I love walking the hills in our neighborhood for exercise. It is often on my walks that I breathe deeply and give attention to my heart as I slowly climb the steep hills on my way up and resist the pull to hurry on my way down. Being intentional to go slow allows my
body the freedom to avoid the danger of a fall on concrete. This morning was no exception.
Nearly finished, I rounded the corner on my way to the park where my car was parked. The dew on the grass sparkled like diamonds around an elementary school already in session for the day. All was quiet excepting the hum of a tree trimming saw far off in the distance and the birds sounding in the trees. The environment outside and around me was peaceful, yet I could feel my need to sit at the river for a while at one of my favorite rest spots.
I entered the park and began to move that direction when my body jarred from the unexpected blank shots fired from a small cannon the purpose of which was to disperse the hordes of grackles and crows from the trees. Though this process happens every morning, the cannon still takes me off guard. I felt my body tighten from the unexpected intruder to my peace. I took a deep breath of kindness. “Be still.”
I made it around the park to take my seat across from a tree that has deeply touched my heart through its offer of a visual:
It is an age old oak that was uprooted years ago during a storm. Bent over by high winds, its trunk rests in the river with its branches extending out of both sides, forming what appears to be a rugged cross. Each time I see it I am reminded that age old oaks with deep roots still fall. It really looks like it’s drinking from the river.
I needed the cross this morning…I needed to drink deeply from the river of grace. Over the past several months, I have done something for myself that I consider to be so very kind. I took myself to counseling. What I have discovered holds both glory and sorrow.
A few years ago, I was faced with crises much like those I experienced as a child. The crises hit my heart like the cannon in the park, its invisible fire hitting me in my biggest and most awful fears of death and abandonment. I landed face down in the ash of the bomb right next to my husband and children. Our reactions were quite different and very painful. For me, their pain was my mission and a call to arms. I stood right up, stuffed my pain and marched on to manage ‘our’ recovery and healing in my own strength. I knew just what to do…or so I thought.
This is my weakness when I feel pain especially when one of my children is hurting. I step in to protect them from it and in doing so numb my own pain leaving it buried under piles of other people needing care. I hide my heart and opt instead to become a substitute Savior, a role that I was handed in my childhood. My fear shouts to me that if I do not intervene, I or someone I love will hurt to death and I will be abandoned.
That’s when I hide in the baggage of my story, behind a wall of resistance. My ‘fortified’ wall protects me from being seen and cared for, my resistance to pain screaming to those I love “I am fine thank you, I’ve got Jesus. I’ve got it all together and you need my strength because you are not strong enough to handle your own pain. I’m good. I do not hurt, I will not admit I am weak and I do not need a thing from you.”
Really what I fear is that I cannot handle my own pain because of my doubt, “Will Jesus come through like I want him too?” Though I am gifted in ministering help to others who are hurting, my gifting can also be used to hide what is really happening inside of me. It is barely discernible, this wall of power and pride. It looks really good but truthfully it has kept others powerless and resting in my strength instead of seeking their own power in Christ.
My friend who has waited patiently for my return on many occasions reminded me yesterday of a line in a book, “The Allure of Hope” by Jan Myers… When a storm hit her life, her response was not one of manufactured strength but rather, “Oh No, Jesus. It is you.” That is the truth is it not? I do not know what Wild Jesus will do to pursue my heart. But I do know that I too am in the camp of “Oh No, Jesus. It is You. Sometimes it just feels ‘jacked up’ and crazy making.
Today I feel free to say that because judgment is no longer manhandling me to hide.
This morning as I sat in my mess and named my truth I was reminded of how much I am loved. I stared at the age old oak leaning over into the river and I could relate. I felt my deep need for Jesus and the Gospel.
All is not lost. I have been traveling this road of redemption for several years now and healing has come in layers. Though I am older now and my children are all adults, the beauty of redemption is it doesn’t stop. It is ageless and might I add that I am ever so thankful to be alive to change, and in doing so, offer life giving truth and love to my husband, my adult children and my posse. Yes, I may have chosen some wrong paths out of the ash but I refuse to let fear and pride steal another day from me or those I love.
To Jesus and all my friends and family…I do need you. I need you to know I am sorry for hiding. I am not perfect and I will not hide my sin nor my need for my Savior. I am taking down the wall and climbing out of the baggage.
I am here. Now.
This is where I am these days leading up to Easter. I am climbing the hill slowly, listening and waiting while I continue to name my truth with eyes on the cross at the top of the hill.
That is the beauty of the Gospel. The cross is real and He is waiting…always.
For me and for you, no matter what, no matter when and no matter how old.
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Rev. 21:6