Life in the arena. Learning to trust love.

I turned 31 last week and I headed off on one of the most wonderful and special weekends to celebrate. Above are some of the highlights.

On the drive I also listened to this song by Audrey Assad.

From the love of my own comfort,
From the fear of having nothing,
From of life of worldly passions,
Deliver me O God.
From the need to be understood,
From the need to be accepted,
From the fear of being lonely,
Deliver me O God.
From the fear of serving others,
From the dear of death and trial,
From the fear of humility,
Deliver me O God.
And I shall not want,
I shall not want,
When I taste Your goodness,
I shall not want.

If you are anything like me, these words honestly provide different challenges at different times.

Some days they’re truly inspiring. Some days they throw up questions for me.

Some days I do not feel delivered, even though I want to be.

Sometimes I’m a paradox of wants.

Some days I’m scared of loneliness.

Some days I’m scared of being forgotten.

Some days I’m scared of not having enough worldly wealth.

Or enough of the praise of man.

Some days I’m scared that God’s forgiveness isn’t big enough.

That His restoration isn’t complete enough.

That His provision and His promises just won’t be enough.

And most often I’m proud. And second often I’m confused. And the rest of the time I don’t have it all sorted out. And half the times I read the words of this prayer and feel like a hypocrite.

Which is why, in each and every moment of each and every day, I choose to run to God and not away from Him.

I choose Him.

I choose to pray these words and sing this simple heart-song out before Him.

Because I know that even in my weakness, in my sin and in my desire for all the wrong things. In my fear. In all of this stuff that I wrestle with.

His grace is still the ocean that I love.

He is the God who I love.

It is He whose kindness leads me to change.
It is He who I love.

And it is He who loves me.

Even when I’m a messy paradox of struggle and victory and growth and change.

I’ve been reading a lot recently. Because I still struggle with some of this stuff. Honestly. Not in a bad way, but in a striving for the freedom and the best of all God has for me kind of way.

And one of the books on my recent reading list has been Rising Strong by Brene Brown.

I really and truly recommend this book.

It’s really liberating. And although it’s not written from an overtly Christian perspective, I think the message of the book is completely challenging and relevant.

She often quotes a 1910 Teddy Roosevelt speech in her work which says,

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

This idea that we should be in the arena, even when we fail and even when we’re down for the count. Because living in the arena is where the magic happens.

I talk about this all the time. This beautifying work of the Gospel. The fact that we can completely forgive and be completely forgiven and live totally free…

I know that, and I believe that, and I’m basing my whole future on the fact this grace is true…

But yet, if I’m really honest I still struggle with this sometimes.

And I want to be really honest. Because I don’t think I’m the only one.

And I think it’s rooted in forgiving myself. You know, we get so caught up on loving our neighbor, but that has to start a little close to home. It has to start with knowing that even in my mess and my vulnerability and my brokenness, I am worthy enough to come into the courts of God and climb onto my Daddy’s lap and be welcomed home. He makes me worthy of His love. And that is the end of the story.

Brene Brown writes about her belief that everyone is doing the best they can. That at all times and in all things, every person is doing the best that they can. Including us. Do we still make mistakes? Of course. Do we still hurt others? Of course. Do we still majorly mess up? Of course. That is why I believe we are in desperate need of Jesus. That is why we need to be a forgiven and a forgiving people. That is why we leave the judging of hearts up to the God who sees the motives and the reality.

But man, reading those words was liberating.

Because holding on only to a belief that everyone is doing the best they can, frees me to love my neighbor as myself. It frees me to be loved and to love. It frees me to forgive and be forgiven. It frees me to not carry around the weight of my mistakes or the mistakes of others. It frees me to not carry around the weight of the words or expectations of others, whether they be well intended or badly directed.

It frees me to receive the love of God that is poured out without restraint and to pour out love without restraint.

I realized that in the moving forward of a season and the changing of life, I’ve been going through a lot of healing recently. But with healing comes dealing with stuff long buried. Healing comes with feelings of fear. And healing comes through tilling the old ground so that new seeds of love can be planted. Learning that it’s okay to step out into vulnerability. Learning that it’s okay to trust completely. Learning that it’s okay.

Learning that love is enough. And that perfect love casts out fear.

As Maya Analou says: ‘Have the courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.’

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