meditations for the moment

for the lonely hearts
the ones wrestling with the funk, the spiral
clawing up a hill that only seems to get steeper as you climb
may these meditations be a salve
may they be love letters to those needing a hug
may they be reminders of your worth
may you recall who you are and whose you are
trying your best
with new mercies and graces abound
my broken heart to yours
maybe together we experience a new kind of wholeness

11:11 by nancy ma

Oh My God WOAH

Last year at this time I started training with Completely Ridiculous and a class that really pulled me out of my sadness and self pity was a clown-based class. The heart of the work is to come back to delight, wonder, and hope. I think that’s also the heart fo life: coming back to the awe.

I may not walk around with a smile glued to my face nor recite Christian phrases like, it’s the joy of the Lord that does it for me! Praise be to those folks who genuinely hold that close to their heart and on their sleeves. I probably, once upon a time, was that too. Once in high school someone thought I was fake because I smiled all the time until he realized I was genuinely happy and wanted to be my friend. (Goodness please if you are reading this, remind me when this was because high school simply felt awful!) People would say my joy, my smile were infectious. Last year, a friend said, “Nancy…you seem….sad.”I think he meant more than the general allowed sadness we had; I was gray. I was heavy. I am still those things. These past 2 years, life in general, have dampened my outward infectious smile, or shortened the consistency of it.

But this new reality has made my moments of awe and wonder that much more powerful. Awe and wonder and delight can strike me at a moment’s notice, and I’m tearing up by the grace of god. I am more sensitive when wonder smacks me and pulls me up for air. Wonder by Bethel music gets me every time. Coming back to the present moment, like really coming back to it, gets me every time. Because I know the opposite. I’ve gotten comfortable on the other side. And the along with the doubt and despair plagued on the other side, I have also deepened my relationship with god in a way I need never to justify to anyone anymore. It can be lonely at times, and still I wouldn’t trade it for another journey to faith.

Today I will chase delight. Today I will smile at cute dogs. Today I will imagine that on the other side of this loneliness and lost land is gracious provision that will leave me saying, OH MY GOD. WOAH. WOW.

Faith led you to the Desolate

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.’ And the disciples said to him, ‘Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ They said, ‘Seven and a few small fish.’ And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.

Matthew 15:32-37

I find myself at this story every time I’m in a resource bind or a mindset of lack. Today I was listening to a Brene Brown podcast with Dr. Sonenshein about the concept of “stretching,” being resourceful and creative with what you already have. Stretching requires scrappiness, a clear focus on purpose/goals and a heart check on what really makes you joyful and full. Dr. Sonenshein touched on meditating on a time when you were stretchy. What were you feeling then? Who were you with? Can that power that is possible come flowing back now?

The disciples might have been too tired to think outside of the box. They might have lacked stretchy-ness because they were focused on their circumstances and their limitations. They might have been worried about Jesus’ well-being. When their guard is down and they blurt their truth, Jesus always makes room for a teaching moment. Jesus followed through with his compassion for the people. His feelings flowed into faithful action.

But what I rarely think about is the crowd. They have been with Jesus for three days. They are tired, hungry, surrounded, stranded, yet still there. They followed without knowing when their next meal would come. They were stranded in a desolate place with so many strangers. Yet here they are. They followed. They had faith. And they did get fed.

I don’t know where your plans and where life have taken you. You might feel stranded in some desolate place when you felt that you were following God, or what was the right thing to do. You’re surrounded by unfamiliar faces. Maybe worst, you feel alone, even though you seem to be surrounded by voices. God is preparing a feast for you. You are part of their miracle. You are not forgotten and your faith has indeed taken you to places no human mind could conjure up.

The Lonely Garden

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.’ And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’

Mark 14:32-36

There is a sense of purpose that only comes out of deep loneliness. There is a deep loneliness that exists when walking in steps of purpose.

Jesus’ ministry was bookended by alone time. After his anointing, he was led into the garden to be tempted and right before his death, was in Gethsemane to pray. These moments are more than time alone, (which for introverts is joy and for general humans useful). These were lonely moments. These are times when he knew only he could fulfill the specific task at hand. No one else would fully understand. He was the sole person who had this particular calling. No one else had this path. While he may have community by his side, it was he who would die, he who would rise, he who would change the world. It’s in this loneliness, that the existence and promise of the Father and the Holy Spirit are life lines.

I have dreaded loneliness by whole life, and still do, especially in these times. Even in my grandma’s crowded apartment during holiday meals, I felt alone. Even in the most intimate and fun hangs with best friends, this fog of loneliness eventually finds me. And if we are honest, it finds each of us if we dare pause long enough to not find a quick cover or distraction. In loneliness, I feel like I’m the only one seeing the world the way I’m seeing it right now. It feels like I’m a character misplaced in a world not my own. I am hit by the wave of the world’s ache and my feet are stuck in the ground so I cannot run, cannot hide. These are not pleasant, but they are expansive revelations that each of our lives has a calling and path no one on earth can fully comprehend. They may enter in and collaborate with you. There might even be moments of such deep alignment, you know those moments when you meet someone and think OH YOU GET IT, that you feel so connect. And hopefully on this track of life, there are other runners by your side and fans cheering you on. However, your purpose is yours and yours alone. As each of us fulfills our own purpose, together we’d change the world.

So in your loneliness, in your alone time, I hope along with the ache you feel the immense truth that you matter, and only you can do what is set out for you. God is with you. The Holy Spirit lead you. Jesus went before you.

Psalm 13: Express your Vengeance

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

There is nothing wrong with expressing your anger and even your desire for revenge. Sometimes the injustice of the world and your own loneliness are so palpable they overflow into cursing everyone else, especially those who seem to get away with everything. This world has full of those injustices. Those who deserve judgement may never get it. This who are helpless stay in their pits for way too long.

Express it fully.

Speak it out.

How much you want evil to crumple!

How much you want to be pulled out of the cave!

How God has forgotten you.

He hasn’t, but it certainly feels like it.

And your feelings are valid.

Violence is a response to unspoken anger.

Violence is what happens when we bottle it up and the lid explodes uncontrollably.

But if we can honestly express.

Honestly hear what we express.

We might see some of the things we hold as true, are not as true as the fact that —

God will come.

God has come.

God is here and has not left you.

Feel that fully.

Embrace that fully.

Speak out in praise!