Saturday, August 15, 2015

Much & Well // Loving

When I write, I really like for the words to sound pretty, frequenting thesaurus.com and my dad's vocabulary in attempts to fit the perfect variation of a word into a sentence.  Maybe it's an ego thing or maybe I'm just a true word artist or something. All that to say: I'm not sure if rhythmic, syntactical perfection is where this post is headed.  I'll probably just try to write true things and see where it goes from there. Just so you know.

I know I'm so excited about words from Philippians 1:9.  In The Message translation of the Bible, that reads:

"So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well."



I want to hit enter a few too many times to give those words the pedestal they deserve.  Read it again.

"This is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well."

That your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well.

That you will not only love much but well.

Is it sinking in? How simple and complete that prayer is? It has been for me lately, so much.

Since I began caring about God on my own time, I've wrestled hard with and frozen up over that beast of: What does God want me to do? I drank in videos from the Experiencing God Bible study
and scoured the world around me for "signs," whatever those really are.  Before deciding to go
somewhere or do something, you better believe I agonized over whether my presence in the
graduation party, church picnic, or team sport in question was God's will for my life.  Because what if I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and I messed up everything forever? I don't have any stress-induced issues that I know of, but I obviously tried really hard to get some.

According to Paul, doing what God wants doesn't require such intense overthinking.  Our Creator's command, again and again, is to love.  And just that: love.

But the greatest of these is love. // 1 Corinthians 13:13

 So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. // 1 Corinthians 
13:7


Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve
 got! // Deuteronomy 6:5

Love is the rule, not the exception; the place to which God is constantly guiding us.  It's simple, and my frantic brain, weary of constant analysis, rests in Paul's prayer.

"That you not only love much but well." 

As I focus on carrying out that calling, I'm quickly learning that the simplicity of the command does not equal ease in the life it dictates. Loving is hard.  The more I try to pour out, the more often I come to the end of myself.  Relying on God to give me enough to do as He asks. And repeat.

And so in the prayer for abundant, deep love I find peace and an insurmountable challenge.  May I come to a place where I welcome both.







Saturday, July 25, 2015

You, Not Me // Also, I'm Back!

Not going to lie, you guys, it feels kind of weird to be here.  My eyeballs have not beholden (beheld? beholt? Remembering why I don't use grown up words.) an empty blog post in a long, long time, my friends.  Life's been busy, and so much is happening that I've gotten a little frozen up trying to figure out where to start and how to go about writing all the words that I feel deserve to be aired on the internet.  Basically, there will probably be a lot of stories, so get excited about that. As in, actually do get excited because the vast majority of them are about how God's been working, which means that they're his stories instead of mine and should lend themselves to a higher quality of blog postage than what's been here in the past.

I'll start at the beginning as best I can, with the story that explains why I'm telling all the other stories.  So, yeah, that would probably be a good place to start.    This very first happening went down at counselor training, which occurred waaaaay at the beginning of the summer, right after I dropped off the face of the earth as far as blogging is concerned.  I'm working as a counselor for a day camp team this summer, which means that I live at home, but training was held in northern Michigan at a gorgeous overnight camp.  The grounds include all the campy things you'd expect - a zip line, lakes, fire pits, cabins, a dining hall complete with a fireplace and the occasional mystery food.  All of the soon-to-be counselors met for a week to learn counselor skills and shared bunk beds and community bathrooms and bug spray and clothing and just generally spent all of our hours from seven am to eleven pm being as together as possible.  We'd sit in lectures and decorate the margins of our notebooks or furiously copy down information all day and spend the evening performing a vanishing trick on marshmallows and graham crackers and fighting off smoke and mosquitoes.  Pretty wonderful.



Mornings started out with a meeting for Bible study.  Bleary eyes, dripping hair fresh from the showers, butts to the cold, dusty cabin floor, talking about Jesus.  Our leader helped us to focus on
Him and to dig way deeper into the Bible than I'd thought possible before 8 am.  It was there that God really started to challenge me, with my leader who miraculously said the exact words that I needed to hear every single morning.

Before training, I'd heard that it was going to be so fun (which it turned out to be), that I'd make the greatest friends (which I have) and to overpack (which I should have).  No one came to me with conspirational advice about how much I'd be forced to grow in such a short amount of time, though.  I wasn't ready for that.  I guess I understood the concept of a summer-long spent in service to God being somewhere on the spectrum of Life Changing Events, but I'd somehow expected it to be gradual and painless, you know, like huge changes in character and perception usually are.  (Sarcasm,
 you guys.) Well, guess what?  Change has to be felt, as a rule, and I felt it.  And I apparently had a lot
of changing to do, because as soon as I arrived at camp, God started stretching me and spinning me
to a different direction.  I think He was probably being as gentle as possible, but the bottom line is that I
need fixing and I'm stubborn, which invariably results in a jerky, uncomfortable kind of remodeling
for my soul.

I'm convinced that the changes God's been bringing about this summer started a long time ago, the orchestrator of the universe doing what he does best.  However, the chain reaction bumped me during one of those up-with-the-sun Bible studies, when 12 girls opened our eyes from closing prayer to find our leader announcing to us that we'd have a chance to share our testimonies around the campfire that night.  You know, in preparation for the way we'd be sharing them with young, searching souls for the rest of the summer.

Our morning meetings were followed every day by a breakfast in the dining hall, which for me consisted consistently of eggs, cottage cheese, fruit, and granola, added coffee when I needed it.  As soon as we could get the last bite down, we were free to settle into any spot on the property for solo time, 30 minutes of one-on-one time with God.  On testimony day, I brought my dishes to the kitchen and headed to what had become my favorite spot: the back porch of a pretty, historic white house that overlooks a river and faces the sun as it comes up.  As I sat and rested with God, my journal propped open on my lap, I couldn't keep my mind off the impending testimony - sharing of the evening. I imagined a ring of fortyish mostly-new faces gathered around our camp fire, eyes locked on me as I poured out my heart about the stuff I struggled with and how great God's grace for me is, uprooting things close to my heart and throwing them out for everyone to see.  Nope.  Not me, I thought. I'm not that person, the one who can open up to anyone and who bares her soul based on thirty six hours worth of familiarity.  Sorry.  That's not how God made me.

Lord, send someone else.

And then God started whispering to my heart.  Okay, and I realize that sounds so cheesy and churchy and doesn't make any sense at all.  I'm not that good at words, especially as they are used to describe supernatural beings and higher-than-me thoughts,  but I'm trying. God speaks to people, and I know that for a fact.  I know that it's not the same for everyone.  For me, it's quiet and strong.  Basically, I have a thought that is so true and brings so much peace and clarity that it can only be from God.  It's subtle, and it's right to the point of what I need, even when I don't know I need it.  Whispers to my heart.

He said: Maybe I didn't past-tense: make you as a bold story teller, as someone who loves fearlessly and without reserve.  But guess what? I am preset-perfect: making you into one.  When I said to go and tell about me? When I said to boldly proclaim?  That was for you, too, girl.  Not a suggestion, either.  A command.  Do you realize whose story it is that you're holding in your heart? That's mine.  It's not yours to tell or to not tell: that's me, my work, that you've just been the subject of.  My love, not your willingness.  My grace, not your confession.

Boom. Boom. Boom.  Truth after truth after truth.  My story isn't really mine at all, is it? My value, my identity, my life - it all belongs to God, and so I've realized that I don't get to choose whether I share myself anymore, because I am not my own possession.  I don't get to excuse myself from this mission that God has for us, to take leave on account of being an introvert, or naturally skeptical, or less-than-eloquent,  or having undiagnosed trust issues.  Those are matters too small to bring before an almighty God and say, "I would let you use me, but I'm a mess. Because of this, you can't."

And so I'm here.  I'm learning how to share God's work with my voice, too, but it made sense to me to come here and to share in a way that's comfortable and can reach people.  I have no idea what God's going to do with these stories - knowing him, probably something cool?l. All I know is that my job is to let my grip loose so that they can be used.  His story, not mine, always.

Allie




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It Was Only $.99 // It's a Fine, Fine Life 6

If you followed me at @recklessoninsta, you'd already have seen this.  Sincerely, This Is How I Make Friends  

I'm resisting the urge to just sit here on the floor and let my fingers fly around about the books I'm reading and how I finally got to go to the library to pick up Colson Whitehead's Sag Harbor (beyond excited to read that, by the way), because then you'll know that I have some, ahem, nerdy tendencies and my reputation will pretty much be ruined.  I'm too cool to risk it, so you can stop asking me about books right now, because it's not working. 

Shoot.  I just did that, didn't I?
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