Posts Tagged ‘VCC’

I’m miserable. My throat hurts and my head hurts and I’m exhausted from nightmares and lack of sleep. I whine when I’m miserable. And when I have some clarity about my husband’s job situation, I’ll update, but that’s serving to make me even more miserable. Sigh.

Anyhow, Epi, our church’s writer’s corner came out today, and I included this poem. I spent quite a bit of time on it by my standards, but I’m pretty pleased with how it came out. It says to me that even my earliest memories aren’t my first story.

My First Story

It is not, “How could you do this to us?”
“No daughter of mine”
Or a late spring wedding, fast before she blooms

It is not swimming in a dark salty sea,
tethered to she who wished to cut me loose
Or the cheek throbbing hot and red from knuckle striking bone

It is not the inky stain of violation, pooled and permanent
sunk to soul
Or thick summer Sundays full of wood and brass and song

It is not rage spilling into crimson sear,
breath of fire spreading wild
Or being called adjectives rather than my own proper name

It is not back child support in thin green envelopes,
Forty-two dollars per week
Or the absence of abandonment, better this way

It is not the, “I wish you were never born”
(which translates to, “I wish you were dead”)
Or the baby who, because of memory’s ricochet, never drew first breath

It is not the tug of convention;
marriage, motherhood, roots
Or the deep rolling shame that aches and thunders


It is rather the soft call of home,
somehow known though never known
The redress and recompense

It is the First, the Last, the I Am,
Author of Life and Ancient of Days
The unsearchable mystery of being found

It is the joy of being bare-faced and
blue-jeaned and whole
The delicate lilt that captures my ear

It is my wounded heart weeping,
finally weeping, through its thick balm
The dignity remembrance lends to suffering

It is the nightmare calmed,
brow mopped and hair smoothed
The gruesome yet profound beauty of truth

It is the Artist’s hand sculpting the slope of my nose,
curve of my hip, arch of my foot
The monogram graven deep, forever on His palms

It is He whose name is the sound of my breathing,
worship spoken holy in the raging silence
This Jesus; He is my first story

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*What follows is an experience I had with Jesus a few weeks ago. When I told the Not-So-Casual Observer about it, she asked me to write it down and submit it to Epi. Since it was published yesterday there, I’m posting it here today.

“It’s a real risk, and a real choice,” echoes the voice of the one whom I have trusted to walk with me. I quake inwardly, almost imperceptibly, knowing she’s right.  An ultimatum lingers, an austere dare of self; I hug myself in tight and wait for Jesus.

I reorient myself in this waiting place, this hidden space where soul and spirit rush together.  As my awareness grows, I am awed at the expanse of gray swallowing my field of vision. “What is that?” I reel with sudden vertigo.

From the cloak of the periphery, my Jesus speaks. He tells me that it is my wall, the construct of defenses I use to keep myself safe and others out. I am the storied princess locked in castle tower, but instead of a wicked stepmother bearing the precious key, I am my own jailor.

I pelt Him with questions. “Can I scale the wall?” Impossible, He says, for there are no footholds. “Could I tear through it myself?” He laughs softly, kindness in His eyes. It would take decades. Now desperate, I make my last-ditch plea, “May I tunnel under?” He replies that it would crush me.

Jesus offers to move it like a mountain into the sea, but I refuse. Terror of the unknown overshadows my fragile trust in the goodness of my Savior; I have not yet seen what lies beyond. We seem to be at an impasse, and I hang my head in shame.

After a moment, He offers to swing the pickaxe and allow me to control the pace. I assent, and He begins to labor. A jagged chunk of rock soon falls to the ground. I heft it into my arms and struggle under the weight of this stone named “unwillingness,” then move it into a pile designated for rubble.  So it begins, and so it goes.

As the weeks pass, I look forward to this time with Jesus at the wall. The familiar sound of metal waging war against rock somehow soothes as I tote away the ruin of my defenses. A reverent goodbye falls from my lips — a requiem to the fear of knowing — and Truth comes. Afraid to feel soon grudgingly follows. Day by day, Jesus appears and we labor together.

One morning I come eager to work, but He declares it a day of lingering, a mid-stream Sabbath. I rail against the waiting, the agony of feeling ready to move on but hearing a sovereign, “no.” He calls me to deep rest, for this is where I will recover my life. As breathing slows, trust returns. I collapse like an exhausted child.

By and by, a gift awaits. His work and my willingness have created a clearing in the massive expanse of mortar and stone, fear and control. Jesus grins broadly and asks if I am willing to see beyond. Tentatively, I peer into the distance. ­­The laws of physics are briefly suspended, because I hear before I see,

“O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,

Behold I will set your stones in antimony

And your foundations I will lay in sapphires

Moreover, I will make your battlements in rubies, and your gates of crystal,

And your entire wall of precious stones.” Is 54:11-12

Beyond this grotesque, monochrome barricade I’ve constructed stands a dazzling wall. The difference is so profound that I am struck dumb. As I walk toward this precious, indeed priceless, structure, I begin to process His words.

My foundations are laid in sapphires; staid, substantial blue. My battlements are made of rubies; I am to fight from a heart place, for a heart place. My gates are crystal; boundaries sure but transparent. And my wall, oh, my wall. I’ve never seen anything so spectacular and I am certain that I do not deserve such extravagance. My cheeks burn, even upon seeing the Giver’s tender hope that I will accept His offering.

I feel the delicate rhythm of my heart rising from the ground and know with certainty that it’s time to see beyond the facade. Gingerly placing a hand atop the ledge and stretching on tip of toe, I peer at this battered, barely functioning center of life. I lament the years I’ve lived with distance masquerading as safety, far away from authenticity, from Jesus.

He invites me to meet with Him here from now on, at the wall He’s given me.  The old will crumble unaided, He says, and for the first time I realize just how hard I had to work to keep it in good repair. I ask Him if I can pick up the rubble as it falls, but Jesus asks if instead I would allow Him to be my groundskeeper. I protest, still groping for a way to achieve my way into grace.

He’d rather I simply dwell here, for I have much to learn about living in such close proximity to my heart. He says he doesn’t want my energy wasted on picking up trash when I should be cultivating life. Jesus beams at me. How could I do anything but obey?

He turns to take His leave, kissing my forehead and affirming my faithfulness. He loved enough to exchange my bartering for grace, to heal before I sensed the wound. It was a real risk, and a real choice. I have chosen life.


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On Friendship

Friday night I went to Girls’ Night Out with friends from my new church. If you’ve known me long, you know that this is a big. huge. deal.  I’ve always tended to be a bit of a loner, an introvert. However, that’s been challenged lately.

Last Monday, I told my sweet friend Prisoner of Hope that I was going out with new friends. I asked her to pray for me because, “I don’t do well in groups.” She looked at me incredulously, and said, “I can’t let you speak that, it’s not true. YOU are the person who takes care of everyone, makes sure they know what’s going on, ensures they’re comfortable …”


Then Friday night as we were leaving, I was saying goodnight to a new friend. She said, “I can’t believe you said you’re not social. You so are!”

So in a week, one person who has just met me and one person who knows my heart inside and out both told me that I was wrong about myself. Hmm. I’m listening.

I took all of that to my session yesterday, and the Not-So-Casual Observer and I hashed it out. We talked about what it would mean to be affirmed, to believe that I was a “valuable part of a group.” Let’s just say it was a hard hour.

Then today, I taught at AVC, our old church. My sweet friend Purity (new to the cast of characters, but like a big sister to me and known for several years) mentioned that I’m different (Thank You, Jesus)! She also mentioned that when we were just getting to know one another, several people told her that “heather just doesn’t want to be known.” Ouch.

Now, I don’t believe that was true, because the longing to be truly known is in all of us, designed by God. But I think it illustrates just how deeply wounded and afraid I have been for so long. I thank God that He’s changing that part of me.

It feels like I’m conducting an archaeological dig of my own past, the Truth, who I was created to be. I said to NSCO yesterday, “Why can’t something just be EASY for once?” Her answer had something to do with how many children I have; I’ll refrain from posting it here, but it made me giggle.

And so, hmm. Friendship. I believe that I’ve met two women at my new church who will become good friends. Now, I take friendship pretty seriously, but I’m sort of out of practice. Add to that the fact that I’ve never had friends who were peers and mothers (some of each, but none who are both), and I’m in deep water here. But the fact is that I WANT to have friends now, and that’s more than I can say for the last decade, so that’s something. Actually, it’s a lot of something. I’m pleased to discover this new person in myself.

And by the way, if the girl is reading who mentioned Friday night that she wanted a nickname on my blog, it’s Cara. Look up what it means, because you were the first from VCC. And I’m so grateful for the “moment” we had last Sunday, looking forward to this week!

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