Category: the root word of relevant

marginal?

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. – 1 John 3:1

I have been feeling “blah” since last weekend.

And by “blah,” I mean lonely, alone, ignored, friendless, clueless, etc. (and exhausted, which is probably the cause for most of it).

Is it still the “living in a new place” thing? I don’t know. It shocks me when I see how many Myrtle Beach area Facebook friends I have. Surely, it’s not that. All 100ish of those friends are friends and not just people who are friendly because of a specific purpose or commonality before they vanish from everyday life.

Is it that my friends in Illinois have moved on, have new activities and inside jokes and people to fill up their days? Surely not. It is to be expected. And surely the distance hasn’t magnified our differences and made my friendship less worthy of maintaining.  I don’t in any way want them to daily pine for my presence in their kitchens or on their church pew or across from them at El Cortez.

Is it that so many people I used to consider friends were clearly just “business acquaintances? Of course not. Nobody pretended to like me because I promoted a concert or published a magazine or had a service to trade that may or may not catapult them 2.5 inches toward some sense of abstract something-or-other. Totally not. I expected it, so it doesn’t hurt at all.

Is it that my husband, who during the course of our almost-10 year marriage has almost always been home for dinner, and who from August 2009 until this past May was with us all the time, is traveling almost every week, to the point that some days I don’t even remember where he is? No. I am Woman. Hear me roar. Watch me do it by myself.

Yeah. Right.

~

Yesterday, I sat in a Christmas show with KK at one of the area theatres. My friend from high school, unbeknownst to me, was in it. KK and Randa’s old preschool was there on a field trip. The bathroom had signs about a show coming there in the spring that was going to be coming to “one of our theatres” at several different points. It was rainy and cold. I was ticked over some work stuff. And all of these things meshed together for me to feel in the pits. And one word flashed through my head: Marginalized. I’ve been marginalized.

I have never liked the connotation of that word when it applies to people. It makes me think of refugees or genocide survivors, people who have seen hell on earth and been forgotten, or people who were singled out for something they couldn’t control – gender, race, economic status, starvation and homelessness – and told that they were less than everybody else. It is not a pretty word. And I hate that it popped into my white America, middle class, wife-and-mother brain.

But it’s how I feel… pushed to the sideline, not in the center of anything, without a place to belong.

And being a believer in Christ, and a product of a bumber-sticker/FB meme generation, the immediate response to this is: But you are always in the center of God’s vision.And I know this. It’s just that God does not sleep next to me at night, or want to meet up at the mall/beach/McD’s with the kids on a random weekday afternoon, or make eye contact with me over the fact that we both have 6 year-olds in ballet.

Mini-rant: for crying out loud, Community, what does it cost you to look someone in the eye and maybe even smile?!

He keeps whispering to me, and just like I am refusing to wear “a winter coat in South Carolina” even though it’s 44 degrees, I refuse to listen. He shows me how much my little girls want and need my attention. He shows me how much my older kids – who have also been uprooted from their friends and are trying to navigate a new social climate – enjoy hanging out and doing things together. It’s like He is saying, “Look, Ms. Social Butterfly, your full and frolicking circle of friends in Illinois is great, still in tact even. And you do have people here to share your holidays and hug your kids and have your back. But your everyday stuff? I have given you 5 – now 6 – people to share that with. Suck. It. Up. Be grateful for what you have. Lean on Me in those lonely nights… (or maybe go to bed early. Or mop the dirty floor!) You are not marginal. You are, however, also not in high school. You don’t need a constant stream of people to keep you company. And you need to be the matriarch of your family, whether you are 35 or 55….doesn’t matter.

I repent for feeling alone in a crowded room. I am ashamed for the buried-deep-inside notion that people’s lack of friendship is about me. And I will try my hardest to remember that as a child – and follower – of God, I am not supposed to focus on the feeling or seeking of comfort. That is not what this life is about.I have waved the flag of a quiet Christmas, and it is time for me to embrace it.

I come back to the lyrics of a favorite (newer) Christmas classic and marvel at how God somehow knew our hearts before we were ever born~

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You’ve been promised, we’ve been waiting

Welcome Holy Child. –
Chris Rice.

there is

written in a moment of intellectual clarity and emotional homesickness.

Somewhere there is a balance between the life I used to know and the one I am making now.

There is a place not defined by what is past and what is new.

There is a moment when I am not looking back at who I was or trying to figure out who I am, but simply exist, confidently and securely.

There is a sweet spot in which I live in this moment, work with what is in my hand right now, enjoy the blessings and lessons of this season, and do not worry about what I left behind and what I can’t let go of and what is coming around the bend.

There is a dream that defies the ideas of “broken,” “failed,” “true,” or “new,” and it takes a shape that whispers, “This was His plan for you all along.”

I believe all those things. In them lies peace. But they are hard to grasp.

So my prayer becomes, or rather remains,

Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
 and my hope is in you all day long.
~Psalm 25:4-5

perfect love

Over the last few days, I’ve had opportunity to learn a lot about myself. It’s amazing to me that at my age, with my breadth of experiences, and as self-reflective as I have always been can still be discovering such major things about myself. But there it is. A series of unrelated incidences left me in a little emotional puddle for a few days, and after I was done wallowing in my own hurt feelings, God showed me a hard truth:

I still need to learn how to love.

It’s not that I don’t know the mechanics of it. I read The Five Love Languages when I was 20ish, and I have not forgotten them, and I can identify them pretty well, too. And I know how to be a friend… to cook the dinner, pick out the gift, give the huge hug, kiss the baby, remember the name of your great-grandma’s neighbor’s dog, but those are really just tasks. Niceties. They’ll do for awhile, but they have nothing to do with the manifestation of God’s love, which goes like this:

i John 3/The Message:

18-20 My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.

21-24 And friends, once that’s taken care of and we’re no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we’re bold and free before God! We’re able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we’re doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God’s command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.

~
Can you imagine what it would be like to be free from condemnation? To be free from looking down on yourself for every little mistake and shortcoming… to be free from a critical eye toward others who are struggling in their journeys as well? I’d like to stop imagining it and start living it.

My whole life, I have loved as a defense mechanism. I have loved with either lofty expectations or with willingness to be destroyed in the name of love. None of that is part of God’s plan for perfect love. That kind of love gives power to the wrong entities. That kind of love asks for something in return that can only be given by God. That kind of love will never be satisfied. That kind of love always – always! – results in a broken heart, no matter to whom it is given.

But God’s love…oh, God’s love~

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…”

That verse (1 John 4:18) goes on to say that fear involves torment…torment! Who needs that? Who willingly inflicts that upon herself?

If perfect love is waiting to be opened like an elaborately-wrapped birthday present that you know will be just as exciting once opened as it is sitting before you waiting… why not receive it? Unwrap that thing and claim it and treasure it forever!

~

Nothing dramatic has happened in my life to bring me on this latest journey. Oh sure, circumstances always occur around us. People I care very deeply about are hurting or searching right now. And I… well… it’s the story of me to always be wondering if I am good enough, if I am doing the right things, if I am being productive or as we say in Christianese, “bearing fruit.” But John’s lovely first letter is being carved in my heart this week. Instead of looking outward at how love fails us, I am looking inward, where long ago I invited my Savior to live, and I am learning how He loves us… oh! How He loves US!

{I admit, this song drives me a little crazy in its junior-high-poetry-somewhat-overdoneness, but perhaps God is just that dramatic… and if I’m going to drown, may it be in an ocean of grace…}

a season of joy

I know I talk about seasons on here, a lot. It’s a little ironic since I have moved to a place that, as far as the weather goes, seemingly only has two seasons – spring & summer! But in life, our seasons change depending on circumstances, the ages of our kids, the development of ourselves, and probably a lot of other things.

In the past years, I guess since I’ve been married, there was the season of newlyweddedness…the season of school…the season of infertility…the season of babies…the season of road life & music ministry, …the season of moving…the season of draught. And even as I declared a new season for us last week, I wasn’t sure what it would be exactly, or what to call it.

I might have gotten my answer by accident. Tonight in our marriage class, I had one of those Kelly episodes of totally inappropriate laughter. Our wonderful, sensitive leaders were leading us in a poignant, Biblical activity, one to be shared between each couple alone, though we were all still in the same room. There was background music playing and everyone was talking to his/her spouse kind of quietly, and I was shaking with hysterical laughter. It was mostly quiet, except for the occasional exhale, squeak, and finally, one very loud SNORT, which only made me laugh harder.

Yeah. The ugly laugh is my favorite way to emote, but it never seems to come at the “right” time.

Thankfully, I am in a class of understanding people. And afterwards, when we talked about the activity and its impact, I did shed a few tears, as it did touch my heart. But I also thought about what my laughter might mean, and I am hoping, perhaps…

that we are in a season of joy.
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… joy that is unspeakable. (1 Peter 1:8)
… joy that heals. (Proverbs 17:22)
… joy that comes as a gift from God Himself. (Galatians 5:22)

Rod recorded a song a few years ago that starts off with, “Joy comes in the morning, after a long, hard night. The weeping is finally over, everything will be all right…” And to this I say, WHY NOT? We have spent many months wringing our hands, second guessing ourselves, waiting, crying, and wrestling. And through this, thought it seems like it was miserable (and was sometimes), we have grown. We have kicked it up a level. So let’s celebrate. Let’s feel the joy. Let’s laugh like crazy.

And let me, in my joy, share one of my favorite songs about it with you. Again I say, REJOICE! (I wish you could hear my journeychurch sing it!)

no shadow of turning

Today, I proclaimed a new season for us.

I have no idea, really, what the new season will be. We’ve been praying for it for awhile, shortly after our current one started and rather quickly, pun intended, went south. I often harken back to some wise words from one of our precious Moms and More meetings, a prayer that says,

Lord, help me to learn what I need to learn from this season so I can move on to a new one.

Which, quite honestly, I sometimes prayed by quoting the fictional and lovable Theo Huxtable:

Oh Dad, I’ve learned my lesson! I’ve learned it whatever it is!

Through these last months, God has shown me on numerous occasions exactly how Not Ready or Not Knowing What I Need To Know that I actually was. I didn’t get this, even after several months of desperate praying and crying out, until some time in January. When I normally make a “prayer goal” for the year, it’s something succinct, like “Wisdom” or “Simplicity.” This year, I couldn’t give a simple term to it. It was:

God, I want to be steady. I want to be a person who is not driven by her emotions. I want to trust You and Your plan before the phone calls, after the phone calls, when the phone calls deliver bad news, and when the phone calls never come. I want peace that pervades circumstances and faith that runs to my roots.

{Sometimes, I overdo it, I suppose}

But seriously…that is what I felt God calling me to strive for. And so I have been. I have been intentionally trying to swallow my negative comments, ignore the knots in my stomach, and turn away from things and even people that feed my anxiety. When I’m waiting on news, or when something else has gone array, I try to call on scripture, or pray, or ask friends to pray with or for me. Because I don’t want emotions to run my life.

With God, there is no shadow of turning. He stays the same.

He is the same whether our season is one of feast or famine, provision or benevolence, giving or receiving.

He is the same whether we have health insurance or (thank You, Jesus), good health.

He is the same whether the dream job is all it was cracked up to be or if it withers and painfully dies in a matter of months.

He is the same in South Carolina as He is in South Chicago Heights.

He is the same regardless of who is surrounding us, ignoring us, supporting us, or lying to us.

He is the same whether we are overseeing a really great press conference or being misquoted by the press.

He is the same when the paycheck comes as He is when it does not.

He is the same when we feel like dancing on a mountaintop as He is when we want to stay in bed, forever.

He is the same in our bondage as He is in our freedom, the same in our drought as He is in the rain.

He is the same in our children’s needs, our parent’s needs, our family and friend’s needs. Thank God He cares about it all!

He is the same in the quiet moments of doubt as He is in the jubilant moments of victory.

He is the same in every decision, be it how to budget our money, where to school our kids, or with whom to share our confidence.

He is the same tonight as He as was last April, when we found out we were moving here and thought we knew why…as He was since September, when the picture starting blurring… as He is tonight, when maybe, just maybe, it is sharpening again, into something more amazing than we could have imagined.

He is the same, the same, THE SAME…even when nothing is familiar, or comfortable, or feels right. HE is the same, when no one else can offer peace or comfort or can even be trusted. He STAYS the same, as everything else turns and shifts and dies or revives.

There is no shadow of turning with my God.

~

We are on the brink of new circumstances. I’m not purposely trying to be coy, but they are not mine to share just yet. I will say though, that just like another April 12 miracle6 years ago! – this ‘new season’ is not really about what is going to happen. It is, instead, about what has happened. In as much as God does not change, He has, in fact, changed me. Changed Rod. Changed our family. He has shifted focus away from extraneous, away from image, away from pride. He has bound us together through love and necessity. He has reminded us Who created us, why He created us, and what we are to do. He has given us a clear directive that simply says, “Follow Me,” and given us the boldness to follow…even when we are walking in the middle of a storm and look like perfect idiots. He has made us a little more like who we are supposed to be in Him. So, whatever new or phone calls come in this next week, we will follow Him… not a man, a plan, or a dream of our own making. It is God Who has provided for our every need – from the big to the tiny – during this most difficult season in our lives. There is no reason to doubt He will continue to do the same by whatever means He chooses.

~

All I have needed, Thy hand has provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.