Monday, December 23, 2013

Where Are You Looking? Part 1

As we prepare to close out 2013 it seems that the Lord has been revisiting a theme that He introduced to me this spring. This photo was taken on the last day of April and I had this to say about it on Facebook: 

"I have Dara-Grace to thank for this beautiful picture. We got our school work out of the way early today and went for a hike. Because it's getting pretty warm out there, she paused to sit and rest on some steps about midway up. As I approached her, I noticed her sitting there with a very pensive face. Just as I reached her she said, "You know, Mom, it's very pretty right here." I took a second to turn and take in the view that had captivated her. Yep, she was right - I found it quite pretty as well. I'm not in the habit of looking at the view behind me as I struggle up stairs. I guess I've been missing out."

I had been struck at the time by the thought that perhaps looking at the things behind me might be beneficial. I've discovered that I am a very goal-oriented and determined person. If I am in the midst of a struggle I tend to surge forward toward whatever end I have in sight for myself. I would have missed this beautiful sight had I not paused to take the time to experience it. Hmmm... What might I be missing on a spiritual level by not taking some time to look back over the "trail" I've covered thus far in my life? 

My friends know that I have no problem whatsoever tapping into or sharing my feelings. However, the particulars of what the Lord began speaking to me last spring proved to be elusive. It is only after many months that I feel remotely capable of putting any of it into words. As I thought about what I would say, I began to see that I would need to do something I've never done on my blog: break a post into two parts. Too many details would need to be left out in the interest of keeping it at a manageable reading size. My detail-loving self could not let that happen! Having said that, I'll continue with the story.

After the aforementioned hiking incident I walked along with the Lord for weeks allowing myself to really take a look back. One of the first things He brought to my attention was the way I have been negatively shaped by my father's leaving. It all started innocently enough with a song on the car radio while picking up my son from work. The opening lines of New Man by All Things New caught my attention in a way that startled me:

I can remember when he left
It's still pounding in my chest
The pain I felt when he said goodbye

As soon as I heard it, I was transported thirty-five years back in time. I remembered my mom urging me to go tell my dad goodbye and "make sure you tell him you love him." This was nothing new to me. He had always been in and out of our home and I was used to goodbyes. This was different, though. Mom went on to explain that, this time, Dad was leaving and not coming back. 

My mind drifted to that day. I was five, maybe six, years old. I remember the scene as if it happened yesterday. Walking into the bedroom, I came upon my father standing before an opened suitcase that rested on the end of the bed. Hair dryer in hand, he wound the cord around it in a very precise way. Looking back, I wonder if it was easier for him to concentrate on that act of wrapping the cord than face the daughter he was leaving behind. Did he feel sorry in that moment? I dutifully gave him an awkward hug and told him I loved him. He placed his hairdryer in the suitcase and that was that. For whatever reason, this particular memory has always stuck with me.

I don't remember how soon the revelation came after initially sensing the Lord speaking to me about looking back, but a thought occurred to me soon thereafter that blew me out of the water. You see, I realized that all of these years later I do not own a hair dryer. I haven't had one in my home for over twenty years. More than two decades of brushing out my long hair and going places with it wet. I knew that on a subconscious level I was probably protecting myself from the pain of that devastating memory. It made perfect sense and I couldn't believe that I had never made the connection. 

Fast forward several months and our area was experiencing a cold spell. I got up and showered before going to volunteer for the Metro Parks. I would be sitting outside for two and a half hours signing Fall Hiking Spree forms... in the cold... with wet hair. I was gonna freeze and I wasn't relishing the thought of it. For the first time I really began to feel grumbly about the whole thing. I realized that I had been going out in the cold with my wet hair for all of my adult life... and that I wasn't content to do that anymore. I had this to say to a friend: 

"I decided that I think it stinks that that incident should still be affecting me at age 41. The too tight skin split and I stepped out more fully formed and free from something that bound me."

I resolved right then and there that it was going to stop. I would buy a hair dryer and finally face what I had been avoiding for way too long. At the time of this writing, the hair dryer has been purchased just in time for some wintry weather that arrived today. I am grateful that there will be no more feeling like my head is stuck frozen in a block of ice when I leave the house! 

Father. I bow before You pausing to let that word sink in... Father. I am Your daughter and I am humbled to be called Yours. Thank You for always wanting the very best for me and for the way that You redeem. You are good! You've fearfully and wonderfully made me, Lord. Who but You can know how this mind of mine works? It amazes me that there is so much in there that I am not even aware of - stuff that I carry with me each day and that has a bearing on how I do life. Protect me, Lord, against the evil that the enemy would seek to level against me. Cause long-standing strongholds to crumble and fall. Give me wisdom to walk with You in freedom. Help me to see what things I must next tackle head on in my way to being who You made me to be. Grant me eyes to see and ears to hear that I may bring much glory to You. In the strong and beautiful name of Jesus I pray, Amen.