As I sit here waiting to see how much more destruction Hurricane Irma is going to inflict upon humanity, I can't help but wonder what my role in just these past two week's storms (or lack there of in the PNW of the U.S. which has been impacted by major forest fires) has been...
If I asked you what the most meaningful times in your life have been, what would you say? When was the last time you truly felt satisfied in that "I literally did something that made a difference in someone's life" kind of way? Those are usually the times when we feel like our life is the most meaningful, aren't they?
Have you ever found yourself in that place where, what 'should' be super exciting, is instead filling you with fear and anxiety? When you find yourself in the midst of something you had thought about forever and the experience is suddenly terrifying instead of enjoyable? On Monday afternoon, my husband and I had our level 2 ultrasound to find out if baby G was a boy or a girl and whether there were any health concerns we should be aware of. I so badly wanted to be excited, but instead was overwhelmed by all the unknowns and quite frankly terrified to find out. You might not be in the midst of a pregnancy, but I have a hunch you might be able to see yourself in my story. We aren't one of those couples who tried forever to get pregnant, we weren't actually trying yet, and we did. Yes, we're one of those couples... However, I have thought about having children since I was 6 or 7 years old. It wasn't a dream that I pursued relentlessly (I didn't get married until I was 36), but it was a strong dream of "God, I really hope that someday..." Not getting married until what is considered "later in life," I wasn't sure if having kids would still be an option for us. Yes, I know medical technology has come a long way and adoption and fostering children is a huge need in our country, but those are still not things you can bank on for certain. It was one of those dreams I had long ago let go of, having fully accepted that it would be okay if it was never a reality, all the while it was still burning deep within my heart. I'm guessing you can relate...
So here I was, on what should have been an incredibly exciting day, just wanting the appointment to be over with so we could face whatever news there was to face. Sometimes I find that I am just waiting for the other proverbial shoe to fall, especially when it comes to things that matter the most. I want to hold them loosely and not get too attached. What if it doesn't actually happen? What if...? What if...? What if...I get hurt? I know, I know, there are so many things wrong with this kind of approach to life. My hunch is, I'm not the only one who doesn't head full on into their dreams with reckless abandon...
At the core of my fear, I found myself in this tension of wanting to hold back my love, my passion, my excitement, my hope. As I talked to God about all of this Monday morning, God reminded me of what unconditional love says, "We don't hold back our love based on unknown outcomes, we give until we give all of ourselves, everything we have and love beyond the shadows of the unknown. We love no matter what."
And then God asked me, "Do you think I've held back any of My love even though I've known full well what the outcomes would be? Not even once. Never. Not for a second. If I can, you can through Me. And when you can't and your love ends, I have more than enough to love completely. Yes, to love like Me can mean getting hurt, but it can also be the most amazing, freeing, generous thing you've ever done. And you can't know which it will be until you do it. And even when I've been hurt by those whom I love, do you think I have ever regretted it? Not once."
If God can love unhindered when He knows the outcome, we can when we don't. So here's to living and loving beyond calculated risks.
Yesterday morning the words of my massage therapist struck me so much that I've been thinking about them ever since. (Before you get jealous, I will tell you that the massage was just so-so...yes it was relaxing, to the point that I may have woken myself up snoring a few times, yep that happened...but still, you didn't miss anything.) When the massage started she said something like "these next 80 minutes (I mean it, don't be jealous, you didn't miss a thing) are all yours. You can escape the world and all its trials and stress and just breathe in good energy," or something along those lines. Anyway, I couldn't get her words about "escaping the world" out of my mind. My gut reaction was that I don't actually want to escape the world, why would I?
Don't get me wrong, I know that there are a lot of awful things that happen to each and every one of us and the people we love and hold dear to ourselves (save all the other atrocities happening all over the globe at this very moment). I've seen my fair share of tragedy in my own life from diseases to addictions to fatal drunk driving accidents to the affects of mental health issues, burglaries, and we're just talking about my family and close friends. I get it. There are things that happen in this world and in our lives that literally SUCK. As I type this, one of my friend's moms is on hospice from a rare cancer that has spread all over her body.
However, the truth is that we weren't created for all this bad stuff. The intent was never that we would experience all this pain, heartache and struggle in our lives. Yes, the chaos and evil in this world that we live in is very real and we experience it firsthand. But despite all of this darkness that can feel overwhelming and paralyzing at times, and likely the sound of "escaping" (if we actually could) is appealing, it is possible to experience joy, contentment, peace, hope, the fullness of life.
Because in fact, we were created to experience heaven on earth today, and an abundant life, not by escaping this world, but actually while being present and living in it. We aren't just supposed to survive this life and somehow manage to get through it. We're supposed to thrive despite what may happen to us, and those we love deeply.
And what if, we're not just created to thrive in the midst of the darkness of this world, but what if we're also supposed to play a part in bringing heaven to earth? See, I actually believe that that is part of our calling as humanity: to make earth like heaven (where tragedy, pain, suffering, oppression, tears themselves are absent). So instead of escaping life, what if we ran headlong into it?