Sometimes I sign myself up for things like speaking engagements that are not huge at all but to me they are like mountains to climb, kind of like the South Sister where you need to train for months and then it sneaks up on you and here it is and you feel wholly unequipped, untrained, unready for such an event as this.
But then while preparing for said things, a little voice inside my heart pipes up and says, "You have been preparing, simply by walking with Me in honesty." And it is in those moments that the daunting and scary thing of sharing my heart with people becomes only slightly less daunting and intimidating, mainly because I am reminded that this life isn't actually about me; it is about Him and how He is in the dailyness of now and how can I share the way I have grown closer to Him over the last season of craziness, the last few bits of life lived?
While I sit down to pray and listen and ask Him questions like, "What would you have me say to these beautiful women who I love and adore and look up to and am so much younger and less experienced and less wise than?" And then I am right back to that scary phase where I wonder what in the world I am doing here; anxiety bottles up within me and I am nervous like someone is feeding me something out of a brown paper bag and I am blindfolded. Speaking and sharing (and writing) are frightening to me because its like stripping yourself bare for everyone to see. Sharing my heart is like face planting into a puddle that exists near a sewer or swamp and you aren't sure if what your lips and eyes and nose are engulfed in is mud or feces and all you see are creepy crawly things that make you nervous and feel uncomfortable, like you might vomit. Speaking and sharing and writing make me feel completely out of control and scared mainly because they make me come to grips with who I am and where I'm at in a non-physical sense and more of a heart/emotional/spiritual sense, and in order to do those big and energy-consuming things...I have to be honest.
I'm the word-thinking type, where I see and process the world and this life with words. Words upon words rather than colors or music. So that's why I am inclined to speak and write, because those things need words.
While I prepared for what I was going to unfold this last weekend I tried so hard to gather words that weren't so prickly to my heart, didn't reveal any of my grief and aches and pains and sadness and all of the things that are ugly and seemingly to me, ungodly. I wanted to share something huge and awesome and wise and knowledgeable and new and WOW-worthy. But while I prayed and asked Him what it could be, He continuously returned me to this year, to this part of my story, to my sadness and my loss and how I have grown through grief even though I feel so shrunken and small like a grain of sand among big blown up beach balls.
While coming to grips with the fact that He would not let up on this, I was reminded how utterly faithful God is. I mean, more faithful than a stray cat returning to the food that you left out on accident. He shows up over and over again, so many times, that you eventually realize He never actually left. Much like a stray cat. Instead, He has remained faithful like a long strand of clouds that blanket the sky for as far as you can see.
While I am in the midst of realizing how present and how ever faithful He is, so faithfully here that He has never left, I forget about how fickle I am. So often it seems like my fickleness writes itself on my heart to read over and over again more than His faithfulness and in studying that, I am making life so much more about me and my weaknesses and my ugliness and my yuck than about Him and His greatness and His power and mighty works and His faithfulness. Which deserves way more attention than I could ever give. But I can at least give it a shot.
So here we are: Honesty. There is so much freedom in honesty. Not mere honesty as in telling the truth rather than lying to your mom about what you and your friends did last night. But honesty as in raw, gut wrenching, cracked egg shells of hearts honesty about how you feel, about what you fear, about who you see yourself as, about your trust or lack of in Him. Honesty that isn't clever or polished or shiny or attractive; no slides or video clips or shows, but just pure honesty. Even if it means admitting that you forget that God exists, that you don't believe that He cares, or that you are so angry with Him that you don't want to acknowledge His existence. If there is one thing I have learned in the last few months, it is that God can handle our brutal honesty so much better than we expect; He takes our honesty in the palm of His large hand and He holds it so carefully, knowing that our fragile heart resides right there with it. I believe there is freedom in honesty because, when we are honest, we are our exact selves. There is no hiding, no deception or fake residing between He and us. And He accepts us in that raw, vulnerable state of being of us-ness.
Psalm 25:2 says that honesty and integrity protects us...
How freeing to be completely accepted and wholly loved, even while being known down to the fiber of our existence. Even when we are kicking and screaming and letting Him know that we don't see the gift of this life as a gift, but as a curse and we don't agree or like the story He is asking us to live.
That to me, is a perfect love. And perfect love casts out fear.