Friday, November 8, 2013

The grey cloud of Autumn

Fall doesn't always feel this way. As leaves are turning and falling, and frost covers our yard in the early hours of the morning, I am beginning to vaguely sense a change blowing through the invisible parts of our lives.

Maybe it's the baby on the way.
Maybe it's the end of another semester of Bible study.
Maybe it's just part of getting used to my oldest being in school every day.
Maybe it has to do with meeting a new friend and realizing that this world she has opened up to me is going to change everything.
Maybe it's a lingering ache for my best friend who is really, really far away.
Maybe it's a result of coming face to face with all of the issues that keep me from being effective in ministry as a woman (thanks, "Detox"! haha. Ugliest mirror ever.).
Maybe it's due in part to the growth in each of these areas I've experienced, that I'm being moved out of where I was and into a new place (thanks, "Detox"! best mirror I've ever chosen to gaze into.).
Maybe it's just what happens over time as we grow and mature.
Maybe it's being ushered in by all the changes that are taking place in many of the relationships in my life, with or without my direct involvement.

Sometimes I wake up and think, who really knows me? Who really knows my thoughts, what's happening in my heart, what shape my dreams are taking, the things that frustrate me to exhaustion, the pockets of joy and gratefulness I have in my days that make my heart burst, the decisions I have to make and how scary it is not to know what the best choice is when it affects so many people in so many ways?

And of course my husband knows most of these things, but if I can't even clarify half of it for myself... if all of the unknowns and thoughts and emotions of this current phase are swirling above me like a storm cloud ready to burst, but without any real shape or definition... how can I make sense of it even for myself!? I'm so thankful that when our hearts and minds are unknown even to us, the one who carries them around, our Father knows it all intimately and loves us for it (or in spite of it?!).

A week or two ago, I felt out of joint. In the irritable way.

Right now I feel vague. Undefined. Full of hope and possibility. I also feel heavy. My body is physically heavy with life. My mind and heart both feel pregnant and I don't know exactly what is about to come to life. But something is growing. God is shaping and forming the unseen and like the babe in my womb, I know it's real and its presence is heavy. In the past, these spaces of vagueness used to really threaten me and cause great anxiety. All I feel right now is an unspeakable joy and anticipation.

Yesterday I told my friend Liz that I felt like there was a grey cloud hovering above me, heavy with all of the thoughts, dreams, emotions, possibilities and burdens of this current phase I'm in. A little bit of it spilled out - maybe before I was ready for it to - when I was asked a pointed question and needed to answer honestly. It was an incomplete answer, a thought I wasn't quite ready to voice. It felt awkward. I felt unsure of myself, of the choice I need to make in the weeks to come. I wasn't quite ready to address the situation yet. I so rarely feel this way - I am opinionated and passionate, typically driven towards an end goal and steady in my course towards it, and yet here I am, feeling as unsure as I've ever felt about myself or anything... which is beautiful because I've come face to face, in a way, with the idea that God might have other plans for me. It's caused me to step back, reconsider everything. Stop trusting myself so much and start trusting The Lord that I love and serve and identify with. For this artistic soul that appreciate the tangible evidences of relationship and love, this stretches me. Follow the God I know is there, even though He is invisible... Listen for His voice, which isn't audible but speaks very clearly at times... Be wise to know that the way things look to the eye sometimes betray the fuller story of what's brewing beneath... Remember that this isn't a battle we can see or fight with weapons of this world, but this is a battle fought in realms very real but unseen, with weapons of the Spirit.

I have a choice in this in-between time. We always do.

1. Fight it, try to pull particles down and force them to take a shape so that the illusion of control can falsely assure me.

2. Sit in the tension. Rest in the shadow of the cloud that refuses to rain, yet hovers persistently. Walk with it like a companion. Wait on The Lord.

I will tell you this: it's a season of vulnerability and exposure. If you know me, you'll know that I am pretty willing to share my life honestly. I don't see much value in hiding my trials or struggles, my emotion as I wrestle through them, and even my mistakes. I've found a lot of freedom in living this way. This blog is a place for me to capture my thoughts and take snapshots of our family life, but it's not always a full picture of what is happening internally or externally. Actually, it never is. And that's not my intent for this space, and so I keep writing.

However, I love nothing more than to share what I am learning, especially when it comes to my faith. I believe in living out loud, especially when we realize that it has the potential to encourage and bless others. I live out loud even though many times it's at my own expense. I'm ok with that. I'm not trying to prove anything about myself, except that I need God so desperately and there is so much beauty in the rescue that you don't want to miss it.

I really long to express the beauty of this space that I find myself in currently. It's bittersweet, in that as so many things change seemingly at the same time (relationships, schedules, circumstances, ministry opportunities, our family...), I find it nearly impossible to articulate - yet. Some of it will never be named out loud, or publicly, for reasons of privacy and appropriateness. And yet I hope to find a way to write through the rest as it all unfolds and clarity is given and I can see what The Lord has been up to.

For now, I wrestle with these questions:

How can I ensure that the decisions I am making are careful, deliberate, loving and full of God's grace, based on wisdom and not emotion, beneficial to all who are affected by the outcome? What do I need to do on a practical level to work every day towards this end? How can I make more space for God to speak to me, to listen for His voice, to chase courage and bravery when it's uncomfortable and foreign?

At what point do our emotions inform our decisions, as far as being markers for capacity and desires, and a large part of the way we are wired? Unstable as they are, they aren't to be completely ignored as they are God-given for a purpose. I'm focused a lot right now on 'taking my emotions captive' each day, much in the same way that Scripture tells us to wisely take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ...

"For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

That swirling dense grey cloud above my head - it's wonderfully ominous. It's a promise that things are about to happen, new things, maybe unseen things. For a girl that appreciates constancy and safety, it's unnerving. For that same girl who loves God and wants to be a part of what He's doing, to be where He is, to know Him more... it's thrilling. My eyes are on this cloud of mystery. I have so very little control over it. I have choices to make that call me to action in many ways, but in a very strange and wonderful way, I feel as though I am being pulled in the direction I should go. That I WANT to go. That HE wants me to go. I have a choice, and many little choices, but in a sense... I don't.

Where He leads, I pray that I have the heart and the strength to follow.

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