Thursday, September 21, 2017

Melting heart

You may have noticed that I don't write as often as I used to. A reason for this is the pace of growth seems to have slowed. As evidence,  I believe I have a new record for how long it's taken me to read a book. I'm eighteen months into Changes that Heal by Dr. Henry Cloud and I still have 60 plus pages to go. Reading for integration rather than information is slow work.

In the last six months, it feels like I've been playing with a new puzzle. The pieces have come together and I have something new to offer. The latest segment began last spring when I left a women's retreat with two words - melted heart. The speaker had shared a prayer with us that had developed in her life over time. Her prayer, "Lord, I am willing to receive what you give, release what you take, lack what you withhold and do what you require and be who you desire." When we were asked if there were any invitations to us in this prayer, the words - melted heart - appeared.

In early summer, after continuing my lent practice, (reflecting on moments when I had chosen to be judgemental and also considered the Lord's desire to let Him be with me in all things) I started to realize how effective these two practices were in helping me identify hard places in my heart. I began to long for and receive what I needed for melting those places. Two plus two!

In the slowness of summer, I was seeing something new. I started to notice moments when I would self-protect. It was like hard spots of my heart and self-protection were teaming up. As teams do, they had a playbook. I was like an athlete with well-honed skills. Rather than muscle memory, I had heart memory and  I would execute the play without even thinking. Recognizing this was sad and brought up new questions. What will it take to melt this heart of mine? Will I be able to embrace a new way or ask for the help? More than ever before I believed I will not be able to change on my own and change only comes when I choose something or someone new to trust.

I began to pray with a sense of purpose and hope for a melted heart. I longed to have what I needed to avoid self-protecting. What did I need? I needed fear to be replaced with love, trust, and courage. And so the opportunities to develop and practice a new playbook began to appear.

From this vantage point, two opportunities stand out. That is because they were similar to situations from my past. But something was different. I was different. This time around, I was completely filled with freedom and peace as I trusted the Lord. And I really mean the word completely. It was shocking. What a huge contrast with the past. A year ago, in a similar situation, I was completely filled with fear and paralyzed by it. In something altogether different, I was spinning with so much anxious energy that I was left exhausted.

It was like I kept blinking to see if I was awake or dreaming. I kept saying, "I just can't get over how different I am in my response."Those responses were the fruit of newly melted spots. My melted, pliable and trusting heart had capacities to love that were simply impossible before. Growth. Can I get an "Amen"?!

Even as I write a new connection appears, last December I felt compelled to memorize a prayer from Romans, "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him." Can you see it? The Lord has been powerfully answering this prayer. It inspires me to dare to dream these qualities will become hallmarks of my life in more and more circumstances. What an amazing dream?!

Why do I share this? My answer is the twelfth step of the Twelve Confessions. "Having experienced some measure of authentic transformation as a result of surrendering all aspects of myself to power and presence of Christ, I will carry this message to others and continue to practice these principles in all my affairs." May God be seen, recognized and trusted. Amen

Helpful companions:
Unlikely Rebel by Kelli Gotthardt
Apprenticeship with Jesus: Learning to live like the Master by Gary Moon- Twelve Confessions which closely resemble the Twelve Steps from AA- see pg. 41

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