Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Permanently Heart-Shaped Sleeve

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18

Don't be afraid to let yourself be vulnerable.

I nearly slammed my foot on the brake and swerved my car into a U-turn at the moment, nearly two weeks ago, that God said that to me on my way to meet someone whom I was very nervous about meeting. It was my first - my self-protecting human - instinct, because I know that when God says something like that, He's usually going to make me do it whether I want to or not. To top it off, of all things, I wasn't expecting Him to say that. "Don't be afraid to say more than two words," maybe, or "Don't be afraid to actually, y'know, show up." That would have been appropriate. Maybe something comforting like "I am with you," or "It'll be okay" - you'd expect that from God, right? But don't be afraid to let yourself be vulnerable?? God...seriously?? God...why?!

When I (instantly) implored Him thusly, He simply raised an eyebrow and looked at me pointedly as if to say, you heard Me.

Dangit. I put my foot on the gas pedal and drove through when the light turned green. I knew I had to keep going.

And yes, He did make me do it. And yes, I'm still here to tell the tale. Shocking, I know.

The thing is, I'm pretty much an open book. One of my best friends recently exclaimed to me, after I'd detailed a conversation for her that I'd had with God earlier that day which ended in God with His usual *facepalm* expression, "You're so real - I love that!"* I guess that's because, well...I don't really know any other way to be. I can't be anyone other than myself...can I? Apparently not. Believe me, I've tried.

And who I am is...well...very open. I've struggled many times over to be more subdued, more restrained, more Jane Bennet than Lizzy Bennet, and, often much to my chagrin, it just doesn't work. The fact that I'm even writing this should prove that point. Every once in awhile, I'll get the wildly ridiculous idea that my life would go more smoothly if I were more demure and quiet, and I'll put forth a valiant effort to that end...which lasts for a total of five seconds, until someone says or does something that I could possibly make a joke about**, and then BAM!...all my self-imposed gentleness is shattered in a sarcastic quip that I can't help but share and I'm left brushing the dust off me in consternation as my benign facade scampers off into relieved hiding. But, hopefully, I have the appreciative laughter of anyone standing within earshot to appease my forlornness. Thankfully, it usually happens that way.

I can't put up walls. I hate holding myself back. It's forced and repressive and it makes me miserable. I hate keeping quiet or keeping calm or keeping my emails short or keeping myself reigned in in any way at all, really. I want to be able to be ramble on about the funny thing I heard or thought of that day or the day before or maybe even last week!...or that thing I thought about while walking my puppy or that song lyric that inspired me or...okay, you get the idea.

Maybe it's because I come from a very open family. We talk about everything. We're not afraid to share our emotions - our every and our constantly changing emotions, truth be told. If my mother is having a bad day, I hear about it. If my sister is feeling nervous or unsteady or stressed, I know it. If we don't talk for a day, I get a voicemail asking where I've been and if I'm okay. Our entire family - all four people and three dogs - can fit into the bathroom at my parents' house to get ready for the Christmas Eve church service. (Do not ask me how I know this...mainly because it should be obvious.)

So, yeah, maybe that's it. It's my family.

You know what? I think it might be even more simple than that, actually.

I think that maybe the reason I'm able to be so open - the reason I can't really be anything or anyone else, can't put up walls and can't, sometimes maddeningly and despite how hard I try, stop just being me - is that I know who I am, I know Whose I am, and I know I am loved and that really does just make everything okay.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [...] What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:28, 31

To be very honest with you...I know my Daddy loves me. I know He made me the way I am and I know He loves me this way. I spent years fighting it, trying to be someone else, and it just didn't work. So now, it's come to this: I am me, and who you see is who you get. He wants me to be me, because that's who He created me to be.

I know I'm loved just the way I am by the very Creator of the universe. I know He delights in me and He laughs with me and His eyes sparkle when He sees me...the real me. With no walls, no restrictions, and no reigning myself in.

I know what perfect love is, and because of it, I know there is no wound He cannot mend, no rejection He cannot heal, and nothing that can take away His unconditional and unstoppable love for me.

So I can just be me. He loves me. That's really all that matters.

When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mere man do to me? Psalm 56:3-4

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:15-16

And honestly, it's a wonderful feeling.

*I love you too, Kayla!

**So, like, did you know that Emily Dickinson was really good at putting poetry together??


Nicole said...

This is a fantastic blog. I often struggle with trying to force myself into being something I am not, thinking it will please the Father. Thank you for being vulnerable and showing me that God loves ME...faults and everything.


Kayla said...

I would say something fabulous and witty, but...I got nothin. So, good post! *delivers hearty slap on the back*