Monday, June 29, 2015

Love, Hide-n-Seek, and Brilliance

A friend recently asked me, what do you wish you knew, as an 11 or 12 year old girl, heading into womanhood? It was a good question. The answers were the same things that I wish my soul would know now as a 37 year old. These are not complete. They weren't written by a theologian. They were just written by little-not-so-young-me, as I thought about what really matters, what really changes things and what do we/I need to know and remember to head into the next stage of life - whether 13, 38, or 73.
Here it is.

Luke 10:27 "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
You are loved. You are loved thoroughly, purely, and perfectly.  This love is not dependent on anything you do, have done, or will become. This love simply IS.  Your greatest goal in life is to find the love, catch the love, "spy" the love, and spread the love. All around you, everyday God has left little love notes, in the beauty of a flower, the wonder of a piece of art, a cool breeze on a hot day, a baby's laugh, your Mom's mac-n-cheese - when you find His love - and you name it - and you find joy in it - then, you are right in the center of God's greatest dream for your life.  The next part of His dream, for your life - is for you to do all of those same things with the people that God puts into your life.  Love them - find the love - "spy" the love - spread the love. Delight in the love you share with other people that God has set beside you in this life. As you find more and more of God's love all around you (see above) you will have more and more love to share with those around you.  

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Find ways to live in the present. That may sound silly, because, of course- where else can we live, but the place that we are? But, many people spend much time remembering, longing for, or wishing to re-do the past.  When not focused on the past, we are often straining toward the future, worrying, wondering, planning, and grasping for what will be.  When we are not lost in our past or pining for our future - we are often distracting ourselves with anything to keep our minds busy, entertained, or feeling good (but not really feeling, at all).  But, to simply BE in the present - thinking, feeling, loving, creating, relating to God and others - this is where we are truly alive.  It is in these times and spaces - that we really experience the love and relationships that I wrote about above. (That's right, sweetie, keep looking up!) So, when you feel yourself lost in your past, obsessively planning for the future, or feeling "bored" and reaching for a distraction - perhaps, instead, play a game of Hide-n-Seek, with God. There is something in your present moment to be thankful for, there is a person near you who you can show love or appreciation, there is an emotion that can be given space to dance, there is a love note somewhere in your midst, can you find it? There is a song to be sung, a mile to be run, or a story to be told. When we live and love in the "now" and we seek God with our whole heart - God promises us that we will always find Him.  Sometimes it might seem that God is hiding, but - if He is hiding, it is right out in the open! We must keep seeking Him, in all of our moments. 

Matthew 28:20 And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Life will be full of hard things. It is OK. You can do hard things. You are going to be hurt, in ways that you cannot imagine. But, you will be OK. The goal is not to run away from the hard things or the hurt; the goal is to grow in our ability to give and receive love in the midst of all the hard hurting moments. God is with you and His love is perfect - and perfect love defeats fear. You do not have to be afraid. That doesn't mean you will like the bad things; it means you will not be alone in the midst of them. It means that God will collect your tears and, just like Jesus with his friends in the Bible, He may cry salty tearts right along with you. Then, because God is awesome like this, He can take the hard and the hurt and the bad and the broken, and make something beautiful.  God can do this because, He is the first Artist and Creator and so He can recycle the junk in our lives - caused by sin and brokenness and a world of sickness - and make something that is better, more beautiful, and a blessing to someone - somewhere - somehow. Sometimes beauty takes time - sometimes you have to wait a while to see it. But, we can trust our God - He is good and though he doesn't always rescue us from hard things He always stays with us in the midst of them and He is continually weaving together something beautiful, especially from the broken bits. 

John 14:20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.
Revelation 21:5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" 
Sometimes the pain, sadness, and brokenness you will see are somewhere else or in someone else, like a child far away in another country who does not have a family or a friend at school who no one will eat lunch with.  In those moments, it is also so very important to remember that you are not alone. God is with you. God is within you. That means, that God wants you to enter the brokenness and be a part of the pain tht is around you and the beauty that He is working on. We are His image bearers. That is fancy words for - when people see you, they see God. Inside of you is all of the creativity, love, resourcefulness, brilliance, and compassion that God has (because, of course, you are His child).  So, when we see the brokenness, we are meant to help bind it and to create beauty, We are not simply meant to talk about it, or cry about it, or wonder why God is not doing something about all of this mess. My dear, He is doing something - and He is doing it inside your heart - and it is meant to spill out into your hands and feet. So, little child, listen carefully to your heart in the hurting times of those around you- Jesus is speaking there and He wants you to be a part of the work He is doing of making all things new. 
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Finally, you are a girl/woman. You were created in the image of God. At some point someone may have painted a picture in your mind that God was/is a boy. That is silly. God is God. As a girl - you show a very important part of who God is and without you being the amazing girl/woman that God has created you to be - with all your love, joy, creativity, brilliance, compassion, and creativity all spilling out all over the place - people would not be able to see God quite so clearly.  Be brave. Be bold. Be kind. Be love. Do not accept any limits that anyone would put on you - God has opened wide the gates - the possibilities are limitless.  You are an amazing young woman....let your light shine and blind them with the brilliance of Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). 
Love For the Path Ahead, photo shared by my beautiful friend who has been walking the hard paths of life with me....she is so good at being a part of "everything new" in my life!