Tag Archives: life

The Open Gate (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

As the dream became more and more hungry, the girl became more and more desperate. Why would the servants not open the gate? Why were they ignoring her cries? Had she done something wrong? Was there something wrong with her?

Soon her desperation turned to anger. She kept beating at the gate, but the servants would not respond. Enraged, the girl decided to leave the hospital. She wanted the servants to regret their cruelty and wish in vain that they had opened the gate for her.

But despite her anger, the girl knew that her thoughts weren’t pleasing to the King. She believed the King had brought her to the hospital, that in His kindness he had provided a place for her to serve. She had served loyally out of love for the King and his servants. She didn’t want to throw away his generous gift because she was blinded by anger and pain.

So before she carried out her revenge, she went away to a secret place and sought Him. She waited quietly there for Him. And one day He came to her.

“Lord,” she cried,”You know what pain I am feeling! This hunger gnaws away at me, but your servants have refused to feed me! Why won’t they give me the small meal I’ve enjoyed all these years?”

The King sat beside her and touched her cheek. “My girl,” He said gently. “You have been blind! Look.”

Then the girl saw herself as the King saw her. She was facing the closed gate, beating at it with all her strength yet powerless to open it.

“Why do you think the food I have for you can only be found through that closed gate?” He asked.

And then the girl saw that behind her was another gate. One that stood wide open. One she’d never noticed, because all her attention had been focused on the closed gate.

“But Lord,” the girl asked with astonishment. “Are you saying it is okay to serve somewhere other than this garden, at this hospital? I was certain you would say that my desire was a wrong one!”

“Your heart was misled by revenge, this is true,” He said. “And I did lead you to this place. You have served here and you have grown here, and you have also found the food I left here for you. These are good things. But it was never my intention that you should serve me here–and here only–forever. Do you not know that all seasons must end so that new seasons can begin? Do you not know that you can serve me anywhere? Do you not know that I am able to provide abundant nourishment for you, wherever I lead you?”

Suddenly the girl saw how silly and afraid she had been. She realized the other gate had been open to her for a long time–she’d known this somewhere inside herself. But she’d been too afraid to turn around, too terrified to give the King the dream she’d hidden. She’d told herself she needed what was behind the closed gate, when in truth her King had awakened a hunger that could no longer be satisfied there. Through the open gate was the path to the land of her childhood, filled with flowers that bloomed colorful and bright, in beautiful defiance of the weeds and thorns. There in that beautiful land (called Faith) was a place for her to plant the seed of her dream, where it would surely die beneath the ground. Yet this was a chance for the girl to trust the King. He would be able to grow the dead seed into the new, living thing He’d always meant it to be. She knew He could: she’d seen Him do it countless times before.

The King wrapped His arms around the girl. “Will you trust me and walk through the open gate?” She nodded. And then the girl stood up with Him, encircled in His kind embrace, and walked through the open gate.

The End Middle.

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The Open Gate (Part 1)

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in a beautiful land where nothing was impossible. The King of that beautiful place had given her a seed for big, lovely dream, and with all the trust in her heart she awaited its blossoming. Because she was a child, the heavy seed and the big dream it contained didn’t terrify her. She didn’t ask silly questions like, “How will my dream ever blossom and grow?”

Then hard things happened, and to the little girl’s eyes, these hard things overtook the beautiful land. Her childhood home seemed overgrown with weeds and thorns. So to protect herself from the pain of a dead dream, she placed the dream in a tiny box and hid it deep inside her heart. No longer little, she hacked away at the weeds and thorns with tools fashioned from duty, responsibility and fear. But the buried dream somehow added depth and intricacy to her tools, so that sometimes she could use them to produce tiny, pretty flowers. She decided to use her tools to survive, forsaking the big dream. But the tiny, pretty flowers were incomparable to the dream she’d put away.

The King was very kind. He often tried to show her that the beautiful land was still near if she would simply look beyond the weeds. He sustained the hidden dream with tiny rays of sunshine and little drops of rain. But the silly girl thought she had found a way to sustain the dream.

In her journey she’d come upon servants who were building a hospital on behalf of the King. She offered to help them build the hospital by sharing her tools with them. One day while she was serving at the hospital, the girl walked down a path and passed through an open gate. There she found a lovely garden. She thought, “My tiny flowers would thrive in this little garden!” The servants agreed, and from then on she would often pass through the gate and into the garden.

Each time she passed through the gate, she’d find a small, tasty meal that the King’s servants had left for her. The meal was just enough to sustain her hidden dream, and this made her happy. So she would regularly walk through the gate and eat the meal. She trusted that these servants would always feed her this way. She didn’t realize the meal was the result of the King’s tiny rays of sunshine and little drops of rain.

But then one day the gate, through which she’d always so freely walked, was shut and locked.

The girl despaired, but she decided to wait for the gate to be opened again.

Meanwhile, the dream began to starve. But rather than wither and die, it burst out of the tiny box and hungrily sought the King’s wonderful nourishment. At first she tried to ignore the hunger, but soon she realized this was useless. Desperate, the girl ran to the closed gate, begging, pleading, banging and crying for the King’s servants to open it again. But the servants ignored her. As the dream became more and more hungry, the girl became more and more desperate. Why would the servants not open the gate? Why were they ignoring her cries? Had she done something wrong? Was there something wrong with her?

Soon her desperation turned to anger.

To be continued.

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Loneliness Defined

I have only just now realized what is at the heart of loneliness. At least, it’s at the heart of my own loneliness.

When life sucks, sometimes you need someone to talk to. But sometimes you need someone to hold you–really hold you–while you sob and snot everywhere. Right now, I don’t want to talk. I am particularly missing a chest to sink into, and arms to cradle me.

Friends, good friends, are wonderful things. I have good friends. But I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend with whom I could cry and just be held. I’ve never had a girlfriend hold me. (I don’t mean hold my hand or encircle my shoulder, but hold me. Say nothing, do nothing, just hold me until I’m all cried out.)

Right now, a good holding would be all the comfort in the world.

I never knew I would miss this until just now, when I need it and realize I no longer have it. And today, for the first time since the drama began, I feel lonely.

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Joyful Moments

Have you ever done a vision board? It’s a tool to help map out dreams and/or goals. My friend first introduced the idea to me and another friend last January. We wanted to visualize our dreams and goals for 2010, and for us the endeavor involved prayer and the expected guidance of the Holy Spirit.

According to my 2010 vision board, I wanted to be creative and stylish, look good, be a great mom, get together with friends, write, be crafty, grow, spice things up in the bedroom, enjoy unguilty pleasures, get organized, travel, and more.

Looking at that board today, it’s so cluttered that very little stands out. It can barely contain everything I tried to cram on it. Of all I hoped the board would reflect about 2010, the thing it says most clearly is: There was entirely too much crap going on. (How apropos, although I didn’t notice it until after I did this year’s board.) 

I also realized that the old board held labels of what I thought I should be, or what I thought others expected of me, instead of what I hoped and dreamed for myself. This year I was determined that would not be the case. 

My theme for 2011 is “joyful moments.” Here’s the quote by Brene’ Brown that inspired it:

I think the beauty of twinkle lights is a perfect metaphor for joy.

Joy is not a constant.  It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments.  Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down the extraordinary moments.  Other times we’re so afraid of the dark that we don’t dare let ourselves enjoy the light.

A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy.  That would eventually become unbearable.

I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, and inspiration.

In that regard, I chose a black canvas to better display the bright words and colors I cut from the magazines. Each piece draws the eye away from the black. Frankly, the bright colors look better because of the black. That’s what I hope the joyful moments of 2011 will be like too. I also rejected words and images that caught my eye, and instead gravitated to the ones that caught my heart. The result:

  • I want to see my children and my family blossom.
  • I want to rebuild my ability to hope and expect good things of myself and in my life.
  • I want to walk with bravery and be wise and open.
  • I want to strive for strength in balance in what’s important.
  • I want to appreciate all of who I am. 
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Remix: Out of Control

This is a remix of “Laundry Ruminations: Control or Out of Control?” (Summer 2008).

***

One day as I was doing laundry, I started thinking about cake, frosting, cookies, chocolate and other delicious gooey things.

Then I thought about the passage I’d read in the book of Romans about a month before. In it, Paul said we should give our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. To me this meant (among other things) I should let God control what I eat. This lined up with what I’d felt God saying to me for awhile. Thing is, I hadn’t been sure I wanted to give Him control, because He wouldn’t want me to eat cake with two inches of frosting. (Maybe occasionally, but not 2-3 times a day as I’d prefer.) This irritated me. Why shouldn’t I dang well eat whatever I want? Why doesn’t God want me to have any fun?!

So I’d rebelled. I didn’t quit going to church or anything; I just started eating like a pig. I couldn’t bear the thought of God saying I couldn’t have a Sonic Fried Ice Cream shake, so I shut off my filter and ate as I pleased. I wanted control of what I put in my mouth.

One day someone brought brownie bites to class. When I saw them I said, “Aw, who did that? Oh well, I have no choice …” A classmate said, “Yes you do have a choice!” I quickly popped one into the mouth. “Oops, too late!” I joked. But it was true: in the face of brownies, I didn’t feel like I had a choice. After class I took two more on the way out.

So that day as I did laundry, indignant with my Father over cake, I had a ridiculously obvious revelation: I didn’t have control. I’d been so determined to have it, but I’d given it up to brownie bites and things of that ilk. BROWNIE BITES. How was I in control if, whenever I saw cake, I had to eat it? If I was so much in control, then what happened to my ability to choose, to say no?

Then God asked me why I was I fighting Him so hard over garbage? It looks and even tastes good, but it’s not good. Seriously, whose health has ever been vastly improved by cake? Has anyone lost weight on the Cake and Frosting Diet? Whose cholesterol level has dropped thanks to sugar? I’d fallen for old lies: my way was better than His, and He wanted to ruin my fun. The result was an old deception: I was out of control because I’d willingly given it away.

FRICK’N DEVIL!

Junk food is a huge temptation, putting a wall between me and God. So I can tell myself I’m in control when I’m not, or I can let God handle it. When I crave junk, it helps to remember that it’s garbage. (“Filth” as Dr. Rubin calls it.) My Father wants what’s best for me. It’s stupid to put garbage ahead of life.

And that lesson applies to much more than junk food.

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Tiny Alien Imposter

When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to be grown. I had lots of expectations:

  • I’d be a rich and famous singer, actress and dancer.
  • I’d be beautiful. I’d be slender and have big breasts and long hair.
  • I wouldn’t be afraid of the dark anymore. I wouldn’t be afraid of anything.
  • I’d have a handsome and dashing husband, and we’d live happily ever after.
Tiny alien directing an old man's body.

Inside it's a tiny alien.

Last night I had an extremely difficult and painful conversation with my husband. I was surprised at how small I felt inside. Like that tiny alien on Men in Black II. Like a 5-year-old, dressed up in a 38-year-old body. A small imposter, very much afraid of the dark.

Do you remember that paralyzing childhood fear? I remember being terrified that something was under the bed or in the closet. The fear was so intense that I could not move–not even to avoid wetting the bed. It took all my willpower to cry out for my mother.  

I wonder if my maturity will ever match the years on the calendar. I wonder if anyone can see that I’m just a baby. Most days I try to hide it, but sometimes I want to be rightly seen. That way someone can let me be small and scared, and they’ll hold me and tell me it’ll be okay. And because I’m just a little one, I’ll believe it.

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Deciphering Me

 

I never thought of this as a worship song, but it was for me today.

God, speaking to me:
Friend, it’s getting late. We should be going. We’ve been sat here beneath these flickering neons for hours.

Me, distracted by flickering neons:
While I am cracking their code, You are deciphering me. For I am a mystery, I am a locked room in a tall tower.

My spirit to me:
Oh can you feel the gravity falling, calling us home? Oh did you feel the stars colliding? Shining just to show, we belong.

Me, forgetting the stupid neons and looking at God:
Your telescope eyes see everything clearly. My vision is blurred, but I know what I’ve heard echoing all around. While I am tuning You in, You are deciphering me: Not such a mystery, not such a faint and far-away sound.

My spirit to me:
It’s love, it’s love that holds us! We will be alright. It’s truth, it’s truth that shows us, if we’ll walk in its light.

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Spiraling

A few months ago my church welcomed a gentleman named Sy Rogers. I was privileged to take part in a leadership session he taught, and something he shared had “encouragement potential.” I find I keep thinking about it. If I’m not careful, I might let it give me hope …

I’ll try my best to do this idea justice.

We (people in pain) tend to think of life as a straight line from A to B. An event happens on the timeline, we move past it and it’s gone.

But life is more like a spiral. You march along the spiral and an Event happens and it’s horrible. You get past it, and you assume you’re done with it. But lo and behold, ten years later The Event rears its ugly head. Suddenly you’re dealing with the pain of some horrible 10-year-old Event like it happened yesterday. What the heck!

Sy explained it this way: When The Event happened, you weren’t ready to properly deal with it. Your life, your experiences, your understanding, your relationship with God hadn’t yet equipped you to deal with The Event. It had to go away, and it had to come back now–ten years later–because it’s in this stage of your life that you’re equipped to rightly deal with The Event.

Today. With accumulated experience and understanding, and with a time-tested relationship with God that you didn’t have when you were 5, or 15, or 25 or whatever. It has to be now. Because now you’re ready.

So … maybe now, in my late 30s, I’m finally ready. I mean, this sucks. But maybe God saved this for now because, even though it feels like it’s too heavy and it’s too much for me today, I definitely didn’t have the chops for it back whenever. If it’s this hard now … it would’ve crushed me then.

Yes, despite how it feels, I’m thinking maybe now I’m ready.

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My Personal Q&A

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself lately:

1. Was it wise for me to examine my past? It’s trendy for Christian to look at our childhood to understand our actions/reactions today. I’ve gone that route myself. I saw a counselor for about a year. He was (and is) very good, and I’d easily recommend him. Together we dug deep and uncovered all kinds of buried crap! Things long forgotten were exposed, and old wounds were re-opened to bleed afresh. I’d go home feeling angry, sad, frustrated, victimized. It was painful, but I thought it would eventually lead to something good. Because that’s what everyone says is supposed to happen.

But here in 2011, I find I regret the exhumation. The wounds are still open, and now they’re festering. I don’t feel as though I’ve moved forward at all. In fact, I’ve used my past hurts as an excuse not to move. It wasn’t a conscious choice (I don’t think). I find a strange comfort in rehearsing the pain. It’s like pushing my thumb into my mouth, or a needle into my vein.

2. Why should I move? As much as I dislike the person I am today, it’s the daunting thought of moving forward that keeps me here. Leaving this person behind would also mean leaving the comfortable house of pain I built. I’m like an agoraphobic! Even though my house of pain only provides the illusion of safety, that seems better than being outside, uncovered. In or out, there will be pain. It’s a choice between familiar pain (comfortable) and unfamiliar pain (unknown). Either way I’m screwed.

Why does life have to have pain? I hate that crap.

3. Should I trust God? This is supposed to be a no-brainer. But it’s hard to believe he cares for me when long stretches of our relationship include me wondering where he is. God’s kind of caring is nothing like human caring. Which is scary, because with humans, it’s pretty obvious if someone cares or doesn’t care. God’s caring sometimes feels like loneliness and rejection. God, why do you do that? I don’t like it.

Yesterday my pastor gave us a simple prayer: God, teach me to think the way you think. I know the first step to leaving the house of pain is to change the way I think. That seems entirely impossible right now. I want to believe God wants better for me. So I’ll pray it and see what happens.

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Break Free, Get Up and Dance

I was meant to dance. I know it.

I just finished watching several back-to-back episodes of So You Think You Can Dance. It’s always bittersweet: I love to watch the interpretation of rhythm with body, the exertion of such beautiful control, the making of every emotion into a physical expression. But at the same time I feel jealous and unfinished, like a put-together puzzle with just two or three small, missing pieces.

I have always, always wanted to dance. My mom took me to see The Nutcracker when I was 4, and I knew it then. All my friends (and any grown-ups who asked) knew I was going to be a singer, an actress and a dancer when I grew up. But I was a military brat, and travelling overseas meant there just weren’t opportunities. We finally returned to the States when I was a pre-teen, and moved again to Fort Meade when I was 14. I quickly discovered my high school offered dance, both as a PE elective and as an extra-curricular activity. Nothing could’ve stopped me! I finally got to do what I knew I was made to do. Years of pent-up wanting were released. I felt real and solid and free. I saw a picture of myself in the yearbook, leaping through the air with one leg straight ahead of me and one behind, my toes pointed. I looked like I was made to fly! Sure, there was teenage angst and confusion and all that garbage. But when I danced I was entirely myself and entirely confident.

Less than two years later we moved again. And a few months after that, I got pregnant. My life wasn’t mine anymore, and I had to grow up, let go of hopes and dreams, and be practical.

My oldest son will be 21 in a few weeks, and I still dream of dancing. While I watch those children perform miracles with their bodies, I am so filled with regret. Some would say, “Why not take a dance class?” But let’s be honest. I’ll never be able to move that way again. At least not here in this body on this earth. I’m sad about it.

Nonetheless, I was meant to dance. I know it. This being true, I can only conclude that I have to dance.

I read this book called “Rescued” years ago. It ended with a man who had gone to Heaven by the skin of his teeth. His role there was a gardener. The biggest thing I took away from that book was that we will still work in Heaven, but our work won’t be drudgery. It will be a fulfillment of the things we were created to do here on earth, and therefore work will be a joy. So I’m convinced that in Heaven, somehow I’ll be a singer, an actress and a dancer. I don’t know how, those things don’t seem practical for Heaven. (Well, a singer might be.) No matter, I just can’t imagine He created this natural pull in me, only to let it die with my body. (And really, it’s time for me to lose the notion of Heaven being all clouds and choirs and harps. How stupid.)

I’m going to dance in Heaven, unbound by bum knees and chubby legs. I’m looking forward to it with every fiber of this being He created in me.

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