I learned something about myself recently. Or, rather, I should say it is a lesson I am learning and re-learning again – the kind of lesson James spoke of about the man who looks in the mirror and forgets what he looks like as he turns away (James 1:23, 24). I am like that. I forget what God has taught me, and then, in His infinite grace, He shows me again. And again. I marvel at my slowness! How poorly I translate the learning into life. How weary I am of the push-pull of sinful desires that war within!
Who will help this woman of sin?!
Praise God, “the Cross still stands and meets my needs in the deepest straits of the soul” (Valley of Vision, “Dark Guest”). I thank God for the Cross. For daily helping me take up mine and follow after Him. Today, I stumbled across my own words in an old journal: “Cross-bearing in silent, steadfast faith” and realized this is what I have been doing these last months. There are no words to share, only a slow, deliberate following after Jesus, refusing to veer off into my many weaknesses, temptations, and sin. A painful, careful following to be sure.
The blog has been silent lately. This has been a point of contention with me. A crisis point even. I have questioned if I should close it down all together, if I have said everything I am to say. And yet, oddly, the Lord has been pulling me back to the “mirror” to look long into the themes of my life, stoking the fires of my desire to write them down. So, I have concluded it is my flesh that succumbs to pressure, feels guilty for being quiet so long, and feels compelled to deliver “results” on a timed schedule. The Lord is teaching me much on all of this. Leaving it all quietly to Him is a daily devotion.
An author once cautioned me to be careful in what she termed “the sacred intersections”. The places where our story intersects with the story of another. Be diligent to stick to your own story, leave their story to them. This was good advice; that I’ve taken to heart. My life in recent years can be summed up in this thought. I largely live at the intersections, taking care not to cross the street in my sharing.
And this is the Lord doing. We grow in His timing and ways, at His pace. I try to listen and follow. Not share empty boasts, just for the sake of posting something. All of the above is the reason for my silence.
But, back to where I began: this lesson I am learning again. I noticed how susceptible I am to the suggestions or expectations of others. Just well-meaning people who say things to me – random, conversational type things that a “normal” person would probably be able to evaluate and filter fairly easily. But my boundaries are broken down. A suggestion becomes a burden, a sense of obligation, a desire to accomplish whatever Tom, Dick, and Harry ask for. I quickly take the pass and am half-way down the field before I realize it’s not my football. Or my game. Or my stadium. It’s not even my hometown, so why am I wearing your uniform? I’ll tell you why. Those darn fans. Those cheering, adoring people who compel us. Well, at least, me. That is sadly what I am learning. I am slave to performance. My doing overtakes my being in a desire to dazzle. I want to be the person you think I am. I want to deliver what you ask of me. The realization surprised me (again), but also frightened me more than a little. My heart’s desire is to run the race set before me, and only me. That’s hard to do, at least for me. This idea of taking up my cross daily gets a whole lot more complicated when I am trying to keep all the incoming plates spinning at the same time. So, these days, I am learning to let the plates fall, and with it, the shattering of meeting expectations that were never mine to meet. Even as I shudder and stumble in the wake of the terrible crashing sound, I am learning to rise and simply begin, again.