Tag Archives: story101

Facing the Hard Things – One at a Time

There are prayers I can’t pray right now.

Do you know how hard this is to say? I mean, I’m the prayer coordinator for our church, for crying out loud.   I work for a prayer ministry.  This should not be an issue.

But it is.  Because when you have prayed for something hundreds of times and still there is no answer, sometimes it all dries up inside of you.  When you have quoted every Scripture and absorbed every teaching and mustered up the guts to be vulnerable enough to ask others to pray, and still the years roll by with no answer, sometimes the words no longer come.

If you need prayer, I’ve got it.  No problem.  I’ve got the faith for it.  I will stand by you and believe for your miracle.

But these days, most of my time spent with God is spent in silence.

And to be utterly transparent, the condemnation over this has been layered on thick.  I’ve been tangled up with guilt because, well, I’m supposed to be the prayer person or something.

Until the other day, when I sat down to try again, and after a few empty moments, only managed to whisper, “I don’t know what else to say.  I’ve said everything I know to say.”  And I braced for His lecture.

But that Voice (oh, how I love that Voice) – not a shred of condemnation – simply said, “I know.  But you’re here.  And that is enough.”

I don’t know how this story ends yet.  This seems to be the messy part of it, the dark part when all hope seems lost.  But I share it because maybe another quivering soul is out there, weary with persistent prayer and feeling like a spiritual failure because of it.

And maybe you too need to know – your willingness to seek Him, even if it is groping for His hand in the darkness until you find it, wordlessly holding on as He leads you down this unknown path . . .

it is enough.  You are enough.

 

Our focus for the past week of Story101 has been on writing our hard thing, whatever that may be.  This entry is a small piece of that process for me.

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Filed under Faith, Miracles, Prayer

A Little Change of Pace

This week in Story101, we are being encouraged to write something that is outside of our comfort zone.  Being typically far more inclined towards nonfiction with spiritual undertones, I decided to dip my baby toe into the tempestuous waters of fiction.  I almost didn’t post it here, but then I thought, “Why not?”  And truth be told, I think a little bit of my personal nonfiction crept its way into this story.  Oh well!

 

A cold rain drizzled down, lightly rapping on her window pane.

She shrugged into her favorite red trench coat and rummaged in her closet for a hat, ignoring the voice inside her head trying to convince her to stay inside where it was warm and dry, like any normal person would.

She couldn’t help it.  She had to go.  Something beckoned.

Stepping out her door, she hoisted her umbrella and headed off in the familiar direction of the tube station.

In spite of the fact that everyone walks everywhere in London if they can possibly help it, the streets were emptier than usual.  Perhaps she had ventured out just late enough to miss the frantic morning rush.  Perhaps people of more sound minds had ducked into a pub or cafe to sip a warm drink.

No matter.  This was the London she liked best anyway –   one of those rare moments when the bustling city seemed to pause to catch its breath, as if some inaudible message whispered from soul to soul that at some designated hour, they should all inhale together and hold their breath a moment longer than usual before exhaling and reviving the whirlwind of activity.  In these pockets of silence and stillness, she always heard her heart most clearly.

Never mind that she had walked these streets countless times before.  Her heart fluttered with the anticipation of something new, something yet undiscovered.  She found herself picking up the pace, trying to hurry, as if by speeding up she would somehow catch up to this intangible thing and be able to grasp it.

Down the steps into the underground, slipping through the turnstile, she barely had a moment to wait before the train came roaring through.  Once seated, she finally allowed her mind to ask the question that had been lurking awkwardly in the room all morning, knowing it was uninvited but still begging to be acknowledged.

Just where exactly do you think you are going?

And where WAS she going?  Her soul had beckoned, and she had responded, simply wanting to let her heart feel alive.  Fortunately, there were countless places in the city which invoked this feeling in her, so it was only a matter of choosing one.  And settling on the need for beauty and art, she set her course for the National Gallery.

Mere minutes slipped by before that utterly poised voice came through the intercom, announcing the approach of Charing Cross station.  She stood as the doors opened and stepped out into the bustling station. The sudden emergence of activity threw her for a moment after the stillness of her morning, but the pleading of her heart was not drowned out.  Lifting her umbrella, she walked out into the falling rain, down the street and towards the museum.

The usual queues of tourists and school groups were assembled, but these she quickly passed, heading towards her favorite corner of the gallery.  Some condescending, self-appointed art expert had once told her it was cliché to love the Impressionists, but love them she did.  The softness of the paintings, the almost-blurring of the lines, the emphasis on the feelings evoked by the moment rather than the reality of the moment itself – how much of her life had been this way?  Indeed, she could rarely see a certain garden, feel a certain wind, walk under certain crisp autumn skies without recalling how she had felt in another time or place.

And even as these thoughts filled her head, there came the familiar pang of remembering.  Quickly, she scolded herself for at least the thousandth time, Why do you still let this bother you?  How ridiculous.  You are so far past this. How can this possibly still haunt you?

And just as quickly, there in the comforting presence of Monet, came the realization that some moments were precious gifts, purchased by the savings of her deepest hopes and longings.  Losing them did not doom her to a life without other such breathtaking moments, but the fact still remained that something precious had been lost, a truth she was terrified to acknowledge.

She drew in a sharp breath, finally allowing herself to feel the magnitude of what she had given, the pain slowly emerging from beneath the numbness.  Before she could muster the resistance to the onslaught of recollection, a tear broke through the hardened memories and slipped quietly down her cheek.

 

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Filed under Creativity, Fiction, Grieving, Pain, Writing

Rooftops

(Over the next 10 weeks, as I work my way through Story 101, a lot of my posts will come from prompts and subjects we’re discussing.)

Consider this :: what is it that keeps you up at night? What could you talk about every single day for the rest of your life? What do you want to shout from the rooftops so everyone will know?

What runs electric through your veins?

I have to admit – I stared at these words for a long time, slow panic rising in me.  Lots of things keep me up at night right now – and all the uncertainties and struggles began dancing around my head in broad daylight.

But out of the chaotic thoughts came countless moments from my memories – me, a heap on the floor and tears in my eyes and heart laid bare.  And I knew.

I shout from the rooftops that I love Him – shamelessly, fiercely, desperately – because He is all together perfect.

I don’t understand so much, but I love Him.

Some days it scares me because I live in a world that wants to make it seem foolish and pathetic and ignorant to love Him.  Sometimes the Church has earned those criticisms; often she hasn’t.  And it is hard to live in a world that seems hostile to what you love.  But still I love Him.

And I shout from the rooftops that He loves you, me, all of us, and if you do not love Him, perhaps you have not really seen Him?  And I suggest this with not a shred of condemnation or shame, but rather to stir up hope, to urge you to keep looking.

Electric through my veins is the desire for people to encounter His presence, to catch one glimpse of His eyes gazing into them – seeing all and loving all.  If we do not have Him, we have nothing.

And I shout from the rooftops that He is holy, and it is ok that we are not because He is committed to making us holy, even while we are broken.  When He corrects, it may be uncomfortable, but it still feels like grace.  And if it feels more like shame, then maybe just wait a little longer before making any changes?  Shame produces some nasty fruit, nothing like what He offers.

For the rest of my life, it comes back to Him, again and again.  And I know sometimes He seems far and sometimes He seems unreasonable and sometimes He simply makes no sense.  But don’t give up.  He is never truly far.  And I know some days this journey is just so, SO hard.  But don’t give up.

I shout from the rooftops that He is worth it.  I believe it with every fiber of my being.  I love Him.

And He loves us – this is my loudest shout of all.

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Filed under Faith, Passion, Presence, Worship

Chasing Stories

This week, I am beginning a writing course – Story101.

I haven’t shared this with many people because so far when I have, I’ve been met with concerned stares and well-intentioned  “are you crazy?” responses.  And I know it’s because they genuinely care.  My life is ridiculously busy – two small children, two intensely demanding part-time jobs, ministry within a blossoming church plant, marriage.  Most weeks, I spin like a tornado from Sunday into Saturday, pausing for a few hours (if I’m lucky) to catch my breath before beginning the cycle again.  Why oh why would I add another thing to my plate when I’m already dropping my food every time I try to take a bite?

Because for nearly seven years, I have not done a single thing to take a step towards my passions.  Not. One. Single. Thing.

And I would not go so far as to say the time has been wasted because it hasn’t.  I got married (yes, please).  I gave birth to two precious treasures (and now I know what it is like to hold the world in my arms).  I have stepped through the doors that have opened and as a result, I’ve had my character sharpened, some skills refined.  So, yes, I have done some roundabout things that are undoubtedly important.

But there are two things that unleash a fire in me, that unlock the heart of God to me, that speak of life and love and adventure and mystery waiting.  Two things in which I lose myself and find myself all at once.

Music.  And words.

I should be pursuing the first as well, but I will transparently admit that particular passion has been the source of tremendous wounds that are still gaping and so I can’t.  Not right now.

But words have been churning in me, and I know in my bones it is time to write again.  To write seriously.  To embrace the discipline, the creativity, the vulnerability.

So, do I have time for a writing course?  No, not really.  But this time I am choosing to be crazy rather than to go crazy.  Because I need to create.  I need to stand on tiptoes straining for a glimpse of the eternal.  I need to try and capture with words what words are ultimately hopeless to express.

And I wonder, what is locked up in you that needs to be released?  What is buried under the cluttered layers of ordinary?  What should you tap into your inner crazy for the courage to pursue again?  Don’t go crazy with the wondering of what might have been, with the pent up bottling of passion.

Today is as good a day as any to chase your story.

 

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Filed under Creativity, Music, Writing