Living in Reality–it changes everything
We sat talking about the challenges of motherhood and even our shared experience of visiting the depths of despair that debilitates. It was one of those conversations in which the Lord held a mirror up for me to see when I doubt who He really is, of the power He offers to work through my heart each minute of every day. I could completely relate to the friend I sat with.
I had just come up for air after two challenging weeks in which I texted a friend (more than once) about how I was grasping at straws to keep me above water with everything going on, including challenging behavior from one of my children. Life, motherhood, is enough to keep my desperate need for the Lord before me. But I will die in my desperation if I succumb to the overwhelming feelings that accompany this desperation at times. That’s exactly what I was doing.
The one consistent thread that the Lord has been and still is weaving in my life is that of learning how to and practicing adoration…of Jesus. It is my way up and out–of selfishness, anger, despair…anything that threatens to steal from the Life that desires to thrive in me. This habit, the daily, hourly practice of stopping my day and fixing my gaze on Him–lifting them from my circumstances, is what has yielded life. It’s what carried me through a second miscarriage, within a year of my first, through painful circumstances with people, and through a lifestyle of despair.
Every season in which I’ve been overwhelmed, had consistent outbursts of anger, despair, etc. I can look back and clearly see that the first thing to go was that of practicing adoration. In slipped the feelings which grew ever so subtly and overtook my worship of the One who is truly worthy of it, until it wasn’t subtle at all anymore. I doubt who God is when I give in to the feelings.
Jesus is my source of life. True, abundant, passionate, thriving life. Not dull, mediocre, powerless living. That’s not really living! It’s subsisting in a shell of a body, just trying to make it to the next thing. I’m talking about the kind of life that is overcoming, powerful, mountain-moving living.
The kind that realizes normal life with small children need not be one of exasperation, anger, irritation…but joy, delight, fun. Challenges? Yes, absolutely. Regular opportunities to remind myself of One greater than me as I am tempted to give in to anger toward them. I have always desired children, and lots of them, but I learned after they turned one that it’s not exactly a cake walk and that I’m not quite as “good” with kids as I once thought I was. But when I begin to believe something about myself or about the Lord other than what is written in His word, I falter.
You see, when I sat with my friend recently, I realized how easy it is to slip into a way of thinking and living that looks just like those who have no hope in Jesus. Shouldn’t my life look so very different–strange even, to those who don’t know Him because of the amazingly different way of responding to life’s challenges?
In Ephesians 1, Paul prays that the believers in Ephesus would “know what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” I want to know, believe, and walk in this power–not just daily, but minute by minute. I think the problem with myself and us who seek to walk with Jesus is that we don’t believe Him. We see that He says, “My strength is perfected in weakness,” but in our weakest moments, instead of crying out to Him, we give in to the feelings…and fall. We live out what we really believe.
Recently, our pastor challenged us to meditate on Revelation 4 and 5 so that we would be reminded of what reality is: night and day worship of the One who is worthy of it. Of the Lion who became a Lamb and opened wide the door of deep intimacy with a Father that jealously loves us. When we live in this reality–understanding that right now, elders and angels are falling before the throne of God worshiping Him, all else pales and we live in deeper, greater victory than we could ever experience otherwise. We are not offended by what He brings our way, we are not entangled in sin, we are not in bondage to anything that tempts us to believe it is stronger or greater than Him.
This– giving myself to meditating, adoring, worshiping Him throughout my day must be what feeds me. My gaze must be lifted, regularly, to Jesus. When my chin starts to fall and my eyes begin the naval gaze, I must quickly lift them to Him, the slow descent to death begins as I start to worship another.
The once piece of advice that I have given over the past two years as I’ve walked down this new path of practicing adoration to women who have confessed depression, anger, any feeling that has overtaken them…is to adore. I started with the Adoration Prayer Book as a primer and then have moved on to simply taking small chunks, a verse, or even just a phrase of Scripture and praying it back to the Lord–choosing to believe the truth therein. And I’m talking about “interrupting” whatever I’m doing to do it. Putting my Bible on the counter when fixing meals, taking a break from playing with my kids–and even doing it with my kids. Putting my Bible on the ironing board while I iron, on the counter when I dry my hair. Putting on music that is truly worshiping Jesus (not just singing about Him), and agreeing.
Not only that, but there is power in picking up the phone or sending a text to confess what I’m feeling. I need help–and the Lord has created the body Christ in such a way that we are to help each other along. I have come to the point of wanting life so much that I am willing to risk what may be thought of me to get there. Ladies, when we choose to believe that nobody understands, when we choose not to tell anyone how we’re really doing–we cheat ourselves and its proud. We will get nowhere because the Lord hates pride and because He created us to talk in community. Until we are willing to truly humble ourselves and let people see our absolute messy brokenness, we will not change.
If what is described in Revelation 4 and 5 is reality–ongoing worship of the King, then my stopping to participate with them is not really interrupting anything. This is what I will be doing for all eternity, so I better get into the habit now.
One of the most powerful ways I have practiced adoration is through dance. I’ve written about it here, here and here, and it’s something I’m growing in. What I learned, quickly, is that it is powerful– effective in breaking strongholds, bringing freedom. We were created to worship the Lord with every part of us, and when I do, wow. What power, what joy, what life. I regularly worship through dance with my kids–I want them to understand that this is why we dance, and I want to impart true Life to them. Life that comes through loving Him with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength. Oh that I would continue to walk in more freedom in this area–I believe He has it for me and has plans for using dance in the future in my life and in the lives of many other women.
You can ask my husband, who knows better than anyone else, how Jesus has absolutely transformed my heart–and still is, through this practice of adoration. (You can also ask him when my worst days are–when I’ve forsaken this essential habit.) Two years ago, I was an absolute mess. The time I spent crying, angry at one of my children, and just lack-luster was the norm.
It has not been a quick-fix. The Lord intended for me to learn a new way of living through being steadfast in my seeking of Him, and choosing to believe His Word when everything in me screams the opposite. What has resulted is a life that is growing and thriving–though I want so much more for my heart. I am still very much in process and the call to a steadfast love of the Lord is ongoing.
And let me just to be clear, just in case I’m misunderstood here– I am not perfect and I fail, regularly. But my desire– what I’m striving for and what has *slowly*become the pattern of my life is this–adoration. There are seasons, like recently coming out of a horrible first trimester of pregnancy in which I have had to readjust several things in life, work harder with my children on heart issues, that I have failed to practice adoration regularly. I do not claim to have arrived, but do want to share what I have found and am finding to be the key to life. The thing about blogging is that you can’t see my day to day. To put forth the illusion that I have this mastered would be false and dangerous. I hope that one day, I will be an older woman who can speak with authority, but for now, I am a sister who is learning and wants to share what has been so powerful in my life.
Oh Lord, that Your words would penetrate our hearts–conquer us Lord, that we would live lives surrendered to You…and be fully alive.
(Because I don’t consider myself as one gifted with words, I would strongly encourage you to head over to Sara’s blog on Mondays (and really, anytime she writes), where she practices adoration in writing. The Lord has given her a gift with words that has truly rocked my world. She has taught me what it looks like to adore, not just through her blog, but in walking together in life. I strongly believe the Lord has and is going to work through her life beautifully to bring many into deeper intimacy with Him.)
I’ve linked this to a really fun blog by a new friend Ashley, over at Pencilled Daydream.