It’s been quite some time since I’ve written a blog post here! But it has been on my heart to pop back over here and say a little something. I’ve missed the community here, and think of you often, but there are a few reasons I haven’t been so active on this blog any longer. They are not necessarily the generic reasons one might expect, like writer’s block or being too busy or too ill. It’s true that I’ve been very sick, and that it interferes with writing just as well as the rest of life, making it difficult and painful. As my fellow spoonie Meg said, “I want to be able to do a lot, desperately so, but I live in a body that’s temperamental and if we’re going to be frank; a body that can’t really handle commitment.” It is challenging to write with M.E., let alone on a schedule like bloggers are expected to. But writing is one of the beautiful gifts that allow me to process living each day with such severe illness. It’s something that I love and enjoy. I’m always writing, even if I’m not sharing it. And so, I can’t simply give a reason like this for my absence. Truthfully, it’s been more of a matter of reflecting, of introspection, of observing.
I’m compelled by the beauty of those who have walked down broken pathways but still lift their eyes to a horizon of hope before them. I’m compelled by the people that have shaped their scars into stories that tell of a merciful, loving, compassionate God in the midst of a weary and broken world. Their light humbles me, because it shines the light of a love that’s far greater than anything life could hand us. It’s something grown, something tended, and something far greater than anything we stumble upon. Yes, it’s far more than that, it’s something formed.
Pain changes things. Even more, pain changes how we see things. Pain, I’m learning, can be the greatest invitation to hope that we’ve ever received. Pain is loud and its presence cannot be overlooked, but it’s amazing the way it responds to hope. Pain doesn’t scream and shout in the midst of hope, it speaks kindly of a healing and redemption and love. Pain heals when it meets hope. Pain isn’t the completion of things, pain isn’t the end of the story. I see it in the light of those who walk through dark valleys but know they’re only passing through. I see it in the light of those who are not afraid when the winds and waves rush through their lives, for they know that love can never be shaken or taken or diluted. I see it in the people who use their scars as invitations to others with fresh wounds, letting them know that healing exists even in the midst of brokenness and pain. Pain, I’ve found, isn’t always lifted this side of heaven. But pain is never useless. It’s not the pain itself so much as the way it’s shaped our stories. It’s not the pain we feel so much as the lessons and the growth and the healing that it opens us up into. Maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising that some of the greatest fruits –compassion, and forgiveness, and love, and hope—are the things that are not found, but grown. They’re rare because of the process we must grow them through. I’ve found that heartache and loss and sickness and grief don’t stop there, they grow to become empathy, and compassion, and love, and gentleness, and patience, and understanding, and generosity, and selflessness, if only we let them. And when you stumble upon a person who lets them, my goodness, they will take your breath away. You will be knocked off of your feet in the midst of their beauty, because they are shining the beauty of our Lord.
As September unfolds and brings a new season, and the chill of Autumn begins to touch our towns,
I hope you find yourself warmed by the sweet embrace of loving company.
And if your days feel cold with loneliness and isolation, I pray that you will nestle into hope.
I hope you find a moment of courage to lift your eyes and your heart just a little higher, in order that you may see the loving heart of our Lord, outstretched for you.
I hope you’re reminded that our lonely times aren’t really barren, empty, untouched times but pruned ones.
I hope you’re reminded that there is a coming Love more abundant than any we can imagine,
A Home where He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).
If we can lift our eyes and our hearts a little higher than our hurts, even for just a moment, and look into the face of our Savior, we can trust He will comfort us with His mercy and teach us of His harvest.
Our gracious Savior is with us, Our God who places the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6).
I pray you will let Him draw near and whisper healing truth into your aching heart.
There’s so much joy ahead, friends. There’s so much joy around.
I hope this Fall season leaves you with little reminders of how all seasons will be redeemed;
I hope you let your worries fall away like the leaves of the trees.
You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. ~John 16:20-22
God has such a special way of slipping sweet surprises into our lives. The right doors open widely, and light shines through their hallways; a friend sends you a message with just the loving words your aching heart needed to hear; you open a book and the page seems like it was written just for you, just for you today; you start a new journey and see the path before you blooming in radiant colors. These beautiful things pop in our lives and we smile as we recognize Christ’s signature on them. It’s like receiving a letter in the mail without a return address, but immediately recognizing the handwriting as your beloved’s. His work has a special glimmer about it; it’s the kind that captivates you and leaves your heart wrapped in awe and wonder.
Last week, I was delighted by sweet surprises like this. It felt like my life was refreshed with the presence of His artwork and I found myself lifting my eyes and my heart up with joy. I was reminded of His tender provisions in a way that I can’t help but want to share with you. So please, cozy in, my sweet friend, and let me tell you this:
You are enough, right where you are.
God can still work through your life, no matter how many limitations that seem to hold you back. They are not stronger than His will for you.
He placed purpose and value within your soul and within your life, and He knows how to express His glory through you.
You can rest safely in His love, for who you are and where you are never leave His sight.
He has a rescue plan for you; a ransom paid long before you took your first breath.
He met each of your needs before you even recognized them as such!
He is the same God that met each of Adam’s needs in the garden; from breath to nourishment to companionship to love. He will do the same for you, His beloved child.
For He will not leave nor forsake you.
Your journey has just begun!
So with grace fresh in the air and hope blossoming all around us, let’s open our hearts, our bibles, and the doors to our dreams. Let’s share smiles of love, even to strangers, and beam with the joy filling our hearts. Let’s breathe in the peace of Christ and let it soothe our souls. Let’s open our arms to the hurting and embrace them with warm hugs and encouraging words. Let’s speak the truth, even to ourselves. Let’s lay our hearts in the radiance of Christ like we lay in the sunshine; warmed, soothed, and comforted. Let’s detox from Satan’s lies. Let’s stretch our hearts and our bodies and feel the rush of excitement. Let’s thrive in His goodness and spill out in praise. Let’s refresh our weary hearts by drinking deeply of His living water. Let’s live in unity; let’s forgive. Let’s release any bitterness and live full of the sweet reasonableness He’s designed us for. Let’s rejoice, for we can do all of this and so much more in Christ our Savior.
Praying peace to you.