The License Plate


This past weekend we were at a new church due to being on a mini vacation upstate. The pastor was telling a story about how he got to his sermon analogy and he did a flare with his hands and said “Wait for it…(claps his hands) sermon analogy!” and while I cannot relate with the “sermon” bit I do get the “ta-da blog idea!” Little gems tucked within life and I believe it’s my job to bring them on here and tell you how I saw them.

Like, for instance, Zack loves reading bumper stickers and license plates while driving. This works for me because I can’t usually read the small printed bumper stickers and I honestly forget a license plate exists until key moments (which I try to avoid in life)

Tonight the car in front of us was a little Toyota with a license plate that said “Lexus”. Zack commented that was weird and he didn’t “get it”, I got it. Or well, to me I did but I did not suggest we follow said little car to find out. But here was my takeaway and you can make your own assumptions.

To me it was saying that no matter what the outside world thinks we are, it’s about what WE think we are. I will never be amazingly beautiful to the world, but I can feel beautiful. I might never be famous or the best at anything but I can’t think I am great and that’s what matters.

Heart matters, labels don’t.

For the past few weeks, as part of my silence here, has been kicking around the word label. Or maybe the “theme” labels. We all have them. We all give them. I can name off several that build me up and possibly even more that knock me flat on my rear end and I am sure you have your own lists too.

Some of my favorites are: Wife, Mom, daughter, sister, friend and most importantly Child of the Living God. In the end it’s that last one that matters most. It’s the one that sets me a part; that binds me to a love that is greater than anything earthly. But I forget that label sometimes when the not so lovely labels are thrown my way. Sometimes I need the reminder that I am the better make and model, not better than others, but better than I was.

Labels I carried around that were always bulky and never fit right were things like: unloveable, hot tempered, ugly, fat, and less than…I could go on but I don’t want to cry. You get the idea anyway.

When those things are spoken or implied over us it almost brainwashes us to think that’s all we are, but it’s not all that we are.

1 John 3:1 says:

Consider this: The Father has given us his love. He loves us so much that we are actually called God’s dear children. And that’s what we are. For this reason the world doesn’t recognize us, and it didn’t recognize him either.

*Drops microphone*

The world doesn’t recognize Him or us so when the less than lovely names are hurled at us we have a shield, a name. We are already identified and called holy. Sacred. Loved. Set apart. Redeemed. Chosen. Gifted. Treasured.

And that…is enough. Write those things on your license plate, carry them with pride.

Afraid


I am afraid.

I’m afraid that if I open my hands too far then I won’t be able to close them again.

I’m afraid that if I share too much then I will anger someone.

I’m afraid that I will be criticized.

I’m afraid that if I show up the way my heart longs to that too much will be seen.

I can’t live that way though because if I do then the best of me is never seen or experienced.

About 2 weeks or so ago Jim and I were having our weekly date and rather than our usual random talks of kids, work, plans, and books (gosh, I love books!) we talked about me. Just me. He likes to talk about me, even to me, but I really am not like a huge fan of that either. Despite what many would think I am more of a fly under the radar kind of girl because under the radar is safe and there are few expectations. Under the radar means I can be a shallow pool with little to offer to the world and even less confidence that I have the ability to do so. It’s a haven. But, the thing about a thriving, strong marriage (or a great friend) is that they seldom let you hang out under the radar when they see potential. Jim did what he does best, he followed the prompting of the Lord and his love for me and called me on my garbage. Okay, really it was more like in love he called me out on my writing. He told me I am withholding the gift God gave me. Keeping it close to myself and not sharing what is meant to be shared.

Sigh. I hate when Jim is right!

I’ve been sitting, so to speak, in our conversation since then. Plagued by the truth of his words and equally so of my fears. I do hold back. I don’t release with wide open hands my gifts into the world. I clinch my fists and hold firm because control is ideal when confidence is lacking.

It may come as a shock or not but several people that are the closest to me are the ones that read this blog the least. I have to beg, prod, constantly mention it…you get the idea. They say knowledge is power. And it can be, but sometimes at a very great cost. Because in this sense I used that knowledge to create in my head what I didn’t see as a lie, but it is: if those that should love you the most don’t see you as enough to invest the whole 10 minutes each time you post to read it, then maybe (gasp) share it or encourage you, then why oh why would you want to give more to the world? I know it’s crap, but it’s my crap and I believed it.

Despite Jim’s record of being wise and discerning of the ways in which God leads him I refused to fully allow Jim’s words and the truths he spoke over me to move me. I didn’t want to act.

If you look in the dictionary I am pretty sure my picture is under stubborn, disobedient, and flakey.

Our Heavenly Father knows us. He knows how completely stubborn I am so he upped the ante and landed a bomb on my head. A podcast. At first I was utterly smitten with Annie F. Downs’ “That Sounds Fun” but then it happened…I turned on a segment from last Christmas with Ann Voskamp. Can I just tell you that I should have listened to my regular music library where it was safe? Did I do that? Nope. I was hooked like when my uncle would hang me by my overalls from a door knob as a little girl, I couldn’t go anywhere. I had to stay and let there sweet chit chat about the differences between the holidays in America (Annie) and Canada (Ann) and weather captivate me. So unsuspecting of  what was to come as I settled in and wished I was with them talking though in reality I felt unworthy of barely listening to their wisdom. I wish I knew what uncorked the bottle but I don’t. All I know is I felt a stirring and then Jim called and asked how I was. I said fine and told him I was listening to this podcast…and I started crying (y’all pray for my husband the struggle to be married to me is real).

Why?

Possibly because I am an emotional being or because in the midst of Ann talking about living with your hands wide open I realized my hands are not closed but definitely not wide open. Open means unprotected and I don’t want to be unprotected. Open says “Bring it in, Lord” and I don’t know if I can handle THAT either. Open means I have to give more than I want to be willing to give.

Close. I like close and safe. However, close and safe will unlikely always have me feeling tethered to fear. Hinged to my plans and my abilities rather than allowing God to move in me and through me. Plus, for added biblical truth close is disobedient to what God is clearly pointing me towards. There not NOT one scenario in the Word that suggests disobedience is a good idea. Granted I may not turn into a pillar of salt or end up in a whales belly but I have long ago decided He is mighty and can do whatever it is He wants to do so staying as obedient as I can is wisdom I struggle but try to adhere to. Plus, He’s God and I’m not (nor do I want to be).

I can’t really be a Jesus girl if I am not capable of opening my arms so wide, as wide as He did. Limits aren’t really His thing, I just try futilely to make Him stay within my almost touching hands otherwise I am confident that He’s going want me to go further, reach wider, swim deeper, scale higher, and run longer a race that I haven’t even trained for! As I have experienced before He’ll get me to the place He wants me to be but it may be far more unpleasant then if I just go willingly. Fighting God is really one of the most idiotic things I can do. He’ll win, He always win and I like it that way.

So where do I go from here?

Well, first I need to say something: James, you were right, thank you for speaking life and Godly wisdom over me even when you know I am trying with all I can to ignore you. I appreciate your perseverance and pray you don’t get too frustrated with me.

I’m seeking God on this. I am choosing obedience. My instinct is I need some still time with Him. At one point this evening I actually wished we had the funding for me to go away to the beach for a few days alone just to be with Him and to write.

One thing I do know for sure is that whatever is coming my way I’ll hold my arms out wide and be expectant.