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Posts Tagged ‘correspondence’

Several of my friends are learning about asking for help.  And when such dear friends are learning something, so am I.  They pose challenging questions, and as I meditate on my experience, my personality, I see where I also need to grow.  I’m on the watch, as are they, for opportunities to humble myself and ask for what I need. 

 

I practice gratitude, like a tight fist on the last rope holding me from slipping from trust.  I choose to see the ways that God provides and blesses.  I struggle to understand how grace is abundant and need still stands, inviting God, inviting His people, to invest.  I have been gifted many friends, time to hold children, nearness of God as I read Scripture, job to earn money, good food, moments to pray with God’s Church. 

 

But I am thirsty, needy.  I feel this restlessness for days.  When I take time finally to examine, I find that being with people is not enough.  That though giving is a blessing, sometimes receiving is all I can do; sometimes I am on my knees too weak to even hold myself up.  I need attention.  I need a hug, given to me.  I need some other to be strong.  And though God is the supplier of all, and though even without nourishment I would still have life eternal because of Jesus, there are some things that I need in this life that are not God.  I need food and water and air.  I need people to speak truth specifically relevant to the problems I face and the doubts that assail.  I need to be heard.  I need to not just be known, like the perfect God knows His children, but discovered, like a daughter, like a friend.  Discovered and not rejected.  Vulnerable and embraced and even delighted in. 

 

I ask my brother, confidante, “How do you ask for [attention]?  And then someone says ‘yes’ and what – stares at you awkwardly?”  So how do I confess my need?  What exactly do I expect from whomever I ask?  And when it is my turn, how do I meet needs that are this profound, this tender?   

 

 

To God be all glory, 

Lisa of Longbourn

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The weekend before Christmas I attended a holiday concert.  The band leader introduced one song, sung in another language, saying it was so sad he didn’t want to tell us what it was about.  My spirit breathed in the still moment, lullaby melody haunting the sanctuary.  It felt so right, that amid the songs of joy and hope and triumph there would be a few that take time to sense the sadness. 

 

A little girl looks at the wise men figurines from the nativity set, and tells me part of the Christmas story.  She says that the mean king wanted the kings from the East to tell him if they found the star-heralded infant they sought.  He didn’t want to worship the Boy, like he said; he wanted to assassinate Him.  And my little friend and I keep talking about the story, part we usually leave out of advent calendars and candlelight services: that though God’s plan went forward in the family exiled to Egypt, many little boys were slaughtered by Herod.  As prophesied in Jeremiah, Rachel wept for her children, and would not be comforted. 

 

There is hope.  And hope is terribly needed.  The world is dark.  Kings kill.  Babies die.  Sin persists.  Faith wanes.  The sadness is real.  And hope belongs there.  It doesn’t erase the pain; it sits with it in the dust, and then raises it up. 

 

Jesus weeps outside his friend’s tomb, before He calls him forth. 

 

I spend hours searching for Christmas laments.  I am intentional about seizing the wonder and beauty and joy arising from this Light come into the world.  But I relate to the burdening grief in this fallen place, sympathize with a bereft woman keening beneath the Christmas stars in Bethlehem.  Dear friends suffer also, personal events in their own stories not so far away as the homeland of David.  In Christmas there is a place for them, a place even for their aching.  I want to look at it.  I want to seek the whole truth unshrinking, though on my weary knees – and see the God who belongs there, too. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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There’s this thing I do on Facebook pretty often.  I call it “Practicing gratitude,” where I list a whole bunch of recent things I’m thankful for.  Last Saturday this was my list: the stubborn way that human beings will choose not to wear socks for a while even when it’s chilly; feeling empowered by just wrapping my hands around a warm mug or teacup; cups with straight lips; what Gene Edward Veith said and Ann Voskamp quoted: “Motherhood is a rebuke to everything gnostic, the heresy that says only ‘spiritual’ things are worthwhile… Motherhood is the perfect illustration of vocation. God has empowered a woman to be a mother, and God works with a mother to sustain that fragile life.”; meeting Christmas music softly playing in the living room when I came upstairs this morning; half a dozen warm sweaters to choose from; plans to make scones tomorrow and to talk about the miracle and labor of birth; God who takes His workmanship, His poems, seriously; God who does crazy things sometimes and made us in His image – I suspect – even in that craziness.

Yes, empowered by a cup. 

A huge room full of women

talking and it’s a little dark and I know faces but I realize I don’t know people – and sometimes it’s the reverse: I realize I do know people that I’d not spoken to in years, that I’d remembered and felt the impact of, but not related to…

 

And I’m at a table and I’m supposed to converse, but I’m not sure why I came or why God wanted me to come or what my friends expect of me…

 

And then there is tea in my cup and it is something to tinker with, to swirl the tea bag and sip to taste for sweetness or flavor, to meditate on which herbs are releasing their gifts to the water at this time and which will wait for later…

 

And it’s kind of a shield that I hold between myself and people,

and kind of a revelation at the same time: this is me, holding tea, and this is how I treat it and what I think of it and you’re holding a cup, too, and the common thing bridges us into each other’s thoughts and lives and maybe even spirits.

 

So I don’t feel small and uncertain anymore the rest of the night.  I pray while the man up front sings about Christmas.  I pray about the way the songs penetrate my friends, too.  I pray far away, about the things that always sit on my heart, and

I thank God that He is here, Jesus come to be present.

 

And when the “program” is complete there is a swirl of women: finding serving bowls and putting on coats and using the ladies’ room and crossing paths in hallways and marveling at snow out tall windows. 

I find it easy to smile; to open doors; to help and to not;

to look for my dish patiently; to hug a young girl I scarcely know but who seems to want to know me and I don’t know why because I’m clumsy and silly and she’s lovely and capable and assured;

to be thinking of others and not just about them, but of them – if that makes any sense. 

 

It all starts with wrapping hands around a cup and not putting it down between sips, which isn’t very formal, and maybe that’s what does it – that this tiny gesture is rejecting formality in the interests of sincerity and love and me choosing to be present with Jesus and with these women He has brought… wondering why He has brought…

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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