I Heard You

EdenI heard you last night. Through all those tears and all the words you choked on – I heard you – I heard your heart. My desire has been to hear your heart for as long as I can remember.

Oh, I know you’ve spoken to me many a time. I don’t discount any of what you’ve shared, not ever. I realize you’ve shared before, you’ve confessed many things to me. You’ve cried, you’ve told me your dreams and yes, you’ve even told me what frightens you. But last night was different – you know it was too.

Last night you brought tears to my eyes. Somewhere between your disappointment, your fear, and the dreams you’re afraid to dream was your heart – stripped bare and surrendered to me for the first time ever. You spoke to me and then you waited for me to answer and you listened. You really listened! Do you know how long I’ve been waiting to tell you how very much I love you?

You said that you’ve never been able to go to “that place” with me for fear that you’d experience so much emotion that you’d explode, lose control, even die a little inside.

But you went there anyway and you went there with me; you went there for me. You let me in to that place in your heart where only I could fit –  a place where the only one ever meant to fit was me. Last night you gave me your heart and I promise I will not break it. You went to the place where I’ve already been for you.

I can’t promise that life will always be fun and filled with laughs, but it sure will be different. No matter what you go through, from now on, whether good or bad – we’ll always be there together. I also can’t promise that you’ll never experience pain again, or that everything you don’t like about your life will be instantaneously changed for the better, but I can promise this: you’ll be transformed – from the inside to the outside. I’ll give you a kind of peace that surpasses any experience you may encounter. I promise that if you follow me, I will always be at your side – always and forever. I heard you.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Heart Strings

If you’ve ever played guitar, you know that in order to continue and be proficient, you need to accept the pain of callouses on the ends of your fingers. I recently read somewhere that Eric Clapton puts alcohol on the tips of his fingers to keep them dry in order to “maintain” his callouses. A great guitarist needs calloused fingers in order to be outstanding – not only do they push through the pain, rather than doing whatever they can to ease the pain – many will make every effort to “maintain” what, in the end, will make beautiful music.

I gave up on the guitar almost immediately after I began.My aim is to be honest on this blog: I must admit that I did much the same thing with love after it began to leave a few callouses on my heart. I found that the pain and disappointment of loving were far too painful to bear. The only remedy I knew of was to give up on it, much the same way that I gave up on playing guitar. In fact, when I made a conscious effort to ensure no one could hurt me I had to harden my heart to love. That is far worse than a callous; a callous can be softened with a little effort. A heart that has been hardened is not just a condition of the surface.

These last two years or so I have come to realize that it is far more painful to exist without love than it is to live and love and risk a few callouses here and there. The truth of the matter is, whether it is family, friend, or the love of your life, if you set your sights on being loved – you will be hurt and disappointed, time after time – because when we give love for the purpose of receiving it our hearts are already somewhat calloused to begin with. If you make a decision to love freely, without condition, you will be loving as if there is no risk of being hurt …. again. Why? Because you are loving in order to love – whatever you receive as a result is a symphony played on your heart strings.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1st Corinthians 13:13.

Play a song on someone’s heart strings and see what beautiful music it will make. If you receive nothing back, that’s alright – that song will have been recorded for the ages and it will always be playing in the back of your mind.

Make a decision to live and love as though you’ve never been, or ever will be, hurt. Callouses on the heart are a sign that it is still beating.

Send

ImageI’ve been in a dark place recently. In truth, it seems as though I have been doing a world tour of dark places and yet, even my closest friends were not privy. I’ve hidden the worse of it from those who love me the most because I have always been rather particular about just how vulnerable I’ll allow myself to be. I don’t mind if my best friend knows about a bad day or two at the office, or that I’m feeling a little blue from time to time. But I can’t tell her that I cry myself to sleep every night. What would she think!? I don’t mind telling my children that I still mourn the recent death of my dog, but I can’t tell them that his death ripped a gaping hole in my heart that seems as though it’s destined to keep growing. This list goes on, but I think you get the picture. My pride dictated that I “suck it up”. I thought I could handle things on my own but I let things get out of hand. The worse things got, the more I withdrew into darkness. As scary as it was, it seemed familiar and safe.

Maybe you’re familiar with the place – the abyss where solitude has a strangle hold on your life? Every breath you breathe you long to reach out, but with each passing breath it becomes more and more difficult. The paralysis of analysis has set in; hope is all but snuffed out. You cling to your faith with your very life. You feel as if your already half buried; part of you wants to stay there and rest a while but the other half is struggling to get out of the grave. You need to connect with someone but you’ve been fighting it for so long that everything has piled up. Fear and shame are standing guard to make sure you don’t slip up and use a life-line. The truth is – if you reach out now – you’ll fall to pieces and they’ll know that you’re not … perfect! They’ll think that you’re one of “those” people who have problems, issues, unfulfilled desires, fears – they may even catch you in flagrante delicto perched upon the proverbial pity pot.

I can’t call now. I won’t even be able to mutter the word, “Hello”. The courtesy of asking the person on the other end of the phone how they are will, in all certainty, show itself for the requisite attempt at cordiality that it is – truth be known – it has to be all about me now. I need to keep some form of control over my quickly fading dignity so I decide an email is best to cover up the tears and blubbering. At the end of the day, I can always edit and – I don’t really have to choose “send”. Maybe just writing the email will be the cathartic experience I need to kick me off the pot. My pain splatters upon the page with every key stroke. Nothing is held back. Truth is leaking out through my fingertips. I don’t care who knows now. Who am I fooling? I don’t have the energy to continue the masquerade.

The silence is broken. The truth has set me free. I didn’t want anyone to see me naked. I just wanted to break the bonds of guilt, self loathing and condemnation that my adversary had so wittingly cast upon me – something I permitted. Ah, he didn’t count on me setting my pride aside. He didn’t think that the removal of the fig leaf would bring strength and healing. He was counting on me to use it to cover my fear and shame. He didn’t know that love casts out all fear. He didn’t know that God was able to show me His love through the one I connected with. She was His light.

Silence perpetuates darkness. Don’t let your enemy convince you that anyone thinks you’re perfect – or that you have no problems, or pain and suffering. Don’t let him think you’re alone or that no one has time for you. Don’t let him convince you that you’re a burden; this is the trickery and deceit that he uses to keep you isolated – in darkness. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” John 1:5.

If you are in this place right now, please – hit the send key and let me know how the light defeated your darkness.

God, Are You Listening?

 

Abba

Abba

Another day has dawned. Tribulation has awakened me from our nocturnal tryst. Sadness clangs its cymbals urging me to rise – it reverberates hopelessness throughout the day. My heart is ripped open, laid bared for what feels like a final viewing. The constant trickle of tears erodes my faith. Pain has seared me. My body roams the earth to and fro searching for what it knows not. I feel alone. Even my mind detests me. Words have stopped my breath; I gasp for air. Loves hides and I seek, but it is elusive. I’m one of many yet I’ve never been so alone. What I know and what I feel clash – striving in different directions. My mind flutters about; I must hang on – one more hour, perhaps minutes. But, as the sun sets so my hope is dashed. Maybe tomorrow? If I can just …

Will I ever get through this? Will this grain of hope sustain me? Will these tears ever stop? Will the enemy of my thoughts relent? Will the ugliness of introspection sojourn in my bed forever? I can’t hear you; God, are you listening?

I have loved you from the beginning. I hold your hand while you sleep and stroke your hair. The tears you cry stain my cheeks as they moisten your pillow. I have never left your side. Your cries to me ring through the heavens – your prayers brought to me, one at a time, on the wings of angels. I whisper in your ear, “Don’t listen to those voices.” You can’t hear me because you listen to the voice of your enemy with great travail. Why do you hold on to the very thing I am trying to remove from your life. Don’t you know how much I love you? Let go. Please trust me. I can take that grain of hope and make a mountain of faith from it, but you must let go of what you’re holding on to. Have I not yet shown you that I am trustworthy? Have you not yet understood that there is nothing you could ever do to make me love you less? 

You think I’ve let you down – I don’t listen – I don’t hear your prayers. My precious child, if only you knew how I treasure your petitions and want to give you what you request – but I cannot. I am a loving and faithful father and I promised, from the day I knew you, that I would always do what is best for you. I have protected you from the unimaginable. I have saved you from unspeakable pain, pain that I did not even spare my Son from. The noise of this world is a lament for my love. The hole in your heart is a place that only I can fill. If only you would trust in me, I would give you the peace you need. I am more lonely for you in this very minute than you have ever been for anyone all the days of your life. Turn toward me. No one can love you like I do. Seek me with all your heart and I will give you the desires of yours. I’m listening; are you?

Fight for Life

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Fight for your life

There’s something visceral about emotional pain. It can take on a life of its own. If it’s not dealt with quickly and in a healthy way, it can convince us that the situation causing the pain will never stop, that we’ll never stop feeling the way we do right now. Right now seems to be ripping us to shreds. The life of our pain becomes like a parasite, feeding off our emotions, our spirit, then our energy and health. While the pain feeds, we look to fill the voids it is leaves behind – we pursue a seemingly unattainable and illusive hope.

Sometime later, weeks, months or even years, it seems like there’s nothing left of us – all hope seems to have dried up with all the tears we’ve shed. Life is too difficult to bear. The decision to stop the pain is left in our hands and leaves us little choice. We’ve tried everything we know to stop it – therapy, stuffing our feelings down, maybe alcohol, maybe drugs, maybe a little cut here and there. All these things end up being an anchor and, while they helped for a few minutes or even hours, the pain only became worse afterward. We tell ourselves what we’ve been thinking for a long time: “I wish I was dead.”

But we don’t really want to die, do we? We don’t want to live … this way … but we don’t want to die. We want the pain to end. We want someone to fill us, to understand and to love us. We need someone to hold us – someone who understands without our having to explain it. What we really want is to live – not survive – but thrive.

I promise you that there is One who knows, understands and loves us without condition. God never lets a hurt go to waste. He is waits for us to acknowledge Him, to invite Him into our lives. From the moment we began to suffer, He waits for us to call out to Him. His Son, knows all too well our suffering – He suffered for our eternal life. One thing I do know from experience is this: what feels as if it will last forever will not, no matter what our feelings or logic tell us. He has plans for each of us; an early death is not part of His plan. All we have to do is call out His Name and believe. Fight for life.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46:1-3