Spiritual Growth

What I am Learning About Myself: the good, the bad and the surprising …

I’ve been a bit “pen shy” these days.  I had the wind knocked out of my writing sails and I recoiled a bit to lick the wounds and regroup.  Sometimes we have to do that.  We have to step back and get a different view of what has been right in front of us.  We’re on the train, rolling along, the scene clacking along outside the windows and then, when the train stops, we see things differently and we may even need to get off and take a look around.  That was me this week — getting off and taking a look around.

We can get going so fast that we run ahead of what God has for us.  Sometimes, probably more often than we realize it, we need to allow things to come to a slow – even what could feel like a stop — and we have to step back and be willing to relinquish whatever we thought was important so that we can stand open-handed for whatever God knows is important.

I got to writing on this blog in late September of last year.  Only four short months ago I began this writing journey.  I had been a writer years ago and it has been my passion and a life’s dream to write — really write.  I got this email with a writing prompt in it from a blog which I sometimes read.  The prompt was “She” and words poured forth about my mentor and the radical, soul-changing work God had done in me through my dear relationship with her.  I wrote longer than the five suggested minutes.  I had to write.  The door to the birdcage was open and my wings were out on open breezes.  From that point forward, I felt this urge to write.  The writing came in response to emotional burdens friends were sharing or questions about home education that people brought up in conversation, or just reflections I had while I was on a walk or sitting in my quiet moments with God.  I joined in a few link-ups (writing with other bloggers on a common topic) and then I got invited to some Facebook Blogging groups and I guest blogged and reviewed people’s books.  In four short months, I went from finally getting to write again to writing five posts a week on the topics which come from my heart and my passion.  I was a writing machine.

Birds who have lived in cages don’t know how to live in the wild.

I started constructing a cage for myself — at first it was a rhythm so that people (and I) could know what to expect from my blog and I could include all the topics which I wanted and about which I felt passion.  I write on marriage on Mondays and Parenting/Home Education on Wednesdays and then I do link ups on Thursdays and Fridays and on Saturday I write a devotional piece.  All good.  I started to fly in a pattern.  I started noticing the number of people who read my blog rather than being focused on what I am writing.  I began to blur the vision of the gift that writing is to me and the gift I give when I write for God and others.  I started unconsciously erecting my own new cage.  Don’t get me wrong, so much good came in those months and I enjoyed so much of the experience of being a blogger.  I have had experiences beyond what I could ask or imagine.  Simultaneously there was a current pulling me away from my passion and freedom and into a structure and conformity.  I was hemming myself in by focusing on the blogging world and expectations I put on myself after hanging out in the blogging culture.   

Out of the blue, Bonnie at Faith Jam (where I am most vulnerable in my writing) posted this prompt: “What I am Learning” and it gave me the impetus to step back, get off the train and look around.  I already had begun seeing some things about myself and this process, but, to be honest, I didn’t want to see them.  I feared that if I stop and let go of the things I have built, I’ll lose the other parts that I love.  I lacked sufficient trust in the God who gave me the gift of writing and this blog and I failed to trust in and surrender to His plan for this whole adventure.  I had built a new cage and I was living in it — unwilling to give it up because of what I feared I might lose if I did.

So, in answer to what I am learning, I’m learning more than I bargained for …

The good:
I’m learning to ask for support and for prayer.  Just this week I hit a wall and I asked four dear friends to pray for me.  They not only prayed, they wrote emails, called, saw me in person, prayed for me and with me and gave me encouragement.

I’m learning that God has a plan and He is in the plan.  He will ask me to let go over and over because it is only when I let go that I get to have hands open to the next good thing.  Most of all, my hands are open to Him above and beyond any “thing” on this earth. 

I’m learning {once again} that no harm can come my way that He won’t use it for my good and for the good of others through me.

I’m learning that no matter how many people stand against me, God will send someone to stand with me.

I’m learning that I can step back, slow down, give grace and re-evaluate and it is never too late to turn back from even a good idea and make changes.

The “bad”:
I’m learning that I’m not as far along as I’d like to be.  But, I’m learning that it’s quite alright to be a sinner among sinners, redeemed by grace and still have a whole lot of growing and learning to do.  So much of my life has been spent trying to be impervious to the barbs of others.  I’m learning that I can be broken and beautiful and sometimes the broken is the most beautiful of all. 

I’m learning that I still care what others think more than I want to care.  Oh this just is so hard.  But, I’ll tell you what.  Just this week alone, God has brought little conversations and readings around where people are disclosing their own weakness in this area and we are coming together to help one another see the truth in the statement, “We have an audience of One.” 

I’m learning that I have to manage my time more efficiently than I have been doing — and I have be more diligent about limiting my own use of the computer (phone, etc) so that I can be available to my real life relationships. Need I say more?  Days are speeding by into years and these two boys, the beats of my heart, are getting older each moment.  I want to savor them, listen to them, fall on the floor laughing with them, climb into forts, snuggle with good books, take long walks, hear their hearts, lead them well.  I can’t do it if I’m spending too much time distracted with screens.  A balance can be had, but I’m thinking I may just tip the scales in their favor for a while. 

I’m learning that some situations may stay unresolved and I have to learn to live with unfinished business. Can I just say, “ugh.”?  Well, that’s how it is.  I want all things tied up and back to lovely, but sometimes there are hurdles that won’t budge and that’s where I have to give up and know that I’m not God and He’s good with that. 

The surprising:
I’m feeling open to what might come from this “stop” and what I have seen and admitted.  Truthfully it’s a little exciting to hand over the wheel and not know quite where we are going. 

I am learning that God is with me even when that seems to be untrue.  I’m reclining into that fact. 

I am learning that I can get a do-over and extend grace in ways I didn’t anticipate being capable of doing.

I’m learning that I can really, really let go of the need to have anyone stand and applaud me or listen to me or read what I write and just enjoy the gift that writing is to me — a gift from Him, a gift for Him, a gift He can use wherever, whenever and however He chooses. 

Beyond that
I think of Jesus and I think of our life in Him.  So often we truncate what we think the life in Him really is or can be.  We just plain settle.  We accept our fears as potentially true and we resist taking the risk.  We get out of one cage and we construct another.  Every so often, on a blessed day, I get a glimpse of something greater.  The freedom He died to give is like a breeze on a mountaintop — it lifts us above the mundane and offers abundance where it really counts – on the inside of our hearts.  And all we have to do to receive it is to stop, get off the train and stand open-handed.

Will you do that with me?  Will you look at your life and ask where you’ve been trying to outrun God because you just fear what might happen if you let Him catch up and have His way with you?   Will you relinquish what you feel Him asking you to give up?  Will you reach out in faith and say, “yes, Lord, here I am.”?  Can you stand open-handed and risk so that you might receive the goodness He is planning to give?

God whispered this to me this week on a morning when I woke with tears already in my eyes over some grief I am experiencing.  He soothed me with Colossians 3: 1-4 from the Message.  If you would, join me in meditating on it this coming week:   

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from His perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

So, for today at least, I’m learning to be content, yes, even abundantly comfortable, with obscurity, because I am never obscure to Him.

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Barbie
    March 1, 2014 at 11:21 AM

    I do feel like I've been in a cage. Stepping back from writing has made me realize that, at least over the last year, I was doing what I saw others doing and losing my own unique voice in the process. I am so thankful for you. I am so blessed by your writing.

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    March 1, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    Barbie,
    A friend of mine shared about this guy who cleans her carpets. You have to schedule at least two weeks out to get an appointment with him. He never has advertised his business. He just did a good job and trusted God with the growth. I know and you know there are times for Pinning our posts, going on G+ and all that other stuff that "good bloggers" do, but sometimes I hear this higher call to just do what this guy did — do a good job and trust God with the growth. No matter what we need to do that first and foremost. Even beyond that we need to find rest and fulfillment and everything else in Him and then we bring that love and filling into all we do. Thanks for reading. Can't wait to read your post for this weekend 🙂

  • Reply
    Lisa notes...
    March 1, 2014 at 3:23 PM

    "Sometimes, probably more often than we realize it, we need to allow things to come to a slow – even what could feel like a stop — and we have to step back and be willing to relinquish whatever we thought was important so that we can stand open-handed for whatever God knows is important."

    That is some very hard stuff right there. I've gone back and forth with that with my blogging. I like being organized and being in a rhythm, but if it becomes a thief of my time with family and friends in front of me, I need to step back. Thanks for sharing what you're learning with us; it helps us learn more about ourselves as well….

    Sometimes,
    probably more often than we realize it, we need to allow things to come
    to a slow – even what could feel like a stop — and we have to step
    back and be willing to relinquish whatever we thought was important so
    that we can stand open-handed for whatever God knows is important. – See
    more at: http://heartshomeward.blogspot.com/#sthash.Mq2bZ2uu.dpuf

  • Reply
    Trudy Den Hoed
    March 1, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Thank you for sharing your heart, Patty. Beautiful. "I'm learning that I can really, really let go of the need to have anyone stand and applaud me or listen to me or read what I write and just enjoy the gift that writing is to me — a gift from Him, a gift for Him, a gift He can use wherever, whenever and however He chooses." I so identify with this and keep working at it. And what a beautiful comment – "I'm learning that I can be broken and beautiful and sometimes the broken is the most beautiful of all." Amen.

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    March 1, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    Trudy, Thank you so much for that affirmation. I am always glad when you come by. A blogging friend suggested to a group of us this week that we switch our focus from "wanting more readers" to praying over the ones who already come and read. I am embarrassed that I hadn't leaned that way already, but grateful for her sweet encouragement and am starting that practice now. I'll be praying for you this week.

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    March 1, 2014 at 3:54 PM

    Lisa, you know I'm a fan of yours. Thank you for coming here and letting me know that my sharing blessed you as well. Blogging is such an adventure! I am grateful God uses it as a loving tool to bring out such good and teach us such important lessons.

  • Reply
    Trudy Den Hoed
    March 1, 2014 at 5:18 PM

    Thank you, Patty. Praying for you as well. 🙂 I'm grateful for your sharing your friend's suggestion, too.

  • Reply
    Melinda Lancaster
    March 2, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    It's hard to believe, as many times as I've picked up The Message that I don't recall reading that verse. It is powerful and your words compliment it well.

    I'm learning that I can be broken and beautiful and sometimes the broken is the most beautiful of all." Wow! This deep and profound, Patty.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Reply
    HeartsHomeward
    March 2, 2014 at 9:52 PM

    Melinda,
    Thank you. What an honoring comment! I so appreciate it. Sometimes God just reaches out through Scripture in a way that is so moving. I am so glad the sharing of that translation blessed you. I am grateful you took the time to share your comments.

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