This book, so far, has tugged at my heart, probed and uncovered places that I either didn't know were there or would have rather kept hidden, denying their very existence.
I'm a little nervous.
The last 3-4 years of my life have been about discovery. Discovering who I am apart from positions, titles, roles, expectations, etc. Discovering the nature and character of God from God Himself, free from man's opinions. Discovering what it means to be a follower of Christ, saved., reborn, set free, a daughter of the King. Discovering His voice, His call. Discovering His grace. Discovering.
And still, I continue on this journey. A journey whose final destination is not found on this earth, but one that I do not have to walk alone. A journey which leads me down hi-ways and dirt roads - some bumpier than others, brings me to crossroads and intersections, exits and entrance ramps.....all leading me closer to Him, each place containing the possibility of finding something new or reclaiming that which was lost.
Through this study, I am expecting God to awaken that which is sleeping or laying dormant on the inside of me, reveal and heal those things that may be keeping me from discovering all that He is, and bring me to a place of intimacy like one I have never known.
I just watched the discussion video posted by Angie and Jessica here. Please go and watch it, it will add a personal touch to your study and offer a different perspective to what you've read. It also may challenge you to think deeper. In addition, they have discussion questions here.
Some things that stood out to me personally:
"It's strange the way we meander through life, thinking we are moving forward, only to discover we have left our hearts behind" (pg 2). (Are you just going through the motions, performing duties, just showing up?)
"The very struggles we would just as soon skip past become the ticket to gaining what we lack, as though God knew just the grist we needed to become what He had in mind" (pg. 2). (Relationships are risky....not everyone is going to love us back, and most everyone will at some time disappoint.)
"Each of us wants to become.....a woman in touch with God and alive to all the possibilities that walking with Him can bring. It's just that sometimes we get mired in the very clay He dug us out of, tangled in the weeds of our own wanderings" (pg. 3). (Life happens. And it's easy to get our eyes off of Him, onto other things, only to find ourselves back in the place where we first started.)
"I find the temptation to shut down on the inside and settle for the crumbs under the table is one that every woman faces" (pg. 3). (There is a whole sermon in this one statement!)
Each of these quotes either directly or indirectly relates to being hurt, wounded, disappointed, used, let down, etc. With hurt after hurt piled on top of each other, never receiving healing, we become numb and our hearts become calloused, making it difficult or sometimes even impossible to experience the joy found in relationships with one another and with God. We begin to consider the invitation to shut down.
Paula states that we can "build a monument to our woundedness, .....shape an identity around the things we've suffered."
When we do this, we cannot truly experience all that God has for us. We become stuck in time, unable to grow or move forward, unable to hear, for it is....."with our hearts that we listen to Him" (pg. 16).
What have you given up or forgotten in order to eliminate or lessen the risk of experiencing pain or loss?
Are there certain areas in your life where you've built walls to keep others out?
Are you living a smaller version of the life that God created you for?
A relationship with Him is more than following a set of rules, making sure you do everything right, winning the talent show or out-perform everyone else. I camped out there for a while. It's a lonely, empty place.
God desires intimacy.
He is pursuing us.
He has set His affection on us.
We must awaken our hearts.
"We must have our hearts intact in order to make the journey of life well. We must have access to the inside stuff - the longings and desires and dreams and vulnerabilities that make us who we are. God placed those in us" (pg. 6).
Vulnerability can be scary. Let us find our courage in knowing that He desires to walk with us through every circumstance, every hard place, every happy place and every place in between. Ask Him to show you the places that you've closed off, refused entry or hidden. Trust Him with the places that may still be tender and allow Him to mend your brokenness. Allow Him to awaken your heart, stirring the dreams, desires and gifts that He has placed on the inside of you. And embrace the journey that is set before you.
I could go on and on with this chapter alone, but I'll stop here!
See you Tuesday night to discuss Chapter 2!
Monday, May 10, 2010