We didn’t go back to visit family in Oklahoma this summer. Because moving. This is the first time my husband and I have both sold and bought a house one right after the other, and let me tell you, it isn’t for wimps. I re-learned that moving is a lot like giving birth the second time. You don’t fully remember how hard or exhausting it is till you’re in the middle of it.
In light of this, we didn’t keep company with much rest or relaxation this summer. However, our new home is getting just far enough along on the construction front that we’re beginning to exhale a tiny bit in the margins. It does feel good, oh yes ma’am it does. We do miss our old house, but we can’t help but feel like the Lord has directed us to the exact location he had in mind for us.
As confident as I am in this, I’ve lost a measure of confidence elsewhere.
After releasing my first book Girl Meets Change exactly one year ago last week (Happy birthday, you little green beauty!), I’ve noticed in some ways, the more “out there” I am in the world, the more inward I pull from the world. And at the risk of stating the obvious, I know I’m not “out there” big and fancy like most authors. I don’t exaggerate my recognition or visibility.
But the inside part of me struggles just the same, and I’m afraid to be more fully seen. So I find myself stepping away from the world’s window, releasing its curtain panels from their sash and letting them fall in front of me.
I knew it was bad when fear tinkered with me to such a degree that even posting a simple, no-big-deal picture on facebook found me wringing my hands and questioning other’s opinions of it. A year or two ago, I wouldn’t have thought twice about posting the picture. Now, it seemed risky and vulnerable. Will someone think this? Will I come across as that? It all sounds so ridiculous when I read it in print, yet it’s true.
Other factors contributed to fear’s build up in me, although specifics on that aren’t important. It is important, however, to own the fact I needed help with moving out from under the fear, so I began talking with my counselor about it.
She listened as always and helped me, as Flannery O’Connor says, get down under things.
Fear tries to push me toward a place of questioning.
What if this or that?
But Christ’s love compels me toward a place of resting and accepting.
Even if this or that, you are accepted and loved.
Sometimes I breath these lines in and out, a rhythmic breath prayer I need as much as oxygen.
As steam from my tea cup curls around my hands, I curl myself into gospel truth. Christ Who calms the angry, shouting sea and tells the wind to shhhh whispers the same thing to me,
Shh, shh, shh.
The only One who knows the real me inside and out holds my reputation. Somehow saying this out loud helps me settle into my smallness and realize that all God asks from me is to be.
To be with him.
And to be with others and serve others in the exact locations he places me.
I’m not saying I’m magically better or have no issues with fear right now. But as I sit with Christ, I sense him telling me to be me and be me well.
There’s something so healing about being given permission to be yourself, isn’t there?
Toward the end of her book Water My Soul, author Luci Shaw tells a story of traveling through Iowa’s farm country and wondering why a farmer or planter often leaves a lone tree in the middle of a field. During a roadside stop, Luci asked one particular farmer that very thing. He responded, “So that when they’re plowing, they have something to rest the eye on. It helps them keep the furrows straight.”
Luci then writes,
“Can I be for someone else an interruption in the horizon, a landmark, a directional focus, a simplicity on which they can rest the eye and know they’re going straight?”
When I boil down my own motives in life, in both my writing life and my just-being-with-people life, I find that what I want to do is be a place where others can rest their eye–or rather their heart–and know it’s safe. I want to be a person who helps others keep on keepin’ on. Of course I sometimes mess that up, but it is what I try to do.
The thing about a tree in the middle of the field, however, is it will face storms head on. Without much protection, it’s going to meet strong winds. And I can’t help but make the comparison that for those of us who want to be a place that helps others trek along, we will face our own storms and winds that try to knock us over.
It’s a scary thing.
Fear is a drip line of poison, and it will saturate us unless we learn to turn it off, to cut off its source.
May we stop unraveling into the fear by folding ourselves into the gospel.
May we know that resting in the Tree of Life is how we live boldly. Not because we have no fear, but because in the smallest of ways we are brave enough to live from how the Creator made us and out of Jesus’ love for us.
That picture I mentioned earlier? I posted it on facebook. A small victory, I know, but a victory nonetheless. When I did post it, I felt the gospel message like a heartbeat:
You’re loved, you’re loved, you’re loved.
In your own small victories, may you know this truth too.
Because Girl Meets Change is officially 1 years old, I wanted to remind y’all there are some great freebies available when you buy one or more copies of the book. And if you have read this book and found it helpful, consider leaving a review for Girl Meets Change on Amazon here or Barnes & Noble here.
Also, have you subscribed to my newsletter? Do so today and get the next one with many more pics of the Strong ranch in the woods. They will reveal our space to be equal parts quirky-awesome and hot mess. (Kinda like us.)