Attend to Awe

I’m linking up again with the other writers at Lisa-Jo’s Five Minute Fridays (a flashmob of writers who write on a prompt). This week’s word: Listen….

Five Minute Friday

21. Wait and Listen 1 21. Wait and Listen 2 21. 2013 Listen or Attend to Awe 3
There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.
― Howard Thurman

I am currently living in the tension of wanting and waiting to hear His voice. Not only do I desire to recover direction for my life but I also long for the intimacy, beauty and adventure of life with God. I’m in a funk. I feel as if I am responding to the pulls of a careless puppeteer. My days are full of activity but my heart is restlessness and dissatisfied.
Yet all is silence.

It is tempting to believe that I need to figure this out for myself. As part of determined action I read, talk to Him and ask myself questions: What do I hope for, dream about, pray for, purpose in my heart to do for my remaining days? What are my deepest longings?
Silence.

A spiritual guide suggests “attending to awe”….. And so I notice the dappled light on a leaf, a screaming child, the marks of tires in mud and as I do I listen to the smallest of whispers in my spirit, and my heart is called out to worship. For a brief glimpse I know l am alive and that my own story is interwoven with the “great Romance”. In ‘attending to awe’ I experience His love and know He has not forgotten me. In quiet and simple moments there is hope and peace. Not answers, but a deep conviction to wait and not rush to self-initiated movement and action.

Even if it looks and feels as if another pulls the strings…
even if I cannot hear Him…
I am believing in faith,
He is still in control in and through me…
And so I rest in the waiting,
attending to awe.
21. Wait and Listen 3 21. 2013 Listen or Attend to Awe 5

Chartering the Middle

2012 Sailing 4

I am in the middle….
At my age it’s sometimes referred to as a crisis but I am choosing to view it as being in the beautiful process of becoming.

Which means I am the same as you even though I am different.
I read a lot of blogs written by younger women. I am constantly in awe of their wisdom and I am always learning from their stories and Godly perceptions. My life and writing has benefited greatly from them and their encouragement. I open my computer often and eagerly to learn from their lives and divine insights. Even though I am currently in a different life stage to most of them, I understand the framework of their stories because I have been a Mum of younger kids. My present life, however, is not like theirs and sometimes reading their stories makes me feel I am stuck, that I have had my usefulness and purpose, that new life will never come, that change will never really break into my life.

Oh I know the truth of what Jesus says about me and I know I am of value even in this season of being still. Yet the doubt persists.
I don’t think any of us really understand what “the story is about” when we are in the midst of it. When my kids were little and in a ‘enervating phase’ people would say: “this too shall pass“. But the problem with the middle is the daily battle with the fear that tomorrow will be just like today, that there is no defense against the despair of the endless or sameness of life. It seems to me that, for many women, without Hope, their created purpose is replaced with a deep sense of emptiness and lack of clear direction. The question “what next“? ….too terrible to contemplate.

Women of my age and stage are talking about this process and the confusion they are feeling in this part of their journey. I’ve been listening, and it seems they are surprised by the this ‘middle’ life and their emotions of restlessness, sadness and discontent. Life feels like it’s on hold but that they don’t know how to move forward. There is just the daily battle against loneliness. It seems almost impossible for these women of strength and courage to find words to say how deeply empty they feel. They feel ashamed of these emotions and talk about them only in whispers with a façade of polite words that cover the bewildering and painful places they find themselves.

I can relate and won’t lie, even with a life anchored on Jesus I have find myself in a disconcerting middle place right now. Sharing my emotions and connecting deeply with people around me is challenging as it feels like there is a thick pane of glass separating me from the rest of the world, isolating and deadening everything. My current middle is all about life after kids and ministry, but I wonder if the principle is the same when you find yourself stuck in a life you just wish would move on, when there is no end in sight for the pain or the burden….

It has me thinking if – by not talking about our struggles in the ‘middle’ of whatever situation we find ourselves in – we deny ourselves opportunities for community and permission to learn and experience a personal heavenly touch?

2012 Sailing 2

Hear my Cry

Its Friday and so I’m linking up again with the other writers at Tales from a Gypsy Mama for Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday (a flashmob of writers who write for five minutes on a prompt without over editing, backtracking or worrying too much about getting it exactly right) …This week’s word is Comfort….

2012 Spring Blossom Linton

In order to deaden pain and cope with life, I have substituted many things for Comfort: I have stayed too busy to notice loss and sorrow, over-eaten to hide my loneliness, criticized life rather than engaged in it, eagerly helped myself to another glass of wine, endlessly looked for a ‘better’ experience, hidden for weeks while planning idyllic holidays and events, had too many coffee’s with friends listening to their stories and hearts and ignoring my own, I have spent too much time wondering what life would have been like if the “what if” had never occurred….

Even if, for a while, these techniques satisfied, in the end their respite has always been temporary. I have ended up disappointed in myself and frustrated with life. Avoiding pain isn’t synonymous with embracing life. A deeper sense of loss has been the result.

We all have hurt places that need comforting…
We all have longings and empty places…
Things we crave. We all want more….

Yet, there isn’t enough love, hope, friendship and intimacy on earth to completely satisfy us. Nor is there enough peace and hope in this world to comfort us in our grief. The problem is that while God designed us to want more out of life and we won’t be satisfied until we get it, only He completely satisfies. All my cravings and hungers, my disappointments and dreams all point the way to God, every single time. We are fooled that the thing we are looking for – the treasure – is really the… food, the cup of coffee, the chocolate, the outfit, the next business deal, being accepted in a friendship group, being acclaimed, living in a better house, being accepted by a certain crowd, an affair… not the Living God.

Father is showing me in this season of my life that I need to be honest about the places in my soul that ache to be filled, because only then can Father tenderly reach into my heart…
Only then will I know complete peace and comfort…….
Emilie Griffin says it this way: “This is the one intimacy of which we need not be afraid, for it will not disappoint or betray us. On God we can lose all the intensity of what we are, all the passion and longing we feel. This is the one surrender we can make in utter trust, knowing that we can rest our whole weight there and nothing will give way”.
Clinging: The Experience Of Prayer

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18: 2

Five Minute Friday

I have such Friends

Somehow, Friday has come and gone but nonetheless I’m linking up with the other intrepid souls at Tales from a Gypsy Mama for Five Minute Friday, a group of writers who write for five minutes on a prompt without over editing, backtracking or worrying too much about getting it exactly right …This week’s word – Friend

13. I have such Friends 2

For various reasons over the past number of months the word ‘friend’ has been a major theme in my thoughts and considerations. Despite my love of friendship I find it an intangible word, hard to pin down in my life and for my life.
I am blessed to have all sorts of friends in many different countries.

Each friendship is a treasure, each individual and their influence on my life inimitable.
Some friendships we enjoy as a couple, others are family based, some are uniquely mine.
There are those who have known me since birth and remember me more as I was, than as I am.
Those who have grown with me and continue to have influence.
Friends that have fallen away…lives that have changed, hurts that have happened – regrets.
New friends with whom I hope to build a lasting trust.
I have friends I can talk politics to and some with whom I wouldn’t dare.
Those with whom I share the grand adventure of developing the artistic hopes within me.
Friends who know my Jesus and sharpen and encourage me in my faith and many others who don’t.
Those with whom I can be completely real and others with whom I hold back.
Friends who come for dinner and friends I meet in coffee shops.
Many who know me better than I know myself.
Varied, wonderful relationships enjoyed in so different ways enliven and enrich my life.
Offering me glimpses of the Eternal and the many facets of Life.

Yet there are often still longings…
For me and for my friends…
Initially I blamed unrealistic expectations and defectiveness.
I now believe all friendships are to be embraced, nurtured and treasured for what they are.
And the ache, also present, eagerly accepted as a marker towards heaven…
The aroma of the truth that we were made for More!
Five Minute Friday

Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.
William Butler Yeats

How to Stop the Treadmill?

Recently one who watches and learns from me asks:

Is all of life is a treadmill.… Does it ever stop ….. ….The getting up to work hard to do it all again tomorrow? Does our effort ever bring rest? Do the stories of heartbreak ever end? Do hard, uncomfortable situations ever get easier? Does pain stop?

It’s a question uncommon from one so young, and in it are contained elements of weariness and disappointment.

I explain that when we ask these questions we are not alone. Philosophers have examined this question for generations and that Solomon asked the question in beautiful prose:
That which has been is that which shall be; and that which has been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there a thing of which it may be said, “Behold, this is new?” Ecclesiastes 1: 9
Henri J.M. Nouwen in “Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World” says it another way: “Aren’t you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don’t you often hope: ‘May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.’ But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death.
We talk on these matters for a while and then I say, “it’s a fallen world of striving but Rest is a treasure that can only be found in Him.
I see the clouding over of the eyes…. my words are not understood…..
My heart aches….
Deep down all of us are born with the an Adamic belief system based on the lie that protecting and providing for ourselves is our own responsibility …. and so I can see this striving will not end … not yet….
Finding Rest is a personal journey….. the experience of Rest a process…
Learning to believe that He is enough, that I am who He says I am and that and this world is not my home is a way of daily exercising my faith. I still wrestle with these issues in the dark: the world pulls me towards a vortex of never-ending “trying to measure up” while the still, small Voice reminds me “I am accepted in the Beloved” and that “in Him I am complete”.
And so, as I watch the struggle in another, I pray … that we will all come to understand our belovedness in the center of our being and in His gift of completeness our striving will cease…then perhaps we will come to experience and live out of the Rest that is the gift of all who believe.