Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The melting heart

Baby Gloryanna held out her hands to me!  She had come to me before but she had never really wanted me alone. She had never held out her hands specifically to me. And, of course, I took her and, of course. my heart melted...like water.

As a kid, there was nothing I loved better than going to Grandma's house. She was such a special person to me that even when I left home, I made sure that I would spend several nights at her house.  The minute I walked in the door she would start crying and say, "Oh, Honey, I missed you so much." I would say, "But why are you crying?  I'm here now." She would say, "Because I know when you leave I'll be missing you even more."  And my heart would melt like water. I'd even think is there any way I can stay longer and if not for the limited vacation time of a newly employed person, I would have.

My daughter can melt my heart like water. When she left for college, I cried and my heart melted because I knew I would miss her.  That lasted for awhile but when I knew she'd always come back home, I stopped crying. Now my heart melts when she comes home knowing that one day she will live away from here, on her own.  And, my heart just melts like water when I think about her, period, because she is a bright and shining star in the universe.

The reason my heart melts in any of the above circumstances has to do with the tremendous amount of love I have for each of the individuals. Extreme love requires many things, one of those is keeping your agreements. Imagine if I had rejected little Gloryanna's arms held out to me. What if I had not gone to see my grandma even though I was only 30 miles away? What if I decided to ignore my daughter's phone messages, texts or facebook messages?  In each of these instances the relationship would probably change because I did not keep unspoken agreements.

What about spoken or written agreements? Many relationships are ruined forever because of breach of agreements.  A husband or wife is unfaithful, an employee embezzles funds, a friend shares a confidence with another.  Many church members have left the church even left the faith because a leader has treated them unfairly.  I know many individuals in each of the above circumstances where they have felt as though their hearts melted like water.  It is as if there is nothing left to care about.  Or it is if nothing else matters more.

Supposedly we love the God of the universe more than any earthly person.  At the sound of His voice, mention of His name, thought of His supreme sacrifice for us, our hearts should melt like water. However, scripture records only three times when hearts melted.  Two times it mentions hearts melting like water and a third time, like wax. Each time it is because people have turned their backs on God or not kept agreements with Him and this has melted their hearts.

Greed played a big part in the first instance.  The man who caused the heart of the people of Israel to melt like water (Joshua 7:5) was Achan.  Israel had been riding high on victory.  God had told them they could not fail if they met His criteria of not taking plunder and burning everything of their enemies. All of Israel agreed to this.  So, they sent a small portion of their army into the next battle. What should have been an easy victory was a dismal disappointment.  It was as if God slapped them in the face, but they had no idea why.

The response of the entire nation was one of total despair, discouragement and depression. “At this the hearts of the people melted and became like water” (Joshua 7:5, NIV). Joshua led by God confronts Achan who admits to taking plunder and burying it under his tent. Achan. His family, all his livestock and possessions are destroyed.

Disobedience, according to Ezekiel, will cause God to turn his back on his people. When that happens, “Every heart will melt and every hand go limp; every spirit will become faint and every knee become as weak as water” (Ezekiel 21:7).

Fear of God turning his back on him, causes David to cry out, “I am poured out like water, and my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.” (Psalm 22:14).

What melted hearts like water and wax in these three instances? Greed, disobedience, fear of God, the knowledge that individuals had not kept their agreements with the God of the universe.

Fine, then, you might say. I just won't make any agreements with God. That works if you don't mind living forever in eternal torment. However, if you plan on living forever in the eternal presence of God, then following him is not an option.  It is part of the agreement you made when you accepted him as savior.

I have to admit, just thinking about the ways I have not kept my agreements with God, turns my heart to water. Vowing again to keep them is intimidating in itself. I am reminded, though, of the ways God has worked in my life and kept his promises to me. As a matter of fact, he sent his son to die a hideous death because he knew I, like Achan, could not keep my all of my promises to him.

Anyone who has been a Christian for awhile knows that following Christ is not a simple matter even though we are living a new life and have the Spirit of God within us. There will certainly be tests of your faith, tests of how well you are keeping your agreements with the Spirit of God Almighty who, by the way, knows if you are His or not.

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5, NIV).

And that, my friend, would melt my heart . . . like water.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Knock, knock.

Get up you Sleepy Head. What are you doing still in bed?  It’s a beautiful day. Come on there’s things we gotta do.

Go away! Jjust a few more minutes.  I didn’t get in until late last night.  I’m beat.

And whose fault was that anyway? Yeah, don’t put that pillow over your head, I’m talking to you!

I’m tired. I’m staying put.

No you don’t.  Remember that job interview? 

Oh no, what time is it? 

8 am.

The interview is at 9! Man, I’m so toast. I’m gonna kill you.  Why didn’t you wake me earlier?

I tried.

Try harder next time.

Yeah like there will be a next time. Especially if you kill me.

(Knock, Knock.)

Oh, don’t give me that. You love me.  I’m your favorite. There will always be a next time.

Don't bet on it.

Help me get ready here. What am I going to wear?

Let’s see.  It’s for an assistant manager job, right? So you want to look professional but not over the top like you want the manager’s job or anything.

The black suit with the white silk blouse?
Personally that’s my favorite but I’m afraid it says too responsible and high class.

(Knock, Knock.)

How about the gray with the soft pink stripe?

Hmmm, that may say secretary a bit too much.

Oh, what would you know anyway?  I’m gonna wear the dark green wool with the pale green blouse that looks like silk but really isn’t. 

Look, anyone worth their salt would know it’s a knock off and it would say you don’t know anything.

Hey I’m wearing it and that’s that.

(Knock, Knock.)

You’re nothing. You know that.  You’re nothing that’s for sure.

Shut up.  I’m wearing it.

Be sure and cover that zit on the top of your forehead.

Like I wouldn’t cover that zit?  What do you think I’m some kind of idiot?

Sometimes, yes. Yes, I do.

I can’t believe you’d say that. Look you made me mess up the lipstick.

That’s too bright anyway. You need to tone it down.

It’s my regular shade.

Well, this isn’t a regular day.

Give me a break.

You’ll need one to get an assistant manager job.

What do you know about it, you loser?

(Knock, knock.)

I know you don’t have what it takes. Why do you think you lost the last job and the job before that?

It’s the economy.  Middle management is the first to go.

So try for a management position or secretary. 

I’m not qualifed for management and I’m too qualified for secretary. And by the way have I told you lately that I hate you!

Sure, you tell me that every day.

And yet you’re still here. Why is that? I should have put a knife in you a long time ago.

I like being abused.  I like being told that someone hates me. And I simply adore having my life threatened every day.

Right, like you don’t hate me.

Well, sure I hate you. And I will kill you first. That’s inevitable.

Why is that, pray tell?  Why is that?

(Knock, Knock.)

Listen to that. Have you been hearing that knocking?

Yeah, I was ignoring it cause I don’t have time to talk to anyone right now.  I have, like, 15 minutes to get to the interview and it’s 14 minutes away, at least.

Maybe I’ll get it.

Stop right there. Don’t you dare! We don’t have time.

You don’t have time.

Same thing, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, I guess it is.

Come on, let’s go.

Rushing out the door, she flew into her car and down the street without a second thought.

He stood, knocking lightly, persistently.  When He noted she had gone without a word, He bowed His head sadly and left as well.

“What causes fights and quarrels within you?  Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 4:1-2

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If you loved me half as much as I love you, it would be enough

Do you love Jesus?  How much?  For instance do you love him more than your best friend? Do you love him more than you spouse or significant other?  Do you love him more than your children?  Do you love him more than your grandchildren.  

Not a fair question, you say. Those are real people. Jesus isn't a real person. But He was and is! He is not standing here where you can touch him but, He walked on this earth, lived as a person, rose again and is now at the right hand of His father. You can feel his presence helping you guiding you every day.  He said your love for him compared to your love for family should be so much greater that your love for family would be like what we know as hatred. He wasn't telling us to hate our family but to love Him exceedingly more. When my grandma was alive, each time I'd leave her I'd say, "Grandma, I love you." She would always answer, "If you loved me even half as much as I love you, it would be enough."  I believe that's some of the concept here.  She loved me with abundance.  She knew the depth of her love. She knew I loved her in my way and my way, though not as great as hers, was still love.

If this makes little sense, let me explain some more.  My life purpose is to come alongside women providing tools, ways, mechanisms to help them fall deeper in love with Jesus Christ—to help them walk step by step in an ever increasing closer spiritual relationship with the God of this universe.  One tool I use is life purpose coaching, a fun one-on-one conversational time based on the curriculum 10 Conversations With Women. It consists of 10 hour-long weekly meetings with homework in between. 

Ask me and I’ll be happy to share more about this awesome opportunity for growth. Other life purpose coaches charge for this service. And I guess soon I probably should do that as well. However, for now I’m learning. So, for free, you get me!  I can point you to others more experienced than I who will coach you if you want someone who really knows what they are doing and you don't mind paying for the service. Or you can donate a sum to a worthy cause in my name if you like.

During coaching sessions, we have fun. We do dig deep. We laugh. We cry.  We get real.  If you aren’t willing to do any of those things, you probably aren’t ready to really discover and uncover new things about yourself.  Basically, life purpose coaching is a time when you get your life in order, in the order you want it, based on direction from the Holy Spirit. No one tells you what to do or how to get to where you want to go. No one tells you where you want to go. You do that with guidance from the One Who is always there knocking on your heart's door wanting to fellowship with you.

For those interested in becoming life coaches, the first step is going through the coaching process. So come on board. I do have initial information to go over with you. I can take on only a few more women now, so let me know if you are interested. I will have some forms for you to fill out to see if you are a candidate for life purpose coaching.  Get ready to enjoy the journey!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Scream Against World Suck!

The Scream by Edvard Munch
The swing set looms boldly in our backyard, a fortress and a testimony to Jorge*, one of our foster sons.  The young man was 13 when he came to live with us. He loved to swing. He liked to scream-talk loudly as he tried to touch the sky with his feet or twirl the swing and feel it unwind with him on board screeching like a banshee. We constructed the sturdiest swing set we could buy down by the lake, away from the house pointed so Jorge's voice would not carry to our house or the neighbor's.

The first swing set not only tipped over the first week but lay in pieces on the ground. Jorge was sad.  Despite being the size of a ful-grown man, he loved to swing long and hard. Although swing sets are not made sturdy enough, we finally we found a man who would Jorge-proof the swing set.  Additional enforcement legs were added so that each side had three legs wide enough apart to drive a riding lawn mower through.  Each of the six legs was buried in at least three-feet of concrete. It worked great for him for the three plus years he lived with us. But when he left our home, it couldn't go with him. We tried to move it. We just couldn’t get it out of the ground.  And it still stands there today.  Unmovable. Untouchable. Impervious to disruption. Silently screaming.

When I look out my dining room window I think of Jorge, the young man who liked to swing.  I see his fortress. Imaginary things happened there. No one came in and no one went out.  You could go talk to him but he didn’t respond.  He was lost in his world, one that had a swing set encased in concrete. The world he created was built to keep out what my daughter would call “world suck.”  It was his way of fighting against the stuff that brought him down.  Memories.  Thoughts.  Childhood. Abuse. Neglect. Hunger. Encroaching adulthood.  Expectations of how life should be.  Rage. Anger, without an effective method to process.

His desire seemed to be upending anything that started to look “normal” in his life.  Normal equals bad. This is something we "normal" people can't understand.  But who or what is "normal"?  The "normal" he grew up with, his family of origin, were where his greatest hurts occurred.  So he created a place where he could keep out the bad stuff for just a while. And though he was with us for more than three years, it was not long enough to help him understand we weren't the same kind of  "normal" as the "normal" people who hurt him.
There’s a whole group on the internet that talks about fighting world suck.  I say good luck with that. It’s a worthy ambition.  Sometimes world suck sucks us in and we find ourselves standing toe-to-toe with our teenager yelling about who should have put the fork in the fork drawer and not in the spoon drawer.  Or sometimes we just pass silently by, lost in our own worlds. 

Whatever the process, we do have decisions to make about how to take a first step towards inviting a family member, an old friend or a new acquaintance to step out of the swing set fortress.  We might discover that whatever makes them scream, also makes us scream, as well.  Together, we might just find a normal moment to scream together.  Or, we might both learn that perhaps the world doesn’t suck as much as we once thought.  Maybe, possibly, rage can be overcome by peace, sadness by joy, death by life.

Maybe there is hope after all; because to tell you the truth, I think we all need to fight just a bit more against world suck. Even if it means letting out a blood-curdling scream every now and then. I have a feeling Edvard Munch knew what that was like and so did Jorge.

What about you? What would you like to scream about?

*not his real name