Archive for the ‘Relationships’ Category

The Eyes Have it

Who is the color in your world?  Who is your found when you have all but lost your way?   Have you ever been under a spell?    Some might call it infatuation.   Others might say it’s just a crush.  Maybe it’s an addiction.  What is this strange affliction?

Your brain will tell you it’s impossible to last.  Your heart will deny this and just nervously laugh.    Words like forever and always follow words like love and be with and follow.  Who has the capacity to change you?   Who changes your direction?

Who leaves you tangled and blue?   Who lies to you as smooth as silk but cuts your heart like glass?    Who blows in and out of your life like the breeze? Who (or what) do you remember when you try to forget?  Who’s more alive then instead of now?   Watch for the subtle soul stealer who charms with a word, mesmerizes with beauty, or drops anchor with a memory, all unleashing a torrent of feeling?  Who haunts you?

Life.  It’s a mystery.  Do we master our fate with our mind, or helplessly submit to the choices of our heart? (Isn’t that biology?)   Maybe we’re all drifters, tossing and turning between possibility and stability.  Right and wrong.   Deception and deliverance.  Past and future.  Life and death.  Fear and faith.

Are you singing praises today?  Or are you singing the blues?

Wherever life’s journey takes you, tread and choose carefully.   And may your heart be filled and continually replenished with all that cannot be taken away, even if you give it all away for free.

Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.  Psalm 16:1

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And I feel
Like I’m slowly, slowly, slowly slipping under
And I feel
Like I’m holding onto nothing…..

So goes the lyrics in U2’s Lemon.

My question to you is this:  What do you do when you are slowly slipping under?  Where do you go?  How do you cope?    It comes down to this:  What drives you?

What drives you when you’re happy and content?  More importantly what drives you when you are not?   What do you do when life goes sour?

The truth is, life really is one big fruit salad.  It’s not always topped with cherries or strawberries.  Sometimes it’s the pits.  Sometimes life gives you lemons.

Those pesky things in life you can’t control in life (namely people and situations) sure are hard to swallow sometimes aren’t they?

Do you throw back stones?  Do you make lemonade from life’s lemons?  Or do you choke on the bitterness?

We don’t always get to choose our suffering, only our response.  We don’t get to take the shortcut –that is the long way around.  No, we are called to pass through.

Sometimes the suffering of others causes us to suffer.  As if we didn’t have our own sea of sorrows we frequently wade in, sometimes we are called to go deep with a friend or loved one into their own private ocean.  It’s hell.  But it’s good.  If you remember this:

I’ve got your back.

Are you still afloat?  Then you are not alone.

You can even be the life preserver for someone else when they are sinking.  You can be the sunshine in their dark world.  You can do what you don’t think you are strong enough to do.    You can go where you don’t want to go and see what you’d rather not.  You can think clear enough to do what is called for here.

And I feel
Like I’m drifting, drifting, drifting from the shore
And I feel
Like I’m swimming out to her

     Yes, you have to leave your comfort zone if you’re going to be in the rescue business.  You have to leave all that’s familiar even if you’re going to allow yourself to be saved.

Midnight is where the day begins
Lemon
See through in the sunlight

     Chaos and confusion randomly can surround us and seat themselves comfortably in our relatively stable world.  These terrorist twins sometimes just show up unannounced and uninvited.

We’ll have to walk through the dark scary woods to reach sunrise sometimes.   We carry our fear with us as we journey far into the darkness.  Can you feel it?

You are not alone.

At the edge of the horizon of darkness, a crack of light appears.   

Lemon
She is the dreamer
She’s imagination

She had heaven
Through the light projected
He can see himself up close

She wore lemon

      Sometimes we are called to be the light in other people’s dark world.   Sunlight is such a great disinfectant.  Whose light are you called to be today?  Lemon or lemonade?    Choose well.

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah 43:2

Partial Lyrics above are from U2 “Lemon”

Photo by Beautelle

    

 

 

Step into the confessional booth with me, will you?  I want to tell you a little secret, but shhhh!  Don’t tell anyone.

(Me whispering): I may be the only woman on the planet that will tell you this, but I have NOT read that book everyone is talking about.

It’s true.   Other friends have already informed me it’s ripe with never-in-real-life characters and plot, seasoned with weak writing, full of mental diagrams of how to have pretzel-twisting, mind-blowing, well you know.    The thing is I’m so past that.  I mean really, really long past.  Not as in a thing of the past, but in a girl, I’m so over it kind of way.   I’m past the point in my life, where that would be the Mount Everest not yet scaled, the utter pinnacle of exquisite satisfaction.

Ask anyone who’s been married long enough, or been around the block a few times too many, you will find something in common:  Your appetite changes.  Translation:  You grow up.  You mature.  You want connection not sex.  You want time to be SLOW and not rushed.  You want endurance, not intensity.  You want real not surreal.  You want relationship not temporary satisfaction. 

As I draw nearer to the half-century mark (just thinking fifty years seems surreal to even write) I find what I obsess most over is: hanging on.  Hanging on to love, people, relationships, memories, these are the precious jewels that we accidentally let fall through our hands like sifting sand in our vain attempts to manage our own lives more efficiently.

I’m at that precarious stage of life when I often don’t see my friends for long stretches of time, except sadly, when it’s time to go to another parent’s funeral.   I buy sympathy cards by the box now, instead of on occasion.   Sadder still, is going to the funeral of friends my age.   Recently, I found my high school actually has a Facebook page simply titled Angels beside the name of my school.  Scrolling through it was humbling, as I am keenly aware the time to realize my dreams and the things I want to accomplish may be on the shorter end of the gauge than longer.

Then I thought about it.  Maybe life has never been totally about accomplishing our goals and dreams.  Not that we shouldn’t have them, but maybe it’s so much more.  Maybe it’s about the life and dreams God had planned for us from the day we were born.    Maybe it’s about the kind of person He is molding us in to, and not the profession or ambitions that we define as who we are or wish to become.

If you’re like me, you may feel like life and our over-crammed daily schedule is whizzing by at breakneck speed.  Technology has amplified the affect.  With exponential forms of electronic communication to reach, inform, pester, entertain, beg , or demand us,  it sometimes feels like it’s changed us to that which we were never designed to be:  Too busy to connect.

So I’m working on consolidating my life a bit.  Organize the photos.  Purchase only the essential.  Spend less time on Facebook and more actual Face Time with those I love and am actually friends with.

Above all I pray.  As I get older, maybe it’s the natural order of things, but I find I pray more.  I need to pray more.  I want to pray more.    I actually love to pray more.

Life is so short.  Some dreams come true and others don’t for all of us.    Still, if you’re here—well, then you’ve got a lot to be grateful for.  That’s reason enough to pray.  But if you’re suffering, that’s even more reason, because God wants to use it to make you better, stronger, kinder, smarter, healed and whole, or something else yet defined.    You don’t always get to choose your suffering, only your response to it.

Love those you have left in your left.  Make necessary repairs.    Think of all you have to be thankful for.   And pray.

Pray because our God is awesome!  Pray because He wants to bless you.  Pray because you need Him to reveal something about that which is causing you pain.  Pray because you need to know.  Pray for others.  Pray because once you actually start to count your blessings, you realize it’s not only more than you can count, it’s so much more than you deserve.    Pray because you don’t have to know it all or control it all.  Pray because you are alive and you still can.

Mick Jagger sang “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” until he publicly claimed he hoped he never had to sing it again.  Apparently the repetition of singing it failed to sustain satisfaction despite the royalties it provided.  Paul Simon reminds us in his clever song there really is at least fifty ways to leave your lover; another testimony that relational satisfaction is often temporal.

My only conclusion?  Fifty Shades is cotton candy compared to The Real Thing.   Fleshly desires or eternal?  Happy for now or satisfied forever?   Pick one.

So we cry out, whisper, or silently say our prayers.  And we wait, oh how we wait–trusting that God has heard us, all the while believing He is good and in control and that He loves us.    We step out in trust blindly walking by faith, knowing we don’t have to know it all, have it all, do it all, or be that which we can’t be.

We may spend periods of our life in solitude, but we are never alone.  We are indeed richly loved.  And that’s a mind-blowing connection and lasting satisfaction, we can joyfully hold on to.

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.  Isaiah 58:11 (ESV)

Liz with the mother and father who loved her when we lived in Oberhochstadt, Germany September,1965

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8

     What’s love got to do with it?  What’s love but a second hand emotion?  That’s what Tina Turner sang in 1984 when I was living in a mobile home with my then boyfriend.  Tina with her spiky hair, red lipstick, leather skirt, and sultry eyes begged this basic philosophical question when I was just 19.  MTV had just started airing videos, but this one sure struck a nerve in my head.  I knew that by living in a trailer park and “shacking up” I probably wasn’t seen by many who loved me as making the most mature of choices in the name of love.

A few months passed and I viewed the video several more times with friends we used to chill with on “our pit”.  You know, a pit sofa, also known as a sectional sofa, another 1980’s extravaganza.  I digress.  Anyway, I was the first from our group of couples, who in no uncertain terms made clear to my boyfriend, even though Beyoncé was barely out of diapers, that “if you like it, you really need to put a RING on it.”

So moving right along,  it’s May of 1985.  That boyfriend in the trailer?  Well, we got hitched.  OK; married is the upper class word.  We spent our honeymoon is Disney World and I turned 20 there.  Everything was hunky dory…..well, almost.  My mental maturity still hadn’t caught up to my physical maturity.  We worked full time by day, and shared dreams and made plans by night.  Still, insecurity reigned, at least on my part.  I laugh, and sigh a little bit in shame when I look back at all the times I cried over unsubstantiated jealousies,  and dished out bits and fits of rage when my husband worked late, all in the name of trying to improve our lot in life.

Soon our song was more like “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” with me constantly screaming “Do you love me, will you love me forever? Do you need me?  Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?    We may have tied the knot, but I seemed hell-bent on turning the other end of the rope into a noose around my husband’s neck, insisting that he stay at close range, and to please try, try, try for the thousandth time already to FOCUS more on our relationship (translation: me) than his work.

Ah yes, the crux of every relational woe.  Men go out and must climb the ladder of success to find meaning.  Women want to be the thing at the top they aspire to win, lay claim to, and above all relate to.  Thus begins the long painful journey of discovery.  You learn so much about one another, that you pretended you didn’t know when you were dating, or ‘just going with the flow.”

Like the tide of the ocean, you roll in and out of love with each other.  You hug, you argue, you scream, you laugh, you say you’re sorry, you make up, you make love, you wake up, and you repeat.  Before long, love does feel like a second hand emotion. Which is what exactly? The emotion that’s left over when all the other ones are thoroughly used up?  Anger, jealousy, desire, control?

Responsibilities increase.  Children arrive.  More cares, more things to do; you realize, things aren’t always wonderful, but somewhere in the process of building a home and a life, they’re not exactly terrible.  It’s a happy compromise, often filled with amazing moments.     Time starts to erode the rough edges of our selfishness, but also our dreams we may have had for ourselves a little bit too.

Years keep passing.  Kids go from diapers to car keys in what seems like a blink.  You notice your first gray hair.  One by one the kids leave and go off to college.   You begin to ask yourself, “Who am I now?  Who are we now?”

One of my favorite Christian authors is John Eldredge.  He completely nails this truth regarding love in his book The Journey of Desire:  “God promises every man futility and failure; he guarantees every woman relational heartache and loneliness.”   Think about that for a moment.  It’s true!  If you are old enough to remember life before smart phones, hybrid cars, Facebook, and Twitter, than you have probably already experienced this if you are either a man or a woman.  We learn we can’t have it all (success), give it all (what others need from us), or receive it all (what we need from them).

And sometime, hopefully before we retire, you finally have one of Oprah’s “Ah Ha” moments.  You realize, contrary to Jerry Maguire’s claim, another person cannot complete you.  Nor you, them.  We find our completeness in God.  Because try as we desperately might, we cannot completely arrange the life we desperately want in our head.  John Eldredge continues in The Journey of Desire: “Will life ever be what I so deeply want it to be, in a way that cannot be lost?”  He reminds us “We must have life; we cannot arrange for it.”

Oh, how painful my friends, and how true.  Yet, how totally freeing.  Once you can finally wrap your head around this and accept it, you will be set free.  Free from expecting others to love you the way you most need, and free from the insecurity that attaches to yourself when you feel like you may just not be enough to someone else.    Love will start to become less like a feeling, and more like the decision it was always intended to be—a decision to be true, to stay the steady course, to find a way to navigate through the darkness of life.

Love will be found in words you read and songs you hear in your head.  Love will also be found in deep friendships, and in life’s truest moments:  the majestic places you’ll travel and inspiring people you’ll meet.  Love will be found in the prayers you pray, the tears you shed, and cherished moments you engrave in your heart forever.  Love can even be the quest to act on those dreams you shelved for so long.

Tina was wrong.  Love isn’t a second hand emotion.  It’s a first responder action that saves lives and changes them, maybe even your own, when drawn from a higher power.

What’s love got to do with it?  Everything.

Love is a temple, Love the higher law……  U2  One