Tag Archives: God

Stillness to Dancing

T.S. EliotJust a few months ago, I wrote about my experience with depression.

Crippling, life-stealing depression.

I wrote how I was choosing to serve God whether or not I ever found healing or relief from depression. How I was choosing to be faithful—or at least trying to be.

I shared my experience of the low, the tough, the vulnerable. And then I was silent, on the blog at least.

So today I want to share a follow up. I want to share a story of healing and joy and gratitude.

I’ve been reluctant to write this post. I don’t want my healing to sound cliché. I don’t want to prescribe a how-to formula for overcoming depression because I know it doesn’t work like that. I don’t want to jinx it.

But somehow I’ve come out on the other side and I can’t help but rejoice. I can’t help but share.

I think of my favorite T.S. Eliot quote, “So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

Today I am dancing and I don’t quite know why. Like Allie of Hyperbole and a Half bursting into hysteric belly laughs at a lone kernel of corn, it doesn’t make any sense.

For me it started not with a piece of corn, but at the Sea of Galilee, overlooking the waves that Peter once braved.

Sea of Galilee

God spoke to me that day. He declared inner peace over my soul. He declared me healed and free.

I can’t explain how I heard Him or why I believed that I would be free. I just knew He broke something FREE in me that day. Free from bitterness and wallowing and the chains of depression.

I felt the healing work deep in my soul, deep in my bones. So much so that I couldn’t help but dance.

Dance?! On the shore of the Sea of Galilee? Alone. Ear buds in. Eyes closed. Hips swaying and hands raised.

Like a lunatic. Like someone crazy for Jesus and the healing power he brings.

I didn’t feel the healing yet. I hadn’t experienced it yet. But I knew it was time to start dancing over my graves of depression and burnout and disappointment.

Dancing became a sign of faithfulness. A way to declare victory before the war was even over.

I danced in worship. I danced my praise. I danced for the grace and redemption and renewal I hadn’t yet experienced.

Nothing else mattered but setting my heart and my body to praising the God who promised to heal me. To love me. To bind my wounds.

As I danced, I prayed the chains would be broken. I prayed that my freedom would bring freedom to others.

And when the songs were over, my body stilled, I opened my eyes and turned to see a Korean tour group sitting just a few feet behind me, staring at the girl swaying to the music in her earphones, in her head, in her heart.

And I didn’t care. I was being healed. I am being healed.

Since then joy has found a way to creep in. Little bit by little bit. I began to experience joy in my new grad school classes. Joy at caring for the daily needs of a 94-year-old woman with advanced dementia and one heck of witch cackle laugh. Joy in meeting with my favorite girlfriends on earth to chat and pray and cry and laugh together. Joy in just being.New Kitten!

Today I have a lot to delight in– a new boyfriend and a new kitten for starters (!!). It’s taken work, though, don’t get me wrong. I’ve worked hard in counseling, finding the right medication, admitting that I need help. I’ve prayed and prayed. I’ve recommitted to taking care of myself.

But the healing started that day at the Sea of Galilee. When God whispered something to me, calling me to deep inner peace, silencing my striving like Jesus once silenced the very waves that crashed before me. He declared freedom in me that day.

And I danced it. I hope I am dancing it still.

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A still, small lantern of rising hopes

Sunday night. The sun had dipped below the clouds and the volcano, painting the sky darker and darker shades of gray as the minutes passed by until I was left, book light and journal in hand, in the calm, dark air.

I can’t say why, but I felt the call. I heard a voice that said to wait, to stop, to put away the cell phone and the computer and the distractions, to ditch trivia night and salsa dancing, and step out on the terrace and just be.

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 “Go out and stand on the [terrace] in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Soon the lightening started and the dazzling flashes bounced off the clouds and the silhouette of the volcano.

I’d been avoiding it: Reflecting. Writing. Reviewing. Examining.

I’d been examining my life much like a flash of lightening—quickly and briefly and unsustained.

If I really examined my life, I’d be disappointed, I feared. I thought by now my Spanish would be better and my friendships deeper. I thought I’d feel awake and alive and adventurous. Instead, most times, I feel lonely and small. Disconnected and disconcerted.

So I’ve been numbing, tuning out, taking the insight to change like a flash of lightening, here one minute in radiant glory, back in stagnant darkness the next.

I sat a few moments more, breathing in the cool air and reviewing my journal from the last four months, scared of what I would find—or of the changes and growth and life I wouldn’t find.

220px-Spider-Firework-Omiya-Japan

And then the fireworks started. No kidding. Not just little homemade things, but Disneyland caliber explosions boomed and sizzled against the twilight sky. Like the dramatic adventure I thought my life would be. And in the darkness between bursts, weeping willow shapes burned against the canvas of the sky, burned into my brain—the remnants of the dreams I once saw so clearly—the adventure, the learning, the restoration of joy. Quick and bright and burning, and then darkness.

And then the show was over. Back to silence. Back to breathing.

And then, as if a lightening show and fireworks were not enough for one night, a tiny Japanese lantern–just one–with its silent, soft flame ascended into the sky, past my terrace over the rooftops and away into the distance.

A small, sustained light of rising hope.

I’ve got say He pulled out all the stops to point me to the miracle, the magic. To help me realize not in a flash of understanding, but in a slowly burning brighter and brighter awareness that this was a holy moment, a magic night, a sacred space, a sacred life.

That He is here. That His voice is the one that calls with love and grace.

And when I open not just my journal, but my heart to the feelings I’ve buried deep within, to the hopes and fears and disappointments, when I finally have the courage to stop and be honest, be real, be present—He will meet me in those moments.

I don’t have to listen to the lies and the cries anymore that say:

Don’t be alone.

Don’t think.

Don’t stop.

If you stop, the guilt, the sadness, the loneliness, the regrets will engulf you.

“BUT THAT IS NOT TRUE”, the still small voice said as the lantern climbed into the sky.

lantern

“If you stop–stop your striving, your avoiding and distracting and numbing–if you stop before me,

IT IS GRACE THAT WILL ENGULF YOU.”

Not guilt. Not shame. Not a voice of condemnation. But my love and grace.

And it caught me between my ribs, a pinch, a pulse, and it burned throughout my being, rose up to my heart, my hopes.

I am loved. There is nothing but grace for me, nothing but hope.

I can’t help but write it say it shout it share it.

He spoke Love. He rekindled my heart. Stirred my hopes.

Not in the flashing lightening.

Not in the roar of fireworks.

But with a still, small lantern of rising hopes, glowing softly in the inky sky.

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Have you ever experienced an invitation to stop and be engulfed by grace?

 

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I don’t believe in God

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Over the years I’ve come to find that I don’t believe in God–I hope in God.

I want to share an article on faith and doubt and belief and hope from pastor and writer, Jay Bakker, that resonates so deeply with my own journey from certainty to doubt to the newfound hope and faith I embrace in my life today.

 

 

Jay writes,

“I’ve gone from believing in these things to hoping in them. Because when you believe in something “unseen” to use Paul’s word, you become dogmatic. You can’t prove it to anyone, and so you end up insisting that you are right instead of insisting on what is right. But hope — hope leaves room for doubt. Hope embraces your doubt. I hope in God, but I could be wrong. I hope in heaven, but I could be wrong.”

Hope means living as if the too-good-be-true Gospel of Jesus Christ, of love and redemption and freedom, is actually true, even if you can’t prove it. Even if there are days it makes no sense and the doubts rise up like engulfing waves. Hope means choosing Love and meaning and life amidst the questions. Hope means having faith that we are connected, that our lives matter, that the lives of those around us matter, too.

“With faith, I can work for good in the world. I can see the world in all of its messy, random, meaningless tragedy and say: So what? I’m going to create meaning. I’m going to love my neighbor. I’m going to work to free the oppressed. I’m going to live out grace. I’m going to feed the hungry. I’m going to live as if life has meaning, despite the evidence, and hope that I’m right.”

This last paragraph mimics so closely my own journey back to faith, back to hope in the God of Love. The God who is Love. When I lost my certainty in God, in religion, in the black and white I always knew, I found the freedom to love, anyway. To serve, anyway. To hope, anyway. And, somehow, this hope has been much richer and much deeper and much fuller than any certainty or belief I ever had before.

To read Jay Bakker’s full article on Huffington Post Religion, click here.

How about you? How do you handle doubts and questions? Would you say you believe in God or hope in God?

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