Just Stay.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

If I lay in bed curled on my left side,
facing towards the small double hung window kitty corner to the foot of our bed,
I can see a singe streetlight the next block over, shining high above the trees.
It sits perfectly in my line of site.
Late at night when it's dark and the house is quiet and my mind is still wide awake,
full of yesterday's struggles and the unknown's of tomorrow,
I focus on that little light and just breathe.  
That little light a few yards away.
I focus on IT instead of on the thoughts/worries/concerns/projections my mind conjures up in those lonely hours before the sun rises again. 
I pretend it's a little star twinkling in the night sky.  
Better yet, God.
It's comforting, that little light.  Almost as if it WERE God saying,  
"I see you're tired but can't sleep.  When you grow weary, when you're overwhelmed, keep your focus on ME.  When your mind won't turn off, and you know what it's spewing is nonsense but it's just SO convincing and full of doubt, bring your focus back to ME.  That's all there is."  

I know it's weird and I'm feeling a little sheepish sharing these really personal thoughts, 
but gosh, do we need that sometimes. . .just a little light.  
ANYTHING to remind us no matter how dark it gets, no matter how alone we feel, if we can just keep that small point of focus on the ground ahead, the dim light across the way, 
we'll be alright.
We are NEVER alone in our pain, suffering, fear, despair.
It can never be nor will ever be, completely dark.  
Now I can say all this most days with great confidence and the truth of my own experiences.
But my faith is still growing and when you are growing in faith,
which may be a new route for you like it is for me,
trying a different route rather than the 'ol way of self-reliance (zero faith,) 
can be full of questions, doubt, confusion and insecurity.
And it is only human, it seems, through this process, 
to seek out "signs," proof that THIS is a good way to do things. 

(I know this isn't the first time I've talked about wanting some sort of sign that it's okay to relinquish all control and trust in a "thing" or being larger than me that's already got it all sorted out.)

I don't need any bold sky-writing with a, 
And an arrow pointing in one general direction, but you know. . .something to say,
"So I know you feel alone, maybe despair.  That some days fear is felt so ridiculously strong in the body and for no good reason. . .but. . .I'M here.  It's all good.  
Just keep puttin' one foot in front of the other."

(You can read about my recent journey in patience here if you missed it.)    

That being said,
I was having a "day" recently.  Not sure now what was going on, but just particularly anxious, tired, apprehensive, maybe simply PMS'ing?  Just out-of-sorts and unsteady and shaky.  Maybe I needed a nap.  Or some red meat.  Not sure.
But I didn't want to go to church this particular day because of the way I was feeling.
(There are a lot of times actually, where I don't want to do things because of the way I'm feeling.)
But I like to at least TRY to walk through those feelings when they're there and see where they lead.  90% of the time they're a bluff and I rarely regret taking those steps through discomfort.

And I went to my new church and I tried to focus and stand there and listen to the sermon but was so uncomfortable and agitated and at the same time on the brink of tears at every turn and ugh, just not feelin' itFeeling so raw and vulnerable.  Hard to put that physical feeling in to words but those of you who know this, you know the feeling.  
I wanted to run.  
I think even in my mind I said, 
"God!  What are you doing with me?  What is this?  Does it even matter?  Why am I here?  Are YOU even there?  I hate this!" 

But as I often do in these moments of frustration and discomfort, I heard, 

"Stay with it.  Just stay."

And I did.  And I wasn't sure why I needed to stay, but I did.   
I stood in my discomfort, legs taut from tension, muzzy headed, did my best to stand still and see the sermon through.  But pushed to the limit of my anxious suffering for the moment and wanting to endure no more.

And then something happened.  Something that's never happened to me before.
A "miracle" of sorts.
A. . .sign?

I felt gentle hands press down on my shoulders at that very moment before I wanted to bolt.  As if to say, "Oh no, dear one.  Hold up a second.  Just stay and listen."

"Liz, it's just me.  I just want to pray for you if that's ok."

Over the band that was playing the closing song of church, I recognized the voice.  
It wasn't God:) 

But it might as well have been.
It FELT to be God moving and talking through this sweet woman's voice.
It was the wife of the pastor who I don't really know but have had a few brief exchanges with since joining this new church.

And for whatever reason, she took that moment to come to me over the music playing and people singing, she SAW me and picked ME out in the sea of people in the dimly-lit auditorium
and in that moment when I most needed reassurance, she/God's presence, was there behind me, her nurturing hands on my shoulders, saying, 
"Liz, I want to pray for you."

Well.  Sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph of all that is good and pure.
Feeling embarrassingly humbled that someone would want to pray for ME.  I don't really need it, after all.  I have everything.  My instinct was to turn and say, "Oh no, no.  Pray for someone who REALLY needs it.  I'm good."
But I didn't.  I accepted.  I grabbed on and held tight.  Not just to this precious gift but to her hands on my shoulders. 
The floodgates opened, needless to say:)
The tears that were being stifled now rolling off my cheeks in waves, snot collecting on my upper lip despite my best efforts to hold it all back, to avoid appearing like a complete blubbering idiot.
But I couldn't.  I let go.  
(I love Jim Carrey's quote, "Risk being seen in all of your glory.") 

With my hands resting on top of hers I just stood there and bowed my head and cried as she whispered prayers and words of encouragement and love and asked for God's guidance and presence in my life on this journey.

It was one of those moments where all doubt vanished.
I didn't have ONE question in regards to HIS control over our life or if there was something, someONE larger that us, whose hand COULD actually be available to hold.
I just knew.

I honestly don't even know what she said anymore:)  I was just so overwhelmed by the gesture at the exact moment I needed it.  And how can that just be coincidence and not a miracle?  A sign?  An answer?  
Better yet, an invitation to keep going on this path, regardless of all the questions and doubt I have in reference to God's existence.

It changed the game for me.
I sloughed in to church with my head down, unsteady, unsure, feeling unprotected.
And left changed.  Lighter.  Confident.  Faith-filled.
Moved completely.  
Re-inspired to keep heading down this path of faith and reliance on something far greater than myself.

Appropriately a few weeks later, my pastor spoke that often we're waiting on God to show us a sign that HE'S there.  Something to show us He's worth our time, effort and trust.
When more often than not, HE'S waiting on US.  
Waiting on us to take that next step forward.
To trust fully.
Let go.
Walk blindly in to the unknown and know we will be met with HIS grace if we're at LEAST willing to have faith in HIM.

So I will keep going with that.   
Rather than SEARCHING for signs, staying open to his presence and carrying on.  Understanding that God/Spirit/Being/Light is not necessarily someone we will meet on the other side of this life, 
but be found in the eyes of a stranger.
In the warm hug of a friend.
In the concern and comfort of a parent. 
In the faces of our own children.
In the trees and the sky.
He is E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.

P.S.  I love watching, reading, listening to anything on faith, God, humanness, the brain, the body, meditation, prayer, presence.
Thought this was interesting. 


P.P.S  Jane, you are a shining light:)


Anonymous said...

I love you. And your words.

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