Monday, February 8, 2016

Defiant Joy

(or "I Wasn't Planning on Writing About my Senior Prom")

It’s how Bono described U2’s half-time performance at the Super Bowl just months after 9/11.
Defiant joy.

In other words, the collision of pain and celebration.
In fact, the conscious choice to instigate their collision.

It was a more-than-delicate commission. Providing “entertainment” in one of the most widely-watched TV events of the year after the heart of the nation had just been ripped apart.

As my husband and I were watching this look back on 50 years of super bowl halftime shows we happened upon, I was drawn to Bono’s notion of defiant joy. Of course I had to over-analyze it, too, namely because the good girl in me feels a bit uncomfortable with the word, defiant. Compliant has always been the style I’ve worn, although don’t worry. God’s starting to show me that it doesn’t suit my soul well.

And so the over-analyzing ensued:
hat's that mean, defiant joy?
What's it look like from a heart stand-point?
Who or what would I be defiant against amidst pain?
And is that okay?? . . .

I know in my head that joy and sorrow aren’t mutually exclusive, at least I have since my old pastor enlightened me several years ago. (Phenomenal message, by the way. Listen to it!) But I don’t do it well, the whole joy-while-grieving thing. I tend to eeyore my pain, at least internally. Not to mention it feels fake and contrived. Even dishonest because it’s not an accurate reflection of my feelings.

Many years ago, I had a very distinctive opportunity to make joy and pain collide – or not. During the spring of my senior year in high school, just a day or two before my Senior Prom, my Pop-pop passed away. His funeral? Prom Day.


That spring, I had accepted an invitation from my good friend to go to Prom with him. Yet my grandfather’s death left me feeling so torn inside. How could I put on my black dress of grieving only to come home, whip it off, and put on a party dress and dance the night away? In my pain, I was entirely averse to the prospect.

So I carried my pain into the stark high school cafeteria, found my friend, and told him what had happened. I think I asked if it would be all right with him if I didn’t go, but honestly, I don’t remember because sadly, I wasn’t really asking. I was just being polite. (Or so I thought at the time.) In return, my friend was incredibly gracious and sympathetic.

And you know, with as much as I still wrestle over this notion of inserting joy into the mix of sorrow, I wish I would have known one thing then that at least I DO know now.
That is, it’s not about me.

I wish I would have thought more about my friend when making that decision, rather than just selfishly thinking about my grieving. Because it’s not as if thinking beyond myself would have dismissed my grieving. If anything, it held potential for healing. It always does.

I’m embarrassed at how little I thought, at the time, of what it would be like to be in his shoes. How was my decision going to impact him? I made him miss his Senior Prom, for pete’s sakes. That’s not a loss he can recover. And I know, I know – it’s only high school, Tanya. We’re not talkin’ about the big rocks in life. I know that. Yet I also know that there are some pretty cherished memories I carry to this day from my high school years, back to my years at Laramie Jr. High, and all the way back to my elementary school years.  
Memories matter.

Ann describes this turn toward joy amidst life’s gut-wrenching pain as simply letting yourself be loved:
This swallowing the richness of living,
it comes in letting yourself be blessed.

Letting yourself be loved.

Of course that conveniently appeases the good girl in me because when you put it like that, it’s not so defiant, after all! Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m not lookin’ to continue appeasing her because she’s got a lot of growing up to do. That being said, our Father, the Creator and Embodiment of perfect parental love – at times, He accommodates. And even coddles. (Still shocks me.) So apparently, there’s grace enough for the good girl who still lingers.

Interestingly enough, a cousin of mine and I went to high school together. In fact, we were in the same grade. Which means, she faced the same choice I did when Pop-pop died: to go to Prom, or not go to Prom. My cousin chose differently and went to our Senior Prom that night. I was supportive of her decision, but for the life of me, I couldn’t get my 18-year-old brain around it. I couldn’t figure out how she was pulling that off.

You know, 20 plus years later, I still don’t have it figured out, but I think she was onto something. I think at 18 years old, she had a better feel for this Defiant Joy stuff than I do at 40-something. So I’ll keep scratching my head, I’ll keep asking the questions, I’ll likely keep over-analyzing, and I’ll let my hindsight serve me well along the way.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

When Trusting God Seems Foolish

Dare I admit that? That although I’ve walked with God for nearly 30 years and found Him to be consistently faithful, we’re facing circumstances where the gravity to which we’re having to trust Him has left this question whispering in my ear:
Are we being completely foolish to trust Him – THIS much?!? . . .

My prayers are outrageous. My trust feels irresponsible. 
And remember, I’m the responsible one. The older brother.

I read somewhere that faith is trusting God so much that if He didn’t come through, you’d fall flat on your face. Lately, we’ve been in a circumstantial free fall, and we see the ground merely inches away in time.

We’ve sought to be good stewards by checking all options to prevent destruction. Because we don’t want to be like the guy sitting on top of a roof in a flooded land watching boats go by and asking God why He didn’t rescue him. We’ve looked for the boats as we’ve simultaneously trusted Him. And our view from the rooftop shows we have no other choice but only to trust Him. (At which point I’ll add a little levity to say that you know you’re a mom of a 5th grader when you pray to the Lord with all sincerity of heart yet a little smirk on your face saying, “Help me, Lord. You’re my only hope.”)

I know what’s true. I take God at His word when He says that He’s able to do immeasurably more than anything I could ever ask, or even imagine. Yet when the usually-calm Red Sea is suddenly violently splashing at your legs and you can feel the sweat of the soldiers as their advance breathes down your neck, trusting God feels foolish.
If that’s where you are today, I want you to know you’re not alone.
And He can handle our raw honesty, friend. Our humanity. In fact, He welcomes it.

(Image above: Scene from ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ 20th Century Fox)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The God Who Coddles?

It all started with a blue shirt on Laurelford Lane. It was just a t-shirt, but I loved that t-shirt. It was that icy light blue color I can’t get enough of yet have such a hard time finding. The one that exudes life and elegance. It had a unique, square neck line, too. SO much more complimentary than the ol’ crew cut or v-neck. (Why, oh why, don’t they make square-neck t-shirts?)

Well, I couldn’t find my beloved t-shirt, and it was the choice shirt for the occasion. A casual occasion, but an important one, nonetheless. Maybe friends visiting from out of town, I don’t remember. But I know I needed it. And I couldn’t find it. Let the fretting begin. 

So I did something that felt a little funny at the time. I prayed about it. I asked God if He would help me find my cherished shirt. But I felt a little silly praying about it. Because it was just a silly t-shirt, after all. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t anything that mattered. It was a big deal to me, but I knew it wasn’t a big deal to God. Just a first-world problem.

But God said yes. 
Yes to my silly t-shirt. 
Yes to my first-world problem. 

I was pretty taken back because admittedly, I wasn’t expecting Him to say yes. The whole left side of my brain had the case for no all laid out, and I trust the left side of my brain. It’s a good friend to me, you know. But God didn’t follow my logic. In fact, it kinda felt like He broke the rules. You know, the ones we good girls put in place.

Well, it wasn’t long before it happened again. Another t-shirt (because I’m just a t-shirt and jeans kinda girl). This time a black, kinda sassy, one. Again, the shirt for the occasion. And all my searching was just an exercise in banging my head against the wall.

I thought,

Do I ask Him again? 

Can I really ask the same thing twice? Especially when He said yes last time? 
Is this just calling upon Him as a genie in a bottle? I mean, it’s just stuff. 

Despite all my efforts to talk myself out of it, I held my breath and asked again. Pretty sure I added all kinds of disclaimers this time –

It’s okay if not, God.
I’ll trust that You’ve got something better in mind if I don’t find it. (Or at least I’ll try to.)
Really, Your will be done. 

A self-protecting girl’s gotta protect herself from disappointment after all, right?

Except that I found the black shirt. 
He said yes again.
I shook my head in wonder.

That was about eight years ago when I took those risks by asking God to help me find something that clearly had no bearing on eternity. And it was just the beginning.

For the past eight years, I have regularly asked God to help me find things. I’m talkin’ – multiple times a day. It’s pretty much how He and I hang out. Today it was a pair of shoes and a receipt. The other day, it was important notes I’d jotted down on an envelope during a phone call with a nurse. I’m in a season of life that’s largely characterized by survival, so I can’t find things. Regularly. And regularly, He has said yes.

And every time, I think,

Are you kidding me, God? 

Yes – again? . . . 

Today, I wanted to wear my chunky-sole shoes because I was going for a walk and wanted good support. Well one quick unsuccessful glance and I didn’t even get the words out of my brain before the shoes were right before my eyes. That immediate, before-I-could-even-spit-the-words-out response from Him felt so excessive, it was uncomfortable. Uncomfortable to receive.

So with a heart of resistance, I asked Him,

Why do You keep accommodating me? 

Because I love you.

But what about the hard side of love? 

I know you know the hard side of love.

I laced up my black semi-platform shoes, still bewildered, if not thrown by the excess. And as I grabbed my coat, I finished with,

What if others found out out?
What if others were to find out how accommodating You’ve been? 

Especially parents!! What would THEY think of You as a Parent? 

He didn’t respond. I have a pretty good hunch He’s not concerned.

My friends,
God is not this scary, impersonal being without a heart. He's your tender, compassionate Father who loves you, cares about your needs, and abounds in grace after grace after grace. Don't let yourself forget that today.

- to treat in an indulgent or overprotective way
- to treat (someone) with too much care or kindness

I have more discoveries on this whole accommodating experience with God that frankly feels like coddling, but we'll have to come back to that another time.

In the meantime, thoughts?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Legend of Deer Hollow

A Tale of Crisis and Community,
Friendship and Faith

Once upon a time, there was a family of deer who lived in a cozy nook of an inviting forest. A daddy buck, a mama doe, and a precious little fawn. They made their home in the small hollow, just up the hill from the creek and the crawfish where the evergreens meet the hardwoods and the honeysuckle.
The friendliest creatures encircled them all around.

One morning, before the days of little fawn, a couple of friendly butterflies flew into their path, and the deer were immediately drawn to their vibrant beauty. The deer and the butterflies quickly became good friends, and went on little adventures together – through the forest, to the ocean, and up the smoky blue mountain.
They shared a fondness for the beautiful world around them, wanting always to partake in the daily divine.

Together, they sang, they laughed, they dreamed.

Then one day, the Creator beckoned the butterflies to fly to the far side of the land and make their home on the other ocean. The deer were very sad about the butterflies’ departure from the forest, but they knew their Creator’s plans were always good, so they trusted Him as their companions flew away.
They knew this wouldn’t be the end of their story together.

Many seasons passed while the animal friends were apart, yet there were summers of sweet reunions and across-the-miles winter celebrations when vivid crocuses burst forth with songs of new life. All the while, their friendship remained a bridge between the oceans.

One autumn day as red and yellow fell to the ground, the mama doe felt herself falling as well. She became terribly weak, laying day after day on a small bed of brittle leaves as the crisp autumn breeze turned cold winter chill.

Forest neighbors gathered round day and night, offering strength, support, and compassion to the family of deer. Other creatures from around the forest and even from afar heard their cries and also came to offer kindness and generous spirits of service.
And a symphony of psalm rose to Heaven every time.  

Since the fall, the doe had to lean hard on the buck. And though he grew tired and weary, the buck never lost his footing, despite the deep muck that overtook their land from all the rainy days. 

The deer were broken. Their landscape had changed. 

In time, the doe was able to stand again, and walk, but her gait was never quite the same. And she wrestled constantly between the strength of her heart’s desires and the weakness of her body’s reality. She grieved the impact that autumn day left on her family’s landscape. All the loss in its wake. Because she’d always longed to leave the forest a more glorious place. At least their little hollow. 

She longed to be a strong doe and do all the things other mama deer do. To run freely with her fawn through the lush green, explore curious with him around every bend, show him all the wonders of the big world beyond their little forest, teach him how to dance freely with the Creator and breathe deeply of His grace.
Instead, she was working hard just to walk.
Just to survive.

Her world has felt painfully small.

And their family was no longer able to pilgrimage to the far side of the land to visit their old friends. Yet their flighted friends continued to come to them. Always flying in with life, laughter, love on their wings.

One spring afternoon, the butterfly brought the doe a gift only the soul could see. The rarest kind. It unearthed a healing flood the doe could not hold back. So she leaned on the butterfly, unwrapped her pain, and laid it bare on the floor. The butterfly felt the full weight of her friend’s pain, and spread her wings wide around her. Holding her tight as the storm raged on.
Tears of hurt. Tears of healing.
Holy ground saturated with the sacred.
Since that life-altering September 16th day [yes, four years ago to the day], some things have changed for the deer. And a lot hasn’t.

Several of the friendly creatures that encircled them in the hollow have made their home in a new part of the forest. And so have they. The little fawn, he’s not so little any more. And the butterflies, they’ve faced some harsh winds of their own.

The strong buck remains with hooves firmly planted in the deep, deep muck. And the doe continues to wrestle hard between her desires and her reality.
The storms rage hard every day.

However, one thing also remains.
The sufficiency of His grace.

The grace to take the next step – when the last one was all I had in me.
The grace to ask for help. Yet again. Despite fearing that I wore out my needy welcome long, long ago.
The grace to trustwhen I don’t even know what that looks like anymore.

So “my flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ¹

“Therefore we do not lose heart.
[Well. Many days we do. But it’s not the state of heart that characterizes us.
Because] though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” ²

For one thousand four hundred and sixty one days, He has said to me,
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ³

And one thousand four hundred and sixty one days later, I remain resolved that

“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses,
so that Christ's power may rest on me." ³

~ ~ ~
This piece is dedicated to everyone who has helped our family stand (or walk. or crawl.) over the past four years. Upholding us with your faithful prayers, your steady streams of encouragement, and your selfless acts of service. Through you, we have beheld the glory of God.

It is ESPECIALLY dedicated to the remarkable families of Deer Hollow Court.
In Wake Forest.
Your unprecedented legacy will forever live on in our family’s story.

(Hey before you go, I think you'll also enjoy reading My Tomato Plant Story, & Surviving the Traumas of Life. But first, would you do me the honor of leaving a little comment below to let me know you stopped by? It makes my day whenever I hear your voice!)

1: Ps 73:26
2: 2 Cor. 4:16
3: 2 Corinthians 12:9

Saturday, August 9, 2014

For When Your World Feels Painfully Small

He’s invited me to several reading parties at bedtime this summer. Usually when my husband’s out of town and it’s just the two of us. The book I carry into his bedroom is about discovering the wonders of God in the moment, especially the ones masked in the mundane.

As I’m reading with highlighter in hand, always in hand, I turn sentence into sunshine. No longer blending in with the mosaic of words, but shining right off the page.

She talks about her aunt, the one who traveled the world, “wandering the streets of the foreign and unusual.”* And the time she came and induced a tiny toddler’s squeals of laughter simply by rolling a red plastic ball.

“I will never forget your daughter’s wild joy in that ball – a happiness like I have never seen in all my travels through all these years.
And in the simplest of experiences . . .”* 

With my son’s legs sprawled over mine, I continue to read, continue to highlight, as Ann beckons me to open my eyes to see and unwrap the gift of the moment. The joy of the here and now.

And that example, that story of the well-traveled aunt, it speaks to me. Because I wrestle over our family’s world – it’s become painfully small. While others make plans for ocean views and starry summer nights, I hope to feel well enough take him to the library around the corner. I give thanks that he deems it a treasure, yet I ache when –
well, when I compare

But that aunt in the book just told me that in all her travels around this big world, she’d never seen the wild joy that she’d seen that day.
In a home. 
Doing something incredibly simple.

I sense a subtle tug to let what I’m reading seep into the moment. Because as I read, I’m in one of those moments. One of his last days he’ll ever live the simplicity of a single digit.

My awareness begins to wake up, and I capture his closeness. Side by side our legs dangling off the bed and books propped in hand, his little feet begin to nuzzle their way into my sandals. My loose sandals, my ever-present nagging reminders of sickness and weight loss, become divine dwelling.
My proclaimers of loss turn place of prosperity. 

With noses buried in books, neither one let on, but we both know it’s going to happen.
The sandal falls to the floor.
The joy rises to the moment. 

Sweet moments like these usually garner polite smiles from this weak and weary mom. But no, not this time. This time, I was primed for more. Primed for joy. This time, when he whips his head around with head-back, mouth-open laughter, I join in.
This time, I am a part of the moment, not an outskirt observer of it. 

In unusual playfulness, I kick off the other sandal.

And then, I am humbled. Because my son, my tender son . . .
He climbs off the bed,
Crouches down low on the floor,
And with gentle little hands, starts to put my sandals back on my feet.
Oh, how this boy has seen servanthood at its finest in our little world. It's shaping his soul – in ways no trip around the world ever could. 

Maybe our world hasn’t gotten smaller, after all . . .

But bigger.

I graciously tell him I’d rather leave them off.
The better to snuggle with. 

Well no doubt about it I was making a fashion statement that day with my hospital-white circulation socks. My elastic crutches that hold me up and help me stand. Picture black capris, white stockings, black sandals. Give me an eye patch and I’m half way to pirate. But a girl does what a girl’s gotta do, you know. At least around the house.

So before climbing back onto the bed, he examines the circular openings on the soles of my socks, wonders why they’re there, answers his own question – so my feet can breathe. Yes, the soles are indeed designed with a need to breathe.
The souls are also designed with a need to breathe.

I turn my head to look at the clock. 8:50pm on the dot. The exact time I said we’d be done reading. With a glimmer of glorious rule-breaking rebellion in my eye, I ignore it. Oh yes I sure did.

Minutes later, he mentions the time, but wants to read Chapter Three and shows me it isn’t very long. This boy, he knows his mama. He knows I don’t throw my yeses wild to the wind.
Tonight, I say yes. 

His voice and arm gesture proclaim a hearty YES as if I had just handed him the moon. As he gets comfortable on the small of my back, I hear cicadas out the window and highlight:
“But the irony:
Don’t I often desperately want to wriggle free of the confines of a small life?
Yet when I stand before immensity that heightens my smallness – I have never felt sadness. Only burgeoning wonder . . . all wonder and worship can only grow out of smallness.”*
With his Chapter Three adventure complete, I point out the chorus of cicadas, tell him they’re singing him a lullaby. He smiles, and pauses to hear their song.

We close our eyes to pray, and I pray differently tonight.

I thank Him for the chorus of cicadas, 

for holes in circulation socks, 
for sandals falling, 
For feet! he says. 
Yes, Lord, for feet. 

For kind ladies at two separate bakeries who each offered my soon-to-be birthday boy a special treat this afternoon, 

for the breath of life, 
the miracles that surround us. 
I pray for friends and family. 
The sick, the grieving, the ones in harm’s way.

Open our eyes and open our ears, Lord,
to see and hear the miracles that surround us every day. 

As soon as I amen, he asks what I read. Apparently, he heard a changed prayer, too. With pleasure, I share with him truth and grace, simple and profound.

“The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience. The joy wonder could be here! Here, in the messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be – unbelievably – possible!
The only place we need to see before we die is this place of seeing God, here and now.
~ Ann Voskamp

And so, on an ordinary August night, my son's bedroom became holy ground.
A simple summer reading date turned vehicle to the Sacred.
The goodness of God set loose through a pair of ordinary sandals.
Together, our hearts traveled where no footsteps of ours ever could.
In the grandeur of the small.

"Take off your sandals,
for the place where you are standing is holy ground."

 ~ Exodus 3:5

* Excerpt from One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully by Ann Voskamp 
Image courtesy of Tim Pirfalt

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Your Desperation, Your Worship

“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, 
that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. “ 
~ Heb. 13:15, ESV

It was a pretty pitiful scene. In one corner of the house, I sat on my bed clutching the pepto-pink trash can, barely enough strength to be upright. In the other corner, my son crying over a hard-won battle that fell into computer abyss. Sweet victory turned sting of defeat. And my husband was out getting groceries, so unavailable to offer comfort to either one of us.

I sat there weak and helpless on my bed, the sound of my son’s unaddressed disappointment well in ear shot but out of my realistic reach. And I couldn’t help but second-guess a self description I’d penned just a day or two before. I described myself as “one who’s learned how to live in survival mode – and even worship there.”

"Are you kidding me?," I thought. "Have I really learned that?
What about this trying-to-survive moment right here and now?"

In entered His grace with this thought:
My dependence is my worship.

My helplessness reminds me that I need a Savior for eternity, and for the here and now. Every time I acknowledge that I am not self-sufficient, but instead incapable and desperately needy, I worship. I worship by removing my [perceived] ability off the throne of my life, and bowing down to the only One Who is worthy of that throne. Worthy of my trust. And welcoming of my desperation.

That desperation has been one of my primary places of worship in this hard season. That choice to bow down and trust Him instead of myself. That choice to surrender. That choice to invite His grace into my need.
Again. And again. And again.

In my desperation, my dependence is my worship.
And can be yours as well.

Picture compliments of Aaron Burden

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Leaving the Principle Behind

I'd like to think I'm a relatively easy-going kinda gal. But if there’s one scenario that’s always been a guarantee to get my blood boiling, it’s an offense to the principle of the matter. Sometimes individuals have been my offenders, but usually it’s a case of a company not doing the right thing, not making my satisfaction their primary goal.
Because I am consumer, so hear me roar. 

Of course, that's too ugly for a Christian to admit. So I've wrapped it tightly in justice, a perfectly justifiable (and responsible!) intellectual alibi.

One day several years ago, the Lord planted this strange seed of thought in my head. He asked me if the principle is truly what’s most important in a situation.
Is principle really what trumps all? 

It was confusing to even consider deprioritizing the principle of a matter, because isn’t it just plain RIGHT? Why would I not pursue what is right? That would be counter Christian.

And if the principle of the matter weren't most important, wouldn’t that mean I'd have to resign the respect due me? Even give up innate rights as an individual? There are all kinds of ramifications.
The wrestling ensued.

~ ~ ~

Ocean waves crashed their majesty just up the road. And the siren sound of seagulls was all around. But me? I was behind a closed bedroom door on the second floor on hold with customer service. They’d double-charged us for our internet service, and she was submitting a request for our account to be credited.

It was a stressful conversation, the explaining and the advocating. I’m not a fan of those. At all. Most certainly not while on vacation. But the return was worthwhile, so I made the investment of my time and energy. An expensive one, though. It left me wiped out the rest of afternoon.

A couple months came and went, but only a partial credit was issued. And so I called.

Month after month. 
Hold after hold. 
Operator after operator. 
For six months. 

Explaining every time the complicated nuances behind the relocating, the residential vs. the business, the double charging.

Finally, one wonderful fall day, an operator seemed to get to the bottom of the hold up. But. In order to resolve it, he had to send it back to the other department . . .

Return to sender. 
Hope they comply. 
More realistically, hope my remaining credit hasn’t gone back into a black hole. 

I took scrupulous notes all the while. I documented names, operator IDs, dates, details of who said what. I had a case, and I managed it well.

The holidays came and went. No remaining credit. And no time to do those dreaded calls.

So after ringing in the new year, I picked up the phone again yesterday. And I was bounced between departments more than ever before. A tennis match of my time and energy, and I was clearly losing.

The dialogue with the last in the string of operators was particularly unproductive.
It was disheartening (to say the least) when she informed me for the first time of a note in my account saying the request for credit had been denied last summer.
And it was frustrating (to say the very least!) when she had the nerve to ask me why I think I should receive this credit.

I kept my cool, though. Didn’t even wear the ugly manipulative tone my nature sometimes puts on. I sought to take the higher roads of respectful communication despite her coldness.

But after a little while of getting nowhere, I got practical and decided I’d be better off hanging up with her and calling back to speak to a different operator. So right in the middle of our somewhat-mutual troubleshooting, I interjected a seemingly random,
“Thank you, operator. I think that will be all.”
Some silence, a few more obligatory formalities exchanged in closing, and no more wasted time for me.

As I put the phone down and placed my right hand on the mouse to start documenting our conversation, I couldn’t maneuver it because my hand was so shaky. I didn’t feel stressed, but clearly, I was.

After a few minutes, my hands relaxed, and so did my soul. Because instead of picking the phone back up to get a better operator, I reconsidered.

That particular moment is the point where my principle-trumps-all nature typically rises up, and my blood start boiling in agitation. Because really, this is all very simple, right?

We asked them to discontinue a service. 
They didn’t. 
Instead, they began to double charge us. 
Their fault, not ours. 
Therefore, we deserve to be reimbursed. (Fully! Not partially.) 
Simple, simple. 

As always, I heard my nature’s invitation to pursue the principle of it, but it wasn’t screaming in demand like it used to. It was much quieter. And this time, I also heard a different Invitation.

Despite the reality that they owed us money. And despite the reality that we could certainly use it. I sensed a need to let it all go.
The money, the principle, the stress.
A readiness to throw away all the papers and close the door to my file of scrupulous notes, and leave it all buried in last year.
Not in resignation. In freedom.

I could have pushed through, like usual, ‘til I found the frayed end of my rope. But that's what was making it sound like wisdom to me, offering me a sense of peace and contentment in the surrender.

~ ~ ~

Life is a series of dethroning exercises. Discovering who and what I have on the throne of my life. Going through the painful process of removing my grip on each one. And entering into the liberating experience of having Jesus there instead.

When we think about idols, we typically think about lures like materialism and power. But I've discovered so many more in my soul: People. Ministry. Fellowship. Even convictions.

And I’m finding freedom in leaving the principle behind. They are welcome in my life, but not on my throne. Only Jesus is welcome on the throne of my life.

HE is what will trump all.

Including my convictions about Him.

Oh and that first operator I originally spoke with last summer? The one at the beginning of this dethroning opportunity?
Her name was Angel.

"Beware of being obsessed with consistency to your own convictions
instead of being devoted to God."

~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Image above courtesy of Travis Silva
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