War

I felt it — the wreckage that selfishness and pride can cause. I was no distant observer. I was stumbling from the blow, a recipient of the trickle-down effects of others’ choices, wincing with the ache.

I saw it, cried over the pain, then declared war — war on my own heart, my own selfishness and pride, realizing the havoc we can wreck on each other’s lives.

We live and leave behind a trail of wreckage from the selfishness and pride in ourselves that we don’t see or haven’t addressed. Darkness we haven’t had the guts to bring to light or that operates like a secret agent, undetected even by the one in whom it lives. It’s not even only the ugliest of ugly — it’s also run-of-the-mill, daily thinking (even subconsciously) that it’s all about me and making decisions accordingly.

I could no longer make friends with my own self-centeredness. I don’t want my darkness to tag along like a wrecking ball, hurting those closest to me as well as others whose names I may never know. If kindness is a ripple effect, so is my own self-centeredness. I will fight that part of my heart to keep you safe.

The battle begins in my heart and it’s fought not by determining to be good — that just leads me to believe that I’m better than those around me who haven’t decided to be better people. That feeds my pride.

No, the battle is fought by turning away from myself and toward the God who sees the blackness I’m warring against (and what I cannot yet see), loves me still, and changes me slowly but surely into something better. I am humbled and raised up at the same time. No false assurance that I’m a perfect person and no shaming in an effort to make me shape up.

I can acknowledge my selfishness and pride without being bound to it or despairing because of it, because I know that I’m loved and being changed into beauty, and I will participate in that change process.

My heart is steadfast, resting in love and begging for more light to expel my darkness.

Heavy Hearts

Today I cried. My heart is heavy, thumping inside of me.

Yesterday I put my boots on and took them walking to try and process everything: Spain’s lockdown that now seems like a dream (a bit of a bad dream), thousands of Spanish families grieving simultaneously, my friends in the US arguing about coronavirus, a man who was killed and the other man who had a hand in it, protests that highlight the hurt, people who riot, and my own selfish heart that I see more clearly every day.

All of these things (and so much more) wrapped into this moment of our existence. I am heartbroken and bothered by all of it.

Silly me! As if all of that can be predictably processed with a pen and paper in one afternoon. As if I could arrive at some sort of clarity after pounding out several miles.

I’ve felt so heavy and so confused the past few days thinking about George Floyd. I’ve prayed formless prayers with long silences. I’m having a hard time sorting through my own thoughts and certainly haven’t had words to say. I don’t know how to be or what to do.

This morning, I woke up to hear that one of the cities I‘ve come to care for was trashed last night. I caught up on news and have watched the riots with disbelief and the protests with my heart in my throat and tears in my eyes.

Finally, I cried.

When talking and words seem like too much and not enough all at the same time, it seems like the only thing to do is grieve along with everyone who is grieving — most of all the Lord who is, no doubt, more brokenhearted than any of us as He looks at what we have done with this world and His images. “I’m sorry” is appropriate, because I know I have disrespected the humans in my circle who He loves dearly.

I must take a long, awkward look into my own heart and ask God to “search me and see if there is any hurtful way in me” (Psalm 139:23).

I do that knowing that I am not perfect,

knowing that there are “hurtful ways” in me,

knowing that I need to see what needs to be fixed,

knowing that Christ will clean me and change my heart as I also work to change.

And finally, I have the ability to look inside the dark places of my heart without despairing because I know I am loved by Him in the middle of the whole process.

May I follow Jesus and sacrifice myself, my comfort, and my pride for the good of every person around me.

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I can’t wrap my mind around what’s happening in my own country. The hatred and the rage and confusion puts cracks in my heart. It hurts to see your country nursing collective wounds. I don’t understand the terror in Barcelona, Spain. Someone intended for that blood to be on the streets. It’s frightening to listen to the video messages that promise more attacks on Spanish soil. There’s pain all around us. I feel the hardships of those I love and work through my own issues and hurts – the brokenness I see inside myself. My brokenness that breaks other people. And the broken people around me who break other people. It all hurts me and angers me.

“That hurt and anger you feel in a fallen world? It’s not because something is wrong with you. It’s because something is right with you.” – Timothy Keller

Feel the hurt over brokenness and the anger at injustice. If we add the weight of the brokenness and hurt in our own hearts to the pain we see everywhere we turn? My friend was right when she told me “That’s a lot for a heart to carry.” We all have a lot to carry in our hearts. There’s a physical weight in our chest. What can I do with it? Run it out, sweat it out, pray it out, cry it out. Then let love and a clear head drive my actions. I just want to sit in brokenhearted prayer before I do anything else. “He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection” (Psalm 91:4).

Because of Psalm 92, I’ve been trying to get into two habits: every morning meditating on and reminding myself of the Lord’s love, and every night meditating on and recounting to myself his faithfulness.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
    and your faithfulness by night,
Psalm 92:1-2

A morning reminder of his steadfast love is my armor for the day – it reminds me of my identity and sends me out as a beloved daughter, sure of where my identity, peace, and joy come from. There is no need to armor myself with hardness toward the world or a “you can’t touch me” attitude just to make it through the day. If I belong to Christ, I am among “those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved” (Colossians 3:12). The surety of his love can carry me through the day and can be my constant throughout the unexpected ups and downs.

A nighttime recounting of his faithfulness is my peace and stability for the night – after the day is done, my mind may be full of thoughts and anxiety and my shoulders might carry the stress of the day. By reminding myself of God’s previous faithfulness in my life, in the lives of those around me, and as recorded in the Bible, I can rest and entrust myself and every concern I have to his proven character. After good days, I remember his faithfulness and thank him for the gifts. After bad days, I remember his faithfulness and trust him with what’s to come. He is faithful and he does not change.