Updated: Apr 28, 2020
I am sitting on the back porch of our family's fishing camp on a tiny little island on the bottom of Louisiana. Feeling the breeze, listening to the birds, and looking out over the bay is somewhat essential for my tired soul. The sunshine and the water wake me up. You may be able to relate.
Being "stuck" at home for 6 weeks will take a toll on anyone, but these last six weeks, a darkness has settled in over my soul that has felt thick and suffocating. A darkness that has looked like betrayal, hurt, and fear. It has been plans flipped upside down and not knowing how to recover and changing some directions professionally. It has looked like survival and tears and sleepless nights and unexpected goodbyes. I needed to be outside, away from everything. I needed the water.
We all feel something similar, I think, in our own ways. It is a collective trauma, a grief that the world feels together. We don't know which way is up, and we can't find our way. We are struggling to get through each day in one piece. We are not able to be as productive in our work. We are exhausted from feeding tiny mouths and constantly sweeping the floor. There is something we need that we can't quite have yet. Will we ever see the end? Can we find the light? We feel lost at sea.
I remember this exercise that one of my Bible teachers in school did in our class. I have no idea how old I was. I just remember this day when our teacher turned off the lights in the classroom. At first we were giggling as one does when it goes pitch black in a room with no windows. But then it started feeling very uncomfortable. Choking, almost.
A small light brought my attention to the front of the room. A candle lit by my teacher. Though the darkness was still there, my eyes were transfixed on the light shining from the candle. It was almost as if I forgot about the darkness, like I could breathe again. The tiny light filled up the room.
Light has broken through the darkness of the past six weeks in my girls' giggles in their princess dresses, in a slower pace, in friends who love well, in escaping to our own little corner of paradise and watching the birds fly together over the water.
Light is remembering the goodness and love of my Jesus even when the darkness is still present. It is finding the moments to be grateful for and choosing to fix my eyes on the One who is the hope of my soul.
Recently I asked my friends on Facebook this question: "What do you love most about God?"
You see, I needed to hear those answers that day because it was one of the darkest yet. I needed to see the light. But what I found was truth told, hope found, and people choosing to see the light with me. It was beautiful.
As I wrap up this blog series, I want to show you the most important piece of cultivating authentic relationships with yourself, God, and others: admiration. I wanted you to see that you must first be aware. Aware of yourself, your feelings, your beliefs, your values, your thoughts. And then it was important for you to learn how to accept what you noticed. To give yourself grace to feel what you feel. I told you about acknowledging those things to others and to God, and what that process can look like. Then I showed you that it is crucial to place yourself in a listening posture and admit truth that may contradict your feelings or thoughts.
But this final part is the most important. To choose to find the good and point it out even when nothing seems good. Saying it gives it so much power. It is a tiny light that breathes life into a dark room again.
Let me give you an example of what this can look like. I will show you my process with God and how I have been able to come to this final piece in the past six weeks.
Aware: I realized I was feeling forgotten and tossed aside as if I did not matter.
Accept: I allowed myself to feel it, and I did not let shame sink in for feeling it.
Acknowledge: I said it to Jesus. All masks removed and completely honest. I told Him it felt like He was nowhere near me. Like He had forgotten me.
Admit: I listened for Him to respond, and the Holy Spirit reminded me that "He will never leave me or forsake me." He reminded me that "He is the God who sees." And I admitted that truth.
Admire: I have been able to see Him working. I have seen how he has been present the whole time, how what seemed like darkness to me was actually light to Him. I saw him moving on my behalf. I felt forgotten, but He was more present than ever. I started to tell him that. I said things like, "Thank You God for seeing me, for hearing me. For being with me and fighting for me. For loving me."
You see, when we are able to find the light in a situation that looks terrible, in a person who has hurt us, in ourselves when we battle self-hatred, in God when we don't understand what He is doing, the dark things don't feel so dark anymore.
These five pieces of what constitute authentic relationships came out of the Psalms, out of watching David's relationship with God. If you pay attention, you will see in many of the Psalms how these five are present in David's prayers. How he was transformed by being aware, accepting, honest. How he chose to remember what He knew to be true about God that was different than what he felt. How he praised and exalted God no matter what. And how that was healing to him, how it pierced light into his darkness.
May we follow his example. May we use these with ourselves. May we use them in prayer. And may we use them with others.
And may that process not only bring authentic relationships that are mask-free and honest, but also the healing you desperately need, just as it has for me.
"I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes it boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!"
You can read each in the series here if you missed them:
Admire (this one!)
If you need someone to walk you through these or other issues you may have in your relationship with yourself, God, or others in a personalized way, check out how you can work with me by clicking here!
I will praise you at all times.
I will choose to remember You,
to remember truth,
When the darkness is choking me.
I will saw
"You are good!
You are loving!
You are kind."
I will say,
"I am seen.
I am valued.
I am loved."
And I will focus on the light
those truths bring.
And I will be free.
In Jesus' Name,
Creative Journaling Prompt
Self: Write out ten things that are true about you. (These could be scriptures if you want)
God: Write out ten things that are true about God. Write ten more than you love about Him.
People: Think of one person you are not happy with right now, and write out 5 good things about them.
Thanks for sitting a while with me. Want more? Come hang out with me on Mondays by clicking here!