is beyond me because my parents and my brother are all this way. They are all strangers to worry, stress, or over exageration of thought, so it seems not to be genetic... it's just me. Thus, I am often a source of comic relief to them. We all have our roles I guess.
This week brought some much needed enlightenment though. During my quiet time one morning, I read out of Streams in the Desert, a personal favorite.
I implore you not to give into despair. I tis a dangerous temptation,
because our Advesary has refined it to the point that it is quite subtle.
Hopelessness constricts and withers the heart, rendering it unable to sense
God's blessings and grace. It also causes you to exagerate the adversitites of
life and make your burdens seem to heavy for you to bear. Yet God's plans for
you, and His ways of bringing about His plans, are infinitely
The italized part is what hit home for me. The more I talked about life in general, everydays happenings, questions, etc. the bigger they became, the more insurmountable they appeared to be, and the more out of control my life felt. And, to a certain degree, I did begin to despair. Because in my mind I felt like a failure. I couldn't answer every question. I expecially could not answer every question with a really deep and spiritually proufound Christian answer. I simply shrugged my shoulders. Then, suprisingly, my despair turned into a desperation for direction, truth, and wisdom that would pull me out of this apparent slump, this foreign land of "Uhh, I don't know."
"When will I have it all figured out? How much longer until I know everything so that I won't have to worry about not knowing anyting?"
To be desperate for the Lord is good, yes. But my desperation wasn't one of healthy hunger. It was a desperate plea for salvation and deliverance from what I have now discovered is simply the faith journey. And what I couldn't see then was and is the beauty of the mystery of a really really big God. The instrinsic and almost romantic way that the Lord keeps things hidden, covered, and tanalizing so that we continue after Him, yearn for Him, and wait on Him to do what He does best: be God. Be sovereign, be perfect, and most importantly be endlessly overflowing with grace and patience.
I called my dad in the midst of my inner turmoil. To know my dad is to know more about the Lord; to hear wisdom and to see sanctification. I always call him on matters of the spirit. His response didn't take effect until a few days later when I sat still long enough to ponder it as opposed to continuing the spiritual running/striving that had been wearing me out. He, in a simple yet eloquent way, reminded me that God is infinitely patient and infinitely merciful. There is nothing that we can do to earn His love or be granted His forgiveness. It just is. It is lavished upon us and to not accept it ( the way I discovered I wasn't) opens wide the door for the enemy and his firey arrows. To essentially say "Hey God, thanks for the offer, but it's just too easy, I'm gonna go ahead and decline and then try to make up for it on my own," is well... real stupid.
Needless to say, I am paying more attention to resting; sitting still and letting Him do what He wants. Because here's the thing: He only wants what is best for us and what is best for us is what will bring glory and honor to Him. It is all about Him, always. What we do, who we are, where we go is always and only about and for the praise and worship of Christ. That is what is best for us because it is for that very thing for which we were created.
What I am finding is it will be a natural outflow of myself, my mind, my spirit, my thoughts, my desires, and my heart if I will simply stop trying to make it happen. In my attempt to produce in my own strenght, I actually negate it. Ooops.
So hands off, Mere. The course has already been set. Open wide your eyes, let go of the reigns and enjoy the ride.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
There we go. Moving on.
"Why has it felt so long?"
Funny you should ask... Reader.
The last two weeks have been somewhat of a spiritual "funk" for me. Not necessarily bad... just not great. Still. Quiet. A little awkward honestly.
For starters, after moving into a new apartment (shout out to the folks for lending a LARGE helping hand) I was emotionally and physically exhausted. I don't know what it is about moving, transition, change, etc. that is so hard on me. I hate it. I hate going from comfortable routine, predictability, and familiarity to ... not those things. I hate quickly and suddenly losing those things because I am forced realize that I crafted a small but very secure identity in those things. To lose them is to lose myself. I don't like starting over from scratch. What then am I left with? I don't like uprooting. To dig another set of roots takes time and well… I’m busy. Perhaps more truthfully, I make myself busy because I inwardly know that where my time, energy and focus goes is not where it should.
Change just doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel natural. It's not fun.
Exhaustion for me typically turns into an “entire being” issue. Here’s what I mean. When I don’t get enough rest physically, I lose my ability to concentrate well. I lose focus easily, which then creates stress because I become overwhelming aware of my “offness” and I am just sure that everyone around me is appalled at my humanity. Then the water-works start. While I may be an emotional person, very rarely do I express it through tears. Some doubt my tear ducts even work. My mother has in fact made the statement (semi-seriously) that she thinks I’m heartless because she hasn’t seen me cry in ….*counting in my head*… a long time.
Needless to say, a few consecutive nights with little sleep typically ends in a meltdown and a blubbering call to Mom asking her to fly me home.
I didn’t quite round all the bases of this routine, but I did make it far enough to compromise my time with the Lord; I did get tired and distracted enough that I let me guard down just long enough to vulnerable.
Like clock work, I began to question everything from my performance at work to the solidity of my closest friendships; from my ability to do any job anywhere (because I was sure I would get fired) to ever really knowing where I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to be doing with my life, ever.
Same song, second verse. Been here, gone through this a time or twelve. And yet, it caught me by total surprise and had me completely unraveled. I couldn’t believe I was back here, dealing with, fighting off, and thinking twice about the unoriginal lies that I had heard more times than I’d like to count.
Sunday morning rolled around and I fled to church. I wanted to be nowhere else. I wanted nothing other than sanctuary.
It was the refreshing and renewal I needed. Worship was poignant, saturating my parched spirit; the message was simultaneously comforting and challenging. Then, in the midst of the moment, I felt an urge of holiness. “Lord, please reveal to me my sin; show me what it is that it holding me back from pressing forward into you. Break my heart. Strip me and make it clear what the hindrances are that are blocking my path to you.
Sure enough, He heard. Then He answered. Awesome.
Turns out I’m more screwed up then I had anticipated. And instead of immediately being relieved that He answered my prayer so quickly and clearly, I become almost instantly discouraged and horribly flooded with guilt.
“Good night nurse! All of that Lord? All those things? That big, fat, massive, list…? Those are my sins? Those are the things that are setting up road blocks to you? Need I remind you of my delicate emotional state? I was irrational when I asked you to reveal my sin. You should have known that this would be more than I can handle. I mean honestly.”
Instead of divine sympathy, He gave me a verse. Again, not really what I wanted, but given my desperation I looked it up.
2 Corinthians 7:10 “Godly grief brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…”
Huh. That’s a good one. I feel pretty grieved at the moment… and yeah, turns out I do want to repent. I would like to repent and be reintroduced with fresh eyes to the truth and power of the free gift of your salvation. And while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and leave my large load of guilt by the curb. Yeah, good call God.
As I read and reread the verse, stunned that I really heard from the Lord so directly, I discovered something that caused me to pause.
“Godly grief.” M’what? Sorry, but when is grief a “Godly” attribute. Why would God grieve? You lost me.
Then, in the same way as before, as if He were sitting right in front of me predicting my next question like a chess player predicts his opponents next move, He said “Isaiah 53.”
*flip flip flip*
Isaiah 54:3- “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief… 4Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…”
Oh yeah. You were fully human once. You were tempted. Probably a little more so than I will ever be, so I take it you know how it feels. You were separated from your Heavenly Father but were still in perfect communion with Him…so yeah, you probably had moments/days that you felt a little off. And then, the big one, you lived as a man in a fallen world. A really imperfect, messy, overwhelmingly sinful world in which you were the only one of your kind; hardly conducive for being able to relate to anyone else. You were alone.
Can’t say that I’ve been there.
And then, the truth of His Word began to sink in; He has walked where I am barely crawling. He has faced and defeated the same lies, deceit, and fears that have clouded my vision. He does know how I feel, what I’m thinking, and just how tumultuous my emotions are. He is Himself an emotional God. How then could we not be emotional? Reactive? Impacted by our circumstances and surroundings.
I loved how an author put it recently. In Genesis we are told that God created man in “His own image.” Basic, 1st grade Sunday school material. Not earth shattering by any stretch of the imagination. But it dawned on me that God’s image is not a mere reflection of His outer appearance. He is a spiritual and emotional being; filled with love, joy, peace, patience, etc. Those attributes and characteristics are hardly tangible things. Rather they are instilled; intrinsically and purposely planted in our souls that we use them for His glory.
My emotional outpourings are reflections of the Lord in and of themselves. When I am hurt, He hurts. In the same way, as a believer, when I see or hear something that mocks my God, I am burdened because it burdens His heart.
What an extraordinary and intimate relationship! What a phenomenal way that He would reveal more of Himself. What an incredibly close way to draw us nearer to Himself, than to allow us the privilege to feel the feelings of His heart.
So I came to the conclusion that, whatever my emotional reaction to the moment, person, etc., it creates an opportunity for me to draw closer to the heart of God. To see Him more clearly, to know Him more dearly, and to follow Him more nearly.
And it might be a little overwhelming, but that only opens the door then for Him to overwhelm me with more of Himself.
Monday, April 27, 2009
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