A friend reminds me how gratitude is an act of defiance–wielding a sword against the struggles of this world. She searches for beauty, knowing she will find it if she searches for it with God’s heart, eyes focused on Him.
And then another friend, one who lives across the waters from me, speaks how gratitude is what pulls us out from a posture of survival and to one of joy. It is where we see Jesus’ face.
I need to remember these things.
Yet it is difficult for me to see what He sees–and be grateful for it–when I cling to insecurities and fears. Below are words I wrote a few years ago. They are ones I needed to read again today. I am eager to hear how you are this day, and how He is reaching for you, too.
How a friend’s simple observation leads to healing and truth
“You have to confess it. You have to say the lie aloud. You have to throw it to the throne of Jesus. You have to reject it even if you still believe the lie.”
My friend looks me straight in the eye, and I hold her gaze for a half-second before staring at my mug, wishing I were small enough to hide under the table. Now what? I think she’s right.
I know I had better not stall.
When you recognize a lie as a lie, even if you can’t imagine no longer believing the lie, throw it up to heaven.
Renounce it. Reject it.
Jesus knows the way out. His desire is to save us from separation from the Father. And God sent Jesus to die and take on every single one of our sins so Jesus could lead the way out of whatever you are facing.
He can reveal to our hearts the lies we believe that separate us from the Father. He can reveal to our hearts the twisted truths we believe about ourselves. And here was mine: I don’t want you to like me for who I am. I want you to like me for what I do. And my fingers pause now, as I write this. For it is hard, isn’t it, to say the lie out loud? It is hard, isn’t it, to be vulnerable? It is hard, isn’t it, not to wonder, what will she think of me, now?
So I cling tight to Him, rereading His love letter to us about truth, the truth of us:
The truth of you cannot be articulated in just words. The truth of you is a name and not a name. The truth of you is more than a description of personality, a page of characteristics, a list of mannerisms and popular expressions.
There’s something you must remember: you must live your truth. You must live, with determination and might, your truth. You must know who you are designed to be . . . if you want freedom, if you want liberation from lies, if you want joy.
So I open my hands and close my eyes and lower my head. Once God presses in, shows us glimpses of our pain, our sorrow, and/or damage we cause when we believe lies about ourselves and about Him, we must run to Him. We must renounce the lie causing the whole darn mess.
“Jesus, I confess I want to be liked for what I do. I confess I care more about what people think about what I do rather than who You think I am. I want You, Father, to love me for what I do! I confess I don’t want you to love me for who I am! I repent, and I reject this lie. I reject the lie that my value comes from doing rather than being. I reject the lie and I break the agreement I’ve made with the enemy that my value does not come from being a daughter of God. I give this lie to you, and cast it on the throne of Jesus.”
How observation + imagination can lead to action
And I stayed there. It was too good to not stay, this daughter He made, at Jesus’ feet. And Jesus offered me his hand, and He took me where He always takes me, in the garden, by the river, through the path where the green grass tickles my legs and flowers perfume the air. I can feel the perfume now on my skin.
We walk up, up the hill, the grass blades leaning over the path so I can’t see the ground, can’t see where my bare feet fall. I see Jesus ahead of me, His looking back at me, smiling. He knows I love this, this walking through beauty, with water rushing fast, to my left, and sunlight shining bright through arches of trees. He knows I will love where we are going.
He leads me to the top of the hill where the waterfall is thundering, and He knows I want to jump. I want to jump right in. The water isn’t cold and the sun is warm on my cheek. And I turn my face up, and I am in God’s house and I am with my King and I am safe and I doing what I am made to do and where I am made to be.
And then I am alone. I am in a meadow, my back pressed into the soft earth. I lay in the flowers, eyes closed, the sun a blanket on my skin. Then the earth trembles beneath me. The soft ground shakes. I must rise. In front of me runs a giant white steed. It is huge and powerful and beautiful. Its eyes flash, and it whinnies as it stops right before me, its hooves stomping into soft earth. I want to ride it. I want to jump on and go, even though I’ve only galloped on a horse once, in my whole life.
Suddenly I am not in the meadow but in a dark, shadowy place where there are walls and I am standing, cold, alone. My hair is tangled and my clothes are dirty and tattered. Shredded pieces of linen, a grungy robe, filthy and brown, hangs from my shoulders. I lower my head, hands open at my sides.
Then, there are hands lifting each piece of clothing off of me. They were so heavy. I had no idea how heavy each piece was, as it hung on my tired frame. I then feel hands around my ankles, and strong fingers unfastening shackles around my bare feet, shackles I had never seen, attached to chains I never knew I wore.
And I am in the meadow once more. I am wearing a long gown and my hair is loose and clean, the sun shining bright and the air perfumed with light as it falls like love upon blooming flowers. I am on the steed. And I am wearing armor now, and I have a sword in my hand. This. This is the daughter He sees. This is the daughter I am. This is the daughter He calls me to be, the one who is free because she is willing to fight. The one who is dirty and broken and vulnerable and alone when she strives to be what she wants to create herself to be. The one who is actually beautiful and true when she lets herself know freedom, when she lives out the truth of the identity her Father sees.
It’s time to ride, wind in our hair
You, my daughter, are made to be strong, with Me. You, my daughter, are made to do things I’ve prepared, just for you. You, my daughter, are made to go forward, not back. And to go forward, you must fight and break the agreements you’ve made with the enemy. You must know I have come to claim you, the daughter I made. You must know your life has been paid for. You must know you are free.
And sometimes, with my truth in your heart, you must reject lies about who I am. You must do this. Don’t wait. Do it right now. This it what it means to fight—for freedom from lies. It is rejecting lies and surrendering to Me. It is fighting for your identity, the one the prince of this world wants to take from you.
So, when you are weary, when the world presses in, remember I am here with you. Know I am the warrior who never sleeps. Know I rescue and ask you to trust Me more than anything else. That is how you fight. That is how you know who you are. That is how you are set free.
Write it now
For the Loop Poetry Project this week, you are invited to take a simple reality–a Zoom call with a friend, a cup of hot coffee, a child’s cry, a pile of books on the table, a bag of groceries, a walk through your neighborhood, a rustle of tree branches in wind, anything you see or hear or remember or feel–and let it become a trigger, a launching place, a beginning of something more. For instance, the experience with God in prayer that I just shared came about because of repentance, which was prompted by a conversation with two friends. And the poem below called “Lullaby” I wrote this week in anticipation of a morning run. The recognition, or honoring, of one observation, leads to another.
So, what do you think? Will you trust your mind, your heart, your imagination to lead you to a new place? Will you try to put to words how one observation or thought you have can build until it becomes something else?
Don’t worry about perfection or getting it “right.” Write what is true. Write what your mind sees. Write what your heart is speaking. Always. See what happens after that.
And, of course, consider sharing your poem here, in the comments below–and/or with the lovely community of kind and brave poets in the Loop Poetry Project on Facebook. Join here.
With much love and excitement for what comes next,
I will hear you in crackled pebbles
underfoot as I run
on empty streets and watch
the sky turn
cotton candy pink and tangerine
or in memory: of photos I didn’t take
on my child’s first day of school
and you exhale whispers,
it is okay,
or in music: of this fan now whirling
in a garage filled with books
of stories I want to read
and then your humming
the tune you sang when I
was born and you
say, this one is your song.