How would people describe your home? Friends describe my home as homey, cozy, and peaceful.
As you walk into my foyer, you are welcomed by warm, golden walls and a room filled with cranberry red accents. My plaid couch is as old as my 20 year son, and the slight fraying just adds to its personality. You can sit on that comfy couch and put your feet up on my dented coffee table. You can reach over and grab the afghan that will warm you up on a cold day.
Let’s turn on the gas logs, plug in the twinkling lights on the mantle, and light a few candles. You will hear the sound of peaceful music through the speakers, see the light streaming in through the skylights, and hear the soothing sounds of water in the fountain.
God, thank you for loving me in my mess.
In my beautiful broken fragile humanness, You love me.
Surrounded by towering pines and hardwoods, I’m safe in the embrace of nature. Its 50 degrees outside in June, so I’m ensconced in three layers of clothing and a warm blanket. The steam from my coffee rises to greet my nose and its heat warms my hands. The birds are singing in the trees and the sun is rising, highlighting the towering mountain in the distance. I could sit on this screened porch in the mountains forever.
But there is a discontent in my heart that disturbs the perfect peace that surrounds me.
Even though I have a beautiful home and a lovely garden and amazing friends in my coastal hometown of Wilmington, NC, I don’t want to live there. I want to live here, in the serene mountains of North Carolina.
My heart longs for the peace that I feel here.
I’m in a quandary. I will share my quandary with you through this blog post, but I’m going to present a disclaimer up front: I won’t wrap this blog post up with a tidy bow and all the answers. I haven’t found the answers yet, but I have a feeling that many of you might find yourselves in the same quandary. And perhaps, as we explore it together, we might find some answers to these questions and in doing so, find peace..
I stared at the window, longing to go outside. I could see the birds flitting from tree limbs to the bird feeders. I could hear the sweet song of the cardinal at the top of the river birch tree. I could see the water flowing in the fountains, the windchimes swaying, and the flowers blooming in my whimsical cottage garden.
And I was stuck inside. I felt like I was the “princess in the tower,” locked in the upstairs bedroom and not allowed to leave. (more…)
It was a sacred moment for me. I entered the stately brick Methodist church through wooden doors that were twice my size. I journeyed down hallowed halls that were filled with a holy hush. Then I found the room where the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group met.
This was my very first speaking engagement in my new journey as a professional Christian communicator. I was prepared, a little nervous, and to bolster my self esteem I had on a lot of hot pink. My presentation was about how God’s grace was a greater factor in how our children turned out than our own mommy failures.
I was telling the story about how an autism therapist gave me a list of strategies to teach social skills to my son. She wanted me to take him to the park and initiate social interactions with strangers. Even while she was talking, I knew that I was not going to do that. It was too hard. As I shared my thoughts with these young moms, my words didn’t come out right.
They came out in a way that nearly made me wet my pants.
I’ve felt separated from God lately. I know from experience that my feelings of *space* between us is not because God has moved away from me, but because I have moved away from God. I’ve not purposely set out to put distance between God and me, but it is happened over time. And as I examine my life to figure out why I feel this distance, there can only be one answer:
Tears escape my eyes while worship takes place all around me in the church building. No one notices me down here on the floor, but God does. Down on my knees, face towards the floor, I cry out to the Lord. “Oh God, change me,” I pray with passion. “Change me so that You can use me. ”
When I peer into my sinful, human heart, I see so many things that I wish weren’t there. Anger over the actions of people. Frustration when things don’t go my way. Disappointment when my plans were stymied. And it gets worse. Round and round in my brain swirl hateful words that I long to say. I want to reject those who reject me and I want to hurt those who have hurt me. I demand justice for wrongs that I have suffered.
I’ve been studying the Old Covenant in the book of Exodus for a Precept Bible study that I am preparing to teach. Moses, the great leader of old, is a prominent character in this story of how God gave the Law to the people. Over and over Moses went up on the mountain and spent forty days and forty nights with God. And as I read the story, a jealousy rises up in me. I want the relationship with God that Moses had.
Get ready. In the next few paragraphs, I’m going to shatter your perception of me as a godly woman. If you see me as the perfect church woman, as we say in the south, “I’m fittin’ to disappoint you.”
I try very hard to keep my speech above reproach. I am very careful about what I say, and I often come across as sweet, gentle, and godly. I so want my words to honor God. But in the last few months, I’ve walked through some emotional turmoil that has been, at times, more than my sweet little self could bear. So when the tears have flowed and I’ve been an emotional wreck, I’ve said some things that are not characteristic of me.
The #!*% has hit the fan.
I feel like #*&@.
They can all go to *#$!