In between wrapping paper tears, sips of punch, and the clanking of forks on chocolate-smeared plates came forth the stories. Of course, every home hosting a baby shower is filled with them.
At first they were humorous. Ones I could easily laugh alongside and not allow to penetrate the membrane between my mind and heart. Funny, cute, first-days-of-life-in-the-great-wide-open accounts.
But as the gift-opening slowed, it was only natural that the advice for this new mom-to-be filled the empty space.
There were only a dozen of us or so. All whose wombs had been opened, but mine. An observation, it seemed, that no one made.
On one hand, I was glad. Oh please let no one feel sorry for me, I thought at that moment when the membrane between mind and heart disintegrated and I became deeply sorry. This shower was a chance to bless my dear friend, not to look at my loss. On the other hand, I was searching for a way – any way – to put an end to this conversation that translated into grief for my fragile heart.
Someone stop these tales of labor and delivery that have singled me out. Your rite of passage, for me, holds a sign at the front that says “Do Not Enter”.
It carries with it so many questions, so many doubts, fears, and insecurities. Of me and of God. When I open that door, when I go to that place without the time to worship and the safe-print of those worn pages of Psalms written by many others who had their own Do Not Enter signs, I am lost.
As the laughter of shared experience increased, this sorority of sisters formed bonds around their anecdotes. And I drifted further inward and downward.
Comparison plagued my soul.
I was heartsick again.
Everyone has at least one, and most a half dozen or more:
Life-reasons, my reasons, to believe that God is not good. To believe that God is not who He says He is.
They are a hidden handicap. We carry them around negligently, as if we can live life fully alive and still have them. Yet the whole of our perspective and interactions are first filtered through the lens of this unanswered question. Is He good … to me?
The cloudy eye-glass is indiscriminate. My calling, my family, my friendships, my view of Jesus are all subject first to how I see Him in light of my “not yet.”
My Dad was never healed of cancer and my body still waits to receive a child. There are others, if you can believe, even more personal than this. The ones most powerful are the ones closest to our chest. Hidden from the world but not to God.
Without God’s encounter, they are toxic for our hearts. And for those of us whose mouths say “God is good” but live with the looming uncertainty of this very thing, the sickness takes even deeper root.
While the moment at the shower was thick, its aftermath was an easy entry for Jesus. Technicolor experiences like this one, where my nose rubs against the loss in front of my face, I have learned to fight through. I’ve learned to fight, bible-in-hand and carpet worn thin, to believe the goodness of God. Jesus’ hands wrap around my brokenness and they tenderly dress my obvious wound. And I’ve walked away with my question answered. In my “not yet”, He is still good.
But it’s the day-to-day drip, which is the greatest threat to my heart. Subtle negativity, subtle unbelief rests ominous over my kitchen, my interactions with my children, my coming and going.
I reach across the kitchen counter, hurriedly finishing the morning clean-up and knock my glass onto the floor. Water-streaked cabinets, glass scattered across the floor and my first thought received, accepted: it figures.
As I sweep up the last of the shards, seeking clear space for brown-feet to dance, I hear the barreling of his body down the stairs before his yelp breaks the air. The broken glass now the least of my concern. Of course … I think.
I take slow drags on the cigarette of negative expectation when the question of God’s goodness lingers over my daily thoughts. I inhale toxicity. And the exhale over my life, my children, my husband is anything but holy.
This is why I adore God. This is why I have to spend time adoring God.
Minutes of speaking back to God the beauty of God win back hours of the unsettled mess of my heart. Adoration is breathing deeply of who He is and exhaling purity. It’s training my mind and my heart to look up.
I am in training.
And when you look up enough, even the “not yets” in your life are not threatened by the question of His goodness. Your eye is positioned on His goodness.
Adoration wars against a life lived as a response to our wounds.
I urge you, just try it.
I have a designated spot on this new site where you’ll see my daily lookings-up. All in an effort for you to join me. Early morning minutes, or between laundry loads are opportunities for life-change through adoration.
Pick one verse, start in Psalms (or use this e-book as a guide), that declares a truth of who God is, and stay there. Say it back to Him, once or twice. God, your gentleness makes me great. Linger. Let your heart absorb the words you are speaking. Ask Him to reveal specific areas of your life where you have seen this goodness. Listen. And speak it back. Declare it, to yourself and to Him. If you sing, sing it back. Set it to music.
If you’re like me and writing unlocks your heart, give yourself 200 words to write on just that one phrase. No asks, no pleas, just simply telling God how great He is. And then asking Him to remind you how that greatness in print in front of you has already taken shape in your life before you.
Long minutes in the morning, or short stints of adoration while children’s fingers are enmeshed in play dough and dinner is on the stove are infectious. A little looking up and I promise you’ll want more.
He is limitless.
Just try it.
For a more practical description of adoration, read Showing Up.
Photos compliments of Mandie Joy.