Saturday, February 23, 2008

Princess or Stray? (Part 3) -- Hope Chronicles 19 cont.

This idea of the princess and stray has been wiggling about in my brain for a couple of months. It came to fruition with yet another food incident with Mali. (Click here for part 1 and here for part 2 if you don’t know what I am referring to. It'll all make more sense if you do!) I feel like God gave me the image of the princess and the stray and I’ve enjoyed writing about it.

Here is my confession and my disclaimer; I have not yet arrived in this area. So, I can give you a glimpse of where I have been and the path I am on, but I don’t know yet all the twists and turns it will take. Having said that, here it goes – from one stray to another!

Over the years, I have come to believe that there is a container in each of our hearts. The conatiners get filled up when we are loved on and are that with which we pour love into others. Through our lives, that container gets beat on and dented. Maybe it was the taunting of the kids at school or never having mom say she loved you. Maybe it was something big like the death of a parent in your tender, early years. Maybe it was all the little things that accumulated into something big. Maybe it was abuse. I don’t know what it might be for you.

Sometimes, the things of life come so hard that the container gets punctured. Sometimes they are tiny holes and other times they are jagged, gapping holes. When the container gets punctured, all the love and good things leak out. I know that there have been times that in spite of an outpouring of love and care, I have remained thirsty for more and more because every drop that gets poured in runs out.

God has always intended for me to be a princess – the beloved child of the King of the universe. Life has made me a stray.

How does a stray heart become a princess heart?

First and foremost, I need to believe that God is in the business of fixing broken hearts, broken containers. He can hammer out the dents and fix the holes. It’s not always the easiest or quickest of processes, but God is all about making me whole. But I need to believe Him first so that He can work on all those hard areas.

In Mark 6, Jesus visits his hometown. Maybe it was that they knew him when he was a child, but the people of Nazareth had a hard time believing Jesus. Their lack of belief was actually limiting. In verses 5-6 it says, “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.” (ESV)

Do I think God could do whatever He wanted? Yes. But I’ve heard it put this way. God is a gentleman. He will not force himself into a life. Though it alternately makes His heart dance for joy or crushes Him, we are free to accept or reject Him.

But it isn’t easy to just say, “I believe.” The father who brought his son to Jesus for healing and said, “If you can do anything, take pity on us and help us,” had the right of it. " 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." How does the father respond? “I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.” (NIV) I am learning to pray this prayer.

But even then, it doesn’t mean that all the holes are neatly zapped. (Oh, that it were so!) Yes, God sometimes does an “instant miracle.” But I am learning that it is often God’s way to work over time. The healing that comes after 10 or 20 years is no less a miracle, no less a work of God, than the one that happened in an instant. Perhaps, there is some part of my character that needs to be honed, something I need to learn in the time spent in dependence on God that I would not learn if He had chose to zap that area. (But I will admit to a certain level of frustration when the tears are flowing.)

I recently learned that the word used to describe Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9) and our transformation are the same word. The only difference is that when it describes Jesus it is in the passive tense, a sense of already being. For us it is an active tense describing the process of becoming.

I need to understand who God is. I need to know Him intimately. I’m striving to keep scripture always in front of me.

I need to trust God. It is only in knowing Him that I can fully trust Him with all the dark places in my life that keep me in the land of “Never Enough,” that keep me suspecting that He is holding out on me.

I need to live in a community of consistency. Granted, I will never find full consistency in the human realm, but a community striving to be consistent goes a long way. Going back to my Mali. It is continuing to consistently feed her. Not that I would stop feeding her, but sometimes I shake my head and wonder when her heart will change. (I imagine God does that with me!) It’s through consistency I learn to trust.

I survived a childhood fraught with abuse. That has left the large, jagged holes in my heart. I have been in counseling forever! I’ve been with Julie, my present counselor, 6 ½ years. Sometimes I bemoan the fact that it is taking so long. (Note to self. Reread the paragraph about miracles that take 10-20 years.) I started seeing her after a disastrous counseling relationship. When I bemoan it taking so long, Julie gently reminds me that it took year to a year and a half for me to begin to trust her. But her persistent consistency won out. Julie is great, but God is even immeasurably more persistent and consistent.

Some friends from church also get the consistent-over-the-long-haul awards. I suspect, at times, they’ve wondered if my high need would ever diminish. (Sometimes it resurfaces even now). But they have stuck it out with me in little and big ways. I need to remember that and be lovingly consistent with others as well. It has the power to change lives.

I choose to believe God that I am his wholly and dearly loved child. I am “now and not yet.” In spite of my stray heart, I am more princess than stray for God has laid claim to my heart. So rather than a stray, I am a princess in progress.

One day my heart will fully be a princess heart that fully trusts my God and King. I will reside not just in Plenty but the land of Abundantly More Than Enough. Just as in the Old Testament God was the Levites' inheritance; God is my strength and portion. Who could ask for anything more?

Princess in Progress


Lelia Chealey said...

Psalm 45:11

Read it, memorize it sister!

Heather@Mommymonk said...

You are a princess in progress...I like that.