Saturday, February 18, 2012

of trust and knotted shoulders

Proverbs 3
5  Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding
6  In all your ways, acknowledge Him,
and he will make straight your paths.
7  Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8  It will be healing to your flesh,
and refreshment to your bones.
Morning and evening, all of January, I’m mulling over these words.  I’m practicing trust.  One day, my mind zeroes in on the last two phrases, as though I’ve never heard them before: 
It (trust) will be healing to your flesh,
and refreshment to your bones.
I’m a wound-up tight kinda girl.  I’ve had chronic tension in my shoulders and neck for years.  It’s hard to fall asleep at night because my mind churns over all the things I didn’t get done that day.  
Could trusting the Lord actually heal my tight shoulders?  And what would “refreshment to my bones” feel like?  

After an evening of ending up in a sobbing puddle over tangles of addresses and spreadsheets and imperfect systems, I call my Mom the next morning.  She can tell I’m wound up tighter than a steel drum.  I snap, “Be QUIET!  Mommy’s on the PHONE!” at the boys in the first five minutes of our conversation.  I can feel her taking deep breaths (for me) on the other end of the line.

Eventually, I’m calming down under her familiar, loving voice.  We wind around through the tangles until we get to the root: In this “Year of Letting Go” (newborn, less than one month old), I just can’t seem to figure out how to “let go” of things that are actually and rightfully my responsibility.
She reads me a quote from C.S. Lewis.  We’ve always loved reading aloud to each other.  
“Man’s love for God must always be very largely, and must often be entirely, a need-love.  This is obvious where we implore forgiveness for our sins or support in our tribulations.  But in the long run it is perhaps even more apparent in our growing - for it ought to be growing - awareness that our whole being by its very nature is one vast need; incomplete, preparatory, empty yet cluttered, crying out for him who can untie things that are now knotted together and tie up things that are still dangling loose. (emphasis added)”

~C.S.Lewis, The Four Loves
"Him who can untie things that are now knotted together." 
Proverbs 3:8. [Trust] will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bonesOf course.  We are holistic beings, all connected within ourselves, and something knotting up my heart will of course knot up my body as well.  
My knotted stomach starts to uncurl. 

It’s okay to be needy.  It’s okay for me to need from God. 

It’s okay to not be perfect, because that is the reality of my real relationship with God: imperfection meets endless grace.  

I take slow, deep breaths.  I work this out.  

I am incomplete.  Preparatory.  Empty, yet cluttered.  
My neediness is where God can show His glory.  (Of course - it’s all over Scripture - but now it’s becoming Real in my daily-ness.) 
I hate being needy.  I reject it and fight it.  It bruises my pride.  It feels messy and incomplete.  I don’t like receiving, or needing to receive, or admitting I need to receive.  
But... God gets most glory by meeting my need.  I am one vast need, and my craving is Him, Himself.  And isn’t my greatest joy found in His glory?  Isn’t that why I exist, in the first place?  
Let’s get down to brass tacks, here: Isn’t this really all about Him anyway?  
In the moment of failure, I am utterly miserable, because I have become the center of my own universe, and I hate feeling like a failure - that is my idol.  As I read Lewis’ words, it hits me: that moment of my abject, miserable need is not only permitted and even validated, but planned, and should be given thanks for because it is a chance for God to show His glory through me!  

And in my snapping at the boys, in my puddles of tears and panicky flailings against things I can’t control, I have a choice: will I deny my need, clench my fists, and stay utterly miserable in my failure, or will I let go and be willingly needy and let God be big and glorious in me?
Each moment is another chance to choose trust.  

Two Trust-Level Checks
(I’m so glad God is practical.)
Here are two helpful tests the Holy Spirit gave me for checking my trust-level (maybe they'll help you too?:

1) How stressed am I feeling right now, on a scale of 1 to 10?If I’m above a 3 or 4, I’m hanging on to something too tightly.  {Since I can only feel one feeling at a time, I cannot feel stress and trust at the same timeWhere trust is present, stress cannot survive.} 

2) Check my tone of voice:
If my tone of voice is causing someone (including me) to wince, I’m clinging to an idol (usually control, or an expectation) in my heart and loving it more than Jesus, and more than the person I’m speaking to.


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