I want to share some fortuitous things about my life lately that have captured my heart and hugged it with the spirit of feeling seen. Random, just-because-kisses from the universe that ooze with the playfulness of God. I smile and heal subtly unto myself in these moments because I can feel His intrusive smile in the mood of the moment. My heart does that silent nod towards His nearness, knowing that He knows I fully appreciate these very curious, whimsical & mundane moments in humanity. I’m thankful that I just “happen” upon them. Serendipity, to me, is just love-notes in the universe from God. My life is rigged with them. Even the semi-inappropriate, intrusive, ill-timed timed ones. I treasure them. Like the secret, behind-the-scenes comedy of aging in womanhood. The old gal I saw at Walmart the other day, taking up the whole aisle as she hunched over her cart, appearing to be engrossed in her phone. Lady, bless your heart, please move over if you are going to read your grocery list or research on your phone. But as I passed, my breath was taken away. With her magnifying glass shamelessly hovering over a gigantic package of Maxi-Pads for her poor, ancient eyes to read all the undignifying words of caution and care for your most intense vaginal mishaps. My heart leapt. Swollen with love and tinged with tender humor. I thanked God, This was just for me! Someone’s precious mother, standing here, somewhere else in the diligent thoughts of her raw, real self-care. I love humans. I love women especially. We’re great. We have to make it a joke in order to indulge our need to relate and heal from insecurity. Not for the sake of being obnoxious, but for the sake of authenticity. The bravery of refusing to give shame a place. Some woman might disagree, and that’s okay.
One other moment where I was a third party participant:
Just this Monday, sitting in my living room, watching 101 Dalmatians with my 6 month old son and 3½ year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and suddenly, it happened. Out of the right-hand corner of the almost 100 year old window, framing the almost 100 year old neighborhood park in front of our almost 100 year old home, emerges a gangly person(male or female, I could not tell, this person had a helmet on) zooming through on a mini dirt bike with a derpy Husky pulling at the end of a leash. My mouth hung open in a gaping smile too juvenile-looking for my age (Psssh. Who am I kidding.) This… Clodhopper… This is just for ME!!! I gloated to myself under the smile of God that tinged with the unspoken “SURPRISE” one might unknowingly walk into at their surprise birthday party. Thank you God for making people strange. Truly, I’m so glad He did. I am vigilant for the moments where I’m just a bystander. Where I can simply savor and indulge my twisty adoration for humanity. Literally, I purposely shun anxiety and dread just for the practice of this sort of frivolity. It’s healthy. When you are so absorbed in your own stuff, you miss it. I don’t want to miss it.
It’s a weird sort of discipline, refusing to worry for the sake of enjoying the present. It’s God’s way. He’s fun and sneaky. He is confident in how He made us, and He trusts us in the most ridiculous manner. It doesn’t make sense, moving in the rhythms of grace and telling fear to shut the eff up! A friend of mine told me recently, “Some people see fear as being responsible.” And that’s just not the sort of responsibility God has put on us. God has not given us a spirit of fear… We take on a false sense of responsibility to dread about life when we have trauma that isn’t healed. (I didn’t plan on putting in this theological nugget, but it’s an added bonus, so you’re welcome.) I have discovered that dread is just traumatized care. Obviously, we are meant to care. We were created to care, but it can get perverted based on how we respond to trauma. Unhealed trauma victims can go one of two ways: they become anxious control freaks, or they become indifferent, “cold-hearted” narcissists. Different people survive differently. We all have crazy complex coping mechanisms. Despite how that manifests in people, my deepest conviction and greatest revelation is that no one, not one human, was ever created without feeling or with a lack of care. Our original design of self is the most enthusiastic, gushy Care-Bear-Super-Soul; we just get subjected to life’s crap right out of the hole. Floundering in the orphaned-freewill aftermath of humanity’s foolish choices.
I could keep going, but ought not. Anyway, in spite of all that, I have taken the initiative to embrace healing from all the shrapnel and second-hand, soul-sick sulfur that I was born into. Thankful for being born again and the humble process of allowing the Blood of Jesus to heal me in the life-journey of becoming meek. Can I just say that Jesus, the image of the Lamb, is the most distilled quality of meekness. He is meekness incarnate. And that’s my standard. And that’s why I am willing to surrender to this process and the practice of refusing to worry, refusing to be anxious, refusing to freak out and refusing to be suspicious. Hence why all the other details of life are magnified so vibrantly in my spectrum. I want to enjoy people. I’m allowed to. My healing is releasing me to.
So, if I’m released to enthusiastically enjoy the crap out complete strangers, what level does that momentum release me into with enthusiastically enjoying my dearest people? My family and friends? I call it wearing love-goggles (like beer goggles, but it’s spiritual intoxication and not substance abuse.) I don’t want to ever take them off. Unhealed people often call themselves “being smart” or “gifted in discernment” when they are guarded and suspicious. Suspicion is just discernment anointed in fear. Hard-hearted is just a heart’s guardian that is demonized. Guarding our heart means healthy boundaries and confident communication. It’s the ability to disagree but still reach for connection. This is such a beautiful, powerful key to cultivate the richest, deepest, most fulfilling relationships. When you live in the light, refusing to hide your stuff, it’s effortless to feel God’s love in a tangible way. His love never goes away, but it’s when we feel ashamed that we go hide and are not able to feel it. Shame is also the root issue of being emotionally disconnected from people. It’s so wild how so many people emotionally disconnect from the people they love the most, out of fear of rejection or loss. I have done some hard work to crawl out of a numb, disconnected place. I cannot afford to go live my life emotionally unavailable or indifferent towards the people I most care about. And lately, I’ve been feeling it: the enjoyment of my people. Wholehearted and tender. Honestly, bliss. With the spirit of revelation, I’ve defined bliss as the heart’s ability to gush all it wants to without the fear of knowing lack. Gushing. Treasuring. Indulging my heart’s most tender affections.
Last night my family and I were sitting around the dinner table eating. Derek and I are slowly introducing solids to Bowie. And by introducing I mean: we lay it on his high chair tray and let him play with it. So yeah. You can imagine. We gave him mashed avocado. It was so smashed and smeared so mercilessly by our 6 and a half month old that it resembled something pretty ungodly. And it was everywhere. But as doe-eyed, lovesick parents, we gloated and stared at our brilliantly disgusting offspring as we crunched on our homemade bread and vegan chili. “Yeah. I probably should have taken his shirt off before we let him do this.” The sentence barely ended when a drop of chili fell off my spoon and onto my shirt. Snarky husband lets the cruel silence of his impending clever comment build momentum as he finishes chewing his bite of food, “You probably should have taken yours off too.” Crunch. He takes another bite of bread and raises his eyebrows at me. Hippie me, never wearing a bra, reaches around the base of my shirt and pulls it up and completely off. Smirking. Silent. Eating our stupid food. God somewhere smiling.
A friend of mine texted me asking advice about her predicament of not feeling attracted to a guy she’s felt obligated to give a chance since he was “a good guy,” “loved Jesus,” yatta-yatta… She was suspicious of her heart’s ability to choose rightly. Oh boy, it took me back. I have always been really picky. When I was younger, I had zero interest in guys because most guys in my sphere were just not what I was attracted to. I always just felt like I’d know it when I saw it. But I wasn’t seeing it. And it concerned my mother and some peers. Or the guys I was attracted to already had girlfriends (isn’t that always how it goes?) And thank God they did, because they still weren’t “the one!” But it did give me relief that there wasn’t something completely wrong with me. I did feel somewhat ashamed and a sense of urgency from other people’s senseless pressure and prodding. There’s a whole story and testimony behind all of that that I won’t get into, but for the sake of giving a backdrop to my recent gushing, I had to give you some context. The other morning, around the time my friend texted me about her predicament, my husband was doing his morning routine before work. I happened to be sitting in the living room chair, silently taking it all in. He came striding into the front door after running around the neighborhood. Hood over his head. Damp, sweaty beard. The masculine and aggressive inhaling and exhaling from good, physical exertion. That twinkly look of feeling accomplished in his eyes. I immediately got butterflies. He went into the kitchen and started making a smoothie. I didn’t even realize I was staring. Until, I felt that subtle, intrusive gaze from God in the background of the moment. Whenever He pricks my heart with the gesture that He’s paying attention to what I’m paying attention to, I lose it. Tears. Silent ones. Secret ones. Unto myself and God. Derek was in the zone of meticulous routine and I was fangirling so hard. A few minutes later he comes in and starts eating his avocado toast on the couch, chatting nonsense to our 6 month old while simultaneously asking me what I had going on that day. Heart swollen in the privacy of my ribcage, we exchanged practical dialogue. Pangs of love mingling with a wash of relief. Relief. Sweet relief that my heart is true, that God is good and my marriage is so held. It’s such a whole feeling.
Another one that happened a few nights ago: We were laying in bed shortly after putting our baby boy to sleep. Derek was watching something on the tv. I was reading a book. A thought pops in my head, I lay my open book down on my chest, “Um.” He slowly hoists his arm up, remote in hand and presses pause on the tv. “I was thinking instead of doing pad Thai next week, we could do that chickpea Indian dish instead… I’m kinda over the pad-Thai.” He blinks, “It’s just too much oil.” I narrow my eyes, “That’s not why. I just want more vegetable.” He considers the dish I mentioned for 3 seconds in his mind, “There aren’t hardly any vegetables in that one either.” We exchanged a few more sentences about it, then I go back to my book and he presses play on the tv. A few minutes later, he hoists his arm back up and presses pause on the tv. I lay my book flat. He starts, “How about we can just roast some vegetables on the side for that dish?” I raise my eyebrows and bite my bottom lip, “Like what?” “Oh. Brussel sprouts. Broccoli… What’s another one?” Blah-blah-blah-boring-married-people-conversing and then I go back to my book again. I barely get into the sentence I left off on when I feel it. The gaze from Holy Spirit. Smiling. What? My heart swells up in bliss. The sweet-nothing moment of a boring married-couple dialogue captured in God’s attention. God, You’re so my stalker. And I felt His delight wash over me and my husband. The wordless impression, silent but sensed, that expressed something that felt like: I love seeing your marriage stay resiliently in love. This is My desire. This is what I want for you. I’m proud of this.
He’s been sealing simple moments like these a lot lately. Authenticating them by acknowledging them. Not that He doesn’t always, but making it known and felt that they are. God is clever. He knows us so well. He trusts us so much. He memorizes us and familiarizes Himself with our stimulants. He really is a dove, subtle, warm, easy to miss. His placement is always romantic and intuitive. He won’t grab our attention. He woos and whispers. Only the hungry notice. And I’m hungry. I’ve prayed to stay hungry. There’s a heart-song that rose up in me one day while I was in the shower. I was losing touch with my heart and feeling super disconnected from God. I was desperate. I stirred myself up in the spirit, and out of the deepest place inside of me, this song spilled out: “I can’t afford to not be hungry! I can’t afford to not be thirsty! You must love me! You must love me!” I felt the wild, jealousy of the Lord pierce my heart and burn deep. Painless but intense. Surges of fiery love and passion. The lyric from the song, How He Loves: “Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.” Yeah. Exactly how it was. More spontaneous songs and confessions poured out of me: “You must have me all the time! You’re a wild man! You’re a wild man! You have drowned me in Your delight! You’re a wild man! You’re a wild man! This Holy Jealousy has pierced inside! You’re a wild man! You’re a wild man in love!” Sigh. It’s one thing to hear about how much God loves you. It’s another thing to feel it. It truly is a paradox, God’s love. Somehow beyond our ability to understand but not beyond our ability to experience. This is why I’m obsessed with Holy Ghost. The manifest Presence of God. It’s air to my lungs. It’s the reality that’s ruined me to live any other way. It’s saving my life. It’s saving my marriage. It just saves. You really are the walking dead until you encounter it. Holy Ghost defibrillates and animates all the dead and dying places back to life. True life.
All that to say, life lately is revived. Nothing drastic has changed. I get these aren’t crazy-prophetic-charged stories. They are simple, crude sweet-nothings. But there’s something on them. There’s something on my life right now. It’s just revived and refreshed. Flesh and warmth and blood have miraculously flourished onto dry bones. Oil is overflowing in all my cups that felt so hopelessly empty. Right down to enjoying people. Pausing in a moment to savor it. Yesterday I was sitting with my neighbor on her porch swing, sharing real life conversation. And we had to pause just to watch the scene across the street of my husband kicking the soccer ball around the driveway as my son squealed with delight in his walker. And as we watched, a gust of wind blew a swirl of leaves into a dancing cyclone of serendipitous confetti to seal the moment. God is real. He is near and involved. Especially in these very human moments. Ridiculous, simple, playful, raw, crass and even somewhat offensive, especially those ones in all the realest of real moments. Or the mundane, monotonous, slow, stupid and pointless. I’m heartily savoring those moments with people. There’s a smile lingering in the culture of love of that present moment, but it’s faintly felt by the curious and easily missed by the anxious. Things don’t have to be profound to be powerful. The purity of enjoying people is powerful because it isn’t trying to be. It just is. God just is. He enjoys people. He highlights them in specific details that seem random or strange. I’m honing in on those. I’m divorcing fear. I’m evicting worry and dread. Bye Felicia. I can’t afford to miss a thing. I am deciding to do whatever I can to be wholeheartedly present. I want to be emotionally available to life. No matter what. There’s a kingdom at hand, and only the childlike find it.