Today as I drove to work lost in my thoughts, only half listening to the Christian music station playing in the background, some of the words interrupted my thoughts, “You are not alone….”. I immediately thought of the scripture I had read on Saturday as I prepared my lesson for my Bible Study class I teach on Sunday morning. “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know! I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.” Psalm 139:1-12. I am blown away by these verses! Aren’t you? Just think about this revelation for a moment. The God of the universe, the creator of EVERYTHING, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God is attentive to you…to me! There is no place we can go, that He is not there with us! Even into that pit you take yourself, where you think you are destined to live out your life…NOPE!….He’s there. When I’m walking through life, and everything seems chaotic, NOPE!…He’s there! When I’m laying in my bed at night, darkness surrounding me, only the sound of my husband’s breathing can be heard and I replay the day, trying to figure out how to make ends meet….NOPE! He’s there too! When I am alone and disappointed over something or someone….NOPE! He’s right there too! Recently I listened as someone prayed in church service asking God to reveal His presence….I was thinking, “Silly man, He’s already here!” The truth is this….we don’t acknowledge the truth that He is ALWAYS with us! We ignore His presence, run from His presence, look somewhere else for His presence, but according to these verses, His presence is already with us! We want fireworks, rushing wind or a pillar of smoke…not just His presence. He will not slap us in the back of the head and say “I’m right here stupid!” He waits for us to acknowledge He is there….I truly believe that. It’s in those moments that we stop, breathe in the truth that He is right there with us, that we “feel” His blanket-like presence wrap around us. I love that He is not chasing us around like a little kid trying to get their parent’s attention, but He’s there, always there. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He’s looking ahead, checking out our path that He has prepared for us, He knows the words that are about to come from our mouths – even when they may not be pleasing to Him or glorify Him – He still knows. The idea that He would still place His hand upon our heads in blessing is just too big to comprehend! That is unconditional love, people! He knows my thoughts. That is just frightening! I know what goes on inside my head, no one would want to be there! But He knows… He is there to lift my head when I am weary, He is there to comfort me when I am heartbroken, He is there to hold me when I am afraid, He is there to push me forward when I need encouragement to go on, there is absolutely no place I can hide from or be lost from Him. We just have to acknowledge He is there to benefit from being in His presence… So, today, sitting there looking at this computer screen, reading my silly blog (which I appreciate, by the way!), close your eyes for a moment, and just breathe. Acknowledge that He is with you! Allow His presence to fill you and wrap around you like a warm blanket. I promise, you will feel it and you will be overwhelmed by Him.
Who am I? Or who do people think I am? I ask myself that sometimes and ponder deeply who I am and what I am here for, or I wonder what people really think of me. I wonder myself sometimes about other people. Who are they really? Have I just determined who I think they are because of their actions or their relationship to me or what they tell me? Do I look beyond the chatter and actions and see the person behind the mask. Because believe me, people wear masks! I am beginning to believe that I do not really know anyone! I only know the person they want me to see, the person they present to me. Which brings me back to my to my first two questions of who am I or who do people think I am. Better yet, who is the person I let people think I am. Complicated, huh! We seem to present a different persona to different people, depending on the environment and situation. It’s true! We want people to like us. We want people to respect us. There are those rare individuals who are the same, whether at work, home, church or at play. But, I think they are rare. I want to be that person. And I think I am that person. But I can’t be certain.
Among believers, the people who I worship with, the people who I see several times a week at church whether in worship or in service, the people who have been walking this walk of faith with me for years, these people are the people I seem to be most susceptible to believe they are who they say they are. But, I am wrong. It has a deeply disturbing effect on me when it turns out they aren’t who they say they are! I chew on it for days! I lay awake at night searching through memories trying to figure out how I could be so gullible! I ponder on how they could go in a direction that is so contrary to the words I heard from their mouths over the years and I try to figure out a plan of action to bring them to their senses! I waver between getting them alone and talking sense into them or throwing a bag over their heads, taking them to a secluded location and beating some sense into them! But, sadly, that is not my job. How do I know that, God told me so! I can’t fix everything. He can use me but I can’t make them change their path. That stinkin’ free will thing always gets in the way!!! But God knew what He was doing when He created us this way, and I don’t want to go second guessing the Creator!
But seriously brothers and sister in the faith, be who you really are! Quit trying to fake people out! Quit trying to play some stinking Shell Game where we have to pick the right shell to see the real you!!! Life is hard enough in this world without having to be suspicious of every person calling themselves a Christian. If you are a Christian, you should walk, talk, act and make decisions like a person who believes the ENTIRE Word of God, not just the parts that are convenient.
Who am I? I hope when you answer that question you would say “Dana is a woman who believes every Word in the Bible. She loves the Lord with all her heart. And she tries as hard as she can to live a life that honors Him. She is loyal. She is compassionate. She is merciful. (no snickers from anyone!). She speaks her mind sometimes when she should be quiet and ponder. If you don’t want her real opinion, don’t ask her. She is fierce when it comes to her family, her children, her friends and the students she teaches. She tends to be self-condemning, but she knows it and is working on that. She believes people can turn around and do great things for God. She believes people can make a difference in other’s lives and in this dark world. She tries to see the positive, but is sometimes anxious and overwhelmed by the ugliness of this world, but likes to reclaim the truth that GOD IS IN CONTROL! She wants to make a difference in this world but is not always certain as to how that looks for her. She is sometimes unrealistic. (but thanks to her loving husband of 23 yrs she has learned to overcome some of that) She believes in marriage between one man and one woman (it’s in the BOOK people, read it). She believes there is a positive side to everything (except sin). She loves family vacations with her hubby & 3 girls with no fussing! She believes we are all called by God to do something specific. She gets more frustrated with believers who know right and do wrong than she does with lost people who do wrong. She struggles with wanting everyone to like her and believing that most people don’t. She struggles with feeling like she is invisible. She gets mad at herself when she does the right thing even when she doesn’t want to do the right thing. (what is that about!) She hates being overweight, and hates that as hard as she tries she just can’t lose the weight. She wants to be a published writer, but thinks it will never happen. She does not struggle with “gray areas” contrary to some peoples opinion (because you guys, there aren’t really that many gray areas). But I hope people would mostly say, she is not a fake.
So, friends, if you are still with me and still reading, ask yourself the same questions. And if you are really brave, and want to know what other people think about you, ask me, I’ll probably tell you.
I listened to the quiet. It was summer and my children lay in blissful slumber. I slowly got up and walked to the bathroom. Stopping in front of the mirror I looked at the woman before me. “Who are you?” I thought, leaning closer to get a better look. “Who are you?” I asked out loud this time. The sleepy face in the mirror stared back at me confused.
I looked down at the counter at the photos I had found the night before. Staring up at me was a fresh faced eighteen year old. “Who are you?” I asked the girl in the photo. She smiled, her hair perfect, skin flawless, eyes full of expectation. Aspirations of becoming a famous writer sought after by every agent in the publishing industry flooded through my mind. I looked back at the woman standing in the bathroom mirror and back at the girl in the picture. Were they the same person? Twenty-five years had changed everything. The woman in the mirror had hair sprinkled with gray….highlights, she jokingly told her friends. Freckles covered her face from sun exposure. Eyes now surrounded by little creases, looked very tired. Weight gain from pregnancies had not disappeared as hoped, and her face had become rounder. “Who are you” I asked her once again, agitated that no answer came. Suddenly I heard a voice “You don’t know either, huh?” Did I say that? Did she say that?
Where was that girl in the picture from twenty five years ago? Marriage, babies, potty training, laundry, ball practices, school projects, dinners, the list was endless. It had been years since I had sat down to put words on paper. “When did you get so old and fat?” I asked her. She frowned this time. Then I heard the words “Are you writing?”
Tears filled my eyes. Memories of dreams, tucked deep in my heart came flooding back. A dream that might not be worth removing and dusting off, I thought. “Tend your dreams” the words of a writer friend rang in my ears.
Then, as if someone was standing next to me, I heard “Dana, your real excuse is fear. Fear that you won’t be good enough, fear that you will fail.” This was too much, I backed up and sat down on the side of the tub and began to cry. I was afraid. Afraid that it was just one of those dreams never realized. The voice returned “What are you going to do about it?” I sat there for some time thinking, then from somewhere deep within, a renewed passion began to stir and a renewed strength found its voice and declared “I am going to write. Good or bad, I am going to write. Talent or not, I am going to write. Published or not, I am going to write.”
Joy bubbled up from somewhere. I stood and looked at the woman in the mirror. There was new sparkle in her eyes, her cheeks were flushed and she had a smile on her face. Walking closer to the mirror, I looked intently at her and introduced myself, “Hello, I’m Dana and I am a writer.”