What if all this world-wide crazy is about something else?

the monthly letter

As the time ticks on since our world tilted, I've noticed that the shock-filled "what has happened??" is overshadowed by the question we're all asking: "how should we then live?" Even less ruminating minds are asking: how to reach for peace, how to endure and survive, and what does stability look like in unstable times?

We're now looking less for a way out than a way through.

I'll give you a window into my almost-unnoticed (but not so healthy) way through:

For a few months, I've noted my spending. It seemed normal for the time — new books for the kids' school, new supplies for a new year. And we're just climbing out of the baby stage, so of course, we needed new storage supplies and new organization systems and their accompaniments. While I'm at it — climbing out of this "baby stage" that has been most of the past decade — we probably need to replace those pillows we've had since we registered for them 20 years ago. And that old running vest hand-me-down I've had forever could use an upgrade. Small things, not big dents in the budget, almost undetectable … but thrilling, for a flash.

Bringing new order to my office shelves with a few new plastic bins, a new pillow on which to lay my head, finally, new cutting boards.

I started asking Nate: what do you see below the surface in me with this spending? Is this inconsequential … or should I be paying attention? 

One morning recently, when the welcomed dark of fall shrouded me and made me feel safe enough to uncover myself before Him, I brought God into the conversation. I asked Him on paper: what do these things say about me? What do they tell me about how I'm relating to You?

Ten years ago, I would have put a FREEZE on all spending, down to the pencils for school. It felt safer not to stick a toe into what I deemed to be the danger zone than to take a moment first to be curious about what had allured me there. Just stop doing the "bad" things. (And by "bad," I'm not referring to overtly sinful things, but the over-indulgences that feel gray — the extra cookies, the late night binge watching, the unneeded new pair of jeans, the thirty minutes of aimless scrolling. You get my gist.)

But on this particular morning, I came curious.

God, is this behavior inconsequential … or is it telling me a story that You want me to hear?

The story that morning, and the proceeding mornings, has been the story of my heart — one I'm living but didn't see outright: life feels messy and forever-unfinished, and in my floundering, I reach for the concrete. I want a flash of hope in a “buy it now” click or the rush of expectancy for a UPS delivery. I find a moment of respite in ordering my shelves when the world around me is terribly unordered.

That morning, I saw this: the two to seven minutes that it takes me to make a purchase and secure that little dopamine rush are the friend-making ones—the ones when I can, instead, let God into what I'd rather conceal and share what feels best hidden.

One first step of it looks like this:

Me: [Pausing in between my unexamined nervousness and my impulse response] “God, help me to identify my feelings right now — the ones I’m trying to quell. Show me what I can bring to You.”

That quickly-squelched insecurity … that purchase-quieted fear of mess — those are emotions He wants to hold. Those are emotions in which He wants to let me experience Him, experiencing me. He doesn't gasp or scold. He takes time — the time true friends do to see … to let me be seen … to let me see Him.

This friend-making takes time.

The more brave ones with voices and strength and vision, rising during these times, may rightly be calling us towards courage and valor and “bold living for God.” I suppose that's not me right now. Here I am, as I am, sliding into your inbox and quietly suggesting that all of this mess may be what is used by God to make friends out of us. His friends.

Friendship happens through hundreds of thousands of minutes: carrying another's heart, seeking to know them, speaking in tones they can receive. It happens through the being seen in our darkest moments and our most brilliant ones, being received in our skin, and feeling a love that doesn't walk away at the sight of our vulnerability but which comes closer.

Could it be that the most resounding cry of the human heart is not to change the world but to move the heart of God?

Because the ones who move God's heart are His friends.

Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:11)

But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend. (Isaiah 41:8)

[John the Baptist said:] "I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice." (John 3:28-29)

Pause and think about this with me: could God raise friends, not just warriors, and soldiers and courageous leaders of truth, during these times? Though I have leadership in my bones, the thought of being thrilled about being any of these latter three feels as if I'd also have to be deaf to my constitution during these dark days. I'm just too tired. But a friend … one who is received by Him during the three minutes in between when I feel mostly-undetected anxiety and when I reach for my phone to "buy it now" — I can be a friend. A friend of God: one who begins to learn to hear the whispers of His heart as I begin to share the whispers of mine, with Him.

Perhaps these times call for building a new friendship with God — whispering to Him in the anxious minutes, inviting Him into the space between our nerves and our impulsive response to squelch them, putting our shaky hand into His scarred palm.

{We're talking more about friendship with God this month over on my more private writing space, SOAR. Though I love slipping this monthly newsletter into your inbox … SOAR is quickly becoming my favorite place to write.}

Until next month,

Sara