{New} Heart Connections

Finding spiritual whitespace isn’t about carving out an hour of time to escape the things that stress us.  It’s the opposite.  It’s getting away from everything we do to distract ourselves from all the hidden pieces – in order to nurture our soul.  (Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray pg. 49)

One of the ways I find Spiritual Whitespace is to take Faithwalks.  I pack a small back pack with water (& Diet Coke) and I put on my headphones and I start walking the trails.  I pray, I sing, I worship, and I take in the beauty.  I snap pictures and sometimes I walk fast and sometimes I go slow.  This isn’t just exercise.  This is exercise for the soul.  This is isn’t just sweat.  This is tears.

On Monday, I was reading Finding Spiritual Whitespace and on page 59, the Whitespace prompt was this:

“Are you facing a dilemma?  Rather than drawing up a pros/cons sheet, which can separate you from your heart, picture yourself as a little girl.  What would she choose and why?”

Deep breath.  Eyes closed.  Gulp.

~I had to pause.~

I put the book down and got dressed to hit the trails.  I was thinking about how in my ‘walled up’ heart I can endure uncomfortable circumstances with an exterior smile.  I can work extra hard to appear ok and to be okay and to make things okay.  If I can just be funny, and crack the tension we can all just get along.  Throw me in the middle of conflict and I am like a ping-pong ball that freezes inside while I bounce off of each paddle.  These are my logical, fix it and forget it responses.  These responses are far from my heart.

Picture yourself as a little girl…. What would she choose and why?

Lord Help Me.

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I rounded the corner and was on the trails as I prayed for clarity to even see the answer to this question.   I am in my own world on the trails.  I pass people and bikes and I am looking deep into the woods past the movement and past the noise to see Him, and to hear from Him.  I look up and above me is a tree full of green leaves, with one beautiful yellow leaf.  I hear God whisper to me,  “It’s okay to be different.”

I didn’t snap the picture but I said it out loud.  It’s okay to be different and I texted it to a friend and said pray for me.  I continued walking and saw another yellow leaf among all of the green.  “You don’t have to blend in”.

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Now He has my attention.

I have my camera out and I start to see yellow heart leaves back to back in various places.  It was amazing.

It’s okay to be different.  I don’t have to do things the old way.  I can respond with my heart.  I am made new.  I can respond in new ways.    He created me to be unique.  He didn’t design me to blend in and appear okay or to make things okay.  He created me to be me.

Who am I?

It just so happened the images I snapped that day were reds and purples along with the yellows, and even those that were similar were not alike.  We are all unique.  Your red doesn’t have to be my red.  Your purple doesn’t have to look like my purple.

I am different.  You are different.  We are beautiful.

If you understand the need to never stand out, to desperately not want to be different, to not want to be recognized… any attention can make your heart anxious, just blend in…. maybe you will hear the beauty of His response in this whisper…

“It’s okay to be different.”

You don’t have to hide.

New day, new way.

The old has gone, and the new is here!

Be who I designed you to be.

Be new.

Be you with all of your little girl heart.

Be you.

Be beautiful you.

Ephesians 4:20-24 (NLT)  

But you did not learn anything like this from Christ. If you have heard of Him and have learned from Him, put away the old person you used to be. Have nothing to do with your old sinful life. It was sinful because of being fooled into following bad desires.  ~Let your minds and hearts be made new.~  You must become a new person and be God-like. Then you will be made right with God and have a true holy life.

 

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com

Love With Abandon

Love is in the air.  It’s almost Valentine’s day and the color of the world right now is RED.  I can taste the dark chocolate and smell the pink roses.  Yet, somewhere in my brain, I can faintly hear Tina Turner singing “What’s love got to do with it?  Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?”  Can you relate?   What do you see, smell, taste, or hear when you think of Valentine’s Day or love?

God is love.  In 1 John 4:7-9 it says:      God’s Love and Ours

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

He created us to love, and to be loved.  It’s our heart’s desire, but sometimes heartache and pain can make us withdraw from giving love, receiving love or even feeling loved.   I can see the red, taste the chocolate, and smell the flowers, and dance the Valentine’s Day Dance anytime, but can I really FEEL the LOVE???

A few days back I woke up in the middle of the night with this thought:  Love With Abandon.   I typed it on my phone and went back to sleep.  I woke up thinking “love with abandon” –  What does that even mean?

Love with abandon.   Merriam-Webster defines abandon as : (noun) a feeling or attitude of wild or complete freedom

Love with Wild or Complete Freedom.   Love With Abandon.   Love Big, without worry.  Love without fear …take it all in, and don’t hold anything back.   Complete freedom in a wild and reckless way.

Sometimes, I think heartache or pain causes us to all shut off parts of our heart, and we start to build walls and keep an arm’s length distance to connecting and feeling love with others – especially when it’s risky.  Throw God in the mix, and we shut Him out too.

In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”  

When He knocks and we open the door and let Him in, He doesn’t want to be invited in just to linger in the foyer where there’s no clutter or dust.  He wants all of your heart….not just the parts you are comfortable sharing.

Origin of Abandon (from Merriam-Webster.com):  Middle English abandounen, from Anglo-French abandoner, from (mettrea ban dun:   to hand over, put in someone’s control.

What does it look like to hand over your entire heart and being to Christ?  How can we love Him with abandon and surrender all to Him?

In Mark 12:30 Jesus says the greatest commandment is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” 

It doesn’t say love him with the part of your heart that functions well, or the part of your soul that is alive with joy, or the part of your mind that understands, or with some of your strength.  He wants you to love him with the broken and torn apart pieces of your heart.  He wants you to love him with the parts of your mind that scream WHY???, and Where were you??  He wants you to love him with all of the weary in your achy soul. He wants you to love him when your strength barely exists, and every muscle burns.

Love with abandon.  Don’t hold anything back.  Love Him with all of it.  When we are able to love Him with abandon, then we will be free to love ourselves and others, and receive love with complete freedom!

What about you?  Is he knocking?   Have you already invited Him in but left Him lingering in the foyer where it’s nice and clean?  Take Him into each room of your heart – under all the beds, into all the closets, down into the basements, behind the shower curtains.  Let Him go with you to all of the places you closed off.  Take the locks off, open the boxes of pain and let His love in.  Give Him everything.  Love Him with abandon.  Love with complete freedom!

Take a moment to listen to this song by Hillsong Young and Free – Sinking Deep.   As you listen, think of how you can love with abandon.  I have had this song on repeat this week.  The chorus gets me every time:

I’m wide awake, drawing close, stirred by grace

And all my heart is yours

All fear removed, I breathe you in, I lean into

Your love, Oh, your love

Lean into His love as you listen: