you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go."
from "In Blackwater Woods" by Mary Oliver
I came to the end of my journal yesterday. I have gone through two journals in the past ten months, a new record for me. Writing on the last page of my journal yesterday felt symbolic--it was an image that captures the season of life I am currently walking through--a season of many endings which are quickly bleeding into a wild sea of change and fresh beginnings.
I bought a new journal at Target last week. It is bright pink and spiral bound. This morning was the first time I wrote in it. There's nothing like a new journal, a fresh page to write on, a book full of emptiness waiting expectantly to be filled with words, impressed by pens, and crinkled by fingertips. I wonder what will be written in this new journal. Amidst the clamor and chaos of this morning, feeding and clothing the littles, I only got to write one thing in this new journal, but I believe what I wrote is significant given the upcoming adventures this journal will contain. Exodus 33.14:
"My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."
Regardless of the changes, uncertainty, and chaos ahead, I hope I am able to cling tightly to my God and find continual rest in His Presence.
Endings make my heart full. They are a time to reflect, commemorate, and celebrate. Sometimes it's hard to see growth and progress when you are in the thick of the journey, and I'm thankful for the moments when I can look back on the trail that was often too dark or windy to understand and slowly start to make sense of it. I may not know all of the "why's" but I can see how the girl who started the journey has been molded into a new creation. These moments are a gift and often become pillars of faith to cling to when the road dips into a valley again.
Last night was one such moment for me. I have been involved in a ministry called Celebrate Recovery for about a year now. This has been a trying year for me, one of immense change, soul-searching, and growth. At times I wanted to give up, throw in the towel, and say the whole thing was pointless. But last night I got to stand up on a stage in front of a lot of people and give praise to my God for the supernatural changes He's worked inside of me. There are so many changes and I feel butterflies in my stomach thinking about it all...all the possibilities ahead...all the ways the trials of this year have better equipped me as a mother to Ren and my girls.
But, as I shared up on stage last night, the biggest change I've experienced over the past year is coming to believe more deeply than ever that God loves me. This sounds like a pretty basic thing to believe as a Christian, but I've been a Christian for over fifteen years, and I would say that it's only in the past year that this truth has become alive and real to me.
My friend Tracy shared this quote by Dan Allender on Facebook last week:
"To meditate is to chew something over in your mind until it runs wet and sweet into your heart."
And so I would say that the biggest change over the past year is that I have learned to meditate on God's love for me...His love has been in my mind for years, but has now run wet and sweet into my heart...into my bones...into every breathing cell of my body...and every other positive change in my life is merely a ripple effect of His love.
Coming to know God's love more deeply is setting me free. This belief is so central to everything else. Believing this frees me to trust Him, which in turn frees me to stop trying to control my life and the lives of others. I can give this heavy burden back to the One who was meant to carry it all along, and I can rest in His goodness and His plan. Receiving His love is allowing me (like Mary Oliver says) to love what is mortal...to hold it against my bones...and to let it go when the time comes. This year has been a time of letting go of a lot of things...things and people I was meant to love fiercely but never meant to grasp so tightly...never meant to carry...never meant to try and save. Letting go is sad...at first...but then there is freedom. Last night signified the end of a journey I've been on over the past year...but in many ways I realize that this is only the beginning. In a way, it feels like life is really about to start. My hands are open.
"And now, with God's help, I shall become myself." --Soren Kierkegaard