Wednesday, November 5, 2014

On vulnerability and trust, waiting and seasons.

Life is funny, isn't it? One moment is slow and dreary, and then something kicks things into *high gear* and you realize one day that it's NOVEMBER and you haven't collected any thoughts or stories on your blog since September - yikes! Time flies in fits and spurts. It's time to blog again.

Speaking of high gear... I'm not quite as busy as I was last spring, but this fall has been moving at a break-neck pace. In a really good way. This semester has been so fruitful! Every month this year (and most of last), I've looked back at the previous month and thought whoa, this month was big, whoa this month brought a lot of changes, whoa this month taught me a lot. I've been thinking exactly that for at least 18 months in a row. It's the most incredible personal growth spurt I can imagine. This month, that whoa is exponentially so. Whoa, this month was big. Whoa, this month brought a lot of changes. Whoa, this month taught me a lot. God's been moving powerfully. POWERFULLY.

Last year, I looked at the seasons changing and reflected on how important seasons are.

This year, I've taken another look at the seasons changing and reflected on how important seasons are. Calendar seasons, seasons of life, I absolutely love the relationship. Christine Caine recently posted on her facebook page about that, saying, "Some seasons are more enjoyable than others—all are necessary. Don’t despise the season you are in. God is using it to shape and mold you for what's next!"

Isn't that the truth?

I feel like I recently came out of a long waiting season. Waiting. Preparation. God does so much work in the waiting.

"In the process, in the waiting, 
you're making melodies over me. 
And your presence is the promise. 
I am a pilgrim on a journey." 
- Shepherd, Bethel Music


I used to want control. Of everything. Among other things, I've been learning how to let go of that desire for control and trust. To trust that God has control, and that I can trust Him with that. Though I've had to wait, I can trust Him with so much more than I ever have before.

And I not only believe that now, I want it. I want to relax and release and believe that He knows what He's doing.

I realize that I didn't want to relax for a season or two... maybe even years. I didn't want to relax because I didn't want to release my control. I didn't want the vulnerability that comes with relaxation. Much better to stay rigid and tense and have control over as much as possible, for fear that with release someone might see a chink in my stubborn armor and take advantage of that. Much better to stay tense and stubborn and not get hurt, right? Wrong.

Fear puts up a wall. Walls protect us, but walls also keep people out.

My brother called me out on this last year and I didn't want to hear it. He affirmed me anyway and spoke a lot of truth into my life. "Zara, you use the excuse that you're protecting your heart, but if you never let anyone in, you'll never experience the possibility of joy. You might fail. You might get hurt. That's a possibility. But God's love is like a harness. You can jump, because you are His. His love will catch you."

I was like, um, who are you and what have you done with my brother?  Truth is uncomfortable. My brother’s loving and hard truth began to expose my heart to a bigger picture.

I spent last weekend at a retreat with my church and God spoke into that again and again! I've been going up to New Philly Church in Seoul for a while and have just recently gone through membership and leadership training. Talk about powerful! I love how much my church loves Jesus. The weekend was full of joy and laughter and freedom and safety and trust. Trust provides safety, safety paves a way for freedom. And joy. And so much laughter! The Holy Spirit is beautiful!

Over the past couple of months, I have begun to realize just how much I didn't like to submit to authority and, more importantly, why. See, I like to be super independent and autonomous, but faith isn't meant to be lived in isolation.  We don't see a healthy example of isolated faith anywhere in scripture. Through the membership process, I realized something big. I feared submission because I feared the abuse of authority. Knowing that godly leadership is safe because leaders are accountable to God, based on Hebrews 13:17, brought me to a new level of understanding. Layer upon layer of distrust and fear are being peeled off and it's so FREEING.

A lot of my anxiety about submission also came from fear of rejection. I didn't realize how deep this one ran until a book and a sermon gave me a one-two punch and my eyes were opened. When you open yourself to let people know the real you, without any of the fake, you put yourself in a very vulnerable place. It's hard to let someone love you with all your imperfections. Kris Vallotton says it this way, "...whenever someone values us more than we value ourselves, we tend to sabotage our relationship with that person. Secretly, we don't want them to get close enough to find out that we aren't as good as they think we are..." because if we were to let another person get close, they might "look deep within and see the imperfections we're convinced we see." ...oomph. I chewed on that one for a while. Committing to a person, or to a church, requires vulnerability because, as my brother mentioned over a year ago, you have to let someone in to be able to experience the fullness of joy. We want love, but we fear rejection, without realizing that the fear of potential hurt hinders the possibility of joy.

I'm done with that defense mechanism. I want to be loved, and to love, freely.

The fear of potential hurt hinders the possibility of joy. 

I mentioned that I went to a retreat this weekend. It might have been the best weekend of my life... so powerful! I learned and experienced so much, but one of my takeaways from the weekend was a fresh reminder that guarding your heart isn't about keeping relationships shallow. Invulnerability stunts your heart. Isn't that what my brother tried to tell me? Sin, pride, lust, unforgiveness, these all lead to hardened hearts, but by the grace of God (!!!), we no longer have hearts of stone, but soft hearts of flesh! Because God's love is real, we can be vulnerable. He protects you and enables you to go deep.

I used to fear failure so much that it paralyzed me for good things. To strive for good things. To be open to more love than I'm comfortable with. To be real. I have learned that a broken heart is not something to be avoided at all costs. Why have I been afraid to risk vulnerability? Because failure is scary. Failure with vulnerability could mean hurt.

But God is bigger than that.

But God. Aren't those the best two words you've ever heard?

Maybe you've also been in a waiting season. Maybe your season has been something completely different. If it's been hard, though, may I offer some comfort?

Maybe it's been hard, but God is too methodical for all these trials to not be preparing you for something bigger and better – better than you could have ever put together in your head. By pursuing Him, He will bring you into a place that you've been prepared for. He gives us lessons. He gives us seasons. He makes us wait. I see a lot of wisdom in waiting now: the patience, endurance, struggle, and the fruit that comes of it.

Wait on God because you believe that what you’re waiting for is worth it.

I'm reminded that... 

Seasons were God's idea. God approves of the tension they bring. It's all part of the plan. I think it's important to remember the reality of seasons: love them or hate them, they're going to change.

Sometimes I look at my life in wonder or confusion and I ask, "Jesus, what on earth are you doing?" Even so, I have faith that the God who loves me beyond reason has the best possible plan in store! Lord, where would I go but for you? I do trust you. You know what you're doing. I will continue resting in His providence, growing, looking different and yet the same from season to season, year to year.

And let it be so. 

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