Goodness, I don't know what to write. Not for lack of content, but lack of clarity, organization. I haven't quite ironed it all out in my head. Maybe that is what this is--ironing out. I could do it in private, but I wonder if it might be useful for someone else, to know that life is messy, and thinking well is difficult, and sometimes we've just got to talk to someone to find some clarity.
I have learned so much this summer. I feel a different person, but much the same. I am me, but my dirty, rough, clay outer shell is being broken off to reveal the beautiful gold inside. Only He could do it. Could chisel away, sending cracks through my world, cracks that hurt, cracks that tear, split, and run through all of me. I feel as though I am falling apart, but it isn't that, really. The schmuck is falling off. It was comfortable, or I was comfortable in it. I feel bare, and cover up my gleaming gold skin, trying to hide the light. It is too noticeable, and I don't like drawing attention to myself. I shouldn't hide it, though. I won't be able to for long.
Gratitude. Who knew such a small thought could run a mighty crack through my entire clay skin? That being grateful--not just for the good, but for every moment, every in-the-way event, and inconvenience, every pain--could draw me so near to His heart? I have not enjoyed life, or felt this alive and purposed in a long time--since I was young I think. Slowly, I am becoming young again, dashing like my little sister to every flower, cupping their faces to mine and drinking their scents, studying the tiny details of their intricate petals and leaves. Every cloud, sunset, raindrop, sunny day, gloomy night, I soak in. I don't always necessarily feel their beauty wash over me like I used to, not all the time, but I choose to appreciate it. Every choice to give thanks is a step toward the One for whom my soul was made.
Slowly feeling returns to my numbed soul. But isn't that the difficulty? When we are not numbed, we feel the pain--it slashes deep, cuts hard, bruises and stings. "...there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen. Can we feel true, pure, heart-bursting joy if we numb ourselves to pain? Maybe the pain is the path to joy. Maybe the setbacks and inconveniences and disappointments are the miracles that bring us to a place to find Him, and find joy. Gratitude for every moment, being awake to every moment, has been my door to this.
Gratitude is less about feeling and more about choice, attitude. When I choose gratefulness, it acknowledges trust in Him, humbles me (which needs to happen as often as possible), and gives Him His due glory. Of all the words Ann Voskamp penned and that He breathed into my life, these have stuck to me like a bur:
"When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt, but I who am in His great debt, then doesn't all become gift?"
all becomes gift. ALL becomes GIFT. Not just Tuesdays, best friends, chocolate, and peaches, but every hard and good thing.
I am learning how much this life is not about me. His work in me is not for me alone. No, no. It is to help others. To share a little hope, build a little faith, and pour a great deal of love away. Because when I stop at the receiving of His love, I miss out on what love really is--giving, sacrificing, sharing.
"He doesn't give gifts for gain because a gift can never stop being a gift—it is always meant to be given. When we are grateful for His gifts, we give the gifts away because a gift never stops being a gift." Ann Voskamp
love never stops being gift. and joy is found in love. His love.