Friday, June 28, 2013

Desert Soul

Am I demanding too much?
Or am I just spinning my wheels?

I want him. 
I don't want him. 
I hurt him. 
I don't deserve him. 
It's supposed to be about God. 
I should have been satisfied with him. 
But I wasn't. 
I should have been satisfied with God. 
But I wasn't. 
I want him back. 
Or maybe I just want security back. 
That is using him. 
I don't deserve him. 
I want him. 
But I wasn't satisfied with him. 
But I don't want anyone else. 
I don't know anyone else. 
But I let him in deep. 
Deeper than anyone else. 
I just need to be patient. 
I don't deserve him. 
Does he deserve me?
But I hurt him. 
But he hurt me first. 
Stop playing victim. 
This is supposed to be about God. 
What do I do about hurting him?
I did all I can do. 
I apologized. 
And I set him free. 
Free from what?
Free from me. 
Free from continued pain. 
Did I set myself free?
Free to swim in the sea
of loneliness. 
Didn't I want to be here?
But I wasn't sure I wanted to be with him. 
I was happy. 
But I was also unhappy. 
And I was scared. 
I felt safe. 
I felt unsafe. 
I didn't trust him. 
I didn't trust God either. 
The deeper in I let him get,
the more I resisted. 
I said I would let him in. 
But I barred the door. 
I barred the door. 
He stood at the door and knocked. 
But I kept it locked. 
Am I talking about him or God?
I am not ready for a relationship with him
or with any other man
if I cannot be right with God. 
This sucks. 
Can't I be hopeful?
I'm too stubborn. 
I want him. 
But when I had him I wasn't always happy. 
Does that mean I just want someone
other than God?
This sucks. 
I'm a horrible child. 
No pity-party. 
How then am I supposed to punish myself?
Punish myself?
That's not my job. 
Is that God's job?
He's already done that. 
He took him away. 
Or did He take my security away?
My idol?
I feel gross. 
A gross person. 
An unworthy person. 
I don't deserve him. 
No self pity. 
This is about God. 
And do what?
I can't stop thinking about him. 
I am lonely
and angry
and sad. 
Just live. 
Fill your life. 
You can't force yourself to focus naturally on God. 
Remind yourself consciously,
But you can't force it. 
Use your life to run to God. 

"I had no words of reproach for any I healed. The man was whole and free who had wrecked his physical being by sin--whose palsy I healed.
The woman at the well was not overwhelmed by My 'Thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband.'
The woman taken in adultery was told 'Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.' She was not told to bear the burden of the consciousness of her sin. . ."

"So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 7:21-8:1

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Blow

Hebrews 12:5-11 “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

I doubled over in pain, clutching my stomach as if the air had been knocked out of my lungs. Then I surfaced, and the sobs broke over my body. Convulsions pulsed through me. I pulled myself tighter, shaking uncontrollably.            
Deep in my pain I sensed Him watching me. But my emotions pulled me powerfully back under. I lay there, curled up, drenching myself in my own tears, for what seemed forever.
            When the convulsions finally ceased, and my breathing slowed to its normal pace, I once again felt Him there. He was close to me, watching me. I continued to lay still, curled into my ball, hoping He would leave. 

            I watched her collapse.
            Her pain stabbed my heart. Every convulsion of loneliness, fear, pain, sadness was felt within my own soul.
            She might have drenched her face and hair in her tears, but my entire body was now soaked with my Heavenly tears. The rains, the lightening, the thunder crashed upon the earth because of her pain now—her pain that was surpassed only by my own.
            I kept watch over her as she lay. It took all my ambition to hold Myself back from running to her and picking her up in my arms. Oh, how I longed to cradle her to My chest and whisper that everything would be alright. Oh, how I longed to dry her tears and smother the angry convulsions that ravaged her small frame. But I restrained Myself in patience.
            Finally she stilled. I knew she could sense Me.
            I took a step toward her and reached out my hand to lovingly, reassuringly caress her. 

            He took a step toward me and reached out His hand to touch me.
            “Don’t touch me,” I shouted, recoiling away from Him.
            He looked baffled at my revulsion. Being omniscient, I would have thought that He would completely understand that He needed to leave me alone. I guess not.
            “Jaime?” He implored.
            “This is Your fault!” I snapped back.
            “Get away from me. I don’t want to talk with You.”
            “I HATE You!”
            Before God had even screamed my name, I had already pulled myself back into a tight ball—crying once more. I knew I didn’t hate Him. But I was angry. I was hurt. And it was His fault.
            The wave of powerful emotion passed. God had not zapped me. I could still feel Him standing beside me. I slowly ventured to peek up at Him. I was not prepared for the look of overwhelming Love in His eyes. I had almost wished to see anger; that I could have dealt with. But His Love made my outburst all the more shameful.
            “I’m sorry,” I whispered.
            “It’s okay, My sweetheart. I forgive you.” He reached out for me again. And although I said nothing this time, I still recoiled from Him. “Jaime,” He said flatly. No longer a question, but what appeared to be a demand.
            I ignored it. “Why did You do it?”
            “What do you mean?”
            I struggled against the anger rising within me again. Omniscient! “You know exactly what I mean.”
            “Jaime, listen to me—”
            “Answer me.”
            “Why did You—”
            My breath caught in my throat. I doubled over again. The sobs returned. As did the convulsions. I felt God’s arms encircle me. I was too overwhelmed to throw them off. The loneliness was too much. The pain was too much. Not only the pain of separation, but the pain of truth. I was hurting him!          

            I sat next to her, holding her.
I knew the truth would break her walls, but I had wanted to tell her gently—tell her in a way that would cause less pain. But she had been unwilling to listen—not only now, but weeks and months before. The pain could have been so much less—for them both—if only she had listened. But other sounds and other voices had congested her ears. I had spoken, but she had not heard.
So, now I sat by her, holding her. Fully knowing that I had torn her down . . . and yet eager to build her back. If only she would let me.

            I slowly allowed the truth to sink in. It hurt to do so, but I knew that to reject this would be to reject God, Himself.
            Eventually the sobs retreated, and I pondered what God had said.
            “Why didn’t You teach me how to not hurt him? I asked You to teach me how to love him. Why didn’t You do that?”
            “There was no space for me to do that, Jaime.”
            “What do You mean?”
            “Your life was too cluttered. There was too much going on internally and externally. You didn’t give me the room to work on it. Jaime, you didn’t even make room to work on your relationship with Me—let alone work on your relationship with him. You might have said the words, but you didn’t do the actions to accompany them.”
            By now I had diverted my eyes from God. I was staring at my hands in my lap.

            I knew I was pushing Jaime hard. She was exhausted by her emotions. But for once she was listening to me. I knew she was listening, even if she didn’t want to be.
            So I forged ahead. “Jaime, you don’t trust. You don’t trust anyone. You don’t trust Me. You don’t trust him. You don’t even trust your mother. The only person you trust is yourself! Which is irrational, Jaime. Do you realize how much you have hurt yourself?”
            She continued to stare downward.
            “Jaime, look at me.”
            She looked up. Her long, curved eyelashes clumped together with salty tears. I wanted to tell her how beautiful she is—even in her agony, but I knew now was not the time.
            “Jaime, why do you trust yourself when you have only led yourself to death?”
            Her upper eyelashes lowed, pulling a curtain over her pale, blue eyes.
            “I don’t know,” she whispered.
            As I stroked her chin, she opened her eyes again.
            “I realize you don’t know, Jaime,” I said, gently. “That is what we need to work on. Listen to the words of My Son: ‘Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.’ ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his sons asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!’”

            I listened to God as He shared the words of Jesus. I knew these verses well. I was also well aware of how much I fell short of them. I continually harbor doubt in my heart—so when I do say things, they rarely happen. I don’t trust enough to ask, seek, or knock—so I just don’t attempt to do any of those, no matter how much I have tried to accept God as my own Father.
            I looked pitifully up at God. “I keep failing.”
            God smiled and He pulled me close. “This is not a test in school, Jaime. You cannot fail.
            “Yeah, but, I hurt—”
            “Yes, you hurt him, Jaime. But you did the right thing; you let him go—you gave Him back to me, so that I can heal and protect his heart.”
            I had no response for Him. I knew He was right. But it didn’t take away the longing.
I wanted to still be holding him in my own arms—not have him in God’s arms. But I knew that was selfish. After all, I was hurting him. My arms were not a safe place for him to be.
I looked at God and slowly nodded. “Okay,” I whispered.

            My heart leapt with Joy at Jaime’s quiet okay. I knew her emotions were still fighting—still crying out in agony from My discipline. But at least she was not allowing them to trample over her will. Her will was still intact enough to be submitted for alignment under My own. It was a beautiful moment of obedience. I doubted Jaime could feel any Joy in that moment. But I did.
            I stroked her hair. My daughter is growing up. Still holding her close, I gave her the next steps of obedience: “Now what you need to do is get up, run back to Me, and together we will try this again. Trust Me.”
            She stirred in my arms. I could sense her doubt rising. “But I don’t know if—”
            I stomped it back down. “Just trust Me.”

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Faith (Albeit Rocky) of My Own

It is interesting that I started to write this post before I posted my previous one ("Slippery Slope of Self-Condemnation"), but something stopped me mid-writing. Then, following the event that prompted the previous post, I lost my interest in finishing this one. It was not until I shared parts of this current post with my grandmother, that I felt I should go back to this. And now that I am thinking about  what I want to write, I realize how much I need this in order to recover from the slippery slope of my self-condemnation. Yeah . . . it's a God thing.

My mother passed along a book to me about a month ago. The book, Lesson's From Life's Mirror: A Personal Journey of Redemption by Marlene June Eissens, was used for a women's small group that she attended while I was undergoing treatment for my eating disorder. She finally passed the book down to me, feeling that it was time for me to go through it myself. Although the story is Marlene's personal story, it is largely applicable to me--probably more so than to my mother. After Marlene shares a part of her story, the chapter ends with self-reflective questions. What is so intriguing to me is that I can see what my mother answered years ago. Now I am following Marlene's journey,  glimpsing into that of my mother's, and critically living my own--all at the same time.

At the end of the most recent chapter, the following exercise is proposed: When you meet God face-to-face, what do you think you'll talk about? Pretend that you are talking with him face-to-face, write down that conversation.

I wrote my own response before reading my mother's; however, I want to share hers first. (And, yes, I did receive permission from her to share this.)
"God will open his arms wide to embrace me. He'll say, Welcome--now you can finally relax and let my peace and joy wash over you. Why couldn't you trust me for everything? You shed so many unnecessary tears.
My response: I thought you were taking care of the big stuff and I needed to do the small. I wanted you to find me faithful and obedient. I tried to earn your love. I missed out on so much joy. Why couldn't I focus on being your love to those around me? That's what you wanted and kept reminding me."

Without reading this response of my mother's, I recorded my own conversation with God.
Me: What the heck, God!
God: Jaime.
Me: What the heck? I don't get it.
God: You don't have to.
Me: But I want to.
God: I won't let you.
Me: Why?!
God: Because that is not your job!
Me: But--
God: You are NOT God!
Me: But--
*God reaches out and pulls me into an embrace. At first I just stand there, stubbornly rigid. Then I slowly tuck myself into his arms. Eventually, tears start to fall down my face.*
Me: Hi, Daddy.
God: Hi, Sweetie.
Me: I'm so sorry.
God: Shhhh *He pulls my head back into His chest.* It's okay.

Needless to say, when I first read my mother's I was more than a little shocked. Actually, I am pretty sure I felt guilty. My mother seemed so reverent and loving towards God, and here I was angrily yelling at Him and demanding answers.
And yet I had to pause:
My mother and I have a different relationship with God.
When I dwelled upon this, I actually felt joyful. You see, for most of my formative years, I fed off of my mother's faith. I did not have a faith of my own. I thought my mother's faith was my faith. (The common joke is that we were attached at the hip.)
So this striking difference proves to me that I truly have a faith of my own. My relationship with God looks nothing like my mother's relationship with Him.
And that is okay!
Could you imagine if I had the same relationship with her husband as she did?! (This would be my step-father rather than my biological father--but still--) That would be gross! And wrong on so many levels!!
Well, having a relationship with God is the same way. I am not supposed to have an identical relationship with God that my mother has. Or my boyfriend has. Or my father has. Or my employer has. Or my pastor has. Or my friend has. No. No. No.
My relationship with Him is unique.
And--in some ways--it gives me reassurance that my relationship with Him is real.

Slippery Slope to Self-Condemnation

I sometimes wonder what I sound like to a person who does not believe in Jesus as the Christ- who has not encountered salvation.
However, I think I might have caught a glimpse. I am going to share a journal entry I wrote last night after speaking with someone...

I don't know how I feel about this man-from-camp character that I just talked to. He seems to be sugar-coated in spiritual pixy dust. 
I am NOT writing it on Facebook. 
I do NOT want to do devotions over the phone. 
I do NOT want his put-it-in-a-positive-light bullshit. 
Let's see if it lasts outside of this "love pool". I wonder is his membrane is semipermeable so that he can actually hold some of it in? Or is it only an aqueous nothingness? Is he truly warm blooded, able to regulate his own heat? Or is he only a cold-blooded creature who is swayed by his surroundings?
Am I jealous?
No. I feel like he's been brainwashed. Like he's wearing rose-colored glasses. 
His voice even sounded softer--like someone chopped off his balls. 
I was trying to be as fake as possible so as not to disturb his rose-coloredness. I wouldn't want to remind him that I am still stained BLACK.
I feel like shit now compared to his holiness. I suppose it is only my own self-condemnation . . . but there it is. . . .
I wish he had never called. 

Oh, hey there, yeah--I'm supposed to be a Christian. 
Well, the truth is that the urge to compare and critique and condemn does not discriminate. Just because I follow Christ, it does not mean that I am so super-human that I am immune from the nasty emotions of humanity. 
No, I still have a responsibility to do emotional work. To look at my emotions and use my mind to assess them. 
Today, I am choosing to tell myself that my life journey--my spiritual journey, my emotional journey--is mine alone. It is between me and Christ. I have no business looking at someone else's journey and demanding that either theirs look like mine or mine look like theirs. What profit is there in doing that?
Absolutely none. 
Other than self-condemnation. 
Hey, Jaime, have you read Romans 8:1 recently? Or how about Romans 14:1-12?

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Uncontrollably Weird

יהוה is weird. And unfortunately, I think my skepticism reveals my enormous lack of trust.

I was reading out of a devotional (that I struggle with believing anyway because of its extreme Spirit-based nature), the following words:
"The secure, steadfast, immovable life of My disciples, the Rock Home, is not built at a wish, in a moment, but is laid, stone by stone, foundations, walls, roof, by the acts of obedience, the daily following out of My wishes, the loving doing of My Will.
And it is in that Rock Home, manmade but divinely inspired--the House of Obedience--the truest expression of a disciple's adoration and worship--it is there I come to dwell with My loved one."

Upon reading this, desire welled up within me. So I prayed:
"יהוה , I don't understand how I am able to obey You when I cannot hear or understand Your voice. How am I supposed to do that? Is it possible to have the desire without the ability to hear? That doesn't make sense. Or is it that I really do not have the desire; therefore, I cannot hear? Oh, יהוה , please reveal to me the depths of my heart. Please reveal to me if they are not aligned with Your Will. Please may my desire for You be real! I want a House of Obedience in which You dwell with me."

After praying this I turned the page to the next reading (I hate to admit that I was about a week behind). This is what it said:
"You have entered now upon a mountain climb. Steep steps lead upward, but your power to help others will be truly marvelous.
Not alone will you arise. All towards whom you now send loving, pitying thoughts will be helped upward by you.
Looking to Me all your thoughts are God-inspired. Act on them and you will be led on. They are not your own impulses but the movement of My Spirit and, obeyed, will bring the answer to your prayers.
Love and Trust. Let no unkind thoughts of any dwell in your hearts, then I can act with all My Spirit-power, with nothing to hinder."

My response: "Oh! That's not fair! How am I supposed to know whether or not those words are from You?!"

The inner voice: "Keep moving forward, Jaime."

And so I sit here debating: Was that truly from יהוה or not? Maybe it was just a coincidence. But doesn't faith involve seeing  יהוה's hand in the coincidences? So that they are no longer coincidences; but rather, divinely planned occurrences? Or is all of this stuff just too radical for Jaime's rational mind? Jeepers, Jaime!! Is it possible for you to stop trying to control יהוה by insisting that you understand Him?!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Hug Sent From Heaven

There is so much going on in my mind and heart right now. I feel as if I just need to blab a bit before I get to what I really wanted to blog about.

I need to tell myself that God works according to what each person needs; that I am not to compare myself with others. My relationship with God does not depend upon it's comparison to another's relationship with God.

Let that sink in, Jaime.

Okay, let's try to do this now. . . .

After the significant healing that God blessed me with concerning my sexual abuse, it became blaringly obvious that I was still starving for a father. I believe this hunger for a father is linked to my abuse. Regardless of my sexual wound, I still would be missing a father-figure in my life; but the presence of that wound made my need insurmountable and unignorable.

I have therefore spent the rest of my life in search for the father that I needed.

(I must insert here that I do have an earthly father who loves me, and knows that I love him; however, his love was too painfully inadequate and broken to handle the huge need that my experience left me with.)

I fully realized this deep hunger a few months ago. It was during the time that God allowed me to become flooded with the emotions that I had numbed out for my entire life. I found myself yearning desperately for a father to pull me up into his lap, put his arms around me, hold me tight, and say, "Everything is going to be okay." This was the desire of the buried 5-year-old girl within me.

This desire has was led me to unknowingly (and knowingly) idolize many older men throughout my life (see my post, "Are you my Father?"). I needed the affirmation of a father-figure.

I spoke with a female friend of mine about my desire. I told her that I knew God wanted to be my father, but. . . . And this understanding friend knew the answer: "But you want that physical touch." Exactly.

This problem slapped in the face a week ago as I moved into my grandfather's house. He is the deepest father-figure in my life. But in allowing him that deep into my need, I also allowed him to become a powerful idol in my life. This was not actually a "problem" for me until my grandfather opposed something I wanted very deeply to do, and even thought God was directing me to do. All of the sudden there was a face-off in my heart between God and my idol.

A few days ago, I went to visit a friend. I had warned him ahead of time that I was in an extremely haggard state. When he told me of his desire to comfort me, he said that his first instinct was to pull me into his arms, squeeze me tight, and tell me that "everything is going to be okay." I was shocked--he knew exactly what I needed. But he did not do it, as both of us agreed that it would not work out well. I knew inside that, even though I craved him to do that act, him doing so would simultaneously make me cringe inside. Because I did not see this man as a father figure--I saw him, being the young man that he is, as a threat to my abuse-ravaged self. So I left this friend with another reminder of my deep yearnings, and yet no way to have them fulfilled.

I read this quote yesterday from Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love: "I'm tired of being a skeptic, I'm irritated by spiritual prudence and I feel bored and parched by evidence and proof and assurances. I just want God. I want God inside me. I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on water." It was with this attitude that I took myself to a tent revival this evening. I didn't know what to expect. I just knew I was starving and parched. I felt distant from God; and yet I yearned to be close to Him. I just didn't know how to do it.

All the speaker had to do was mention the word "father" and I was in tears, ready to go up for prayer. (Now, I have to make a side note here. I knew going up would be part of this revival. I knew I wouldn't want to do it. I knew it would mean stepping into the unknown. I knew I would have to suspend my rational mind. And I KNEW I would have to go up front regardless of my own objections.) So up I went. Crying all the way. In my mind, I wondered to myself what I would say if someone came to pray over me. Because technically this was a healing prayer time. And what did I need to be healed from? I kept saying quietly to myself: "I just want a dad." That was the truth. And I knew that was what I would have to say if anyone asked. I kneeled. Crying and listening.

Then someone touched my shoulders from behind. It was a young woman. She asked my name and what type of healing I needed. I told her my truth. She looked at me for a bit. I thought, "Oh, great--she must think I'm an idiot for being up here without needing healing." Then she said to me, "God is telling me to just hold you right now." If I hadn't been trying to rationalize why her statement could have fit any person who was crying up front, my mouth would have dropped in genuine surprise. But my mind was holding onto a moment of skepticism. But she pulled me out of it with, "I know that might sound creepy, but I promise I'm not a creep." That was all the distraction my mind needed; I let her pull me into herself, and I let myself collapse once again into tears. As I was laying in her arms (thankfully she was a bigger woman, so I could truly get lost in her arms and chest), I thought to myself, "This is the hug my 5-year-old self has been wanting. God sent me a hug." I could have stayed in her embrace for minutes or hours, but she decided to talk to me and pray over me. I must admit that I don't remember much of what she said. I was still so shocked that God had sent her to hug me. I do remember her saying that God was there when I was breaking; He was my father then; and He is just waiting for me to ask Him to be my Father now. She prayed some prophetic stuff over me as well; over which rationalization and faith are still battling within me.

After the woman moved away from me, I rose from my knees and found a chair--still up front. I sat and meditated on what she said, and chatted a little with God. I asked God that He would really have meant everything that that woman had said. I asked that I could trust and be truly joyful.

When I was finally reunited with my boyfriend, another woman approached me. She sensed that there was still something going on. I tried to avoid going deeper. The woman acquiesced  to a prayer request from my boyfriend over the two of us. And yet, at the end of the prayer, she insisted again upon speaking with me. FineJust let it happen, Jaime. She told me she would listen--I really just needed to cry. There is so much pent up pain and fear. I thought that I had pushed God too far away, and that He wasn't coming back--therefore, He couldn't really be my Father. It was interesting that this woman (and another that she brought over) kept thinking that I was an unbeliever, or I was a new believer, or I never read God's word, or I don't go to church, or I don't listen to Christian music. They kept speaking to me as if I knew nothing. At first I wanted to set them straight, but then I realized: the amount of imprisonment in my life makes me appear (and experience life) as someone who is unsaved. It was a humbling realization. (And it is now my current inner struggle as I sit here writing this--not to feel condemned in my weakness and neediness and brokenness.) However, there was a very helpful, elementary lesson that I came away with: I've always known that faith must be divorced from rational thought; but furthermore, faith must be divorced from feelings. This is something that has been brought to my attention before, but it was made concrete tonight. I had been wanting to feel God as my Father. I expected my experience of God to be feelings based. One of the women pointed out that spiritual warfare often does occur in the realm of feelings; and yet, feelings themselves are neutral entities. Therefore, faith must be used to combat feelings that have been hijacked by agents of darkness. Furthermore, when it comes to God being my Father, I must have faith that He can be and is willing to be (and therefore is) my Father; rather than waiting for it to feel that way.

As I was driving home, this song came through my stereo,
"Hold Me" by Jamie Grace:

"I’ve had a long day I just wanna relax
Don’t have time for my friends, no time to chit-chat
Problems at my job, i'm wonderin’ what to do
I know I should be working but I’m thinking of You and
Just when I feel this crazy world is gonna bring me down
That’s when Your smile comes around

Oh, I love the way You hold me, by my side You’ll always be
You take each and every day, make it special in some way
I love the way you hold me, in Your arms I’ll always be
You take each and every day, make it special in some way
I love You more than the words in my brain can express
I can’t imagine even loving You less
Lord, I love the way You hold me
Whoa oh oh oh oh oh oh, oh whoa, I love the way You hold me
Whoa oh oh oh oh oh oh
 (I love, I love, I love, I love the way you hold me) x 3
(I love, I love, I love, I love the way you)

Well You took my day and You flipped it around
Calmed the tidal wave and put my feet on the ground
Forever in my heart, always on my mind
It’s crazy how I think about You all of the time
And just when I think I’m ’bout to figure You out (figure You out)
You make me wanna sing and shout

 I’m so grateful and thankful for all You’ve done
Wish I could tell You in a short story or poem
But, all I have is my voice and this guitar
And You have my heart"

As I was listening to this song, I remembered "The Box" (see blog post with same title). God's words floated back to my mind's ear: "Maybe I could actually hug you again." I'm pretty sure I didn't willingly put down my box tonight (although, maybe you could say that choosing to go to this tent revival was me putting it down). Regardless, I see God tearing the box out of my arms--too love-possessed to wait for me to surrender on my own--and grabbing me into a clutching embrace. He whispers in my ear, "My daughter. My princess."

And I say back, tears in my eyes, soaking in His embrace, "Hi, Daddy."

I sit here. Back home. I am exhausted. A different kind of exhaustion. A good kind of exhaustion. Tears still run down my face periodically. There is still so much for my mind, heart, soul, spirit to mull over. I would not describe myself as "happy"...and I am cautious to describe myself as "joyful." I certainly am not jumping up and down or laughing light-heartedly. However, I would describe myself as more peaceful and definitely more hopeful.

Daddy, can you please sleep here tonight? I like having You here. I don't want You to go away. I don't want to feel alone again. I trust that You are here even though I don't see You. And I will choose to trust that You are here even when I can't feel You. But can you please stay here tonight? Maybe I can fall asleep in Your arms.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Elizabeth Gilbert: God Dwells Within You, as You

I find it interesting that I can often commune with God more directly (although unintentionally) through my pleasure-read books. I have this wonderful list of serious books to read this summer--most of them spiritual--and yet, God is using a fun and witty account of one woman's journey to speak into my own spiritual journey. God is cool that way!

Quote from Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love:

". . . it seems I have not quite yet absorbed the truth of their most insistent statement:
'God dwells within you, as you.'
AS you.
If there is one holy truth of this Yoga, that line encapsulates it. God dwells within you as you yourself, exactly the way you are. God isn't interested in watching you enact some performance of personality in order to comply with some crackpot notion you have about how a spiritual person looks or behaves. We all seem to get this idea that, in order to be sacred, we have to make some massive, dramatic change of character, that we have to renounce our individuality. This is a classic example of what they call in the East 'wrong-thinking.' Swamiji used to say that every day renunciants find something new to renounce, but it is usually depression, not peace, that they attain. Constantly he was teaching that austerity and renunciation--just for their own sake--are not what you need. To know God, you need only to renounce one thing--your sense of division from God. Otherwise, just stay as you were made, within your natural character.
So what is my natural character? I love studying in this Ashram, but my dream of finding divinity by gliding silently through the place with a gentle, ethereal smile--who is that person? That's probably someone I saw on a TV show. The reality is, it's a little sad for me to admit that I will never be that character. I've always been so fascinated by these wraith-like, delicate souls. Always wanted to be the quiet girl. Probably precisely because I'm not. It's the same reason I think that thick, dark hair is so beautiful--precisely because I don't have it, because I can't have it. But at some point you have to make peace with what you were given and if God wanted me to be a shy girl with thick, dark hair, He would have made me that way, but He didn't. Useful, then, might be to accept how I was made and embody myself fully therein.
Or, as Sextus, the ancient Pythagorian philosopher, said, 'The wise man is always similar to himself.'
This doesn't mean I cannot be devout. It doesn't mean I can't be thoroughly tumbled and humbled with God's love. This does not mean I cannot serve humanity. It doesn't mean I can't improve myself as a human being, honing my virtues and working daily to minimize my vices. For instance, I'm never going to be a wallflower, but that doesn't mean I can't take a serious look at my talking habits and alter some aspects for the better--working within my personality."

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I was contemplating this picture today. I first used it in a presentation on anorexia nervosa. Back then it represented a vision of hope. Sure, the girl cannot reach the birds (and they are flying away to begin with); but still, she is reaching. It is hope that prompts her to stretch out her hand.

A few weeks ago, I watched The Great Gatsby. I had read the story back in high school, but seeing it now shocked me. I was shocked because I realized: I am Gatsby. I am the person trying to enforce my dreams onto the world.
I am reaching out for that distant light, thinking every second that I will eventually reach it. Ever hopeful that I have the power to transform fantasy into reality.

This "hope" has been present for as long as creativity inhabited me.

My girlhood consisted of nothing less than girlhood fantasies: hoping that love was always just a dream away, and that he was already tugging at me from the other side of my eyelids.

As I grew older, I was told, "Reach for it, Jaime. Just reach, and you will get there."
So I reached for the moon, and (if you read the manuscript to my valedictorian speech, you will understand) I over-shot and landed among the stars.

By this point my fantasy had become irresistible. I was Gatsby. I was so convinced without a doubt that anything I wished for could come true.

But some thing--or someone--began to chip away at my fantasy world. This is where my correlation to Gatsby collapses. You see, Gatsby died fully convinced that Daisy would call. But me--call after call has come, and my "Daisy" was never on the other line. There was always a seductive voice. But then I would wake, and discover it was only a dream. So I tried to move on.

I tried to make friends with my shadow;
and write beautiful lines about a fantasy world long-gone.

And yet, something still snags my foot. Something about my fantasy world still tugs me back. I hear the whisper, "But just how much can you make come true?"

And so I find myself reaching, reaching still.

But there is a big, big problem with my reach for the unreachable.
I can reach, and reach, and reach:
But something--someone--is always left behind.
I saw this picture and was instantly stung. You see, Daisy was willing to spend half of the rest of her life with Gatsby. She loved him enough to continue to see him--continue the secret and dangerous affair; but Gatsby wanted all. He was not willing to compromise on his own fantasy. He was determined to make every part of it real.
This is my flaw.
I hear the whisper, "But just how much can you make come true?"
That whisper seems seductively undeniable.
So I reach, reach, reach; until I am no longer in reality.
And in doing so I make my own heart unreachable.
And every other heart that tries to touch it becomes torn and bruised in the attempt.

Yes, I can let myself be swayed by the question:
"Just how much can you make come true?"
But I must also not ignore the question that follows:
"And just how much are you willing to destroy and let die?"

Monday, June 3, 2013

Are You My Father?

I feel like that little, lost bird;
only this time the question is slightly different:
"Are you my father?"
I cheep, again and again. 
Of course, who is going to turn away
a little, lost girl, desperate for love?
Oh sure, there are some;
but there are also people with hearts,
and I've encountered them saying,
But I must learn not to believe
every eager soul. 
For some are 
too immature,
too self-absorbed,
too ignorant,
too busy,
too wounded,
too ill-equipped,
too prideful,
too eager for power. 
I've searched
and I've given my heart away. 
Not to young, strapping boys,
eager to strip me of my innocence;
but to men,
strong, powerful, and wise. 
Or, at least . . .
I thought so at the time. 
But now I'm left
with a mangled heart
and a desire that still burns bright. 
I sit in my tears,
mumbling aimlessly,
"Are you my Father?"
Over and over;
again and again. 

And yet, there is One who beckons my mangled heart. 
One who knows my deepest desire. 
One who is waiting for me to ask Him,
"Are you my Father?"
Because He won't even have to answer. 
He will sweep me up into His arms and hold me tight. 
And I will know--
as He gently cradles and heals my heart--
that this Daddy is mine
and I belong to Him. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Beware of reading this post. It has blood and gore. But at least it is real. . . .

I was sitting in my car. Crying. Because my boyfriend was going home.
Now, if you knew me and if you knew my boyfriend and if you knew our relationship--this would probably take you by surprise. I am not the clingy girlfriend. My boyfriend only lives an hour and a half away. And our relationship is rough and real.
But alas, there I was--sitting in my car, watching him leave, tears rolling down my face.

I am loath to admit the solution to this problem, but here it goes: my tears were more for myself than they were for my boyfriend. I knew. I knew as my tears fell, that he had to go. Because part of me was just using him.

I was (and am) an emotional wreak, and he was a bandage that was holding me together for the time being.

He had to leave. It wasn't fair to him.

I purposefully turned on the following song:
"All That Matters" by Anthony Evans:

"Obsessed with what they'd think if
They really knew me
And I've been
Oppressed with the feelings
Of never being enough and I'm tired
I'm tired
All that matters to me is what you see when you
Look at me
All that matters to me is how you feel when
You think of me
No more distractions my one affection
Is only you my Jesus now....
You're all that matters
I've wasted time believing
I could become everything they wanted
Now I'm left with only pieces of who I was and who I really am
I, I am tired
I don't need another heart but yours but yours
I won't put any other love before you my Lord"

I have been playing this song repeatedly the last few days. Because I know part of it describes me. Because I have been obsessed and opressed and tired. Because I have wasted time and now I'm left with only pieces.
But . . .
I haven't gotten to the all that matters part.
I haven't gotten to the one affection part.
I haven't gotten to the I don't need another and I won't put any other.
I'm still just in pieces.

Then I changed to this song:
"Rock Bottom" by Jimmy Needham:

"I've never seen anything like your fountain
Comin' down from the tip of the mountaintop
And it goes, never stops, only overflows
I've never met anyone with the power
To make a desert bloom like a flower
Up and it goes, where it stops, only heaven knows
Never known anyone as wonderful as you are
Over and over
You fill my heart with wonder
You take me by surprise
I can't believe my eyes
Wider and deeper
Just when I think I've seen you
Like a stone thrown into the ocean water
I could search your depths
And never hit rock bottom
How can the God of the galaxies
Have a care for the little things
Every tear that I cry, every time that I smile
Deep in me you've created a fire
Like a friend you keep taking me higher
Up and it grows, where it stops, only heaven knows
Never known anyone as wonderful as you are
Even though I'm plungin' in the depths of your love
I'm just scratchin' the surface of who you are
All the seas in all the world cannot contain all that you are
You captivate my heart"

And the tears started pouring down.
I couldn't even sing this song.
Because I couldn't feel even the slightest ounce of God's love.
I thought back to "The Box" (see previous post)--
and realized that despite writing that little story,
I still only hold the perspective of that Jaime:
thinking that God is not even going to look up from His paper,
so I will just keep lugging around my cardboard box

I drove home in those tears
to my new home
that I don't want to be in.
I gritted my teeth through
dinner preparation,
dinner consumption,
and dinner eradication.
I did my duty
and earned my keep;
barely saying a word.
And then I escaped to the sanctuary of my room.

I knew I was starving--
parched and starving for God.

But instead, I journalled.
I wrote about all the people who I feel are demanding my love;
who are sapping up my energy;
greedy for my attention and presence.
I wrote about all the personal problems I need to resolve;
that I don't have time to resolve.
I wrote that I have have only one--
and two more with "marginal" status--
person that feels completely safe to me at the moment.
what an idiot, Jaime?--
I realized there was
that I forgot to add to my list:
Oh, yeah.
How did I forget that one?

I collapsed on my bed,
painfully aware of my

Without much cognitive input I opened up to the book of Philippians.
(It was the next book after my ribbon bookmark.)

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. . . .
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ . . .
not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. . . .
Have this mind among yourselves . . .
he humbled himself . . .
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. . . .
you shine as lights in the world . . .
Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith . . .
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my
Lord. . . .
not having a righteousness of my own . . .
becoming like him in his death . . .
forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. . . .
Only let us hold true to what we have attained. . . .
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ . . .
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. . . .
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. . . .
for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. . . .
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. . . .
a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."

What did I get out of all that?
Not the answer that I was looking for.
(I don't think I really had a specific question.
At least not one I was willing to ask the text.)
Not a stamped approval from God to move forward.
(To where, I don't even know anymore.)
Not overwhelming Peace.
(I've almost given up on this.)
I got three things:
1) I want to shine as a light in the world. But I cannot be a light until I count all things as loss--including the approval of those who are closest to me. This means a part of me will have to die.
2) I live out of the fear of money and the fear of man.
3) God saying, "Jaime, your eyes need to be on me. Period. That's where that Peace will come from."
(I didn't allow for anything further, for I was fearful that my own personal biases would take over.)

And then
I fell