Winter has finally arrived in the Midwest – and boy, has it ever. People, it is COLD. But there is snow now, so at least it’s pretty!
I have always loved the snow. When I looked up a post I remembered writing about it (over 6 years ago now), I was reminded of something Amy Grant said on her live “In Concert” album, about looking back on who she used to be and thinking, “teach me what you knew back then.”
These two things jumped out at me from my post (entitled Snowfly):
It’s as though the world, like one enormous snow globe, has been turned upside down and shaken; and now it is still, and upright again, and nothing moves but the snow. And it is beautiful. May it be so with my soul… no matter what shakes it.
I want to be someone who, when the world has been turned upside down and shaken, continues to fall softly with purpose into exactly the place that’s been marked out for me…
Teach me what you knew back then, Hap. Amen and amen.
Shaken. In the interest of total honesty – that’s what I feel like. I am not accustomed to not knowing what to do, to looking at a situation and not knowing how to fix it (or at least how to begin). Solving problems is what I do – it’s part of who I am. It’s part of the spiritual gift of administration, being able to look at where you are and where you want to be and creating a logical plan to get there. But I don’t know where I want to be yet, not quite. And I don’t have a plan. And oh, it bothers me.
But the truth of the matter is that it’s only been a week since my life as I knew it just stopped – and I am so grateful for the words of a dear friend who called last night. “It’s okay, Hap. It’s okay to be where you are.” Such a simple truth, but sometimes we forget them, don’t we?
I don’t need to have a plan yet, and I cannot, as she also kindly reminded me, fabricate my own healing. It takes time. And however silly it may sound, it’s okay that it’s taking more than a week to “bounce back” (as if that were truly possible) from the heartache of the last two months. “Be where you are – it’s not failure.”
Years ago, during one of our first conversations, the Professor asked me if I had an anthem – a song that I was holding on to during a different set of difficult circumstances. I chose one shortly thereafter:
And while I do still love that song, I found myself choosing a new one a few weeks ago:
It’s grittier than my old anthem – kind of like my faith, I think. I’ve seen so much more, and there’s a new and deeper desperation to the way I pray – and a deeper confidence in God’s ability to come through in ways that I am not expecting.
So much of the past few years have not gone the way I expected or even wanted – and yet the good that’s come from all of it has been so much better than what I would have wished for instead.
I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time over the past few weeks watching Gilmore Girls and a handful of movies on Netflix (this probably needs to change soon) – but I did see a movie this week that was incredibly compelling. It’s called Paradise Recovered.
The trailer honestly doesn’t really do it justice, but this is definitely a movie worth your time. Set in the context of a very strange and supposedly Christian denomination, the film courageously explores the issue of spiritual abuse, and one woman’s journey to freedom from it.
Questioning the authority of a church’s teaching or even that of its leaders is verboten in so many churches, even in some much less odd than the one portrayed in this film. But as one character in the movie points out – surely truth can be questioned and remain standing. If something is true, why would honest questions pose a threat? And yet in spiritually abusive contexts, they are too often seen as such. The culture of fear created by that dynamic is so far from the heart of God, and I love the way this film uses philosophy and kindness to point to a better way.
Seriously, if you have ever struggled with legalism or felt guilty for questioning authority, this movie has something to say to you – and it can be summed up in these three words: there is freedom.
I wish there was a way to embed this video, but I haven’t been able to find one. So in lieu of that, I will just give you this link: Jonalyn and Dale Fincher: “Cat and Mouse” Dating.
Dale and Jonalyn boldly take on the dating model that many Christians think they need to adhere to, and share honestly the negative impact it can have in a marriage, as well as some practical suggestions towards a better way to date. I’m not kidding – for any single woman who is as completely creeped out as I am by the idea of “being pursued” (or for any single guy who isn’t thrilled with the idea of “pursuing” someone) – this talk is the breath of fresh air you’ve been waiting for.
I finally saw the last of the Hobbit movies today. Oh, goodness. So many great moments. I won’t say much in case there are other Tolkein fans reading who haven’t seen it yet, but I will say this: Bilbo’s friendship with Thorin is one of my favorite things in this trilogy. It takes a true friend to tell you a hard truth about yourself when you cannot see it – and the scene where Thorin wrestles with himself and wins, in part because of Bilbo’s courage and honesty, was an amazing moment.
Of course, it’s entirely possible the reason Bilbo and Thorin’s friendship made such an impression on me is that I’ve been so aware of the importance of good friendships these past few weeks. It’s in the difficult seasons of our lives that we realize anew who our true friends are – and I am so grateful for mine. The phone calls and text messages and emails from the friends who have refused to let me walk this stretch of road alone – over the past week especially – have been such a God-send. I may have just lost one form of community, but I still surely have one.
Thank you is inadequate – but thank you for walking with me through this, friends.
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"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." Einstein