May My Dreams Be More Powerful Than My Memories

Memories are these mysteriously paradoxical things.  At their best, they help us form the foundation of our lives. Acting like anchors, they secure us to people, places, our culture, our stories and our history.  They give us a place to from which to launch when we are ready to spread our wings and explore…and a place to land when a season of life exhausts us, when we are hurt, and needing to rest.  They create a filter through which we make future decisions, enabling us to recognize what we like, what is dangerous, what we hope to repeat or avoid. They have the potential to make us smile, reminding us of the joy we’ve experienced, of the people we love, of our most human moments when we touch something divine within us and feel the pleasure of our Maker.  In the darkest night of the soul, they can remind us that the sun used to shine, that if we can just wait long enough, it will shine again, and that sometimes, there are treasures to be found in the darkness.  No wonder God encourages His people to remember… (Ps. 103:2, Ps. 105:5) Our stories are powerful. Everyone should have a few snapshots of genuinely happy moments from their lives, if not stuck to their refrigerator door, then to their hearts, where they can encourage us when we need it most.

At their worst though…memories can be terrible tyrants, rubbing our noses in our failures, in our shame, in our disappointments and heartbreaks.  Instead of an anchor, they act like a ball and chain, tying us to a past we would rather leave behind.  They alter our perceptions of who we are and who God is…and their sometimes uncertain nature makes them a dangerous tool in our enemy’s hands.  Destructive memories can follow and punish us with a ferocity that makes us wince internally and hide from others externally.  Their wounds can be ingrained, like an ill-timed footprint in the wet cement of our hearts.  It is there forever, and forever marring what might have otherwise been beautiful…what was intended by our Maker to be beautiful.  In the darkest nights of the soul, these are the memories that taunt us, telling us that the sun will never shine again, and that the God who made the sun, who made us and who allowed our memory to happen, must not love us because of how unloveable it all makes us feel.  No wonder God also encourages His people to forget… (Is. 43:18, Phil. 3:13) Our stories are indeed powerful.  Everyone has memories like this, taped not to our refrigerator door for all to see, but hidden away in the most vulnerable, and most private places in our hearts.

In light of all this, I have a complicated relationship with my past.  Alternately grateful and regretful. Recognizing the value of owning my past, but not letting it own me.  Not wanting to leave it all behind, but not wanting to bring it all with me either. Knowing the lens I use to look at it changes its value.

Oh Jesus, may my dreams be more powerful than my memories! 

May my life be anchored, not to what was, but to who You are, and to what You’ve promised will be.

May my life be energized by hope, by a future focus, and with the optimism of one who knows that You heal broken things, and that You resurrect dead things from the grave.

May my heart be open to the possibility that tomorrow can be better than today.

May the happiness I’ve been blessed with be a reminder that the joy I feel here is but a foretaste of what is to come.

May the sadness I’ve endured be transformed in Your hands… into a doorway that leads to knowing You more… into plowed ground in which my compassion for those in pain grows… into a prized story I treasure and get to share, because You met me in the middle of it and changed its ending.

May I find and chase after the dreams You’ve given me, that You created me to dream…and may I learn to build my life around them…not on the memories that would restrain me.

May the painful memories of my past… become things that have happened to me…not things that define me.

May I be more motivated to pursue what is before me than chased by what is behind me.

May I be willing to let some things from the past go in order to make room for what will come.

May I take You at Your word when You say I am a new creation, that the old has gone, and the new has come…and that the life sitting before me is a gift, is safe, and holds the potential for my deepest satisfaction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Value of Sitting, Being Present, Being Still and Listening (Jesus pt. 88)

It was early one morning and I was sitting with my Jesus, trying to be present, trying to be still, trying to listen. The moment wasn’t about communication with words. It was about being where He was. About making a physical statement that I wasn’t trying to move away.  About opening my heart rather than trying to fix it on my own. About getting quiet enough to see what would happen and how He would lead our time together.

Mug from our honeymoon. Bible. Journal. Jesus.

And parts of the experience were so frustrating.

I would start to form words to talk with Him when I sensed I just needed to sit, to be present, to be still, to listen. My mind would begin to wander to things I tried to convince myself were important… that were important… and I’d sense the need to sit, to be present, to be still and to listen. To park them in the proverbial parking lot so He and I could get to them later while we did this other, more pressing work in our relationship. Eventually, my thoughts slowed down and the mental distractions diminished.

Then my heart began to weigh in. Emotions unexpectedly emerged. As Jesus asked me to sit there in my office that morning, it was representative of how it has felt as He’s asked me to sit here during this prolonged season of life. Where the most exciting thing He’s asked of me some days is to sit, to be present, to be still, to listen. I found myself feeling so unvalued. So unloved. And by extension, so unvalue-able and so unloved-able.  I had recently watched many near me get really great, fun and exciting assignments…opportunities that have taken them to really great, fun and exciting places to serve Him, to love His people and those who are on their way to becoming His people. I couldn’t help but feel that my assignment during the same time must indicate something of how He feels about me. That my greatest contribution must be getting out of other people’s and His way.

By sitting with my Jesus, by being present, by being still and listening, I was putting myself in a position for important but hidden things in my heart to emerge. To hear Him speak to me about those things. And oh, how I needed to hear Him speak to me! One thing I’ve learned about walking with Jesus over the years…while He may not always change my external circumstances…when He speaks, He always changes my internal condition. He always changes something in me. He always changes me.

Sitting, being present, being still and listening are doors to relationship with Him. Microphones that allow me to hear His voice when normal life might drown Him out. Hammers that bust up the box I try to put Him in. Tender embraces where He holds me close and with great affection.

Life ebbs and flows in seasons. Some appearing busier than others to the untrained eye. Some falling into different categories by the world’s method of categorizing things – like usefulness, value, love. God’s cycle of seasons can look very different than our preferences, His categories defying our natural predilections. What appears to some as dormant on the outside can be bustling with activity on the inside. Healing from the past. Preparation for the future. Special gifts in the present that would go unnoticed if life were busier. What I think may be a statement of low worth and lack of love can actually be a powerful indicator of great worth and deep love. God is surprising and mysterious that way.

What I thought that morning was the pinnacle of passivity became a most powerful and active demonstration of His love in my life.  And it was open to me because I was willing to learn to sit, to be present, to be still and to listen.