Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Love lost and found


We step into my studio after our date, and I hurry to my closet to get a sweater. He walks over with me and peers into the dark, cluttered space.
 
“What’s in that box?” He points to a white moving box on the top shelf next to a basket of blankets. I blush, and my heart thumps nervously.

“Oh, it’s nothing. Just stuff from when I planned my wedding.” I say it casually — carelessly — but he knows. “It’s not nothing,” he says, his voice full of understanding. “That box is full of significant things.”

We’re silent for a bit. I’m remembering how I would often take the box down in the months following my broken engagement. I would slowly unpack it, looking through receipts, lists, and a few wedding gifts that were somehow never returned. I would hold each item and remember how I had said yes to the man who had asked for my love, and how God had said, “No.” No to a husband; no to a family; no to a home of my own.

And in the following years he had said no to good health — to traveling, working full time, and continuing my seminary education. I often didn’t have the heart to ask for anything specific from God.

I sigh deeply and look over at my date. He smiles.

After he leaves, I ask God to direct our relationship. And then, timidly, I ask him to give me a husband one day.

For months my prayers are courageous and risky.

And then, one night, I’m driving home alone, and I’m single again. My date and I have decided to stop seeing each other. I’m relieved because God has answered my prayers for direction, but my shoulders are sagging. God has said no, again, to my boldest, most vulnerable prayer for a husband and family of my own.

The next day I’m reading the Sermon on the Mount, and I’m struck by Jesus’ words:

“Which of you,” he asks, “will give your son a stone when he asks for bread? Or will give him a snake when he asks for fish? “If you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, then how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask?!”

I lean back in my chair, and I think about the ways God has shown us he keeps his word.
I think of the rains that flooded the earth, just like God said they would. I think of the baby that kicked in Sarah’s womb, just like God said it would.

I think of the water that gushed from a rock, the walls that crumbled from the blast of trumpets, the ravens that fed Elijah in the wilderness, and the Messiah who came to save the world.

It’s true: God is a promise-keeper. And in his Sermon on the Mount, he promises to give his children good gifts — the best gifts. And I’m his child, and here I am in my thirties and still single, and could it be that this alone-ness is … one of the best gifts?

But a husband, a family, a home — didn’t God create me to want these things? Would it be so bad for him to satisfy the wanting?

Now my mind is racing to the rhythm of David Crowder Band’s "How He Loves."  That one line is still in my head after a week of trying to sing something else:

“He is jealous for me.”

The Old and New Testaments affirm it: Yahweh has established a permanent, exclusive covenant with his people, and compared it to a marriage. He is the husband to his people; we are his bride.

He’s not insecure, or abusive, or envious for something that doesn’t belong to him. He wants relational faithfulness. He’s jealous for our love, the way a husband is jealous for his wife’s loyal affection.

He wants our whole hearts because he’s ultimately jealous for his glory. And the God of the Bible is most glorified when his people are most fully alive — when we experience truest intimacy, pleasure, belonging and wholeness, because this is what he intended for us. He knows we can only fully experience these things in him, so the best gift he gives us is Himself. But he cannot give Himself to us if our hearts are not alive to him, for a Lover never forces himself on his beloved.

And I think I know that marriage and a family would be the best possible way he could teach me to love him with my whole heart, so I can have more of his heart.

But the God of the Bible is a God who sees. He sees every thought we think and step we take. And he knows what will prompt our hearts to push further up and further in to his heart. He knows when marriage, children, health, and financial stability will push us toward him. He knows when singleness, barrenness, illness, and poverty will push us closer still. He knows that, often, it’s our wanting that leads our wandering hearts back to him.

And this knowing pulls me back. 

I close my Bible, let my lips pick up the words of "How He Loves," and then it hits me that my wedding box, and my recent break-up, and the loneliness that visits when the table is set for one are all proof of God’s jealous guardianship of me. And in my secret heart, I find myself smiling — a child quietly delighting in good gifts from her father.




This was originally posted in 2013 at Soulation. I've made a few revisions before posting it again here. 

 
© by scj


Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Discipline of Doodling

My dear friends,

I just tried writing a post about all of the change I'm experiencing in this new season — about how it's thrilling and invigorating and overwhelming all at once — but I couldn't do it. I've not been able to write much about spirituality and discipleship the last two years because I've just been too sick; and now, as I'm healing, I feel like I need time to step back and survey all of the renovative work God has been doing before I do the hard work of writing about it. So instead of finishing my post, I'll just tell you that I am delighted to be stepping into a season of radical change, but I'm also scared. I have to preach truth to myself a lot in order to combat the fear.

Lately, I've embraced what I call "The Discipline of Doodling" as a means of preaching truth to myself.

Here's what I do:

I pick a verse or quote that encourages and challenges me, and then I doodle it.


I carefully write it in fun letters, and I doodle pictures around it, and I spend all the time that takes meditating on the truth on the page.



 
When I'm done, I post the doodle somewhere in my room so I'm regularly reminded of its message.



It's proving to be a wonderfully life-giving spiritual discipline.


If you want to try the spiritual discipline of doodling, HERE are the pens I use.

And if want some doodling inspiration, HERE is a book that may help you.


Happy Sunday (and happy doodling!), sweet friends of mine.

I'm cheering for you.

-Sarah




© by scj

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hullo!

My friends!

It's been awhile since we've been together in this space, and I've missed you! Much has happened since my last post.

Last month, I bid farewell to my sweet little Roo and the cold Washington winter, and I returned to sunny southern California.

Oh Roo, how I miss you!!



As I've settled back into life here, I've been encouraged by continued limbic system retraining victories. I'm preparing to create a video answering the specific questions many of you have about limbic system retraining, but in the meantime, here's a quick update:

I am SO happy to be exercising more frequently and vigorously than I have in a long time. I take long walks and have regular solo bedroom dance parties, and best of all, I'm taking ballet lessons! I've always wanted to learn ballet, and when a former student who is a ballet teacher offered to give me private lessons, I jumped at the opportunity.

I'm trying to spend as much time as possible outside, so we moved our lessons to one of my favorite places in the whole world: the track!


We've found hurdles are very helpful when learning plies!

This ballet opportunity makes me feel so cared for by God

As my body heals, I've also been able to engage in more social activity, and I've found my rest increasingly more restful.

I continue to enjoy getting to know the professors and students in my PhD program
The beach is one of my favorite places of rest

If you are on the fence about trying limbic system retraining (DNRS), I'm hopeful that the video I'm working on gives you the information you need to feel confident to try it. God is using DNRS to heal what I thought was un-healable, and I am delighted to be getting my life back, bit by bit.

If you have any questions about DNRS, please shoot me an email. I'm happy to help you however I can.

For those of you who continue to pray for me: thank you. What faithful warriors you have been and continue to be on this journey with me.

Much love to you all!

I'm cheering for you,

Sarah

© by scj