And the World Turned

Disclaimer: Listen to the song before you read the post, or you’ll be totally lost.

I love this song and its beautiful blend of simplicity and depth.  I love how it tells a story, how it relates the pain of loss, the struggle with self-worth, the difficulty of letting go, and the bittersweet closure that comes.  My favorite lyric is the simple line, “But instead she tossed the locket in the cool blue water.”  It’s the point in the song where everything turns around, where she makes the decision to let go of the past and pursue the future.

I was thinking about that line a few days ago, and I just now realized how beautifully applicable it is to the New Year.  What memories do we have hiding away in lockets because we can’t muster up the strength to get rid of them?  Instead of controlling our emotions, we let them control us.  We let them consume us.  We let them dictate our lives.

The girl was at a crossroads; her grief had consumed her to the point that she couldn’t continue to live this way.  So she had two choices: she could throw her life away, or she could throw away what was keeping her from living her life.  The water below was equally ready to take either.  At first, she considered falling to her death and taking the locket with her, letting that faded picture control her even to her grave.  “But instead…” She let the locket fall, saving what was of infinitely greater worth — the potential of the rest of her life.

And the world turned, and the world turned, and the world turned.

What’s in that dusty locket of yours?

It’s a new year, and the world is turning again.  You’ve got a choice to make.  Are you going to hold onto the past and let it keep you from better things?  Or are you going to drop the locket and start living the rest of your life?

Fire Fall Down

On Monday we did the climbing tower. I was fairly confident at first and started up fast, thinking, “Oh, I got this.” But halfway up I hit a point where I couldn’t find anywhere to balance. All the rocks around me were too small to stand on, and by that point I was starting to realize that I’m not nearly as strong as I thought I was. And I also learned that I’m really not good at admitting defeat. I couldn’t make it to the top, and it felt like a huge failure. It temporarily erased the confidence that I had built up over the last few days, and I felt like it cancelled out all my other accomplishments that I had been so proud of before. When I got back to the cabin to shower before dinner, I just sat down in the corner of the shower and cried. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t do it, and then I was embarrassed that I was embarrassed and was making such a huge deal out of it.

Mrs. Sharon (Mom) led a powerful devotional that night, and I felt like every word of it was spoken straight to me. She talked about how we try to self-generate the qualities that we think we need, but we can’t equip ourselves. She asked the group what are some things that we fear, and Mr. Fred answered, “Being unable to do things we think we should be able to do.” That had been so me at the climbing tower. I knew I should be able to climb to the top, and it made me so angry that I couldn’t. We talked about 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10, which I had written in my journal the night before I left for camp. “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me…For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“The weaker the instrument,” Mom summarized, “the more clearly God’s grace shines through.”

Then we had a time of individual contemplative prayer in which Mom read/imagined us through letting go of whatever we were holding. By this point, I couldn’t hold in the tears anymore, and they dropped steadily onto my lap. She had us write down what it was we were giving to Christ. I’ll write that here, but I’ll also add how He responded to me:

I’m holding everything I need to prove. It’s a long list. It’s heavy. I’m tired of carrying it with me. He takes it from me and we begin to talk. He asks why I was so upset about not making it to the top of the climbing tower, and I answer that I want to be strong and self-sufficient. He takes it from me and responds, “But this way, I can be strong for you.”

We all went outside with our pieces of paper to where there was a fire waiting. One by one we crumpled them and threw them in the fire, and sat around the circle watching them burn. Caleb was playing his guitar and singing “Let Fire Fall.” After we repeated those words a few times, building up to the climax of the bridge, Caleb started playing louder and more intensely, and raised the song an octave from its soothing tempo into a passionate cry – and as soon as his voice rang out, there was a quick burst of flame as the fire sparked loudly. The timing was too perfect for coincidence. We all knew it was something else. And it was one of the most amazing, powerful things I have ever witnessed God do.

Published in: on June 2, 2012 at 10:33 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This Love

What then shall I bring you, Father, when you only ever wanted me? I can’t understand this love that asks nothing. Surely there’s something you expect of me. Isn’t love conditional? To protect myself I must earn it, for the facade I’ve built depends on this wall of pride.

Always feigning strength, now openly weak; always showing indifference, now visibly moved; always guarded, now completely disarmed; transparent and vulnerable, I am brought to my knees in brokenness before this all-encompassing love. As a loving parent’s thumb gently wipes tear stains from the face of a child, so this love washes over me, healing the scars of my past and making me new.

I have always tried so hard. I have made myself someone I’m not and have let my worth be determined by the opinions of others. I have lived my life chasing the unattainable, trying to reach everyone’s expectations. I have pushed myself to the point of breakdown to find their approval. I have given everything… everything but myself.

But this love does not ask of me perfection. It does not ask beauty or intelligence or talent. It does not ask me to do anything, but simply to be; it asks me to be nothing more than who I am.  It accepts me completely with all of my flaws and my faults and my mistakes. It wants me despite my insecurity and my hesitation and my confusion. It is beautiful in its simplicity…yet also challenging in its passion.

For while asking less, it demands more than I have ever given in any relationship. It demands all of me. It demands my heart.

This love asks nothing, and this love asks everything. Let go, He says, and I will hold you. Abandon your image; I will never leave you. Cease striving, for the work is done. Only give me your heart.

Published in: on October 26, 2011 at 12:57 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Letting Go

Written March 22, 2011.

Maybe you’re a parent, and this is your child. Maybe it’s a sibling. Maybe it’s a spouse. Maybe it’s a friend.

But you stand, blinded by tears, in the middle of the road, your hand outstretched as if in a final desperate effort to hold on. The person you care about more than anything else is walking away, beginning their journey down a long and painful road that you know leads to a dead end. You want to cry out, “No! Stop!”, but you know the decision has been made. They are deaf to your pleas, numb to your pain. They unwittingly trample your breaking heart as they walk away. You have to let go.

You can cry until you can no longer breathe. You can run until your heart is about to burst inside your chest. You can pray until your knees are raw and bloody. But you can’t make their decisions for them. Even if it kills you, you have to stand watching with hands tied as the person you love throws away the best years of their life. You have to let go.

You have tried so hard to live their life for them that you have bypassed your own. You have invested so much emotional energy into this person that you feel completely drained and empty as you realize that it was all for naught. It meant nothing. You hardly know how to pick up the pieces of your life and move on without them as they make decisions that you know will only hurt them. But you have to let go.

Published in: on April 9, 2011 at 3:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Pieces

Written February 27, 2011.

“Here, Lord, I lay down the remnants of my broken life.” The pain-filled memories, the fears, the failures, the hopelessness.

The clock ticks steadily on, marking the passage of time and counting down the days that I have left. I’ve tried to piece my life back together, but my eyesight is too poor to see the bigger picture. So I grope in the dark for missing fragments that I cannot find, past hope that anything will ever make sense to me. How easily the clumsiness of my human hands can shatter that which I hold most dear; how difficult it is for my trembling fingers to paste together what I can never truly restore.

After years of trying, after countless nights of frustration marked by tears of regret, I have given up; the outcome of this chaos is no longer up to me. I see an empty box sitting conspicuously in the corner, as though waiting for me to make the decision. With a heavy heart I gather up the fragments of my brokenness and place them carefully, one by one, in the box. Each time my fingers let go of another part of my shattered life, I feel again the ruthless stabs of hurt and disappointment that broke my heart. I feel the blunt force of failure that devastated my dreams. I feel the intense, throbbing pain (oh, God, how it aches), the persistent reminder of a ruined life that I singlehandedly destroyed.

I put in the last fragment and close this cursed box of what could have been but I fear will now never be. My future is out of my hands. Blinking back the tears that blur my vision, I label the box with a single word, the emotional implications of which no one else could ever understand: PIECES. It is time to bury them.

It resembles the morbid scene of a funeral as I stand with eyes cast down upon the fresh heap of earth; yet the solitary mourner is the very loss which is mourned. What remains of me is only a shell; everything that characterized me as a person is forever lost. I know I will never return; I will not be the one to uncover the box. If these pieces can be brought back to me in their entirety, it will be the work of a power beyond myself. In faith I erect a marker in the symbolic shape of a cross upon the grave of my broken heart, broken dreams, and broken life. In surrender I take a step back and look upon this scene for what I am afraid will be the last time; but in hope I offer only this eulogy: “Here, Lord, I lay down the remnants of my broken life. Do what You can with these pieces.”

Published in: on April 9, 2011 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Confessions #3: Letting Go

Written January 5, 2011.

I’m not sure I’ve ever really made a lasting difference in the life of someone who needed me. If I were to die today, would anyone say at my funeral, “She changed my life”? I’m afraid they wouldn’t, and I’m afraid I know why.

Working in retail, you learn the art of carrying on a friendly yet controlled conversation, letting the customer be in charge. You talk as long as they want to talk, but you don’t get so deep that you can’t easily wrap it up when they’re ready to go. And you can always tell when they’re ready – it’s a voice inflection, a casual wave of the hand, a step back from the counter – but you can always tell. You know it’s time to finish the conversation with a smile, hand the customer their bag, and let them go on their way. I’ve become quite good at it in a professional environment, but my personal life is a different story.

I meet someone who is struggling with something in their life and want to make a difference for them somehow. Yet as time goes on, I want and expect to see a change in their life, and I feel as though I bear some responsibility if that doesn’t happen. Then I become frustrated; I want their problems to become the past and the “difference” to be the future so we can have a normal, give-and-take relationship. I want them to be there for me as well; I become self-centered and expect the relationship to benefit me. Rather than making a difference for them, I want them to make a difference for me. Time passes and they no longer need me, but by then, I need them. And then the jarring realization hits me: When did this become about me instead of them?

In reality, my strength comes from Christ alone; depending on others makes me ineffective. I’m trying to strike a balance: opening up to others with sincerity but not relying on them, getting close enough for their benefit but not close enough for mine. I’m trying to learn how to be there for people when they need me but rely on God instead. I’m trying to learn how to wrap things up with a smile, make what difference I can, and let them go.

Published in: on April 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,