Lately my heart has swelled with gratitude. A lot of it has to do with all of this writing and pouring and being filled which has been a long-time dream and is growing into a beautiful reality. I started writing this blog not so long ago and bit by bit I stepped out from behind a curtain and let myself be seen. I shared a little here and a little there until I felt increasing safety to expose truths about me and my past and my longings.
I started writing about all the things that matter most to me, like raising my two wild, sweet, precious boys. I began blogging about my marriage to this man who is so kind and wise and just as imperfect as I am. I wrote about spiritual growth and the reaching of my heart inward and upward. I joined others as we spontaneously write — free falling with our words every Friday. I found a woman, wounded by her past and healing from anxiety and panic, and I wrote courageously with her and others.
All this writing has been like a fountain that lay low underground waiting for the earth to let loose above so that gysers could spring forth with living water.
The craziest thing has happened. The more I write about my boys and my mothering and how I fail and how I grow, the more I love those two boys. Is that even possible? My writing has made me more and more aware of the goodness of motherhood and the sweetness of real brother love. I watch them more carefully – like a privileged onlooker and I see the great treasure they possess. I catch these moments of motherhood like the down off a dandilion – soft and barely visible. But, I am grasping them and savoring.
The more I have written about marriage, the more I appreciate my husband. Sometimes I sit and wonder, “Why did I ever commit to write about marriage?” and “What on earth will I write about this week?” I stare at my husband, trying to muster up something meaningful to say about us and what I am learning about being a wife or what I see in him that makes me love him more each day. And yet, the more I write, the more I love. He isn’t more amazing. We still have bills to pay, children to raise, schedules to coordinate, deadlines to meet, burnt out ends of weeks, differences of opinion. We have all those things, but I am seeing beyond them as I write. Writing has made me search out the goodness and just plain eat up the gift that is him.
When I write about my spiritual walk and the longings of my heart or the dry places or my need to forgive or my ache over pains of others around me, I dig deep. I go into places so vulnerable and I write what might bless or encourage or make even just one person feel, “I’m not alone.” And, when someone tells me, “I read your blog and it encouraged me,” I am blown away. I really am. This gift to me — the gift of expressing my heart and thougths and creating something here somehow gets used to bless others. Words can’t say what that means to me.
So, here I am in this season of Lent and we are thinking about The Cross. I have written about The Cross and about bearing our crosses. I have been in seasons where my burdens felt heavy and I was weighed down with sin – mine or others.
I feel like I should muster up some sort of sorrow as I think over the cross this year. But, my experience is different and it surprised me to realize that I am so filled to overflowing. This year I see the cross from an entirely different angle. I still see what it cost, if I can ever even begin to fathom that Truth. I see how I put Jesus on that cross with my sin. And, yet, this year, my sin is not weighing me down as it has. With renewed eyes I see that the story doesn’t end in death. I see that the cross is more than a tragic story, a burden and a painful separation. The cross is a doorway with an invitation.
Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it in abundance.” I know what it is to live bone dry and feel the desert sands blow with hot, empty winds across my heart. I know what it is to feel that echoes were my only companions in prayer time and God must be a wishful thought or a distant administrator. I know what it is to live stifled by my fears and cramped by my shame. I know. I’ve paved a road with tears from there to here. And, I’m not sure if this is my new inner home or I’m just visiting. Either way, I’m just taking in the view because I know what it was like to feel barren and if I’m going back, I’m going to have a mental scrapbook full of this experience to remind myself of the goodness of God and His promises.
Currently I am in a season of joy. And the funny thing about joy and freedom is that it comes in much more quietly than we expect and it settles in with stillness and solidity. I feel the safety of His love and the certainty of His care. Bedrock. I feel like I am on a porch swing in a late summer evening and I taste the goodness of the Lord all around me. Simple goodness. That is The Cross. The most profound sacrifice in the history of creation opens the door to peace beyond comprehension.
The Cross is an instrument of death.
The Cross is a pathway to freedom and joy.
Paul said it was for the joy set before Him that Jesus endured the cross, bearing it’s shame. You and I are that joy. We each have crosses in our lives. Daily we pick them up as we walk with Him. As I carry my crosses together with Him, I continue to find that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. When will I trust that fully? At times I can believe lies and attempt to bear my own cross, thank you very much. He never meant for me to shoulder my difficulties alone. Even He had a man carry His cross for a time down that long road to Golgatha. Am I greater than Him that I might try to sustain the weight and endure the hardship single-handedly? He invites me to pick up my cross and simultaneously He asks me to cast my cares on Him. We are called to both and never does He leave us alone.
And maybe we’ve only seen one side of this whole invitation. Jesus said in order to follow Him we must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily. In that passage, we are shown that He knew His destiny as He tells his friends that He must suffer, be rejected, killed and then raised up. He knew He would endure the unthinkable, but He also knew He would be raised up in the end. And for us, can we take up these crosses, knowing that the result is not futile? Can we step out in faith, knowing God Himself will raise us up? From here, I can say a resounding, “yes!” but there were many days when I secretly wondered if I could.
Today, as I write this, I know you may be right there with me, in a season of sweet appreciation of all the small and marvelous gifts you have received. But I know you may also be in a desert or a prison in your own heart. You may be longing to lay down your burden, but fearful as to what that will mean. You may want to enter into more trust with Jesus, but you just can’t relinquish control. I know. I’ve been there. I’m walking out still. My prayer is you find someone to walk with you as you go the next step in your journey with Him. He is calling us to walk the way of The Cross — it looks like death and it will entail some pain, but it is the only path to abundant life.
If I can come alongside you in any way, that’s what I want to do. I know the ache of a dry or doubt-filled season. I know the longing of a fear-filled heart. I know the fulfillment of surprising gratitude and tender joy.
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