Do it again!

Seasons have a way of slipping by so fast that I barely have time to catch my breath before the next one comes and goes. In spite of all the new things and changes, this spring and summer has had a rhythm and theme that I think may become a part of my life for longer than a season.

I have thought a lot about dreams this year. And resurrection. Yes, I know that Easter has come and gone, but the message of Easter has been in my mind and heart ever since.

Sometimes I think God takes our best dreams and gifts and thwarts them on purpose. Ever had those times in life where it seemed like every time you turned around something new and horrible happened until you feel like shaking your fist at heaven and yelling,

"Do you see me down here? I am not able to accomplish anything besides make a grand mess. Everything I try dies!"

And the reply I hear is "That's the point. Let it die."

"What?"

It is a fact that a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die before it can grow and produce much more wheat. If it never dies, it will never be more than a single seed. - John 12:24 (ERV)

Yeah. He wanted me to let go of those dreams and gifts that I had. Burry them. Leave them there to freeze in the loneliness of a long and harsh winter soul season. And trust Him. Every now and then I would remind God that nothing was happening, absolutely nothing. At all. I felt numb and frozen inside. The joy was gone. I felt worthless. Forgotten. I felt like I was the seed in the ground freezing and dying.

The truth is that pain ends. Pain ends. Spring comes. But by the time spring came around I had forgotten about what my dreams looked like. Circumstances had changed, the context for everything I had hoped and planned for was gone. It was useless even trying to reconstruct anything. I felt bitter and hard inside, and I still didn't understand. I felt hopeful that God maybe had a plan, but I couldn't pick up the threads from before. So I hung in limbo, swinging back on forth on a tight rope hung between the walls of the grave of what had been. Some days it seemed like there was progress made, other days the crashing waves of my world still in storm sucked everything under. 
Then, one day it ended. The storm ended. The only dreams I had then were to find a quiet place to process alone with God. 

"What does this mean? What are you doing? Do you see the mess I am? 
Am I still valuable without the gift you gave me? Do you see how ugly I have become?"

God didn't seem to have a whole lot to say, but he showed me his kindness.

I've read that it is good to learn to suffer well. I did not suffer well. I allowed my bitterness and the lies of the storm to redefine who I thought I was. They ruined part of me, most importantly my perception of myself, my life, and God. In spite of myself,  I learned a lot. After struggling through the process of forgiving God for not doing the things I thought he should have done, I was able to see more clearly. 

I picked up the next practical thing, which was school. I no longer had a plan for what things would look like after school. I doubted my ability to create good music anymore. The lyrics got stuck somewhere between my heart and head and sat there like a heavy lump in my throat. The melodies sounded dreary and tired. 

Between the panic attacks about deadlines, school was fun. But it was a struggle. Time management was difficult. By the end of May this year I was burned out. I was excited about what God was doing. He had come for my heart and I could feel energy returning. Opportunities were knocking. But I was so tired. I moved to Wooster, closer to people, to church, to friends, to the music store. I found a job at a cafe. Familiar, mostly easy. Close to home. But they wouldn't give me the hours they promised.

For six weeks I slept, did school, did my few hours of work, hung out with friends, worked out at the gym, and spent time with God. The numbness melted away and I became aware of a deep, aching hunger inside. My focus began to shift from what I needed to do to succeed, to pursuing God's heart in it all. I would end the days completely exhausted from all of the stretching and learning both inside and out. I hated Crossfit, but knew I needed to be there. I had no idea what I was doing, it was hard, and I didn't know anybody. After showing up twice and leaving right away I got a text from my coach.

"Hey, get back in there and face your fear. Everyone feels like that at first. It's hard. But I believe in you."

So I walked back in. Did my reps. Somewhere I found the energy not to just do them, but push myself a little further everyday. I would finish completely sore, soaked, and sweaty, but triumphant. I would crawl home, wring out my clothes and hair, shower, eat, and sleep and do it all over again later that week.

Songwriting class came and went. I was able to write the songs that were stuck in my throat.  I sang and recorded them; I sang them out past the lump that was in my throat. They weren't all pretty. They were struggle songs. But in the end I won.

Meanwhile, I had signed up for a two week worship conference in California. This wasn't going to work unless God did something, 18 hours of work a week doesn't exactly provide for anything extra like travel. Miraculously, a way was provided for me to be able to go.

I realized after arriving in California that I knew absolutely nobody at the conference, but I couldn't help but feel like some how even that was orchestrated by God. Here nobody expects me to act dignified and put together. Somehow, I think that was the point.

The first two days at the conference were difficult, but painfully good. Often the first hour of worship seems to be what unglues my heart to hear what God wants to show me the rest of the day. Not being numb anymore, I'm a complete mess when God's love and mercy sinks in. Tears run unchecked down my face, but it doesn't feel shameful, it feels restoring. Gods muchness met me in the middle of my puddle of tears the other morning and I realized the dreams that God had asked me to burry were so much smaller than the ones he really wanted to give me. Holding onto them would have limited me so much.

"You are not your gift."

"What, what do you mean?"

"You are not the sum of the value of your gift. Your gift has nothing to do with your value or your identity. I would still love you the same even if you chose to do something else with your life. You are loved and chosen. That is who you are."

Whoa. That's what I missed for so long.

Cass Langton from Hillsong and Leeland Mooring (from the band Leeland) spoke on Friday about how the gifts that God gives us are meant first for him. Everyone else gets the overflow of those things. Cass Langton spoke about the importance of setting time apart for God, to be refreshed and filled. Rich Langton spoke about the importance of not growing weary of doing good.

"Are you tired of the monotonous everyday? Tired of doing the same good things everyday? Do it again!" 

And I could just hear God's excitement from watching us choose to honor him in the monotonous, the everyday, the ordinary. The school, the laundry, the commute to work, the exhaustion from working out, the hard things. That is worship. All of life is worship. Doing what God asks us to do, cheerfully, even if it's the same things over and over. And over. I can hear him cheering me on.

"Yes, it's hard. But do it again! And again! And again!" 

He can see what it's doing on the inside, even when I can only see the ordinary. I feel so full. And there is still another week to go. I don't know how I'm going to absorb it all. 
I pray God enlarges my capacity, not just for the extraordinary, but for the ordinary too. Do it again, God!

Comments

  1. Sorry, carefreejoy is me, Norma Miller. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  2. ...and it appears my earlier comment did not post! So here goes again! Puddles of joy! You just described so much of my journey! May God bless you in such a huge way you are a total mess when you come home! :D Hugs!

    ReplyDelete

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