Think twice if you think our own hearts can be unequivocally trusted. Our hearts often do their own things and then show their cards to us. We hardly even know our own hearts. They are living, beating, feeling entities that surprise us when we find out what’s inside. But when what I see in my heart surprises or shocks me, I won’t shame it or squelch it, but care for it, talk to it, guide it, and lead it. At any given time I follow or lead my heart, but there’s no neutral ground. You’d think that we are creatures capable of knowing ourselves, but here we find ourselves with hearts that selectively choose when to show us what they’re really feeling and thinking, and they surprise us.
I got a glimpse inside my heart the other day while I was waiting on the bus. And what I saw was ugly. My heart showed me some ugly cards. I stood behind a girl while in line for this bus. I didn’t know her but had crossed paths with her several times before and she is lovely, well-dressed, and put-together. And knowing nothing else about her, I felt insecure and threatened and in that space of two seconds, I compared her body to mine and made a judgment about her body. What an ugly thing, bringing down another woman just to feel better about myself. But bringing her down didn’t make me feel better about myself. My ugly heart showed its cards and I cringed. Belittling another human being is despicable, no matter how that belittling manifests.
Dale Partridge recently posted this on Facebook: “A lesson I’ll teach my girls: Just because she’s pretty, doesn’t mean you’re not. When you compare your body, your possessions, or your life to others you reject the intrinsic value God has for you. You are perfect. A masterpiece. Irreplaceable. And loved. Instead, let gratitude turn what you already have into more than enough. Let contentment fill your heart and vow to celebrate the wins of others girls even if you feel like you’re losing. A good life is controlled by good choices. And while you won’t always get to choose what happens to you, you do get to choose what happens in you.”
Little girls aren’t the only ones that need to be taught those lessons. So I talked to my own heart about the value and identity I have simply because I am created by and loved by God. I reminded my heart that that girl on the bus has the same value. She is a masterpiece and I am a masterpiece and both deserve to be celebrated in our uniqueness. Instead of judging her, how could I celebrate her? I talked to my heart about joy and gratitude and contentment. Our hearts are powerful, with much potential, and they need our help. Lead. Take your heart gently by the hand and tell it where you’re both going. I’m trying to lead mine toward contentment in Jesus Christ, joy, and selflessness.
I get to be with little ones every week and it brings me joy! Motherhood is beautiful and good work, and I desire to be a mom someday, whether I carry my own children or adopt them or foster them. But I also fear being a mom because I acknowledge how hard it is and what it requires of you. Until it’s my turn to do this self-sacrificing, hard, beautiful, tearful, joyful, tiring, most necessary of jobs, I’ll keep loving other womens’ children and I’ll keep being amazed by and applauding the work mothers do. Until I have my own babies, I raise my glass to every mom out there.
Here’s to all of you. Your job is one of the most challenging, most involved, and most important in this world. Children are important work because people are valuable and precious. Keep going, and do your work well. You shape the lives of children, who become adults. You give life and love, even if you didn’t carry your own children. Young men and women are crafted under your care, and you nurture their souls. No really good thing is accomplished quickly, and motherhood is perhaps the prime example of long perseverance in a good work. You truly have a hand in the world we live in, because you raise the men and women who inhabit it. Your mistakes in motherhood are not fatal – they are part of humanity and your children learn from you when you ask forgiveness; they learn from your attitude, your resilience, and from the grace you give yourself and to them.
“Oh I remember that!” I looked over at the women who had spoken, then back at the photo in front of us. It was a photo of the dedication of the train station here 50 years ago. I took my time as I wandered through the exhibit of newspaper articles and photos from the past 95 years. The life-stories of the people around us will always be the most interesting history book. These newspapers don’t tell my history, but they do tell hers. It’s not a textbook or ancient tales. It’s real life and it happened to that woman.
My physical therapist decided to give me some life advice this week and told me to return to “my land” as soon as I can, to return to “my people” to settle down. He spoke from life experience and told me his story. Land and people and family mean something. Where we settle and love and raise children mean something.
The Spaniards aren’t my people, nor is this my land. But I love these people and this land has enchanted me and for the time being, I’m honored to carry a corner of their beautiful land in this heart of mine and equally happy to give part of my heart to it.
She wrote back, “Thank you. I just need to be loved extra loud sometimes.” As if we don’t all need to be loved extra loud sometimes. It’s what friends do. More love, for everyone, always. Even if it’s awkward or hard. No one ever needs less love, they may just need it in a different way. Sometimes we need to be loved loudly, with truthful words that carry weight and come with a shake to the shoulders. Sometimes we need to be loved softly and gently, with tenderness that recognizes our fragility.
We breathe and give grace and things called chances: “I don’t require that you hit a home run. I just want you to step up to the plate.” Perfection is not what we want. Love me loudly, because I need hard truths. Love me softly, because my heart is tender. Love me without conditions, because none of us can earn love. Love me with your arms, because I am human. Love me with sacrifice, because I know not my worth. Love me with honor, because I am a prized possession. Love me with words, because I cannot read your mind. Love me in your anger, because love is above emotions. Love me through service, because we were made to find joy in serving one another. Love me with your presence, because we weren’t meant to do life alone. Love me out of the reservoir of love in Jesus Christ, because I know no other source of true love.
All is still. Not in peace, but in pressure.
Gray reigns and covers, then overtakes and dominates. The leaves do not quiver. No noise can be heard. There is no movement, fear, joy, or rage.
All is repressed, stamped out, overtaken by gray nothing.
Reaching, but not grasping.
Looking, but not seeing.
Existing, but not feeling.
The tension in the air rises like the a lapping ocean – slowly, steadily. Nothing can be done and the tide is merciless.
Bring the light or bring the storm, but leave me not in this gray nothing. An unsettling calm and unnatural quiet. A fog I cannot see through, a haze in my soul that pins me down.
Bring the storm or bring the light. Better yet, bring the storm and then the light.
Then! Light rips the sky in a flash – the sky cracks, rages, and weeps. Release comes first with one drop then another and another and another. Relief. The sky is weeping and the pressure lifts. The fog morphs into water droplets. The storm is here and the light is coming.
The sky weeps and so will I.
What if we existed in this world exactly as it is, but we were without eyes. No eyesight, and no one is an exception. Humanity is simply without eyes. We have ears to hear of the chirps but no eyes to see the bird, and noses to smell flowers but no eyes to see the petals. While our other senses would compensate in many ways, there would still be aspects of this world of which we would simply be unaware. There would be realities at work around us that we wouldn’t know about, though we would experience the effects. Our unknowing about the realities would have no effect on their existence or their work.
What if this is our reality now? What if we are “missing a sense”? Not in a defective way but simply a lack of knowledge and experience. What if there are realities we are unaware of? What if there is a wealth of knowledge we are incapable of understanding? We have to humbly acknowledge some sort of finiteness, a degree of a lack of information, a sense of unknown. There are things we don’t know about – more than that, there are things we can’t even imagine of to wonder about. What if there is a whole realm of which we are unaware? Maybe we aren’t necessarily wrong about what we know if what we know is all that exists. But if it isn’t all that exists, if we’re missing a sense, then what we know suddenly becomes very incomplete and lacking. Can we entertain the idea that we don’t know everything there is to know about the inner-workings of this life? That sometimes things don’t make sense because we are without eyes? And can we entertain the idea of an awe-inducing God who does see?
Sitting in a lap
gazing into bigger eyes
that look just with love.
Stylish hair, clothes too.
Stirring juice, spoon and glass sing.
Golden-skinned hands move
over gifts that say “you’re 3!”
a smile, “I know!”
Her life of value,
desired, loved, and chosen
and she is beauty.