Thursday, June 8, 2017

sitting still

Apalachicola Bay - St. George Island 


“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink 

and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, 

like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum 

because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. 

We are far too easily pleased."



After my divorce (you know, that first one), I eventually had to learn how to be still.  Up until that point, my life had been perpetual movement.  Nothing was ever enough; or it was too much.  I was always either running after people and things... or running from them


I knew nothing of sitting still.


I also knew nothing of allowing myself to feel without acting.  All my life, I'd been running towards feelings or away from fears.


Old habits die hard.   And we really are far too easily pleased.  

There's a theory popular in modern psychology that says for those of us abandoned by our biological parents, we will subconsciously strive to recreate the same scenario throughout our lives, chasing after those who are either incapable of or outright refusing to love us.  They theorize that somewhere in our subconsciousness, we believe that's how we will be healed; that we will somehow reconcile the wounds they left by winning the love of those who reject us - even as we are rejecting the love of those who give it to us freely.  

I don't know if this is a characteristic of my human heart or my abandoned heart, but it certainly has held some truth in seasons of my life.  It was always a strange paradox to me, that I was capable of placing those who rejected me on a proverbial pedestal, while simultaneously degrading those who loved me without condition.  

For years, I felt as though something was missing, not necessarily in my life since I'd had everything I'd ever wanted, but within me.  But I'm realizing, at forty, it was never that something was missing within me as much as it was/is something is present within me - and that something is my own selfishness.

Raised by a grandparent who "spared the rod and spoiled the child", I am admittedly - even approaching middle age - still so often the spoiled child who wants what she want when she wants it and at all costs.  And if I can't have it, then I want it all the more, and my selfish ambition overrides my intellect - and every other rational sense of my being.


And isn't that how the nature of sin works in our lives.  It draws us in, enticing first and then entangling, until it strangles the life out of us.

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. James 1:14   

It's no secret that I was also on the run from God during those years, that He was at the forefront of those whose love I'd repeatedly cast aside.  And intermittently every now and then in between, I've been the perpetual prodigal.  I'd stored up scripture in my heart from the Baptist youth group days of my teens, and even though I was gravely distracted by unrequited love even then, the Word was hidden there, lying dormant.  Until it wasn't and one random day in my early thirties, when I'd grown tired and weary from all of the running, it resounded loudly: Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).

I had to make the decision between living my life based on what I felt or living based on what I knew to be truth.  I chose truth, to walk in truth.  Or, more accurately honestly, Truth chose me. As Spurgeon said, "I am quite certain that, if God had not chosen me, I should never had chosen Him."  

Although His choosing of us is once and for all, ours is infinitely more complicated.  Because walking in truth doesn't come naturally for any of us, especially not for those of us who fear losing control, even if we repeatedly wreck our lives at the wheel.  The truth is diametrically opposed to everything the world tells us; sometimes, to everything our hearts tell us.  We want to call the shots, but Jesus said it this way: "If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it" (Matthew 16:25).  Turns out, I'm really good at hanging on to my life - just like I am really good at hanging on to people, both to my detriment.   

The hard truth is that our hedonism will invariably lead us to our heartbreak.  

We fool ourselves into believing that surrender is a one time decision when the truth is, it is daily. Sometimes hourly.  

Some of us are just more prone to wander than others because we are still learning how to to surrender our selfishness, and ourselves - and just sit still.

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