While Michael built a bonfire, and the girls constructed a playground from driftwood, I took a brief walk down the beach, through packed sand, over piles of strewn logs and past tide pools.
It was a day of transition — the year’s newness still palpable, changing weather patterns settling in clouds and newly-insulated air. I felt both content and restless, a deeper stirring I couldn’t quite identify, and in a moment felt the urge to look back at the ocean in the direction from which I’d come.
The cloudy sky held a gap, like a seam ripped open. And through that space, the hidden sun shone in directed beams, touching surrounding sky pink and casting what I can’t help but call God Light upon a small fishing boat, bobbing on the vast sea.
Right there, providence and trust came alive for me and vulnerability and courage. It was as if I were that boat, seeking God in rocking waters while resting in the knowledge that I’m already home.
In 2013, I felt God stirring me to choose TRUST as my One Word to guide the year. It was another step in my journey of letting go — of perfect and outcomes and striving and task-master pictures of success. Trust was a (gradually-more-willing) surrender of my dreams, treasures and anxieties into God’s hands, believing those the right place for them.
In 2014, SEEK called me, because having laid down my picture of the journey, I wasn’t so sure what to pick up again or which direction to travel. Knowing that, come fall, all three of my girls would be in school for the first time, I sensed undercurrents of sorrow and hope, fear of the unknown and concerns I wouldn’t know how to regain my self. Regardless, it was clear that I could not look first to myself or to others to determine who I was or what my course.
A few months into the year, seeking took on less a forging-new-ground identity and more a recognizing-what-already-is. My one word became an awakening of the home within me where Christ dwells, my fulfilled and yet unfulfilled resting place — the continual thrum to seek and find. I learned to recognize the holy ache and longing as a call to home.
In April, I struggled with depression and despair, a sense of hopelessness and aimlessness. During a time of waiting and listening, I received in a deeper way my home found in God’s love, regardless of me — or any thing, action, feeling or way about me.
Too, from within fog, God clearly told me that in part I was made to be a writer and a speaker. My Creator had plans for me in the midst of those callings I’ve wanted and rejected, hoped for and feared.
So even though I felt like a writing and blogging failure at times, and I’d laid it down in my year of trust, he called me “writer.” Even though I wasn’t really speaking much yet, he pronounced “speaker” into my life, asked me to embrace the vulnerability and adventure. God asked me to trust while venturing forth, saying yes to things far beyond my “abilities” and “experience,” to remember the true home of him within my spirit that enables me to do all things he asks of me.
So I did all the things I knew to do while wondering if everyone could see the insecurity cloak that sometimes nearly wrapped me to choking.
The strange thing is that insecurity has served its purpose in my life. In its own twisted way, it’s kept me aware, humble, always yearning for growth. It’s been familiar, and so eerily safe. But over this past year, insecurity has stifled my growth because the wrappings no longer fit, and these arms need to stretch.
I’ve realized I can’t truly embrace opportunities to love and bless and participate in kingdom come in the ways God invites while wearing those clothes. I’ve got to wear differently to do differently. I’ve got to shed the covering that pronounces I cannot and taunts, who do you think you are? Or the one that shouts at me, just dress it up more to make it happen, or at least look the part.
This year, I desire to release what these clothes really represent: my deep, deep fear. Fear that the “out there” holds death, failure, embarrassment, pain or disappointment.
I need to reach for the truth over and over again that God is the one out there. The future holds more of him — and me and all those I love being held by him. The great mystery actually holds more love and even hope.
This year, though I considered them, I’m not choosing “loved,” “bold,” “secure,” “brave” or “hope” as my One Word for 2015, though I want to learn more what it is to walk in those things.
Instead, the word FEARLESS calls me because shedding fear will be a holy release. If I’m to proclaim to my daughters and to this hurting world God’s freedom and your utter beloved-ness, I must walk in loved freedom and shed fear’s continual grip on me.
I don’t just want to do hard things. I must do them differently.
The morning of my beach walk, I wrote in my journal:
“I am loved, so I can live fearless. As the waves crash over and over, requiring nothing of me, so God’s love continues on and on and on…”
I’m not sure if fear’s opposite is love or trust or faith but, regardless, I do not want to walk in the fear any longer.
I’m tired of looking to the worst instead of the best, looking to the race instead of his rest. I’m tired of basing life on outcomes I cannot predict or would likely predict wrongly. I’m tired of seeing menace in each wave that comes.
Of course I will still know fear (it is a scary world we live in), but I want to see fear clearly, for it is not the final word — not in my heart, not on this planet.
I want to open unbound arms to embrace fearlessness from a place of gentle confidence, abiding peace and overcoming strength that are mine in Christ. As a woman, mother, wife, neighbor, daughter, sister, human, I want to both REST in God and to RISK in him, to his glory.
This morning, in the midst of a year unfurling unknowns, I think of us as vulnerable and small, yet brave and mighty boats, rocked and rolled on the sea. The sky has opened, and we are shining.
Love and light came down, and they keep coming down for us.