for new Septembers.

the greatest salesman couldn’t have sold me on this.

the idea that all things considered, my heart would actually move forward & press on.

no, i would’ve held up my hand, seemingly telling you to save your words, mr. salesman, because my heart had never hurt so profoundly, and you’d be full of shit to convince me that the best was yet to come.

i don’t speak of this much any more, but i was stagnant. i was livid. i was ignored and dismissed by the person who had become my best friend, my dearest companion, a true comrade i was choosing to do the rest of my days with. what we had was crumpled-up and tossed into the waste-basket, never to be addressed again. i wanted to get lost, because that was easier than actually figuring out how to let it all go.

a new friend recently told me about a study he’d read, proving that our brains react to being ignored in the same way they react to physical pain being inflicted, with the release of the same chemicals, and the same urgency for defense & protection. well geeze, does that ever resonate. {maybe i should take time to study the human brain more often.}

__________

as Christians, we’re not often very honest about our deepest woundings. nonetheless, i feel it’s time to be transparent about the thing: following Christ is the hardest freaking thing we’ll ever outwardly & inwardly decide to do.

such high standards beckoning us.
so much prayer & obedience required of us.
& for what? all too often, a broken heart in us.

that’s the simple, honest truth, my friends, and most of us don’t like to talk about it.

Life is hard ...
but it is a big deal. pain is not polka dots and bows. 
it’s messy, it means something, and it’s real.

that’s the thing about pain; it demands to be felt (1), with the brevity and honest-to-goodness side-stitches that leave you doubling-over, out of breath, almost unable to keep running. pain is often seen translated into the crosses we are to carry, the kind-of-heart-sick-stuff that makes us want to throw-in-the-towel for good.

but Jesus never promised peachy. He promised war.

__________

as I was driving home from this last leg of my summer recruiting tour on Labor Day, in the passenger seat of our large, over-packed van, feet stretched up onto the warm, sunny dashboard, i gazed out the window at all of the corn-fields & sunflowers darting past me. it was in that moment of stillness where i was confronted by this new reality: i’m more at rest than i’ve ever been. i feel at home wherever i am, with strangers who become fast friends, with beds made-up of mats, & bags that are the mark of my gypsy self.

why? because He’s brought me through the valley, and His presence is where i now make my roots.

in that messy van i often call home, Mumford & Son’s lyrics blared through the speakers, declaring the truth about how i’ve been on my knees, looking up for so long, feeling completely out of luck. but i’ve gotten over so many hills with the Grace that’s in my heart, with flowers in my hair, and the profound peace that Love did not come to break my heart, but to dismiss my fears of it all (2). I have this lyric posted about 27 times on this board, but thats just because its so beautiful

i heard Jesus say, “& because of all of that pain, just look where I’ve brought you.”

“…umm, a corn-field in Iowa??”, I thought.

“no. not just here. everywhere. My Kingdom. to My children who needed a hand to hold & a song sung over them & a home built to shelter them. you brought them a glimpse of Me, a glimpse of Heaven.”

i nearly burst into tears, as this truth was nearly too much to bear.
why did He choose to use bitter & doubled-over in pain, ready-to-quit, little old me?
i couldn’t fathom it.

__________

but here’s what i concluded: had i chosen to make my bed there in Seattle, i’d be biking my ass off and working menial jobs just to make ends meet in one of the nation’s most expensive cities. i would’ve made roots with a person i cherished so deeply, & yet i would’ve forfeited the chance for Kingdom come. my heart would’ve slowly died bit by bit, day by day. the dreary rain would’ve consumed me. i would’ve kept striving for this man’s love & affection, a one-sided pursuit. i would’ve eventually deflated.

i would’ve given up part of my portion, the beautiful faces of the Nations. 

no, i wouldn’t have had the chance to fall head-over-heals in love with God’s children, learning two of the countries i am to adopt from. i wouldn’t have become a true adventurer, abandoning things of this world. i wouldn’t have conquered fears. i wouldn’t have worshiped freely. i wouldn’t have a family comprised of forty-something people who i know i can call at the-drop-of-a-hat to cry with, pray with, laugh with, be my truest self with.

the infinite joy that has come with the pain of the last two years confronted me like a head-on collision in that van this Labor Day. exactly two years ago, i chose to drive east, head-strong, and not willing to turn around or sacrifice any more of myself or my heart for someone with a false invitation, someone who was only pretending & trying to convince himself.

home

Mount Rainier in my rear-view mirror, tears puddling in my eyes, and pedal to the metal, i headed toward the direction of my bountiful, abundant destiny.

since then, my heart has prevailed through more deep pains and let-downs. i’ve experienced some of the greatest triumphs & victories. i’ve taken back what the enemy has stolen (3), marching onward toward the finish line with sass in my step & gumption in my voice.

it’s been a domino effect of sorts: the pain produced movement from my stagnancy. & that movement gave me the chance to take the road less-traveled which has bettered me. & in that chance, i found strength in my pain. & in that strength born from pain, i made the conscious choice to prevail, despite the once crippling hurt & confusion that plagued me. & because of that choice, i’ve been on the craziest of journeys, experienced new loves, & am working toward something that i actually care about.

it may seem cliche, but when we finally stop laboring away all of our days and learn to rest in the fullness of the Only One who matters, Septembers begin to look different because we are different.

What have you chosen to walk {or literally drive} away from?
How has that decision made you better, more whole, more alive?

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4 thoughts on “for new Septembers.

  1. so good suzan. this past sunday in church we were in chapter 4 of the book of malachi. verse 1 says that “the day is coming when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble.” we look around and see people walking in sin who are living it up and liked because of their sin, all while we are doing the “right thing” and trying to live righteously and pure in his eyes. we may no see a single reward during our time on earth, but in heaven we will find all of our treasures. thanks so much for sharing suze!

    • thank you so much for reading, Bia. I’m grateful for your fellowship from afar, and hope you’re doing well. that sermon from church sounds relatable for sure. 🙂

      p.s.-ha. don’t call me Suzan, ya turkey! but seriously.

  2. Woah, get it Suzy:) I love the truth in this… the truth of coming alive in the midst of pain and finding Jesus more real than we ever thought. So glad I’ve gotten to be a part of it.

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