I recently found something I wrote last July. I didn’t share it at the time, because it felt unfinished.
I then found something I wrote from a short time later where the Lord had started showing me that things don’t have to be finished to be presentable. The process is the helpful part.
And then, I forgot. As humans do…
Here is what I wrote almost a year ago, that still calls to me:
I thought this would be a brief exhortation, encouragement. And I set my fingers to the keys, intending to make a brief statement where the encouragement was coming from, and I couldn’t. It’s coming from this whole year so far…the events have been wild to me. The wildness is in the transformation. I hope the transformation of me, but really the transformation of my outlook and what has happened around and to me. I don’t know if I can make this a short story. I don’t like being long-winded. I don’t like using more than the essential words. It’s unnecessary, silly and sometimes very obnoxious. I think that’s why sometimes I slur. I am trying to get my thought out quickly, and in the haste, I blend a couple of words at a time.
Background, I guess that would be a good idea, to understand the story that started to take shape in January. Jim and I had been out of church for a number of years. We knew that we should be with other believers. We knew we should be in community. But there were simply no churches that felt anything other than weird. It just felt weird to be in church. It didn’t fit. During the years spent outside of church, we were de-programmed from all of the church-ness. All of the things and ways of doing things that have found their way into church to keep the model relevant. They’re not (all) bad or anything, they just didn’t fit us at all anymore. We were boiled down to the gospel. The simple life and love of Jesus. Love. We can do and have and be a lot of things, but without love, it’s nothing.
We had longed, and I mean Longed to live in Central Oregon for years. The door finally opened last July. And this door didn’t just open, it flew off the hinges. So many doors thrust themselves out of our way last year. After years of our heads banging into walls and deep deep disappointments, there was no stopping movement.
In January, we were somewhat settled in our new house. The holidays were out of the way, and our schedule could breathe again. We decided we would check out a church our friends had told us about. We were ready to be looking for months to find a church. That’s usually the way it goes. And from what we had heard, Redmond had some amazing churches. However, we went to one service at Grace Gate, and felt at home. We hadn’t felt that in YEARS!!!! Years! I ached to feel that again. I ached, literally in my soul and heart. I so desperately wanted that home again. The home of people. The home of no expectations and permission to be yourself. And every step along the way, it has been like this. We are free to be where we’re at. That’s a rare gem of a feeling!
Finding a home church has been lovely. We are learning again how to be involved, how to be in community. For myself, I’ve always wanted to tell the truth. I want my yes to be yes and my no to be no. However, I don’t know what my yes and no are right now. So I’m learning. Learning takes failure. So as I’ve been jumping into things, and then realizing I should have maybe stepped, I’ve been feeling like a rip-roaring idiot and failure. I know better. At least I thought I did. I really thought I knew better.
I hate saying yes, and then having to say no. It makes me say yes rarely in all honesty. With all of the new things and changes that have occurred in less than a year, I still don’t know very many of my yesses and no’s.
This has thoroughly pre-occupied me for months now. I have been distracted. And harassed, I believe, by the accuser. He’d like me to feel that I don’t belong and I’ve messed up and ruined a good thing.
Jim always helps me back off myself. I, like most women I believe, am ready and willing at all times to heap pressure and expectations on myself. I’ve got them ready. Jim always helps me see where I’ve done that again; where I’ve imagined scenarios where the outcome is my failure.
Honestly, I want to laugh writing this! Thank you God for love, thank you God for outside perspectives, for people you put in our lives who can see way better than we can. For people who love us and can point out the way we help the enemy accuse us.
This brings me around to another thing I helped the enemy discourage me with. All of what I have written about, I have been through before. We’ve all learned these lessons. Sometimes, it’s years between when we can identify our aha moments. Sometimes, it’s on repeat for months and months. But I knew I had learned all of this before. I had this experience. I had the understanding that I can’t and should not jump right in. That I should do these things with the Lord, not for the Lord and myself. With. With. That is the key word. That is the key spot I want to be in, with my Jesus. But I rushed on ahead. And I knew not to, but I did it, foolishly, recklessly. Reckless is a word I like! I like this word a lot! Knowing the Lord, and living with him, many things will appear and feel reckless. This is not a word I am afraid of. However, I had failed again. Repeatedly. I had made more room for sin and lack of love, than for Love.
The final challenge that has come along with finding church and community again is the constant supply of resources.
Now, I strive to be an un-busy person. I say strive on purpose, because rest is still an aim of mine, and I don’t claim to have mastered it yet. I value and treasure rest. I really do. Being back in a church, there is so much more information to absorb than there was for a long time in our lives. Books, sermons, podcasts, new people, building relationships…The list goes on, for what is now being added back into our lives. And we have a house that is in no way ready for all that we want to do with it. Houses are a lot of work, for crying out loud!
All of this new-ness has given me ample opportunity to feel like crap. To feel like I’m not nearly caught up, busy enough, too busy…Basically, the idea of anything being enough, let alone more than enough, can be a painful one this season. Part of the issue, is that I’m so very hungry. I’M HUNGRY!!!!!!!!!!!! If Jesus can be found in something, some place, whatever…I want to find Him there! He’s beautiful and there are so many different ways to know and see and experience and understand my Jesus! And I want it all. But I’m tired. I have to know where He is with me and for me now.
This spring, I finally let Him help me let go of something I should have years ago. And I’m getting better at it. This lesson is being applied in many other places now. Because I want Jesus…I want to chase Him. But He is different with all of us I think. I am learning to not put expectations on someone else to do what I believe needs to be done, or be where I think the right place to be is. And I am learning not to pick up the expectations of others for the same.
The encouragement I wanted to share needed this story to give it the perspective it had for me. I’ve been really worried about being IN Jesus. Being in His presence. Just being IN and With Him.
The Lord stopped me the other day, He said He is the one who keeps me In Him. He accomplishes it. It isn’t something I can do. He keeps me In Him.
Such a long story, for such a simple encouragement.
There are many opportunities to miss the mark, or simply to feel we have missed the mark. But it is the Lord who keeps us in Him.