John and I were at a newcomers’ dessert-type thing, a get-acquainted deal where, as part of our introductions to each other, we were to share what our “family motto” was. In our little group was an older couple we had been drawn to. The gentleman had a twinkle in his eye, a spark, as if he had discovered the secret to life and it brought him much joy. His wife was a tiny woman who I can best describe as being very present. She was not a woman hiding, nor a woman afraid. She was a woman at rest, at home with herself and with all pistons firing. She was alive and beautiful.
The gentleman looked to his wife and asked, “Do we have a family motto?” She answered, “Well, it’s been on the refrigerator for the past thirty years.” He asked, “What, Amana?” After some laughter, this is what she shared. This is what she lived by. This is what she invited others into:
Now we should live when the pulse of life is strong. Life is a tenuous thing... fragile, fleeting. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Be here now! Be here now! Be here now!
To live as an authentic, ransomed, and redeemed woman means to be real and present in this moment. If we continue to hide, much will be lost. We cannot have intimacy with God or anyone else if we stay hidden and offer only who we think we ought to be or what we believe is wanted."
I listened to some preaching by Tim Storey about seven or eight years ago. It changed my life. I’ve listened to it over and over again during the past few years – I bought the recordings - and every time Holy Spirit had reminded me of different things that he said in his sermons, but I have not thought of these words in all of these years. He said, “God wanted him to be fully present, fully feeling...” Tim was talking about having a way too busy life, to the point where he didn’t have time for the ordinary things like taking his son to the dentist. Then God changed his life and showed him that he didn’t have to be on conferences and in church every day, all the time in order for God to do miraculous things through him; to be the man of power for the hour! God wanted him to be present.
It is not always easy to be fully present, fully feeling; especially if your heart is being ripped out of your chest.
I have experienced a relationship very recently that changed my life forever. It awoke my heart to life! I guess God wants me also to be fully present, fully feeling, fully alive, and not numb or unconscious. That is something that I have been for many years. It also served its purpose because God had been doing a tremendous work of healing in my life, and I needed to be set aside for Him only for a time. I guess that time is drawing, or has drawn to a close and now it is time for something new.
The book Captivating is aimed at unveiling the mystery of a woman’s soul. I first read this book about eight or nine months ago. This book is based on, what the authors believe are the three longings of the heart of every woman: (1) to be romanced, (2) to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and (3) to unveil beauty. That is, according to this book, what makes a woman come alive.
I started reading it and thought to myself, “WHAT!!?? I DON’T WANT TO, OR NEED TO BE ROMANCED BY A MAN! I DON’T NEED TO HAVE BEAUTY UNVEILED FOR ANYONE, and I DON’T C-A-R-E ABOUT BEING THE HERO IN SOME GREAT ADVENTURE!!” I felt frustrated because I couldn’t relate and threw the book one side. I thought to myself, “ Where the hell did I come from?” I wasn’t your average woman and I didn’t dream like one and I couldn’t care less about a few things that seem like such a big deal to other woman. I actually almost found myself feeling sorry for them at times, and grateful that I didn’t have the burden of the same issues, being a woman myself. My life was simple, uncomplicated and fulfilling... or so I thought...
About 18 months ago, my loving sis sent me a book, also by John Eldredge, called Dare to Desire. In it he writes, “What have you done with the deep desires of your heart? Because the truth is, those desires don’t ever go away. If we do not find the life our heart was made for, if we abandon those desires and try to get on with our duties and obligations, those desires do not disappear. THEY GO UNDERGROUND.”
The deepest desires of my heart had gone underground many years ago because of great pain in my life. I had become afraid of desire, because I didn’t think that I stood a chance in hell ever having them fulfilled. So I started making peace with a compromised life; making the best of a bad situation.
But I can see that that was not pleasing to the Lord. So He put me on a journey that I did not plan on, and He used it to change my life. He brought me TO LIFE.
Only thing was, now I was (am) fully alive, fully feeling, and hurting like hell!! I was mourning and feeling like every sob was from a place so deep inside me that I could barely breath, let alone explain in words what I was feeling. Those are my most intimate moments with God: when He is the only One who knows, even when I don’t and can’t tell Him. It is His LOVING me in those dark and low places of my life that has brought me to the place of relationship with Him that I have today. How comforting to have this relationship that will last a life time – on this earth and BEYOND! Eternity is a time space that I can’t even imagine, and THAT is how long my relationship with Him will last. ISN’T THAT AMAZING!!
In those very broken moments my initial feeling was that of not having been good enough. That has always been my feeling. But this time, it was changed as I progressed. I was able to see that I had offered everything that was beautiful about me as a woman, as a person to him, and he didn’t want it. I was able to see that it is not that it was not good enough – in fact, it was b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l! Only the second part was hurtful to me... he didn’t want it. My question to God was, “how could he NOT want it? I mean, it was my best; my heart, my love, my passion, my friendship, my beauty, my joy, my peace, my comfort, my wisdom, my understanding and support,.... so much beauty, and yet there I was, all of it scattered at my feet.”
My concept was that he took something beautiful and precious and threw it away, until I realized...
He didn’t see what I saw... he didn’t hear what I heard... he didn’t experience what I experienced... he didn’t feel what I felt... he didn’t realize what I realized...
I was looking at this experience as if he had seen it through MY eyes. BUT HE DIDN’T. And through HIS eyes it looked very different.
We were in the same situations, the same relationship, the same spaces, the same moments, but we did NOT experience it the same way.
MY LIFE CHANGED! But for him I was just another woman of many who have come and gone. Nothing changed for him. MY WHOLE LIFE DID!
In his mind he wasn’t throwing away something beautiful, precious, valuable... I was just another fling; short lived and meaningless. And after me, he just carried on to the next, and the next, and the next.... but MY LIFE CHANGED because he had passed through it... GOD changed me and used this journey for HIS purpose. In the context of eternity this was a defining moment in God’s plan for MY life. He was just the human body who achieved God’s purpose for my future, my destiny.
So yes, it was hurting right now, but I believe that what God had achieved in me in the greater scheme of things BY FAR OUTWEIGHS the pain that I was feeling, and which (God knows/knew) was only temporary. When the pain is gone, the wonderful work that He had used it for will remain... and it will add to the beauty of me. ISN’T THAT AMAZING!!! ...beauty for ashes... Just as God promises in Isaiah 61...
I read some excerpts from an article by Brenda Davis (Lord, please change me):
You would no doubt confess that before you experienced some of the difficult things in your life, you were a different person. Every test you went through exposed something in you (good or bad) that had been hidden, maybe even from yourself.
God moves dramatically in us, not to just make us happier people or to fix all our problems (although His will for us encompasses these things too). But He works in us to transform us into men and woman who will exhibit His nature on the earth and give the world a glimpse of Jesus.
But because the change we need happens in intimate fellowship with Him, a by-product of our transformation is that we’ll also get to know Him in a deeper way.
Our transformation is orchestrated by One who is perfectly loving, faithful and compassionate in everything He does. We can embrace the processes He chooses.
Deep within us the Holy Spirit’s work may be hidden from view, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening! In fact, before you can even say, “Lord, please change me,” the work has already begun.
In closing, I want to quote another few words from Captivating...
"So, may we take a moment and remind you who you truly are?
You are a woman. An image bearer of God. The Crown of Creation. You were chosen before time and space, and you are wholly and dearly loved. You are sought after, pursued, romanced, the passionate desire of your Fiancé, Jesus. You are dangerous in your beauty and your life-giving power. And you are needed.
As a woman who has been ransomed and redeemed, you can be strong and tender. You speak to the world of God’s mercy, mystery, beauty, and his desire for intimate relationship. You are inviting; you can risk being vulnerable, offering the weight of your life as well as your need for more because you are safe in God’s love. You labor with God to bring forth life – in creativity, in work, in others. Your aching, awakened heart leads you to the feet of Jesus, where you wait on Him and wait for Him. The eyes of His heart are ever upon you. The King is captivated by your beauty.
We need you. We need you to awaken to God more fully and to awaken to the desires of the heart that He placed within you so that you will come alive to Him and to the role that is yours to play. Perhaps you are meant to be a neurologist or a horse trainer. Perhaps you are to be an activist for ecology or the poor or the aged or the ill. You are certainly called to be a woman, wherever else He leads you.
And that is crucial, dear heart. Whatever your particular calling, you are meant to grace the world with your dance, to follow the lead of Jesus wherever He leads you. He will lead you first into Himself; and then, with Him, He will lead you into the world that He loves and needs you to love.
It is by invitation."
I am invited; YOU are invited!