An Honest Declaration

Sometimes I go to a coffee shop for coffee, sometimes I go because I’m drowning in the middle of the waves of life, and a latte with a journal to write in is a life preserver and a breath of fresh air!  Two years ago I was one wave away from going completely under, so I left my screaming toddler and our other kiddos with my husband and drove as fast as I could to the escape of a vanilla latte and some coffee shop jazz.  Since writing is always a good way for me to decompress, I found a notebook in the back seat of my minivan before I went inside.

As I sipped and sat in stillness, my brain gradually quit swirling with thoughts of diaper changes and laundry and phone calls I needed to return… and I began to focus on some thoughts that had been flitting in and out of my mind for a while.  The thoughts seemed a bit jumbled, so I just started to write to make some sense of them.  What I ended up with was the most honest assessment of my heart I had made in a long time.

March 4, 2012
I wonder if on a heart level I have ever understood forgiveness.  And I wonder if I’ve ever truly understood God’s love.

There was a time in my life when I felt so intimately close to God.  I felt like I was special to Him.  Really special.  My heart has always been tender toward Him.

The thing is, in the years that I felt His love I was always striving.  I was always aware that there were parts of me that were dark and unclean.  Deep down, I was certain that my dark parts were worse than most people’s.  And there was always a very strong sense of determination that no one could be aware of those parts.

So I pressed into God with tenacity.  I worshiped hard, I prayed deeply, I read the Bible.  As though my heart determined that if I could be the best, most devoted friend to God, if I could love and worship Him with all I had, it would be enough to cover over all the dark things.  And the devotion and friendship were real.  Very real.  I gladly gave things up that I thought would hurt Him.  I guarded the movies I watched, the music I heard, the jokes I laughed at.  Not out of legalism, but out of love for Him and a desire to be more like Him.  I was always striving, and committing, to pray more, read the Bible more, worship longer.  Be better.

Between the amount of time I did spend with God and the “knowledge” that I was just about to get even closer, it was enough.  It was enough to be bigger than the dark parts.  And I felt God’s presence so much.  I felt His love.  I was continually aware of Him throughout my day.  I felt safe with Him.

So, with the responsibilities of life I lost the ability to spend so much time with Him.  But I held on to the commitment to do better.  And the longing to do better combined with the intermittent times I spent in worship and prayer still maintained my “standing” with God.  I knew that He understood my lack of time and He still saw me as special, as set apart for Him.

And at some point I stopped striving.  I realized I wasn’t going to “do better tomorrow.”  I realized I had lost too much ground and I was too far behind to catch up.  I had gone through enough loss and pain that I didn’t feel safe and protected anymore.  I struggled with doubt, and then guilt for the doubt.  And when the beauty of devotion and commitment wasn’t there to cover the dark parts anymore, I was exposed.  While my mind knew all about how God loves each one of us, how “if I was the only person on Earth, Jesus would have still gone to the cross,” my heart knew that I had failed.  I had disappointed Him and lost my place.  He didn’t see me as “Mary at His feet” (Luke 10:38-42) anymore.  I was just a person in a big crowd.

Months ago I came to a place of being honest with myself about how far away from God my heart has gone.  I did move forward some, but there has still been this reservation.  I’m not 100% connected.  And while I have been pursuing truth, I am also starting to realize that I have never had a heart understanding of such basic truths as love and forgiveness.  This is rooted back to my youngest memories.  I need to see God, to have a moment of awareness that changes me.  I don’t think I can think my way through this.  I am asking for something deeper.

Although I wrote this solely for myself, someone had invited me to be honest and I felt compelled to just hand this notebook over.  I wasn’t asking for help;  I didn’t feel like there was a way anyone could help.  I already knew the churchy answers and they weren’t enough.  This was simply an honest declaration of where I was.  It was a choice to remove the façade and reveal the truth of the condition I was in…just because I believed it mattered to someone.

That choice to be honest was the first step on a journey that I had no idea I would travel!  It was a step that changed the course of my life.  And as hard as parts of the journey have been, I have never regretted starting it!

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14 thoughts on “An Honest Declaration

  1. I can’t imagine what it is like to go back and read that entry. I’m eager to see the progress of your thinking over the last few years. I remember some of thoughts because of our actual conversations, but it would be good to revisit those moments. I think it is healthy for us all to journal during those difficult times. It helps us through the day, but it also gives us great perspective afterwards. It helps us remember to honor God (sort of like a memorial during the ancient times).

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    • Yes, I have revisited the Journal more times than I can count, and it is an emotional thing every time. It is always such an encouragement to remember where I was and see where I am now. Definitely inspires fresh worship when we remember the faithfulness of God in the midst of our difficult times!

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  2. This is beautifully transparent and is going to resonate with so many people. What are we so afraid of?! Would we really prefer living a phony life to being honest but rock-solid?!!

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  3. This was awesome, thank you so much for sharing your heart, it really touched me and made me think of how i have to make changes on how i spend my time in order to have that closer relationship with my father God this was so beautifully written, you have an amazing gift which im sure are just one of many!!!

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  4. Thank you, my sweet girl. You write beautifully and this will speak to many, many people. Fear is from our spiritual enemy but Jesus says that Truth will set us free. Isn’t it wonderful that, while it may be hard in the midst of finding the Truth, He is there with us the whole time because He is Truth.

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  5. You have such a beautiful way of expressing yourself. It is a gift. Over the years, in all the birthday cards and Mother’s Day cards, you always write something that makes me feel so special. Now this gift of writing is going to help the many who come to this blog. Looking forward to your next entry!

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  6. Well said, Elizabeth. Journaling is a discipline and provides amazing “Kodak moments” into our hearts, feelings, joys, frustrations, and dreams. I recently came across one of Summer’s journals and it moved my father’s heart to recall her struggles at 15 that are so very different now. I remember Billy Graham said in a interview that his precious wife, Ruth, recalled traveling to a ministry site and there was intense road construction on the way that caused them to slow down, curve to the right and left, stop, and generally change the journey significantly. At the end of the construction, there was a sign that said, “End of construction. Thank you for your patience.” She was so taken by this statement that she asked that it be placed on her gravestone….and so it is. We are all in process. We are all undergoing construction. Sometimes the construction is light—sometimes heavy. But just like road construction requires patience of everyone to make the journey nicer, so it is in our life. We need to GIVE our patients to others and we certainly NEED patience from others while we are DE-constructing and RE-constructing. Journals certainly take those snap-shots along the way. As we look back, those past struggles that were so overwhelming and “life-or-death” issues are seen in a new way…..we realize God has made us stronger…He has build beautiful structures into our lives that will stand throughout eternity. Keep sharing….this is good stuff!

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    • Gregg, thank you! It made my day to hear from you and read your comments. That is a beautiful illustration. I have compared my life to a construction zone many times. And when we realize that the people all around us are in the middle of construction as well, it makes grace and patience flow a lot more freely!
      Thanks for reading!

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  7. I feel very fortunate to have been invited to read your blog. It is well written and touched on so many areas of my own life bringing encouragement and insight. God has something rich deep inside you, a well of inspiration that will touch many.

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