Friday, October 22, 2010

"Hey, Johanna..."

     You know when you get a new pair of shoes and you're excited about wearing the new shoes?  You bought them because they stood out on the shelf to you for some reason, they'll go great with that outfit you've been waiting to wear, they even have that great, new shoe smell...(which is much preferred to that "old shoe smell") :-).  Then you get dressed in the morning and when you put on your shoes, you choose the old pair.  The comfortable pair.  The worn-in pair with the sole that fits your foot perfectly.  Because you know you won't come home at the end of the day with blisters or sore feet.  You know what to expect from your old shoes, they've walked with you before...

     I found myself feeling this way last week.  Longing for the comfort of the "old", and feeling like I wanted a break from the "new".  I love the "new"....but sometimes the "new" takes more effort than the "old".  Instead of going to the class I normally go to on Wednesdays, which is specifically for those who are new, I chose the old...the 10-year-old who has known me all his life.  We had dinner and it was lovely. :-)  It's not like me to miss something on The Schedule, I put that in caps because in my orderly brain, once something is on The Schedule, or I'm supposed to do it, it usually takes a lot for me to deviate from the already made plan.  I don't just decide to not go somewhere or to not do something because I don't feel like it.  Last Wednesday though, I just played hooky.  And I think that was ok.  It was rejeuvinating to sit and talk with Sam, who may only be 10, but who was also the only person around me that day who has known me for 10 years.  It was comfortable, and sometimes tired feet need the comfort of old shoes.

     The next evening, the kids and I had stopped for a quick bite to eat after soccer practice and as we were getting ready to leave I hear, "Hey, Johanna..."  My first thought is that surely there's someone else in Chick-fil-a named Johanna because I don't know enough people around here yet to happen to have the coincidence of bumping into one of them while I'm out.  And silly as it may be to say, that's actually one of the harder parts of being "new" the "old", I loved the fact that there weren't very many places I could go without running into someone I knew.  (aside from the times when I might have run out of the house still in my pj's for one reason or another...those were times I didn't mind not seeing anyone I knew)  Anyway, turns out someone had in fact recognized me and was saying hello to me.  Funny how it's sometimes the little things that feel so big just when you need it.  (Thank you, Becky :-))  The little things that continue to make it worth it to keep trying on the new shoes, even walking in them a bit, till they're just as comfortable as the old shoes.  After all, my favorite pair of shoes today were once new as well. :-)

     As wonderful as it is to be known and called by my name by someone who recognizes me when I'm out, how much more amazing when I think about how the God of the universe also knows my name, and calls out to me (Isaiah 45:2-3), desiring that I would acknowledge Him and allow Him to meet my needs perfectly whatever they might be.  And He hasn't just known me a mere 10 years, but even before I was born He knew me! (Psalm 139) He knew what my name would be, where I would be in this very moment, and that it would be He, Himself who would be the perfect fit for everything I lacked.  He doesn't desire that I merely be comfortable, He is my comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3)

     "I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze, and cut through their iron bars.  And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth of secret places, in order that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name." Isaiah 45:2-3

     "O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me...For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb.  I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from Thee, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.  Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.  How precious also are Thy thoughts to me, O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would out-number the sand.  When I awake, I am still with Thee." Psalm 139:1,13-18

     "Blessed be the God and Father, of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."  2 Corinthians 1:3-4


Friday, October 8, 2010

If home is where the heart is...when will my heart realize my body has already moved?

     Last week was difficult.  Tragedy struck those we were once in community with, in the place we used to call "home".  It was an "in your face" kind of reminder that we're sort of in limbo here.  Unable to go back and "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15), unable to share the story here with someone who would know the background and feel the pain as deep. 

     What is to be learned when you balance the truth that we are called to be in close relationship with each other, with the reality that those close relationships don't just happen with a snap of the fingers but take time to grow and develop?  How exactly, does one let go enough of relationships in the past in order to develop new ones with those around them today?  And in the letting go, where is the security and comfort of a good friend found while you wait for the time it takes to develop all over what you already had?  These are all questions I didn't think I'd be asking. 

     We, as a family, have never had such excitement or expectation over a move until this one.  We have moved plenty of times before, but all for seemingly practical reasons...this was impractical...we felt drawn here.  Well, to be fair, my husband was drawn here...I was perfectly content to be bolted to the ground where I stood.  Through both the patience of my Heavenly Father and the husband He gave me, my heart was softened as well and we were able to eagerly anticipate and excitedly plan this next stage of our lives together.  Our kids could not have transitioned more smoothly, which for anyone who has moved with kids knows, this is a major blessing!  The physical place in which we now live and all that surrounds it leaves us wanting for nothing when it comes to our day to day lives here.  The void I feel over leaving such dear friends seems like such an odd contrast to me. 

     The book I'm reading through, "After The Boxes Are Unpacked: Moving On After Moving In" written by Susan Miller, talks about the differences of cherishing and clinging to what was in the past.  I struggled to quite understand how this applied to me, of course I cherish those friends I left behind.  But how am I clinging to them?  If I was clinging to them, wouldn't I have fought against leaving in the first place?  I'm not talking about 6-7 years ago when my husband first brought up the idea of this move...because boy did I fight against leaving anything back then!  I was clinging to anything possible, including the lie that where I find my true security lies without instead of within. 

     Literally, as I type, I feel this idea clarifying itself.  Maybe the clinging is in my desire to find another Elise, another Michelle, another Tara, or Angie, or Scot & Dee, or Brandi, or Janice, or...the list could go on and on because there are so many that God has placed in my life who I have been so blessed to call friend.  Really though, how could I ever find "another" of any of them?  Those were ones God hand-picked for a particular time, a particular purpose...and today, in a new season, what is the purpose that He is trying to accomplish in me?  And why would our God who is so creative and so surprising, choose to work in an expected way, to accomplish something unexpected?  Maybe my clinging is in the expectation that who He sends today will be a cookie-cutter version of what He sent yesterday.  Of course there are so many who I will cherish no matter where this life takes us and how far we go...but to cling is to leave my fists tightly closed, unable to grasp the new blessings God desires to place in an open hand.

     There was an interesting quote in the book I'm reading, taken from another book actually, "A Place For You", written by Paul Tournier..."I thought of the trapeze artists, swinging on their trapezes high up under the dome of the circus tent.  They let go of one trapeze just at the right moment, to hover for a moment in the void before catching hold of the other trapeze.  As you watch, you identify yourself with them and experience the anxiety of the middle of the way, when they have let go of their first support and have not yet seized the second...What is the force that holds men back, which prevents them from letting go of what they would like to let go?  It is the middle-of-the-way anxiety.  It is the void in which they are going to find themselves before being able to seize a new support.  All this to say, we must always be letting go...leaving one place in order to find another, abandoning one support in order to reach the next, turning our backs on the past in order to thrust wholeheartedly toward the future."  

     My heart beats faster as I read that quote again.  What a perfect illustration for where I find myself emotionally!  That "middle-of-the-way anxiety", to "hover for a moment in the void"...So, it's ok to "hover", to feel for a moment that I don't belong, to feel the void of what I have let go, to feel the fear of what may or may not come to replace it.  I am normal.  THIS is normal.  This is my new normal.  :-) I will "hover".  With an open hand.  As I wait for God to fill it...

"And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return.  But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; For He has prepared a city for them." Hebrews 11:15-16

"Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13-14

     My joy is full and my hope is renewed!!  Where else but in the truths of God's word can we find help for our every need, strength for our every weakness?...God can meet us right where we are, with words put on a page so long ago, their power does not come because they were written with man's hand, but because they are God's words, given to us!  Can you imagine?  God's thoughts toward us!  If you haven't read them lately, as I myself so often neglect to do, read them, soak up the comfort He longs to give.  If you don't know the One who loves you so much that He gave up His own life just to save yours, seek to know Him today!  There is no lasting hope other than Him when we are bogged down with the cares of life that weigh so heavily on us.  I am in the "void", the "middle-of-the-way", and there are days when the loneliness here threatens to steal the hope that God has us where we are for a purpose...but then there are days, days like today, when He meets me where I am and reminds me there is no void in which He is not present. 

"For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.  And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weaknesses; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose...What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him, freely give us all things?" Romans 8:24-28, 31-32

     Someday my heart will realize my body is already here in Virginia and loving it. :-)  I do not know the means by which we shall be reunited, or those that God will use to convince my heart that it can feel at home here....but what is hope if it can already be seen?...