"Waiting", "Feeling it", and "Letting it go"

My husband calls me "a bulldog". My oldest son says it's a good thing I have kids, or I'd never lighten up -- but they force me to. My girlfriends say I'm intense. I'd say that I like figuring out what the next thing to do is to accomplish my goals (or God's goals, depending upon my mood and spiritual state), and then doing it!

But life is full of things that are not about "doing", but are about "waiting", "feeling my feelings", and "letting it go". Yuck!!!!

Relationships especially are full of those things -- because a "relationship" presupposes at least two sides, and that I only get to manage my own! And, of course, teams are full of those things too -- for the very same reason. If I'm playing first base or third or center field, I'd better play my part and not do anything at all when the play calls for another role to be active and me to just cheer my teammate on and wait until a play involves me. So . . . you know what Maria does then? Something like this: try to develop overlapping games so that I can play right field for one game and left for the other, and not have to wait as much! Who cares that it means I do a worse job at both than I would if I concentrated on either?

But I am growing up still, I think . . . and so are the people in my life. They are getting better at managing their roles and at being honest with me about mine. And so life is getting better and better!

I have walked away from a season of my life that was primarily about "me and Jesus" -- a necessary season that was precious and healing -- into a new season that is all about relationships and being part of a team. And this is where I get to allow the Holy Spirit to really transform me, if I practice all I learned in solitude. This is also where I get to walk away from intimacy and peace into chaos and disobedience, if I so choose. Reality will show itself: am I any different than I would be without the last four years, or were they just a temporary break in my determination to run my own life my own way, and run your life too, if you'd let me?

So what is "abiding in Jesus" in this busy time of my life?

It is the same things it was a year ago . . .

I need time alone in prayer and study and meditation . . . time in solitude to feel and to cry and to laugh and to heal and to grow. I need solitude to hear God and to know His love and provision and forgiveness and wisdom and leading . . . and I need it to draw strength to obey what I find He leads me to do out of that place.

I need time in fellowship with others who are also committed to knowing Him and obeying Him. "Me and Jesus" can really get off course if I don't have brothers and sisters in Him to call me on my stuff! And I need their love and ministry, and I need to offer them my love and ministry . . . as we each play the role in the BODY that He intended for each of us as He uniquely gifted each of us and put us together very deliberately.

I need time to live out in the world all the things that life and obedience require: mothering, being a sexual being, taking on and fulfilling vocational responsibilities, building friendships, being a responsible member of society, caring for my body and my home and my family . . . etc. Authentic transformation shows up there, or it is not real!


At the same time, I am still a sinner, and I still fail, and I still need His grace and love . . . and I have it! He loves me just as much the way I am today as He would if I "had my act all together" finally . . . just as I loved my 2-year-olds just as much as I loved each of those boys as they grew to 6 and 8 and 15 and 18 and 22 and 23!

But here I am, and I have had a week of being focused on the stuff that I tend to focus on, at the expense of the PEOPLE that God has put around me at work. And instead of having a ministry there, I have had a week of trying to get certain results with little regard for the personhood of those who would give me the results I want . . .

And Steven (husband and now also boss) tells me to "just let it go and move on" . . . but I want to FIX IT! NOW!!!!!!!

And life doesn't work that way. All I can do is be Maria, and let God be God, and let Jeff be Jeff, and let Renee be Renee, and let Dan be Dan . . . and seek to be the tool God wants me to be in their lives to accomplish His purposes for all of us, and seek to allow Him to use them in my life for that same purpose . . His purpose . . .

So, once more, right here and right now, I lay it all down at His feet and ask for Him to take over. Maria's agenda can be presented to Him and to them as a request, but then I need to hear their agendas and go in silence to Him and ask that His agenda emerge out of the conflicts . . . and that I be a tool for His agenda instead of an obstacle to it!

And, once more, right here and right now, I ask Him to forgive me and to lead me in seeking peace with all of them . . .

Not "peace at any price" . . . not "peace because I hate conflict and need approval" . . . but His peace that can tolerate conflict that is out of my control or is out of obedience, but that even then is working toward lasting peace and reconciliation for all of us.

And that kind of peace has only one Source.


It's NOT Shocking to Jesus

I have a friend who writes a blog that I wish I had the guts to write, but I don't! I know her from a discussion group about a completely different topic . . . but love her openness about sensuality and sexuality, even though it is out of the narrow boundaries that I have thought I had to live in most of my life.

We all grew up with all kinds of teachings about "Christian marriage" and "gender roles" and "modesty" and "discretion" and what "good women do" and what "good men do" . . . and some of that I still find to be true, and some of it I don't -- and I don't feel like taking the time tonight to analyze that whole spectrum! Suffice it to say that God created us, and He created us male and female, and He saw that what He created was good, and doesn't appreciate us labeling it as bad (or even as something we need to keep way in the background and focus on "more important things")!

So kudos to my friend who is willing to break some taboos and talk openly about her experiences and prompt us to change some of our too-uptight or our too-cheap views of sensuality and life!

If you are old enough and brave enough, she posts here: Sensuous Wife



Holding Fast and Letting Go

I think the biggest lesson God has been teaching me recently is about using my obsessiveness properly. (I hate the word "properly" when it implies something stuffy and Pharisaical, but love it when it implies a right ordering of the jigsaw pieces to make the picture they were cut from.)

So how does one "use obsessiveness properly"?

I heard a sermon recently on Jesus' struggle in the garden of Gethsemane, and realized that I had never heard anyone mention -- or read anything written about -- the passionate ambivalence that Jesus modeled for us there. He was passionate about God's authority and God's perfect wisdom and love. He was equally passionate about His own horror at what He knew the next few days would hold, and His desire to not experience that pain and shame and abandonment. So He was "ambivalent" -- not in the sense we so often use it, of being detached and emotionless, but rather in the fullest sense of the word. He was "ambivalent" in that He experienced fully two contradictory desires.

Jesus taught us so much in His direct teaching and in His parables about living fully, and then in the final days of His life did what He needed to do so that we would have the redemption and the new life that only His passion and His resurrection and ascension could provide. We all know all of that. But do we see that He modeled for us in those final weeks -- as well as in all of His days before those weeks -- a picture of what living His own teaching looked like in the face of the deepest human struggle possible? And we are told very clearly in scripture that He made the choices He made "for the joy set before Him". He had us in mind, and He had eternity in mind. He had the reality of God the Father and His character and love in mind. He had reality in mind!

So passion and "obsessiveness" are properly used when they focus one upon TRUTH and REALITY, and improperly used (they use us!) when they focus one upon anything false that will ultimately prove empty and unsatisfying. Christ did His part by obeying God the Father and submitting to the horror of His last days before His crucifixion and resurrection because He was focused on the reality of what God's Will means: "for Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever" are not just nice words, but rather a tiny glimpse of the place where we are fully satisfied, and where He would be fully satisfied and full of peace and joy.

None of us will ever go through what the Son of God went through in His passion and death and resurrection . . .

But all of us will go through our own call to pick up our own crosses and follow Him . . . to die to self and live to Him.

And all of us must be ready to go through the same "passionate ambivalence" that He went through. I must experience fully and bring to God fully my own desires and my request that He fulfill them my way. I must also experience fully a submission to Him as a submission to the One Who loves me and others fully and is not after needless pain or needless denial on my part, but rather after giving me fully all that He desires to give me, which far exceeds the loveliness of what my own desires would give me. And that doesn't happen unless I couple a growing understanding of external reality -- Who He is, who you are, how the world works, how desperately I need Him -- with a growing understanding of the internal reality of what I really want and who I really am and of how desperately I need Him.

So again, how does one "use obsessiveness properly"?

One lives life fully, allowing daily experience to sharpen and fuel passion and obsessiveness for the right things: GOD, people, TRUTH, people, LOVE, people, JUSTICE, people, MERCY, people, ORDER, people . . .

And the focus and motivation that God-given passion for the right things brings leads us very easily to a new daily experience of


So I am learning to hold fast to the things that He leads my heart to cling to . . . until He gives me the grace to let them go for better things . . .

And I am learning to let go of the things that I "ought" to be or want or do . . . until He gives me the passion to pursue any of those things . . .

And I am learning how to enjoy the things I have, right here and right now . . . and to also enjoy the desires I have for the things I don't have but wish I did . . .

(It is sometimes just as sweet to have unfulfilled desires as it is to have the abundance of gifts that I actually possess and hold, isn't it?)

And, like so many of "the things I am learning", I could have written about all of this from my head years ago, and said I "knew it" . . .

But now I am actually experiencing the joy and the pain of dealing with reality as it stretches me and tries me and refines me and changes me.

It hurts. And it's scary!

But I am learning to do it "for the joy set before me". I am learning the joy of real authentic living, and I trust that the God Who is teaching me is capable of turning the pain to full joy.

Freedom is scary, but it is freedom within the reality of His arms. And that cannot be written about or described. It must be lived. As He teaches me to let go of the things that He needs me to let go of, and to hold fast to the things He wants me to never stop loving and being and doing, He is teaching me to use properly the obsessiveness that He created in me -- as He created obsessiveness in each man and woman, in each boy and girl.

He is not after passionless and emotionless robots who submit unfeelingly and without free will to His will as their creator. He never was!

He is after passionate, bright individuals who have their own will just as much as they have their own personality and character and style. He loves obsession in us, for it is a fullness of His image stamped onto free beings who have their own wills. And His greatest joy is to see each of us come to a place where we passionately exercise our own free will and there is no conflict with His will. That harmony is what scripture calls "heaven".

Bring heaven here, Lord Jesus! "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven . . ."!!!

And each day brings us a day closer. Thank you, Triune God!


Living It Out

I'm not posting much, am I?

I have plunged into an attempt to execute all the projects in my life and to put feet to all the passions in my life in proper order . . .

And I have found some really wonderful writers and bloggers who do a great job of articulating all the stuff I'd have to say about my life and following Jesus right here and right now . . .

So, each day I am trying to live out for that day the things that are obedience for that day to the Jesus that I need so desperately and that satisfies so deeply!

And, as I just said to my husband, I pretty much suck at it. (Mom, sorry, but the language that probably hits you as vulgar is not vulgar to me anymore. It's just how everyone around me talks every day, and it seems silly that I'd avoid using certain words rather than trying to help you perceive them the way we perceive them . . . but I am not trying to offend, just trying to communicate clearly with most of the people who'd read this . . . ) And his response ("spiritual-but-not-religious" man that he is, and with the eyes and priorities that he possesses) was that the housekeeper I just hired would solve most of that. (Smile. I wish following Jesus was really as easy as figuring out how to delegate all my responsibilities and only keep the ones I like best!)

So here I am, Orange-County 21st-Century Christian who has been given so so much, and I'm excited that there are so many of us trying to DO LIFE TOGETHER AS WE FOLLOW JESUS, and today that means getting my kids to school and going to work and getting done all the stuff I promised to do today . . .

So this post is done, but my husband reminds me that writing is in my future . . .

God is Good! God is Good All The Time!! All The Time, God is Good!!!