These quotes from Pinterest are reassuring during this time of being alone to reflection, prayer, and seeking direction. I confess I’ve been so focused on work, school, and relationships that I’d failed to focus on preparing for Easter during Lent – but the timing seems perfect for taking the time and space to reflect & pray, creating more room for the Spirit to fill the empty places and clean out the messy ones. Speaking of messy places…
I’ve been on a long journey of healing and discovery, I think since I was 15 or 16 years old. That’s a full half of my life spent trying to clean up, heal, and organize my interior life! O.o Sometimes I feel discouraged during the more difficult phases of the journey, where every step forward seems to be followed by a few, or many, steps back… and I fight sadness and despair when it feels increasingly uphill and repetitive, like the same issues, bad habits, character flaws, traumas, emotional wounds, and personal failures keep coming back again and again to haunt me… even the ones that I thought I’d gained victory over years ago! Lately, the most persistent and painful one these days stems from a false belief, the lie that I’m inadequate, worthless, unworthy of unconditional love & respect, and just plain unacceptable/unloveable if I am not perfect (a.k.a. performing well enough in most areas of my life to be a blessing, and not be a burden on anyone). In this false belief system, too many mistakes and failures are a huge problem, especially when they’re the same ones happening over and over again without any progress, and if I continually fail to perform decently and keep causing pain, inconvenience, and disappointment to those around (or above) me, then I should be (and I do feel) deeply ashamed of myself and think about leaving those places, communities, & relationships. It sucks to be stuck in these negative & untrue thought cycles, especially when the reality is that I’m actually growing, improving, and progressing, just not as quickly as I’d hoped (or naively/foolishly expected). **Note to Self: Don’t listen to the enemy’s lies anymore, cuz they totally SUCK!!! 😡
The thing is, as a believer & someone who has spent countless hours in prayer, study, counseling, all sorts of therapy & inner healing, I know in my head that these lies are not true, but when I’m faced with a conflict or problem that I can’t seem to resolve, resolve, or fix quickly, then the emotions that can come up sometimes overwhelm me and I struggle to bounce back and return to a place of calm, self-acceptance, peace, and positivity. And the older I get, the longer it seems to take for some reason! -_- (Anyone have an explanation for that?) Anyway…
Last night I shared my testimony at a V.O. church in Inglewood through a last minute invitation. And it was SUCH a lovely treat! The invitation came from someone I just met two days before, just this past Thursday – talk about unexpected yet divine appointments, right? 🙂 LD was a sub for RK’s English class which I happily TA for M-F, and she turned out to be a worship director suddenly in need of one musician w/a testimony. True Fact: God is awesome & the best networker in the Universe! TBH, I’d been avoiding most ministry opportunities and friends’ invitations lately, but this one felt so clearly like God was inviting me to say yes, and simply go have fun with Him… like it was primarily for MY encouragement, for MY good! So I accepted…
And it really was for me.
I met wonderful brothers & sisters, felt an enormous sense of grace & acceptance come over me as I sang, played keyboard, and shared my testimony, and I just had a great time in fellowship – in particular, with a young woman I met there (whom I hope to reconnect with soon since her family lives by school). She said something that touched me deeply and made me want to dive more deliberately into cultivating my First Love with Jesus again. AM shared with this euphoric smile on her face (as if she was a newlywed or new mother), “I am just so in love with Jesus right now, I’m finally at that place I’ve always longed to be, that I can’t even imagine sharing that with anybody! It’s just so good, and I’m really happy with where I’m at in my life.” ❤ I was actually jealous, hehe.. but in a good way. It made me recall how Paul wrote that the Gentiles who became followers of Christ were to inspire jealousy in the Jews who had rejected the Gospel – though we’re both Gentiles, this young Latina (who’s at least 8 years younger than me and just beginning her seminary studies) just made me so hungry to be back in that place of sweet intimacy & daily walking together with Jesus in love again.
I’m so, so SO thankful 🙂 I remember now that I had prayed a few weeks ago a prayer I’d heard Mike Bickle of IHOP-KC suggest when we are dry & tired, feeling distant from God, “Lord, help me to want to WANT to be close with You again” (paraphrased, probably butchered, by me.. but you get the point ;D) And now I am seeing that prayer answered in a sweet and joyful manner that involved making new friends (LD & AM) and being refreshed, encouraged, and strengthened to continue walking in my calling again 🙂 “Yay, God!” *Hannah doing silly dance*
—- So how does my long-term goal of “Re:Cultivating Intimacy with Christ” break down into short-term goals that are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed)? *I learned this helpful acronym while co-facilitating the College Seminar at school this past February)*
1. Spend daily time seeking God at a specific time and place; in the evening, alone in my room.
In a strange way, this blog has been a real sacred space for me, and I’ve also been working on making my room at home a beautiful and sacred space again, not just where I can sleep in peace, comfort & safety (a reality that I’m constantly reminded to be grateful for as I listen to world news on the radio daily), but where I can also nurture my relationship with God, grow in intimacy with Jesus as I read my bible (the Father’s Love Letter), pray & intercede, and worship in song & dance in that secret, quiet place.
2. Choose at least one quote and/or one verse that speaks truth and inspires me to go deeper in thought, feeling, and being w/God, and write about it, while reflecting on my day. Kind of like a digital lectio divina or examen.
i.e. This quote about finding myself again…
It’s in the Arms of Love, especially the Father’s, that I am truly able to find myself over and over again… and frankly, I am someone who gets distracted, loses direction, and gets lost quite easily, like literally (just as LS or anyone else who’s driven with me before!), but also figuratively / spiritually in life, too. So I’m praising God that He’s such a patient and faithful Father who won’t ever let me go, who won’t ever lose patience with me as I stumble like a baby learning to stand, walk and then run in certain areas of my life, and who won’t ever, ever stop loving me for who I am, and also for who I am not. He made me, so He knows everything about me, my every thought and feeling before I’ve even had them… pretty incredible, if you ask me.
On the radio this afternoon, there was a funny game show coming live from Brooklyn, NY (I think – I was listening to 89.3fm, my 2nd choice after 89.9fm) where someone was changing the lyrics to well-known songs and I heard a tune I knew I’d heard before, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until it ended. But when I got out of my car, suddenly I remembered that I know the chorus of the hymn, and it goes like this:
“And He walks with me and He talks with me. He tells me I am His own. And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”
Apparently it’s a hymn by C. Austin Miles called “In the Garden” that’s been covered by many a singer in decades past, including Elvis Presley! I prefer this rendition by Mahalia Jackson, the Queen of Gospel, better, though.
She is quoted as saying, “I sing God’s music because it makes me feel free…it gives me hope. With the blues, when you finish, you still have the blues.”
I like that. I want to commit to singing God’s music more, not only with my voice, but with my life, too.
3. Spend time walking & talking, or singing & dancing/cooking/cleaning w/Jesus, at least twice a week.
4. Continue to practice physical (which connects to emotional, mental, and spiritual, ultimately) self-care by eating a balanced diet, taking my supplements & medications, and stretching at night and in the morning.
5. Fill up on water & Water, maybe at the same time, so I’m reminded to be filled w/the Spirit & receive Living Water while drinking actual water in the morning & at night. (Yay for memory devices!)
Five SMART goals, set!
All I need to do now is make myself an achievement or progress chart to put stickers or something on, so I can track my achievement 🙂 Lol & ptL, working at a school has clearly made me more organized and practical. I’m loving it!