But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

He answered, “I will be with you; and this shall be your proof that it is I who have sent you: when you bring my people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this very mountain.”

Exodus 3:11-12

Have you ever spoken the words, “Prove it”?

Has anyone ever demanded it of you?

What answers were acceptable in that situation? Usually, when someone challenges you to prove something, you have to produce evidence. History. Documentation. Indisputable logic.

According to Merriam-Webster, proof is “the cogency of evidence that compels acceptance by the mind of a truth or a fact” or maybe “something that induces certainty or establishes validity.” An older use of the word is “the quality or state of having been tested or tried.”

In Geometry, a proof takes you step by step from a given statement to a new discovery. In physical science, proof is the result of testing, a meaning that we still retain for things like alcoholic content, which is known only by the test it undergoes.

Always, always the word carries a meaning of demonstration through evidence.

Now let’s look at that passage in Exodus again. When I read this recently, those words from God jumped out at me, and I couldn’t quite square them. Moses questions whether he can do the task assigned to him, and God’s answer is “I’ll be with you. And I’ll prove it to you–you’ll come back here and worship me.”

Now, if anyone but God had said this, I’d frown and say, “Yeah, um, that’s not proof.” It contains no reasoning. No logic. No step-by-step deduction. At best, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy–of course Moses would bring them back to Horeb (aka Sinai) to worship, because God just said he would. Right?

Clearly I was missing something. And the question hounded me all day. Answers flitted into and out of my mind as I went about my tasks; first I’d think, “Oh, of course!” and then an hour later I’d go, “What was that again? I’ve lost it.” I’m still not sure what I thought I’d come up with at the time…but as I continued to contemplate the question over the next several days, something settled in my heart.

God swears only by Himself, because there is no greater thing in the universe to swear by. God will occasionally appease us when we ask for proof, yes, but a wet or dry fleece is a pretty silly little thing, right? When He’s telling us to do something, when He’s inviting us to walk beside Him into our destiny, to change the course of a nation, of history, or just of our own lives, He can offer visible, logical proof.

But sometimes…often…He offers something far better. Something far bigger. Something far less easily comprehended by our finite minds.

He offers Himself.

The proof, my friends, is the promise.

When God is speaking to Moses this first time, the ultimate proof He gives is the very promise it follows: I will be with you. I will lead you. And you’ll know it, because I’m going to lead you right back to where you started. You’ll know it because I’m not just calling my people to freedom. I’m calling them to worship.

That was the promise–that was the proof. When asked for evidence, the best, biggest, and deepest form of it is worship.

Maybe that makes little sense to us, but think about it in context. The Israelites had been living in Egypt for hundreds of years. We know from other Scripture passages that most Israelites worshiped the gods of Egypt, and if a few remembered the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it was an imperfect knowledge. Few, if any, understood what that meant. What He demanded. How to serve Him. It’s no coincidence that all the Laws handed down had the common theme of setting yourselves apart. No mixing. No blending. Purity must saturate their lives, inside and out. Necessary instruction because it WASN’T how they were living.

Hundreds of thousands of people serving Egypt, its gods, and themselves…hundreds of thousands of people that had no knowledge or respect of Moses…hundreds of thousands of people that ached for freedom as much as they feared it.

To those people, through that unknown man, God promised something unheard of. You will all worship me here, in one place. How? Because I am with you.

Gods weren’t known for walking by humanity’s side in the ancient days. Gods were capricious. Demanding. Fickle. Cruel. Gods promised success to those who worshipped them right without knowing the rules.

The Lord showed Himself to be different. He promised worship through the rules because He loves us and is moved by our cries.

This isn’t geometric. It isn’t logical. It isn’t evidentiary.

It’s something better. It’s God coming down. Igniting a fire without burning us up. Calling out to us where we least expect Him, when we’re just going about our work. Charging us with a task we know we can’t do, and promising that we will do it, because He is with us. And we’ll know it’s true, because He’ll meet us there.

His proof isn’t just what has come before–it’s what will come when we obey.

His proof is His promise. And we learn it only by obeying the call.

Read More
Thoughtful Posts

Themes for Seasons

Themes for Seasons

I know we’ve all had this experience. Something’s on our mind or jumps out at us somewhere…and then we keep smacking into it again and again and AGAIN.

Sometimes it can be bad things, things we’d rather not be reminded of over and over. When we’re in seasons of grief, all the reminders of the loved one we lost can be heavy and hard. When we’re under stress from something in particular, that something shows up everywhere. When we’re dreading something, it surrounds us.

Sometimes the repeated message is one of encouragement, lifting us up day after day when we need it most. Speaking the same edifying words into our spirits day after day, hour after hour, from different sources and different mouths, but always with the same message. Maybe it’s a reminder that we’re loved…or that we’re seen…or that He’s there with us, we’re not alone. Maybe it’s encouragement to press on, to persevere, to run the race with endurance.

Often, in my life at least, I run into specific themes…themes for seasons. Sometimes they speak directly to whatever I’m going through, sure–and sometimes they alert me to something I know I need to pay attention to. Or sometimes I’m pretty sure I just begin to notice what’s already, always surrounding me. Those are fun too.

In the last month or so, I’ve been bumping into a lot of themes that speak to God being the God of the depths and the heights, of sea and of air, heaven and earth. How He calms the waves and the wind, silences the storm, and rescues us in our distress. Why have these jumped out at me? Well, because I’m playing around with a story that leans heavily on these natural elements as themes. There were so many mentions of them in my monthly devotional book though that I stashed the June edition with my research books to draw on whenever I’m writing this story. I literally just opened it to a random page just now and saw this from Psalm 107

Some sailed to the sea in ships
to trade on the mighty waters.
These men have seen the Lord’s deeds,
the wonders he does in the deep.

For he spoke; he summoned the gale,
raising up the waves of the sea.
Tossed up to heaven, then into the deep;
their soul melted away in their distress.

They staggered, reeled like drunken men,
for all their skill was gone.
Then they cried to the Lord in their need
and he rescued them from their distress.

He stilled the storm to a whisper:
all the waves of the sea were hushed.
They rejoiced because of the calm
and he led them to the haven they desired.

These words jumped out at me first because I thought, “Oh hey, I can use these as quotes to start my chapters and sections!” Always the writer, LOL. But they resonate for a far deeper reason.

They resonate because even though I’m not a sailor, even though I’ve never really even been on a ship, even though I’m never in the middle of the sea, beset by literal storms, crying out to God for a very physical deliverance, I still get it. We all do.

Because we’ve all had seasons of life when we feel adrift on an endless sea. When the storms come upon us, and all our strength fails. We all have seasons in life when all our skill, all our talent, all our abilities fail us. We can’t do it anymore. We can’t win against forces so much stronger than us. We can only cry out to God.

And that’s all we have to do. Because God will rescue us. He’s there. He’s not only there, He has the power. The power to calm our storms to a mere whisper. The power to reduce the waves that would swamp us to a mother’s comforting shush. The power to pull us out of the depths and deliver us to a safe harbor.

We’ve all been there, or will be. That’s why Psalm 107 still matters to us today, even when we’re landlocked lubbers. And maybe it’s also why trips to the coast are my favorite–where I can see the vastness of this world stretching out to the horizon. See the minuscule grains of sand beneath my feet. And know that my God is the God of the infinite, in both directions. He is the God of the universe, the galaxy, the solar system, the world, the sea. He is the God of the grains and the crystals and the cells and the molecules and the atoms and the sub-atomic particles. The God of the nano and the macro. The biggest and the smallest. Nothing is outside His power, even when it is so, so outside my own.

That’s a big part of what I want to explore in this story I’m playing with. And it matters, because it’s a big part of the theme for this season of my life.

What’s the theme of your season? What words have you come across over and over again these past weeks or months? What resonates deep in your spirit and speaks to your heart today?

Read More
Thoughtful Posts

The Water Before Us

The Water Before Us

Last week, the story of Hagar and Ishmael made its way into my reading. Like most other tales from Genesis, it’s so familiar that my eyes sometimes glaze over when I get to it. “Yeah, yeah,” I think to myself. “I know. They got kicked out, ran out of water, angel shows her a well…”

Which is why I stared at those familiar words a good long time last week when something jumped out at me that never had before, despite the dozens of times I’ve read this story.

So she put the child down under a shrub, and then went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away; for she said to herself, “Let me not watch to see the child die.” As she sat opposite Ishmael, he began to cry.

God heard the boy’s cry, and God’s messenger called to Hagar from heaven: “What is the matter, Hagar? Don’t be afraid; God has heard the boy’s cry in this plight of his. Arise, lift up the boy, and hold him by the hand; for I will make of him a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water, and then she let the boy drink.

Genesis 21:15-19 (emphasis mine)

You can tell from the bold words here what jumped out at me this time. God opened her eyes, and SHE SAW A WELL OF WATER. He didn’t send that angel to touch a rock or the earth and make water spring up where there had been none before. She didn’t discover a hidden stream. She suddenly saw a WELL–as in, access to water dug by men. Something that would have been there all along.

Her salvation, her child’s salvation was always right there in front of her. She just couldn’t see it.

This isn’t recounted to us like the story of Pharaoh or even Paul–God didn’t harden her heart or blind her first, then reveal it all to her. She was just a scared mother, tossed out of her home with her son. She’d given him the last of their supplies. They were wandering in the wilderness of Beersheba.

Did she even bother looking around? Or did she just assume, “This is it. Sarah wanted us gone, and we’re gone. Done for. There’s no help for us out here.”

She was defeated. Utterly, totally defeated. So defeated that she didn’t even bother calling out to the God of Abraham for help. Why should she? Abraham was the one who had sent her out here. He had to have known that one skin of water wouldn’t be enough. Maybe she was angry with him. Maybe she was hurt. Or maybe none of that had a chance of lodging in her heart, because it was too full of impending grief.

She didn’t want to watch her child suffer and die.

Think about this for a minute. If I was out in the desert with my child and we were out of water, I’m pretty sure this wouldn’t be my reaction. I would hold him close. I would suffer right there with him. But maybe I’m judging too harshly, actually.

She put him under a bush. The only shade she could find–but bushes aren’t large. Probably not big enough for both of them. My first thought was, “Wow, Hagar, that was selfish–leaving him to die alone while you go away because you can’t stand to watch.” But you know, I could have it all wrong. I think it’s just as likely, more likely, that she gave him the last scrap of mercy she could find in that wasteland. She gave him the last of their water. She gave him the only sliver of shade. She did every last thing she could do.

And then she was out of ideas. Out of power. Out of resources. She knew–she KNEW–that this was it. They were both going to die. And that heartache did her in.

Then Ishmael did something very simple.

He started crying.

Now, let’s take a step back. This narrative reads like she’s toting around a toddler, but we know that Ishmael was ten years older than Isaac, who was himself three or four by now. This isn’t a child. This is a teenager.

A teenager, so weakened by their plight that his mother has to all but carry him. A teenager, a teenage boy who just watched his mother give him their last bit of hope and walk away to die. A teenager whose father had just cast him out of the only home he’d ever known.

He cried. He cried not in the confusion of a toddler, but with the desperation of a fully reasonable near-adult who knew, just as his mother did, that this was the end. He was too weak to crawl out from under that bush. He’d been too weak to crawl under it, she’d had to put him there. He cried. No words. Just the last of his water reserves, dripping from his eyes.

And God heard him. Neither he nor Hagar had cried out to God. But He heard him anyway. He heard him, because He’d never taken his attention off that abandoned mother and son. He’d told Abraham to obey Sarah’s wishes, knowing full well that He had great things in store for Ishmael too.

Still, He let them wander. He let them get to the end of their ropes. He let them try every…last…thing they could think of. He’d let them use up the last of their resources. He’d let them give up.

Maybe (though I don’t pretend to know the mind of God here!), He waited that extra moment, just to see if they would look beyond their despair to what was there before them the whole time. Or maybe He waited until the last vestiges of pride had fallen away. Maybe they had to be just that desperate before they were ready to hear the voice of an angel. Before they were ready to accept help from the hand of a God they hadn’t even petitioned directly.

The well was there the whole time. There. Just there. It was waiting, right there, as they stumbled to that bush, curled themselves into a ball, and gave up. It was there, right there, when they resigned themselves. It was there when Ishmael let himself cry.

It was there–but it took an act of God for Hagar to see it. It was there–and it was not only the direct answer to the wordless prayer of Ishmael’s cry, it was also the key to that promise, that command, the angel spoke just beforehand. “Arise, lift up the boy, and hold him by the hand; for I will make of him a great nation.”

The words, spoken to a woman blind with despair, could have sounded mocking. They could have sounded impossible. They probably felt unreachable. But then God opened her eyes, and she saw her salvation. She saw how they could take that next step toward a future worth chasing.

If I thought Hagar a little selfish at that abandonment on first glance, the last words of the passage I quoted should have corrected me. She did exactly what any mother would do, after she filled that skin–she gave the water to her son. She filled the skin and brought it directly to him.

How often are we like Hagar and Ishmael in this life? How often do we feel rejected by those who should love and protect us? How often do we feel like we’ve used up the last of our reserves? The last of our ideas? How often does life feel like a wilderness with a glaring, punishing sun and not enough shade?

How often do we do all we possibly can for our children, or our friends, or our spouses, or even ourselves, and KNOW that it isn’t enough? That we can’t save them?

How often does our own despair blind us to the help just a few steps away?

There aren’t always happy endings to our stories, or at least to our chapters. There are tragedies. There is loss. There is grief. There is pain. Sometimes, there really is no well in the wilderness–nothing that will stave off the horrible reality we dread most.

But there is always a God who hears our cries, even when we don’t have the words to direct them to Him. There is always a God watching us, ready to keep His covenant and fulfill His promise.

That doesn’t mean that He will “make a great nation” of each of us. We aren’t all promised prosperity and good health and long life.

But we’re all promised the best reward imaginable when we let Him take us by the hand: being in His presence. And when we’re there, by His side, it isn’t even about relief from the pain and sorrow and tears anymore–it’s about HIM. All about Him. It’s about trusting Him so much that pain and sorrow are understood. Unfathomable to us as finite humans…inescapable in the presence of the divine.

In a sermon I’ll never forget, our pastor said, of heaven, “I don’t want to be there because I’ll be free of pain or reunited with my family. Those are just happy side-effects. I want to be there BECAUSE THAT’S WHERE JESUS IS.” When we’re in His presence, that’s why the other pains and fears fall away. They can’t exist in the light of His face. They’re cast away. Forgotten.

Hagar’s pain, her hopes, her fears, and her entire existence revolved around that boy she tucked under the bush. The boy whose hand the angel instructed her to take. Her son. Her future. Her hope.

Our existence ought to revolve around the Son too. And when we take Him by the hand, we can cling to Him just as He clings to us. Because He is our future. Our hope.

And the wellspring of living water is right before us…if only we open our eyes to see it.

Read More
Thoughtful Posts

Throwback Thursday – Being Good

Throwback Thursday – Being Good

Be good
. It’s a familiar refrain, one we probably say to our children a gazillion times. Whenever we send them off to a friend’s house, or on those days when The Sibling Wars are especially fierce. It’s understood that there are the good things to do and the bad. That those are, to a point, what define us. That it’s by what we’re judged by the people around us, at the least.

And in my ongoing quest to figure out how to be who God wants me to be in this world that seems more intent upon pursuing all the bad things rather than the good, I came across this verse.

“For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
~ I Peter 2:15-17 

In this section, Peter is cautioning people to live a Godly life before the world, abstaining from lusts of the flush and sinful things. Obeying the government. Then these verses above. I’ve no doubt read them quite a few times, but they really struck me the last time I did. Look closely.
By doing good you my put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
What does that mean? It means that our actions speak louder than the words of our enemies, of our detractors. It means that by doing good, doing the will of God, we point to Him, and in the face of it, no one can really say anything bad about us. It means that by being/doing good, we force the other side to bite their tongues. Because how can they argue with what is universally acknowledged as good?
But then it goes on. Let’s examine verse 16. …as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice…
This reminds me of the part in I Corinthians where Paul says, “Look, guys. You’re free from the law. That means all things are lawful for you. But don’t be stupid. It doesn’t mean all things are good for you, that all things are helpful. Act like they are and you’re just going to become a slave to them.” (That’s the Roseanna paraphrase.)
We are free. Yes, absolutely. Faith in Jesus frees us from law, from religion. But we’re still responsible for our actions in the world. And what’s more, people are still watching us. So we don’t want to use freedom as an excuse to do bad things. That’s just stupid. We have to find the balance to strike–embracing the freedom without abusing it. Rejecting the chains of the law, be it the ancient ones that Jesus was arguing with or the ones the church was pretty quick to develop within the first couple hundred years of Christianity–but not betraying the spirit behind all those constricting rules.
And here’s the clincher. …as bondservants of God.
I’ve talked before about what it really means to be a bondservant of God. (Read that post here. It’s one I go back to frequently.) In a nutshell, it means we freely turn our will over to Him. We swear to serve Him for all our lives, and in return we become part of His family, part of His household. A servant, yes, but one beloved by our master and even able to inherit. So if we’re living out our liberty as bondservants of God, then that means EVERYTHING WE DO is for Him. In His interests. What He asks of us.
It means we’re going to show respect to those in authority. We’re going to love our brethren in Christ. We’re going to be good citizens. We’re never going to forget what God can do. We’re going to be good. And because we are, others will see and respect us and love us and seek God. It means that the worst thing people will be able to say about us is that we follow a strange God who doesn’t do the things that the world does, doesn’t worship what the world worships, and leads others to this same God. 
Now that’s a criticism we should all seek to have lobbed at us!

Read More
Thoughtful Posts

Throwback Thursday – Capability

Throwback Thursday – Capability

Originally Published April 2018. It’s amazing to look back over the last 5 years and see how things have shifted and changed. Yet the truth of this message remains. I hope you find some refreshing today.

I’m busy.

This is indisputable fact. I’m writing 6 books in 18 months, I homeschool my kids, I do much of the day-to-day running of WhiteFire Publishing, I design book covers and interior layouts, I cook, I (occasionally) clean, I knit, I’m pianist at my church, I’m a ballet mom, and I teach a class pretty much every semester at our homeschool association. There are days when I’m just so exhausted it’s all I can do to think.
But it’s funny, right? I look back at where I was, say, seven years ago. Only one of my kids needed to be taught. I was working on my first book that would be published by someone else. WhiteFire was only two or three authors other than me. I did no design work. Xoe had just started ballet, so it was only one night a week (now it’s two). We didn’t do Bible study yet at our church. I had no responsibilities in our homeschool group. My house was more of a mess than it is now, and we more often ate canned soup for dinner.
And I felt so overwhelmed. I’m talking, break down in tears because I felt like I couldn’t do it all overwhelmed. My constant prayer was that God would expand my time. That He’d refresh me because I was so drained. That somehow He would do it all for me, because I didn’t think I could.
That’s a familiar refrain in the world. I can’t tell you how many times I hear someone say, “Oh, I could never ______.” Fill in the blank.
I could never homeschool.
I could never write a book.
I could never work from home.
I could never work outside the home.
I could never go into foreign missions.
I could never give that up.
I could never take that on.
I could never . . .
And it’s true, you know? We can’t just do everything. Especially not on our own. But with friends, with family, with our churches, and most importantly, with God, we can be equipped to do exactly what He calls us to do. No more…but no less.
But how often do we let our fears, insecurities, and laziness interfere with that call? How often do we give up on or not even attempt to do that thing God has whispered in our ear because we don’t think we can?
Back when Xoe was in kindergarten, I was seriously considering giving up on this whole homeschool thing. I didn’t think I could anymore. I couldn’t write and teach and take care of a toddler all at the same time. That was that time of overwhelming, when it was all so much, so heavy, that I was just exhausted by it.
Around that time, we had a healing service at our church, led by a Spirit-filled couple visiting from another church in our association. I remember slipping into a pew at the back of the church–so I could slip out again with my toddler if necessary. There weren’t a lot of people there–maybe 15 or 20. I didn’t want to draw attention. But I knew I needed something. I wasn’t sick, but I was tired. Still, I didn’t want to take the time of these guests when there were people there so desperate for a healing touch and me…I was okay. I was fine. I was getting along.
But the husband of the couple came back and slid into the pew in front of me and turned to face me. I’ll never forget what he said. “You don’t need a healing. But you need…something. Right? Refreshing?”
I’m not one for tears, but they filled my eyes at that moment, and I nodded. “I feel so overwhelmed,” I said.
So he prayed for me. He prayed that God would shore me up, that He’d be my strength, that He’d breathe new life into my spirit and refresh me. He sat there for probably ten minutes and talked to me about putting on that Spiritual armor every day–and told me that sometimes wearing it isn’t so we can be on the offensive, but on the defensive. That sometimes he imagines curling up into that armor and hiding in it, as if it’s a turtle shell.
Because when we hide in Him, He takes care of it all.
That evening, something shifted. Maybe I didn’t have a physical illness that needed to be healed, but my spirit needed it. And my spirit received it.
Never, in the intervening seven years, have I ever again felt like I did back then. Oh, I get tired. Exhausted. Frustrated. Overwhelmed. But only physically and mentally. Never spiritually. Thanks to that shift, I kept on homeschooling…and man. I know my kids would have been fine wherever they got their education, but I can’t even count all the amazing moments we would have missed out on had I given it up when it really wasn’t the time for me to step aside from it!
I didn’t feel capable. And maybe I wasn’t. But He was. He is.
With God fighting our battles for us, we can do whatever He asks. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t supposed to be. The thing is, it’s possible. We become capable, in Him, of doing the things we are not capable of doing by ourselves.
I really can’t tell you what changed that day in that back pew of my church. I can just tell you that the things that exhausted me then are but a portion of my daily tasks now. We get used to burdens until they don’t feel like burdens anymore–that’s part of it. The weight that it took all our effort to lift when we first started our training becomes easy over time if we keep working our muscles, right? The same goes in life. In our tasks. In our callings. In our spiritual lives.
I’m not saying busy is the best state to always be in. And I’m not saying there aren’t still plenty of things that I have to say “No” to or delegate to someone else. I’m certainly no Superwoman.
But we’re never asked to do the things He calls us to alone. We’re just asked to step up, be willing, and follow in His footsteps.

Do you ever struggle with feeling capable of doing what you need or want to do?

Read More
Thoughtful Posts

When We’re Seen

When We’re Seen

I was in fourth grade. I can still see the classroom, I still remember where my desk was. It was recess time, but it was too cold (or maybe rainy?) to go outside, so we were playing an indoor game. Only, I didn’t feel like it. So I sat down at my desk and put my head on my arms. I remember my teacher, Mrs. Canon, coming over to me and pressing a hand to my forehead. “Are you not feeling well, sweetie?”

“I’m okay,” I said. “I’m just tired. When I get tired, I start to feel sick.”

Mrs. Canon smiled. “In this case, I think you’re tired because you’re sick. You feel a little warm. Let’s go to the office and call your mom, okay?”

I remember the emotions that surged in my little 9-year-old heart at that. At realizing that maybe it was something real, maybe I needed more than a good night’s sleep. I remember being so grateful that this teacher I loved had taken time out to check on me, to walk me down to the office of our primary school while the other kids threw the beanbag around the circle. I remember the compassion in the receptionist’s eyes as she dialed my home phone number for me and handed me the phone.

And I remember breaking to pieces when I heard my mom’s voice. She asked me what was wrong. I told her I was sick. And I started crying. Not because I was that sick–it was just the flu, gone in a few days. No, I wasn’t crying because of how I felt in my body. I was crying because of how I felt in my heart.

These women, these women who took care of me day and night, cared. They saw the truth of me, even when I didn’t. And they helped. My mom was at the school in a matter of minutes, taking me home and tucking me onto the couch with a movie and a blanket. I don’t actually remember that particularly, I just know it’s what she always did. Because that’s what love does. And that’s what our hearts always need.

A couple weeks ago, I was having a bad week. Though usually I’m an ace at leaving the worry to God and putting my nose to the grindstone, that week it just wasn’t working for me. It all felt like too much. Or rather, like not enough. Like no matter how hard we worked, we were always going to come up short. I spent hours that week walking or jogging or swinging and just pouring my heart out to God. And I know He heard me, because I know He always does. I just didn’t feel it.

I’m a bit of a stoic. I can admit that. Sharing my feelings doesn’t come naturally to me when I’m in the grip of them, even with my husband. One of the reasons I knew we were meant for each other was that he seemed to understand, even when we were teens, that if he let me hold my silence, I’d hold it indefinitely. Instead, he made me talk. Open up. Share what I was feeling, even–especially–when I didn’t want to. But if left to my own devices, I just button my lips to anyone but God and adopt the “suck it up, Buttercup” mentality.

I don’t know why. It’s just who I am. Who I’ve always been. I would rather put my head down on my arms at my desk and suffer in silence than let anyone know I’m not feeling well.

When I was a kid, I could count on someone noticing. My teachers, my mom, my grandmother. They always knew. They always asked.

As an adult, it’s different. Sure, my husband will notice, but sometimes he’s right there in the same storm with me. So if I need to talk about it with someone who isn’t, that’s on me. And, for me, that’s hard.

It was Thursday by the time I finally reached out to my best friend–having been in this particular funk since the previous Friday night. A week of just crying out to God and feeling like I was banging my head against a wall. So finally, I answered her “How’s your day going?” question with the truth. “Not great. I’m stuck in my head…”

I talked it through with her (on chat, so typed it through, I guess). And she saw me. She understood. She’s been there. And just having that conversation broke through the dam.

My teacher, my mom back in fourth grade…they didn’t make it better. Their attention and love didn’t make the flu go away. But it made me better, in my heart. And the same is true now. Being seen and understood by a friend doesn’t solve the problem of circumstances–but it solves the problem of my heart.

And it reminded me of why I’d felt like God wasn’t doing anything: Because He moves through His Church. He shows His love not just through the familiar Words of Scripture (though He uses that, without question!), not just through mental reminders. He shows His love through the people who love Him. Through His family. When kids snuggle up in their parents’ laps for comfort, it’s an echo of what we’re always called to do. To curl up in the security of God’s loving family, knowing that we’ll help each other, see each other, understand each other because He loves us.

But we have to take that step. We have to open up. Be vulnerable. We have to cry out to each other, not only to the Lord. He hears us, yes. He will answer. But many, many times His answer comes through His people. And while He nudges them to reach out to us, often that comes as a question. “Hey, how are you doing? How’s your day?” And we have to be brave enough, vulnerable enough, to answer.

This is something I struggle with, time and again. I think I inherited my English ancestors’ stiff upper lip to a rather debilitating degree, LOL. It’s part of my nature–a part that can be helpful in the short run, when it’s a passing thing, but which I’m still learning to overcome too. Because I need to be seen and understood, as surely now as when I was nine.

I shy away from it because it breaks me a little, and I don’t like to break. I feel weak when I break. But that’s how I’m made stronger too–through those relationships, and through the faith that reminds me that it’s only in my weakness that I can let God be strong for me.

It’s only when we let others really see us that our hearts can receive His healing touch.

Read More
Thoughtful Posts