Excerpt from Strong Women, Soft Hearts by Paula Rinehart
"A group of Lithuanian teachers was offered the opportunity to come to this country to relax at a retreat center for a few weeks, courtesy of a few generous Texans. These teachers had never been out of their country-many had not been more than thirty miles from the gray, high-rise government apartments they knew as home.
As you can imagine, this was a dream come true for these women. They boarded a plane that carried them halfway around the world to a place awash with color and sun, fresh fruits and vegetables, opportunities at every hand. There were no restrictions here. They could explore to their hearts' content. They had been given, essentially, the keys to the city. As the week progressed, though, a strange situation unfolded. No one knew quite what to make of it. Two of these women never left their rooms. They remained there most of the week, too afraid to venture out.
Fear can have this kind of paralyzing effect on anyone. We allow fear to reduce the world to a couple of small rooms, where things are known and familiar and we feel in control.
When we limit ourselves to the small rooms of life, we find ourselves mired in the small stuff of life. Small conversations about someone else's goings and doings with a little piece of gossip thrown in for size. Small shopping trips to collect more small stuff to be cleaned and dusted. When we're honest, though, we know that's not what our hearts want. Jesus said there is no real life in all that stuff.
Living the small version of what we're meant to live is, essentially, a response to pain. Sometimes the painful happenings of our lives are our own doing. Some of our wounds are inflicted by others. It is easy to build small lives around the pain we encounter, to get lost in one thread of the plot of the story and miss the big theme.
Really knowing God is the hope that the One Who spoke the worlds into being would want us. What He is after is us-our laughter, our tears, our dreams, our fears, our heart of hearts. Remember His lament in Isaiah, that though His people were performing their duties, "their hearts are far from me". We've never been wanted for our heart, not for long. The thought that God wants our heart seems too good to be true."
And a few weeks later I journaled the following:
God, the passages I copied out of the book a few weeks ago really reflects my heart. The "small shopping trips to collect more small stuff to be cleaned and dusted". I just did that yesterday! And the day before that. And two days before that. And the result? A cluttered house. A broken budget. A small checkbook balance (or a large credit card balance!)
And it's not fulfilling! The pleasure of owning the new stuff doesn't last more than a day or two. And then it's just more "stuff to be cleaned and dusted".
So what is my heart REALLY looking for? The obvious answer is a relationship with You. and again, a passage from the book: "I've never been wanted for my heart, my truest self. Not really. Not for long. The thought that God wants my heart seems too good to be true."
That nails my thoughts exactly! I've been rejected (we all have!) and by those who had claimed to love me. So I look for everyone in my life to do so. When a friend ripped me apart for my chosen lifestyle, she judged me, found me lacking, and condemned me. Then she walked away from my life and never looked back. She never saw the smoldering pile of debris and wreckage that she had left my life as. She didn't care. And I know, deep down, that it shows HER lacking, not mine. I needed to change my choices, yes, but condemning and judging was NOT the way to get me to do so. Love and patience and prayer was the ONLY thing that worked.
And we went around that mountain again, years later, with Casi. She went the same path I did, and she also received the condemnation and judgment. And her father and I responded with love and patience and prayer. And God used THAT to draw her out of her lifestyle of bad choices. I wish more "Christians" could see that condemnation and judgment only cause pain and more separation. It NEVER draws a person back to God! God Himself saves it for a LAST resort - the final response to a stubborn heart that refuses to turn to Him. His usual method is love and patience and a gentle beckoning of the wandering heart to come back to Him, away from the dangerous choices.
Well. I didn't know we were going to go THAT direction God! You just provided some healing! :-) Yes, my friend rejected me. Yes, she found me lacking. But she was in the wrong. That is not a reflection of MY value or worth, but really of hers. My daughter doesn't have LESS value because some people in her life condemned and judged her . Not at all! Her value is exactly the same. And so is mine.
"Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to Your great love remember me, for You are good, O Lord." (Psalm 25:7)
***end of journal***
I feel compelled to share this. Yes, it reveals a very vulnerable part of my heart. However, God really used this journal entry to provide some BIG healing in my heart, and if, by sharing it, He can provide some healing for another wounded soul, then who am I to keep it to myself? To God be the glory!