Five Minute Friday: Dance

Today I’m taking part in Five Minute Friday over at Lisa-Jo’s place. That means five minutes of writing on a central topic, and no going back to edit. The community there is inspiring and the different ways that the theme is interpreted are fun to explore.

This week’s theme is: dance

Ready?

GO

Life is frequently described as a path. Especially in Christian circles…

“This is the path God has me on.”

“I’m following God’s leading on this path.”

“There is a bend ahead in the path and I don’t know what’s next.”

I always liked the idea of a path. I picture it as a light freckled, dirt covered avenue lined by trees. Because the paths we picture for ourselves are always peaceful and brimming with new life, right?

The problem with the path is that there is a beginning and an end and it’s all about progression. Movement implies advancement, or the opposite which means you’re heading in the wrong direction.

What if life is more like a dance, especially one in a Jane Austen novel?

Where movement implies relationship, fluidity and transition. The point isn’t to get somewhere, but to take part in a rhythm and pattern.

Paul’s definition as the Christian life as a race always inspired me to “press on” and “win.” The urgency of competition and attainment gave me a central focus. I would be first and I would be best!

This past year has been transformational for me, and one of the main things has been a quenching of this thirst for accomplishment and advancement. Not because I have attained my goals or done all I feel God has for me, but rather the striving and pursuit seems quieted in my soul.

I feel more content to contemplate the pattern, the music, the partners and surroundings. To take joy in the dance.

STOP

Light, Dandelions & Sin

Yesterday I had a moment in talking with a friend where I felt God shine a spotlight on an area in my life that needs to change.

Have you experienced that? It’s extremely uncomfortable. You’re going along doing the instinctual, trusting that what’s natural is what’s right, and then suddenly you’re blinded by a floodlight piercing your eyes. As I wrote that last sentence I am struck by the similarity to Paul’s story. You know, when he was still Saul. And killing Christians.

He was living his life the way he’d been raised, and doing it very well. He had clout.

Listen to him brag about himself…

“…circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.” {Philippians 3:5-6}

Paul was the man. He was doing what was natural. Then, God beamed His spotlight on him and Paul was blind. Maybe that’s what Jesus meant when He said He was the light of the world.

::

So, I {like Paul} was making my way through my day — although, to be clear, I was not pursuing and killing Christians — when all of a sudden God lasered in on an area of my mind that is wrong.

And instantly I felt guilt. Well, maybe guilty isn’t the right word

exposed

ashamed

remorseful

Before you begin imagining all of the awful things that I could have been doing, I’ll tell you.

My priorities were off. I was selfish. I thought of my own needs before the needs of others.

Even that makes it sound worse than what I intended, but isn’t that how those little sin areas in our life always are? We justify, or even overlook, them because they float like dandelion puffs through our mind. The problem that I’ve discovered with dandelion puffs is that as innocent as it looks when my kids are blowing “wishes” around the yard, those seeds take root and now we have a bunch of weeds.

Courtesy of photobucket

As the evening progressed that moment replayed in my mind, and I allowed the shame and guilt to settle in. It tucked itself in with me last night and drug itself out of bed with me this morning.

I need to be different. That has to change. Lord, help me to change,” looped in my brain.

Most mornings I don’t have the time {make the time} to soak in the Word. The chaos of four kids dressing, brushing, fighting, tying, and rushing takes over; I let it. This morning I took the ten minutes necessary to read and journal.

And God spoke.

The verse isn’t necessary, because the words weren’t important to the epiphany. Well, it was to me, because my reading illustrated someone doing right what I had done wrong the day before. It felt like the floodlight was now trained on that portion of scripture, which reflected right back onto the sin in my life.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” {Isaiah 6:5}

But…

before more guilt could set in, God said, “I’m showing you this so intentionally because I am changing this in you. It is not to make you feel ashamed, but rather so you have a milestone to look back on.”

We all feel exposed, ashamed, remorseful and guilty when the Holy Spirit’s light shines into those dark places. Rather than run and hide like Adam & Eve, we must welcome the burning coal to our lips.
He will do the work to change us, He shows us so we can see how we’ve changed.

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Five Minute Friday: Gift

I got my pastoral license in the mail last weekend. Staring at the official seal, and my name under the words “License to Preach,” I felt overwhelmed and unprepared. As I thought about Lisa-Jo’s prompt for today’s Five Minute Friday, the verse about children being a gift from the Lord cycled on repeat through my mind.

Can I be honest and admit that sometimes I forget my kids are a gift? When “mom, mom, mom” rings in my ears, my car is carpeted in goldfish crackers one day after I vacuum it, and “please just let me have one moment’s peace!” The constant need terrifies me, because I am human and I lose patience and fall short.

And now, I am a licensed minister, with an appointment in my church to oversee the spiritual formation of other people’s children and to build community. That’s a lot more need. This place I’m in is one I’ve worked towards for decades, and it truly is a gift! God dropped it in my lap and it’s the perfect type of gift: one you’re not asking for, but that so accurately meets your needs. Yet even here, I can forget for a moment what a precious thing I’ve been given.

That’s what came out of my mind today…

GO

There’s something about motherhood that triggers so many spiritual lessons in me. I think God gave me four children because He knew how much I had to learn, and that this was the only way of getting through to me.

When I first have a hint that I may be pregnant, that little question in my brain feels like a present. Sitting there, wrapped up tight, possibilities untold. The anticipation of new life is exciting; whether it’s the physical new life of an addition to our family, or the spiritual new life of roads less traveled and paths unexplored. Then the reality of the situation falls on your shoulders. Aches and pains associated with growth, uncomfortableness and strange cravings abound…and let’s not even touch those mood swings.

It all seems to be too much to handle, too overwhelming, never-ending. And it’s all out of your control! You begin to wonder how much of a gift this really is. And then the moment of delivery occurs. All is right with the world, and you can only stare in wonder at the amazingly perfect thing that God has brought forth. Those first few hours, days, weeks are spend basking in the glory that God would entrust something so special and fragile to your care.

Over time, the idea of your gift fades as the newness wears off and things get tough. You struggle and fail. Things seem out of your control. Pain happens, and it hurts more than you could ever have conceived. Guilt that you’ve destroyed God’s perfect creation, and shame that you would have ever tried to steward it in the first place.

But God reminds: I have chosen you. This is where I have you. Keep moving forward, and follow my lead.

Whether it’s with our children, our marriages, our ministries, our careers…whatever He has conceived and birthed in your life…it’s a gift. Sometimes it just takes some reminding.

STOP

Just in case there’s any question or confusion…no, I’m not pregnant and I have no plans to be pregnant again. I wanted to make that very clear, because I know sometimes my five-minute rambles can leave people wondering if there’s a hidden meaning.

Happy Friday!

What does “gift” mean to you?

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Uncomfortable Me

February 24, 2001

Today marks eleven years of me as a Mrs.

My first few weeks as Melissa Brotherton were confusing. Despite practice and planning, the name sat uncomfortable on my shoulders. The taste of it rolling off my tongue was strange.

Now I snuggle down into it like well-worn pajamas and slippers. I’ve embraced it as my identity.

Not once in my recent occasions to introduce myself have I said, “Hi, my name is Melissa Brotherton. It used to be Melissa Redmond, but now it’s different.”

Because that would be weird, right?

No one really cares what my name used to be, and there’s no point in them knowing. If I introduced myself that way people would walk away wondering what is wrong with me.

However…

I am kind of doing that.

Not with my name, but with other parts of me.

Because “me” is somewhat uncomfortable right now.

The Melissa I’ve always been is very different from the Melissa God has been shaping over the past year (or more). Last year I wrote about feeling pregnant with expectation, and the birthing process that would follow. I wrote about all those things and then forgot them as I labored.

Let me tell you, after four kids you’d think I’d understand the birth. This delivery was nothing like any of the others. It was painful; no one was there offering me an epidural or reminding me to breathe. It seemed never-ending; each stage had me worrying that I wouldn’t live through it.

And now that I know I’ve come through it, I’m missing that moment of connection. In movies the expectant parents always seem to wait until the delivery to discover the sex of their baby.

Birth is accompanied with a declaration of identity:

“It’s a boy!”

“It’s a girl!”

I have yet to make that declaration. God has shifted my world-view and altered my very being. The thoughts, reactions and behaviors that once came so naturally to me are missing, and the replacements are unfamiliar.

As I’m introducing myself to new people I’m met over and over with the same statement, “Really?” As I describe myself to people, they don’t see the person I’m describing. That person doesn’t really exist anymore.

Instead of boldly declaring who I am now — because it feels strange — I’m grasping for the comfortable that was. How confused Josh would have been if I had continued to introduce myself as Melissa Redmond after our wedding.

It’s time to start properly presenting myself as I really am.

Jacob wrestled with God, and walked away with a new identity.

Is there a time in your life where you have walked away from an encounter with God and known you were different?

Was it uncomfortable to acknowledge that new you?

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