We’re born with an instinct to be curled inward, legs pulled up and fists closed tight. It’s what feels natural and comfortable. As we grow, our bodies adapt and learn to function stretched tall and open, but a lot of us keep living in an emotional fetal position. We’re afraid to be seen and known. We’re afraid of pain and loss and not having enough.
Fear is a portable prison that keeps us from giving and receiving love. We don’t have to live much life before we realize that people we love sometimes hurt us. We attach our hearts to other humans only to find ourselves used, forgotten, left, misunderstood, or lonely. Even the best relationships aren’t enough. There’s always eventually an ache for more. So, we curl in on ourselves and clench our fists, trying to hold onto the little bits of love we’ve been able to find.
Closed fists and closed hearts can’t hold anything; we feel the vacuum and lean further into fear’s counterfeit refuge.
Oh, friend, what a tragic way to live.
What an unnecessary way to live!
We run after people looking for imperfect love, unaware that what we’re craving is Perfect Love, the kind that sees all our messes and doesn’t pull away. The Bible says that Perfect Love casts out fears. (1 John 4:18) Think of it, friend! No more cringing, no more pretending; just living soul-bare in front of the God of the universe as He sings His delight over you. It’s true!
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. “ ~Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
He knows our aching emptiness and isn’t scared away, because He is Enough. We can’t overwhelm Him with our need, we can’t push Him away, and we can’t drain Him dry. He won’t get bored or tired of us, He won’t forget us, and He doesn’t play games. He won’t run out of love for us because He is Love.
And when we open up and let Him love us, this miraculous thing happens: we live filled and able to fearlessly love the people around us.
God’s love steadies us. We can stand stretched tall with our feet on solid ground, able to extend our hearts to other people without being afraid of losing ourselves. We can love the way they need to be loved, with hands open and no strings, because we know that if we lose them we still have Enough. We can want people without needing them, because He is our Enough. We can rest. No more hiding. No more chasing. No more fear. Just a quiet breathing in of the truth that we are seen and wanted by the God who leans His Enough-ness into every corner and edge of our broken, healing hearts.
“We love because he first loved us.” ~1 John 4:19 (NIV)
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This world can be a heavy place.
The kind of heavy that presses down and makes it hard to breathe.
We rush to outrun pain and busy ourselves to forget the crushing weight of days and months and years that don’t turn out the way we thought they would. All of us who have lived a little while know it, that pounding of a frenzied heart racing to keep a desperate body moving. And we push on like we’re been chased by time, carrying that airless ache in our chests.
“And what do you do?”
It’s a normal question, a defining question. Tell me what you do with your time, so I can understand who you are.
For a lot of us, if we’re honest, the answer would be, “I wait.”
We wait for the next thing, wait for the kids to be grown, wait for our ship to come in, wait for the right relationships, wait for our dreams to come true and our questions to be answered. And sometimes the waiting drives us a little out of our minds.
We fidget and spin circles, and our impatience drives us so hard against tomorrow that we forget to see today.
We forget to see the truth.
Waiting is close to God’s heart.
When an old year slides out like a sigh and another one begins, there’s a natural pause at the cusp of all the newness. A lot of us stop and do some thinking.
What do I want from this new year?
How do I kick off the things that have been tying me down in my health, my finances, my career, my relationships?
How do I find freedom?