I went looking for a photo today, one that’s embedded in memory from happy times at the beach. When I found this essay I couldn’t help notice God’s continual message to me–He is always speaking, and the word I’ve been hearing him whisper these days is “Trust.”
Six years have passed since I wrote this and the message is still the same, a sacred echo to me from the Holy Spirit. Circumstances may be different, there are more wrinkles, deeper friendships, a richer deposit of grace in my life, but God’s love is the same, deep as the ocean.
I’ve been learning a lot about trust these last few weeks as I read this book by L.L. Barkat. Not because the message has anything to do with trust, but because readers are encouraged to take time to listen for God in the small, quiet spaces of their days. It’s in the listening that I’ve uncovered or discovered, maybe begun to re-cover pieces of my childhood.
I have no idea where the discoveries will lead, but I’m finding in the act of setting aside weekly time to just BE with God outside, to look, rest, be open–that this form, the act of making room–is allowing for the discovery.
Throughout her writing, Barkat weaves the personal experience as a child from a family shaped by alcoholism and divorce. She describes homes where trust issues, loss and leaving are all a part of growing up. In writing of her own struggles and memories I find the words resonate deeply; my childhood was like that, too.
I’ve seen how I carried my defenses and behaviors, my attitudes and fears about trust and authority into my grown-up life and into my understanding of who God is.
What led to this revelation? Making a space, small at first, for God to drop in His light.
Here is an illustration about having a set-aside time to listen, from writer Gertrud Nelson, cited by Barkat:
“These children (at the seashore) did not have the wherewithal to jump straight into the ocean, vast and powerful as it is. In fact, they barely wanted to stick their toes in the water. So they stayed in the sand and dug a hole, a potential water container on a much smaller scale. In time they saw fit to begin coming and going to the larger body of water,
carrying back a bucket at a time to fill their mini-ocean.”
Says Nelson, “In endless space we create a fixed point to orient ourselves: a sacred space….
What is too vast and shapeless, we deal with in smaller, manageable pieces…
we turn our backs on what is too much and slowly create the form that will contain the uncontainable.”
Form then, not discipline, per se becomes the buffer and the eventual conduit between the individual and the Divine, between the child and the ocean, between you and me and the sky.”**
God is speaking, revealing issues that go deeper than I know, not because of any discipline or ‘have-to’s’ or shoulds on my part but simply because I’ve created a conduit, a container. A small place for Him to pour healing in.
Because God is committed to shalom in my life, it is no wonder this discovery will last until I go home to be with Him. God is a faithful, kind Father whose greatest joy is to bring me into healing and freedom. I’m looking forward to the journey…with my bucket and shovel in hand.
‘Tis the season, indeed. Invitations in the mail and on the fridge.
Weddings abound, enveloping my family circle and I.
One nephew betrothed last weekend. One nephew engaged.
A niece counting down the days to July.
Besides the betrothals there are the dresses. Oh the dresses.
After the ring is chosen, the date is set, the first question for the bride is always, (in a run-on sort of fashion), “Did you pick out your dress? Where did you get it? What does it look like??”
The answers are as varied as the brides—
Champagne silk, slinky, no lace or frills.
Short, cottony, light and sleeveless.
Long, satiny, a train out to here.
Strapless, beaded, corset-closing back.
What will you wear indeed?
Saying “Yes” to becoming a bride is making a choice to change. Change residence (maybe), change households (do you really need 3 pizza cutters?) But the most noticeable change, at least for a day, is a choice to put off the regular apparel for something brand new and different. Something no one’s ever seen before.
A gown that enhances your best features, covers your flaws and leaves your groom (quite often) in tears.
Change the everyday hair to curls or an up-do.
Visit the salon for a mani/pedi.
Think about make-up (gasp!) maybe for the first time.
“Eye shadow, lipstick? Are you sure that isn’t a bit much?”
Consider jewelry–purchased or passed on–not only a necklace, but earrings to match.
“But I don’t wear jewelry,” (as my daughter replied on her wedding day.)
“Ah yes, but today is a special occasion, you are becoming a Bride.”
Sometimes we forget that Jesus has called us His Betrothed, The Bride of Christ. Or maybe that’s just me. Truth is, some days I don’t feel very bride-like.
Not lovely, not even liked.
Can’t put off my old clothes. Can’t accept the new jewels. Can’t believe the glorious beautiful of who my Jesus says I am.
I forget The Announcement that says Whose I am.
Sometimes the old just sticks.
Piles up on the floor like dirty laundry.
Stays in a heap on the bed and won’t go away.
Faces you in the mirror, regardless of the jewels, and says, “No, you’re not different at all.”
But then a friend comes to help you change.
Change the clothes, throw away the dirty laundry.
Grabs the soap and tosses everything in the wash.
Helps zip up the new dress that says ‘Capable.’ Clasp the necklace that says ‘Confident.’ Covers you with a veil that says ‘Cared for.’
Refines that wayward hair, steadies you while you gently slip on heels to help you reach new heights.
Holds the mirror while you try that new shade of You.
Reads the Announcement, outlined in Truth—
“You are mine.”
“You have my name.”
“You are different. You are changed.”
And we are reminded, as we are at every other wedding, we are loved and wanted and desired above all others.
We a r e the Bride of Christ, no matter the season. Clothed in a dress and jewels that say we are His.