Listen to the soft mutterings of your heart. To the breath that was breathed into your lungs. To the quiet hum of silence. Sink into it.
Listen to the emotions that clutter your soul. To the questions elbowing at your mind. To the hurts that break you open in places you'd rather hide. Be quiet and go to those places.
Listen to what the bent of your will is. To the pull of your desire, to the cry of your heart. Listen in a way that ascends the mere silence. Rather, listen in a way that invites you to really hear. The secret to asking hard questions is being willing to answer them. Are you willing?
Lean in to the answers that you've made space to greet. Reach towards the deepest basement of self. Unveil yourself. Welcome it all.
Listen and breathe.
Listen and reach.
Listen and receive.
Let's attentively listen. Sound waves intersecting our anatomical ears, is not listening. It is hearing. It's a logistical fallacy. It's self-deception to think that the punctual attendance of hearing bears any weight.
Don't merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what the word says (James 1:22). God's word, His law, discovers the spots of sin in our lives. He is gracious to speak to us and to show us the blemishes of self. Vulnerability accompanies listening. We need to let the walls fall, drop the armor, see the corruption of our nature, the disorder of our hearts, and we need to own it.
When we spend time quieting ourselves and truly listening, we are making way for counsel and direction. We need to attend to what we hear, nurture it, and know that even though we are dark, we are loved so tremendously in spite of it.
God proposes that we call to him. He says, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things that you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3). Ask the questions, find where your soul lies, where your heart is bound, where you fall short. Ask of Him, and he will instruct you because he loves you, and he wants you free.
Assent to His word.
Obey and respond to His direction.
Listen to love.
"If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me." - Matthew 10:38,39
John 3:30 says that He must increase, so I must decrease.
We are all born into the world searching for our identity. As children, we look to our parents to tell us who we are, as adolescents we look to our peers, and as adults, we have either settled into ourselves comfortably, or are still restlessly searching.
Being born under the law of sin, we begin our life identifying with Adam. Being fallen, we are subject to a law that claims us as a slave, with God being our master. Slavery exists outside of relationship. It is isolating, and leaves us in a posture of striving and working without rest. Our souls are very much in need of acceptance, and our walk is wearying because we will never find it.
It's different when we meet Jesus. He presents us with another identity - our true and original form hidden WITH and IN Christ himself. The place where he calls us to him, for the very sake of relationship, for the revealing of our identity.
My name has two definitions, both of which seem like an overreach to me - "secure" and "motherly." I spent a lot of time restlessly seeking where my heart should settle, what skin I should claim, and felt very lost most of my life. And although I AM a mother, feeling motherly is entirely different. I struggle with feeling gentle and nurturing, pleasant for that matter.
I kept being led to Hosea 2:14-23 which says "I will make the valley of trouble into a gateway of hope...you will call me Ishi (husband) and no longer my Baal (master)...on that day I will make a covenant and enable the people to rest SECURELY...I will take you to be my wife."
Intimacy with Christ transfers me from a slave to a wife. From isolation to relationship. From lost to found. Relationship with Christ leads me to security because I not only find him, but myself tucked under His arm for safe keeping. The one who created and breathed his breath into me, was unveiling my true self right before me. I was a new creation.
After steeping in this for a few days, I closed my eyes and I saw such a powerful image. I saw myself anointing Jesus' feet, wiping my tears with my hair. I thought of the woman who did the same for Jesus and how her identity was so wrapped up in what the Pharisees thought of her. Yet, she craved intimacy with Christ over her reputation, and sat with the Lord. The Pharisees said "IF Jesus were a true prophet, he would know who he was touching." And that was just it, he DID know who she was, where her heart was when NO ONE else did. All the Pharisees knew was her misidentification, her stigma, her actions, her sin. Jesus, he knew her heart. She chose in that moment NOT to go by who she was told she was, or what she thought of herself, but how God identified her, and she was publicly set free by God's gracious acceptance. Her destiny could be fulfilled because she allowed Jesus' love to radically redefine her.
We all have this same opportunity, the same invitation. If you want to find yourself, stop looking in all of the broken and wounded corners of the world. Look to him, let yourself decrease, and I promise that you will find yourself in him.
Meditate: What labels have you subscribed to? What does God say about those definitions? Journal and keep before you what HE thinks of you, and do not settle for anything less. When feelings of inferiority and insecurity begin to rise, do not entertain them. Rebuke every high and lofty argument that comes against the knowledge of God. Refuse to meditate on your shortcomings, but rather His strengths.
Express gratitude: for having the ability to come to him, for the uncovering of lies, and for the acceptance, love and protection of your identity hidden in Him.
Reflection: Whatever you've been seeing in others, is what you can work on in yourself.
Expansion: Let's be deeply honest with ourselves. We have moments - in the course of ordinary interactions - where we find ourselves overwhelmed with emotion (good or bad). These emotions rise because we find something relatable to our own experience. We act as mirrors to one another. Insecurities create sensitivity to any remark made in the same vein of our own tenderness. We draw these unintentional blasphemies into our hearts, often risking offense. Words and emotions are powerful motivators, which is why we need to make sure that we aren't being led by toxic ones.
Application: Honor yourself by being committed to truth. When offenses cling like static, it is because we have (on some level) come into agreement with them. With the swell of these emotions, ask where they are really rooted. You will find the answer if you seek honestly. Sit with this a moment, until you feel you can move forward in truth and light.
Scripture: Galations 6:4 advises "But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another."
Haggai 1 has the theme "Consider your ways."
There's something about standing on the edge of a new season that rouses my creativity. The dark mustard of Goldenrod, the corn browning and bending humbly to the ground from which it came - it inspires my heart and enlivens my senses.
I creep into this season with my heart still full from the beautiful bounty of summer - the ripe Georgia peaches, the sun's warmth on heirloom tomatoes, their juice dripping from my fingertips all the way down to my elbow. The long and hungry nights of wanting to be awake just a little longer. My full-belly competes with my overflowing hands.
This transition when the heat begins to taper, and the toil lessens, we are given permission to rest. By the very grace of the darkness, the minutes seem to slow and give pause long enough to bow in thankfulness; to usher in contemplation, to think more clearly, speak more slowly, and for words to build homes inside of my bones, waiting for a life of their own.
I love this in-between time. It nurtures me in all of the ways I need before a dark and barren winter.