Sunday, March 31, 2013

Let's Get Unstuck and Accept the Outstretched Hand

Sometimes, we just get this nudge that says, “Go!” If we don’t have anywhere to go, it can leave us in a state of being stuck. 
Then, just like being a small child struggling to go to sleep at night, with a fear there are monsters under the bed, we become afraid to move. We know, beyond those monsters under the bed is a quick dash to the door that goes out into the hall to the security of our parents’ room. 
If we could just put our foot on the ground and believe our ankles would remain free to dash...we would. Instead, though, we often find ourselves cowering in our beds, under the covers (maybe with a flashlight) waiting for morning to come. If only someone had left the light on...
A lesson was shared with me recently and I’ll share it with you:
When we can’t figure out how to get unstuck from the “stuff” of our lives, the circumstances and situations we know need to change, there’s probably somebody who can.
We all have someone in our life with the ability to leverage our situation for us and get things done. Maybe it’s a bad financial situation and someone you know has a great budgeting system, but you just haven’t asked around. Maybe it’s a bad relationship or maybe it’s a job situation. Perhaps, someone you know may have the connection to the job you need right now. There could be a person in your life that has the perfect person in mind for you to date and they believe it could be “The One,” and they’re on to something! 
We all get stuck (in a moment or in a situation). 
I’ve come to realize, if we lean on our support system and loved ones, and release the pressure on ourselves to go it alone, to do everything alone, and figure things out alone we’ll be better versions of ourselves. When we accept help and allow someone else to be our Tour Guide, we mature. It’s humbling surrender to accept we simply can’t do it alone. 
Chances are, there’s someone in your life that has the authority to help you get done what you need to get done. 
On this Easter Sunday, I remember the One who said, “It is finished.” All of our past and future debts, transgressions, and sins paid for. 
We couldn’t do it alone and still we can’t. 
I am abundantly thankful for that awareness and the unstoppable hope, unexplainable grace, and unfathomable love and always being able to ask for help.
Thankful too for the great parallel of asking others for help and leaning on loved ones who have the leverage to connect the dots, or lead the way, or offer an opportunity.
All we have to do is accept the outstretched hand. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The First Step: You Know You Were Made For More

            Most of us cannot remember our first step. In fact, most of us probably don’t have photographic or video evidence of the moment. I’m not sure I’ve even heard my parents talk about it (that was probably 31 years ago!)
            It’s different for our grandchildren and our friends’ children and our nieces and nephews. In a world of tweeted moments, they’ll have all their milestones put on a Facebook timeline. But, for us, we are lucky if we remember even our first day of kindergarten, let alone our first step.
            When we watch young children take theirs, we do so with a mixture of awe and a little bit of caution, lest they hurt themselves. We’ve been with them nearly every single moment, holding their little fingers to help them stand. It’s a moment of surrender for us to let them go and take that first step.
            That young child, however, takes that step with great excitement and joy -- with an unawareness of the insecurity we have for them -- and so when they do, their face shifts to awe in what they have just done. That child will look to their mother, or father, or whomever is in front of them in that moment for praise. 
            “Look at me!” that gleeful expression says. “I have no idea what I just did, but I did it!”
            I’m not quite sure what happens between that first step and all the other first steps we take in life. At some point, somewhere, we’re given a lot of “no’s” and we hit roadblocks and sometimes we settle and dare not move from where we are. Or, in other cases, we become so content with the plateau of current achievement or success we’ve pulled the blinds on other opportunities. 
            If we’re lucky, we’re given the awareness of another chance. If we’re blessed, someone (and leave it to the one who knows us best) has heard us when we’ve shared our dreams and goals. They don’t hold back when they feel called to remind us of them. 
            “You know you were made for more, so don’t be afraid to move.”
            If we’re listening, we’ll accept the grace of that awareness and embrace that person, or people, with gratitude. In that moment of surrender, we’ll look at them with a much different expression than we looked at our parents all those years ago. 
            We look at them to say, “Will you be with me when I take that first step?” Our insecurities bubble up and our trepidation of the unknown keeps us with one foot on the trail ahead and the other on the inside of our closed (but glass) house. 
            As a woman of faith, I’ve come to believe that God pursues us to take necessary steps in our life. When we’re not listening, He’ll get our attention elsewhere or through someone else. He was with us inside our glasshouse and He’ll be the one to shatter the walls (again and again). So, just like that person who dares you to move (and this time you know you should), He’ll be there.
            Will you be with me when I take that first step?
            Of course they will.
            They’re the ones who said, “You don’t have to be afraid! What are you waiting for? What do you have to lose?”
            ... They’ll be there when we look at them in awe of what we’ve just done, and they’ll give us praise just like our parents did when we took our first step. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Unknowing Surrender: One Choice, One Chance

            Anticipation builds up excitement. It gets your adrenaline pumping and your nervous system ready to defend anything that gets in your way or in the way of whatever it is.

            Completely different, though, is what I like to call “unknowing surrender.” This, I find, happens in the moments when there’s nothing you know is coming, or about to happen, or be said. There’s not even a chance to be excited, nervous, or defend, because you have just one chance and one choice (and maybe just one second) to respond.

            “Are we there yet?”

            My Grandma lived in another state when I was growing up. We lived in a small town in Washington State, and she lived in a small town in California. I don’t remember how often we drove to visit, or if we flew, because either way it was a long drive into her neighborhood.

            “Are we there yet?” I would ask from the back seat. Two minutes later, I would ask it again. Even at 5, 6, and 7 years old the anticipation of being able to see my Grandma couldn’t keep me patient. It excited me, and I didn’t want to wait.

            I remember this anticipation, again, when I was also about 5 years old, learning some friends would be coming over to visit. We weren’t home, that I remember. I cannot articulate the anticipation and excitement of that other than to compare it to waking up on Christmas morning and having to wait until after breakfast to open presents! (It’s really hard to convince a child to wait to do that.)

            When we pulled into the driveway, made-up memory now, or real, I want to say my two friends were right there, waiting, on the doorstep. I don’t remember anything else. I was so excited and had built-up in my head seeing them and that one moment is now all I remember! I don’t remember any of the time we may have spent together that day.

            One chance, one choice.

            “You can’t expect [fill in the blank] to show up on your doorstep.”

            It’s funny how one memory of childlike wonder and excitement can become the exact metaphor for how not to go about life.

            You know, I still open the front door every now and again to see if something or someone is there. There’s still a romantic notion in my mind that one day I’ll return home from work and... Surprise!

            Surprise! I bet you didn’t see that coming? That's unknowing surrender.

            I’ve written about this in different ways in the last nine months. I’ve talked about it from the standpoint of gut instinct, to the tug at the heart, to divine intervention, and even humble surrender. Early this morning, I stumbled across some thread that asked a question specifically about friendship beginning with, “When did you know?”

            I didn’t even have to think too much about the question, and so I answered it and honestly with words just oozing out of me.

            One answer, one choice, and one chance.

            Hours later, I was sitting in a cafe at my Church going over my notes from a service about love. My Pastor, Jud Wilhite, wrote a book called “Pursued.” I wrote down a lot of notes about “Loyal Love,” and the challenge of pursuing our relationships the way God pursues us: real, deep, and radical.

            I was deep into it when a young man sat down next to me and asked (after first asking what I was doing) of my faith, “How did you get to where you are?”

            One answer, one chance.

            I had no idea that question was coming, and no chance for an adrenaline rush, but oddly enough what I had written about hours earlier directly paralleled and was a part of my answer. I didn’t hold back. In surrendering to the moment and answering his question, I realized I had no idea -- it was unknown to me -- the emotional depth of my thoughts on the previous topic would become a part of my testimony.

            This man and I chatted for well over an hour as he asked questions and listened as I tried to answer.

            When I was done giving him the answers he was seeking he said, “That’s real. That’s deep.”

            I said, “I think it sounds crazy when I say it aloud, but it makes perfect sense to me.” I think I was smiling, beaming even.

            He had a big smile on his face too and said to me, “It’s just real and it shows.”

            Hours earlier, I had written these words:

Sometimes, we cannot fully move forward in our lives until we allow ourselves to look back and see how we started to move on to begin with. Maybe, just maybe, as I discovered with my teary-eyed clarity, that friend you pursued was actually pursuing you.

“When we see the word ‘love’ a couple of times in
the first few verses of Hosea 3, it literally means “loyal love” as
it refers to God’s regard for us. 

It points to His covenant love 
for us that is based more in His faithfulness 
to Himself than to us.

This kind of love is the kind 
used to describe a friend that
comes up beside us and 
walks alongside us, shoulder to shoulder.
It’s a long-term kind of committed love,
a bond that connects you for a lifetime.”