Choosing one word . . .
As a science teacher, more than once I have performed demonstrations for my students explaining how when given the chance air will rush into a vacuum. Recently, I have come to terms that a similar phenomenon occurred in our home to attempt to fill the deep, aching, empty hole left in our hearts by our darkest day. The hurt so profound, so full of void, we allowed many different things (often material but sometimes time wasters) to rush into that dark emptiness. Much like the wonder of gravitational attraction between objects, our hearts’ songs were so mournful they had a pull on the people around us who also tried to help us fill the hole with gifts of love. The resultant aftermath was a lot of clutter – physical and emotional – which simply created chaos in our home and in my heart.
Almost three years ago now, we began a long and perilous journey to reclaim our space which meant remodeling projects throughout our house, but more importantly having real conversations regarding what we really wanted out of life. The last of those projects is nearing completion. As we finished each room, gut-wrenching conversations were required to determine what would stay and what we could allow someone else to love.
As that process unfolded, we realized things and thought-numbing activities consumed our life, in more ways than one, and even worse, we were missing out on living. There I said it. In an effort to fill the hole, we allowed unsubstantial things to fill the broken fissures of our hearts. The one thing we didn’t want to do after Reed passed – which was stop living because there is no way no how he would have ever wanted us to do that – was slowly happening, and we needed to take drastic measures to stop it.
When your heart hurts, it is so easy to find something – anything that will stop the hurt even for a fleeting moment. Leaning into our grief by letting go of artificial hole-fillers, we were deliberate in our pursuit for joy. JOY – our one word theme for last year! In tiny incremental steps, we began our search. We soon found all sorts of sources, in the most unexpected of places – the impromptu gathering with friends, the snowstorm safe at home, the taste of wonderful new recipe, the prayers of friends, the laughter of our kids, a shooting star while sitting in the hot tub, the nuzzle by wet nose of an old dog, meeting for lunch and realizing you are still at the restaurant at supper. Joy was hidden right under noses, but previously we were too encumbered to notice it. As a natural off-shoot, we uncovered joy hidden in verses as God continued to minister to us, almost like wiping our eyes with divine spittle. Our broken hearts began to feel lighter.
As the year unfolded, we began to pray about our next theme word; although I don’t believe the search for joy will leave us for quite some time. We wanted a new word which would continue to bring us closer to God and enable Him to still mend our broken places.
Music stirs my soul and next to creation, it is the place where I often get lost in God’s beauty. Last week was a rough one, filled with doctor and therapy appointments. On my drive back from dropping the Girl Awesome at school, I heard this song on Christian radio.
From the artists’ lips to my soul, it was too much for me. I had to pull over to the side of the road, my vision too clouded by the gigantic tears falling down. The new word had been dancing into my thoughts for weeks. Hearing the lyrics was the confirmation I needed that “content” was exactly the word for us. I simply want to soak in the grace, love, mercy, and beauty that God has provided for me. I never want to fill my days, my thoughts, my heart with anything other than that.
God I run into your arms, unashamed because of your mercy . . . some day that is going to be me. A full out arms open wide dash similar to the time I ran into the arms of my Granddaddy while being chased by a goat which escaped the circus, I plan on hugging Jesus and his Daddy. I want to hug Reed and rock my babies. I am truly overwhelmed by how much He has given my family. Finding joy was a journey, and now, I am choosing to not get caught up in racing thoughts of details, worries, doubts, or fears (behaviors of which if am not a pro, then I am definitely an Olympic medalist) and simply be content with what God has provided.
Content in every avenue of my life will take a big effort. Choosing to be present in whatever path God lays my feet will be the first step. My initial search for Bible verses proved to be fruitful. We are using this verse to guide us as we search to be content in what we eat and wear, we decide to purchase, we choose to spend our time, in how we fill our moments and our days, and most importantly, in how we accept what God provides in plenty and in want. All the while hoping and praying contentment draws us closer to God.
Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. 1 Peter 2:11 (MSG)
Wherever God finds you today, may it be wrapped in the arms of his love! True contentment!
*Special note: Somehow sitting on the side of the highway, praising my heavenly Father, I knew this song had something to do with Africa. Honestly, I don’t know how or why I knew that – other than the children’s voices at the end of the song. I have two special connections to that continent. One is to an orphanage in Uganda (more on that at a future date), and the other is to our first adopted college student, James from Kenya. Although he is back home now with his family (and our adopted grandchildren), he is never far from our hearts. When I got home and saw the video, more tears easily fell as I praised God for our loves a world away.