Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Vulnerable


Our world doesn't like the word "vulnerable". To be vulnerable with an individual or a large group of people is considered to be a risk not worth taking, though on the flip side modern culture "finding yourself" trends make it appealing and necessary to be vulnerable with yourself , placing a great emphasis on deep, soul searching "self discovery".  I have affectionately labeled my generation the "self help" generation, due to the fact that I feel that we late 80's and 90's babies grew up in a world of "do it yourself" counseling in the form of books, T.V., radio shows and Internet blogs. Despite this information, being truly vulnerable in life is one of the hardest things to do. Why is this?

To be vulnerable is to be exposed. A young virgin girl is truly vulnerable on her wedding night, as she has never been naked in this manner in front of anyone before. Vulnerability is nakedness of self; a veil lifted to expose truth of substance and shed light on the good, the bad and the ugly. Some of us have gone our whole lives doing whatever we possibly can to not be vulnerable with anyone, thus creating an exterior of a "put together" image that doesn't ever blink with tears. There have been many wounded souls that have been vulnerable in a marriage or a committed relationship, only to find that the unveiling pushed their loved one away instead of drawing them closer.

I have always been an expressive person. (Shocker, I know. ) Ever since I was a little girl I have been able to articulate my thoughts and feelings with very little fear of what someone would think. However, as I prepare for marriage to the love of my life, I have found myself experiencing a new level of vulnerability with God. A place that I have not found myself in before and feelings that I've never experienced thus far.

With all vulnerability there is an element of trust. Trusting that the person that you are vulnerable with will not judge you, leave you or become cold to you. You trust that on some level they will understand and things won't change. When it comes to our relationship with Jesus Christ, we can always count on Him never leaving nor forsaking us in our vulnerability with Him, even when it means being angry at Him and questioning His existence! There will be those times where we will push away from God, refusing to bear our soul to the very one who made and knows the depth of our soul. But the truth is, there is nothing that God wants more than for us to be truly vulnerable with Him; to share every facet of our lives and to trust Him with our whole hearts.

The more I fall in love with Jeremy and the more I spend time in prayer about our upcoming marriage and all of the life changes that are in the near future, I have found myself struggling with this fear of losing Jeremy to an illness or accident. I have been thinking about those women who were engaged or newly married, and then the lives of their husbands were snuffed out in the blink of an eye. I can't fathom that kind of pain, but lately I've been trying to figure out where this fear is actually coming from.

I am learning on a very real level that the closer I become to Jeremy and the more vulnerable I am with him, the more it prompts me to draw closer to my heavenly Father. My love for Jeremy is something that I've never, ever experienced before. It is deep and powerful, and has quickly become a part of my existence in the way my sight has become imperative to my ability to function. Such a gift from the Lord needs to be cherished, nurtured and honored, but also not held too tightly, as Jeremy is not mine, but belongs to the Lord. It reminds me of how my mother's heart would ache when she would see one of us children going through something that she couldn't change. She realized that we don't belong to her, we belong to Christ. We are in His hands, and she is simply the instrument used by God on this earth.

What a gift. What a beautiful design. To be surrendered to Christ as a person is one thing, but to surrender your loved ones to Him is entirely another. As I prepare to have a husband and children, I am keenly aware that this lesson of deep love and vulnerability to Christ will take many shapes and forms. As scary as it is to entrust my loves to Christ, He calls us to so that we will further trust Him and allow Him to enable us to go deeper.

May God enable you to be vulnerable to Him in a way that will take you places you've never been before. May you never settle for a man or woman who doesn't prompt you to love Christ deeper and trust Him with your whole heart. May the deep love you feel and the healthy fear of loss point you to the One who holds you in the palm of His hand, which is located under the shadow of His wing.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Trusting My Dreams to God


I miss them.

I miss the walkers, the pants with a high waist, the white Keds shoes and hearing their "old people advice" on a variety of life topics. The perfume that is too strong because their sense of smell is "not what it used to be" and the penciled on eyebrows because there just isn't much hair left to form real ones.

I miss the classic tunes of their day that would be sung over and over and over again in an effort to bring the past in to make the present comfortable and familiar for them. Seeing the tears trickle down the faces of the Veteran men when "God Bless America" would be sung and/or played. And dare I say it....but I miss calling Bingo. What I would give to say "B 10, under the letter B, number 10" again.

I miss the days where we would decorate sugar cookies for a holiday while we listened to music or talked about something like canning or how they used to bake cookies for church all the time.

Oh how I miss it.

But God knows that. He knows how much I miss investing in the lives of the elderly on a daily basis, planning their activities, encouraging their skills and encouraging their family members. He knows my heart for these people, because He knows me.  He created every facet of who I am, so of course He knows how much I yearn to love on these people.

The other day while I was eating my morning cereal, I saw a morning T.V. show host interview a woman who wrote a book about "reimagining" her life. The premise was that you could do and be whatever you want to be. To add to the authenticity of this concept they showed clips of people who did just that. One man worked with computers his whole life, and then decided to open up a pizza parlor. He "reimagined" himself, and "you can too".

Now, I'm all for the empowerment of doing something new and being positive that you can do and be whatever you set your mind to, but I couldn't get past one glaring flaw in this concept, and that is the word "You".

I am so grateful that as a Christian I get to experience a deep peace that comes with the truth that it is not about me. I get the privilege of finding my identity in my Savior which translates into a deep trust that He will use my strengths, talents and passion for His purposes and in His way. How exhausting it must be to constantly be working on "you", when in all actuality there is One who knows you better than you know yourself and will be able to accomplish much, much more because of this truth.

Right now I'm working with greeting cards. I am doing inventory, ringing up items at the cash register and color coordinating envelopes. I absolutely beam whenever I get to help an elderly man or woman find a card for their grandchild, and I love it even more when they want to visit and tell me about their lives. God is using me here, and He has not forgotten my dreams.

I dream of being able to write and motivationally speak for a living, working in my little home office while my babies take a nap. I dream of being able to have hours to volunteer in a memory care at a nursing home, leading them in hymns and old songs that will make them feel at ease and at home. I dream of traveling to places around the world, taking in new cultures and breathing in different air.

Psalm 37:4 says "Delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." What I have come to understand is that the key to this verse is asking God to transform your desires into His desires for you.

Trust Him with your dreams sweet friend.  May you be reminded and know that the very One who made you is the very one who holds those dreams in a careful manner. May you have the strength and the flexibility to watch Him change things up a bit and give you something beautiful and brand new from His capable and creative hands.