On a Thursday morning, a few hours before friends come to our home to stay overnight with us for a few days, I asked my girlfriends to pray. The whole week I had been anticipating feeling depleted by the time it was Sunday and our guests had to go home. I had spent days thinking about what they might need, how I could create a cozy place for them in our studio (aka converted garage/office ). I put up drapes, spread the beds with cotton and flannel duvets and red wool knit blankets, threw sheepskin rugs over the concrete floor, tucked extra toiletries in the medicine cabinet, stocked the metal trays on the desks with nuts and chocolate and organic apples. Inside our house, I organized what I thought Justin would need to cook dinner for all of us that first night and filled the refrigerator with eggs and avocado and fruit for breakfasts as well as sandwich fixings for lunches.
What was curious was that the morning after our friends came I had the most unusual thought. I stood at the kitchen counter making lunches, my usual activity every 7:30 am, while Jackson, our oldest, thumped through, looking for his shoe hidden somewhere by Fulton, our dog; Abby, our daughter, repeatedly bumped up against me with her elbow while brushing her teeth at the kitchen sink; and Oliver, the middle teenager, bustled in and out of the hall bathroom attending to his outfit and hair. While assembling turkey and pickles on baguettes–and normal morning life surged around me–I felt within me a strange and beautiful calm.
Gold light shone through the kitchen window shutters to my hands and face, and a thought popped into my mind, unannounced and surprising: I like myself, who I am, right now. Despite my anticipated concern with feeling depleted by all the upcoming activity during our guests’ stay, I don’t wish I were someone else–someone who doesn’t fuss about the little things or care about details or likes to plan or is extroverted and energized by chaos. I know I am loved, right now, and made just like this, for a life like this.
It was pretty great.
This was love–not self-condemnation–which used to be my standard thought pattern when I anticipated social situations. Experiencing this feeling of self-acceptance was one of the most astounding and encouraging moments I’ve ever felt–standing in the kitchen, in my pajamas, making sandwiches for three teenagers. I was not performing, not striving, not trying to do anything amazing or life-changing. And I was loved. Right then. With all my flaws and personality quirks that I’ve, for decades, struggled to love and accept. I was liked just as I was. Just as I am. Just as I will be. God came right up behind me, wrapped His protective arms around me, and held me close. I couldn’t help but believe what He was saying was true.
To put the moment in the kitchen into context–if you have been following along with my writings on this blog and my old one over the years, you are probably well aware–this was a big deal to me. I am only just learning how to relax into God’s grace. Walk gently. Settle deep into truth. Accept that no matter what I did or what I do, I am loved. As I learn to be honest with myself, I realize I still battle the Father a lot: wanting, in my pride, to earn salvation, wanting to seek glory for myself rather than for God.
“Be imitators of God in everything you do, for then you will represent your Father as his beloved sons and daughters. And continue to walk surrendered to the extravagant love of Christ, for he surrendered his life as a sacrifice for us. His great love for us was pleasing to God, like an aroma of adoration—a sweet healing fragrance” (Ephesians 5: 1-2, TPT).
What about you? What does your battle to walk gently look like? Do you enter this posture easily? Or is there some struggle you face to do it?
For the Loop Poetry Project prompt this week, I invite you to write a poem about an inner struggle you are facing or have faced, with God. You can write it as a conversation with Him. Or write it in the third person. Here are some things to think about as you ponder this idea: What does it mean for you to walk gently? Or what is a story of you not walking gently? What about the word gentleness? What meaning does it have for you? What does it make you think of? What images do you associate with walking gently? How does the idea of walking gently make you feel? Or when have you observed someone else walking gently–and what effect does this observation have on you, as the observer? Does it make you want to walk gently, too? Or are you cautious, reserved, unsure about doing it yourself?
I am only learning how to walk gently. And, ironically, there is some truth, as well, in the fact that my learning how to walk gently with God has been hard-fought. Years of surrendering to Him and years of trying to do things on my own. Years of confessing my hardened heart and years of trying to hide my sin (from myself and from others). Years of falling more deeply in love with God and years of running away from Him. It is a battle. The words “walk gently” are so beautiful, aren’t they? And I believe He gives us everything we need to do this. But these lives of ours don’t feel so gentle, sometimes–which is why this “walk gently” with our God can feel complicated.
How about we take this complicated stuff to Him? How about we ask God about this whole “walk gently” idea…and then write a poem about that? I can’t wait to read yours.
Feel free to share your poem in the comments on this blog post! Or, even better, share it on social media using the hashtag #looppoetryproject. If you’d like to join a kind and supportive and encouraging group of brave women who are pursuing wholeness for their hearts using poetry as a tool, come on over and join the private Loop Poetry Project group on Facebook. I’d love to see you over there.