Monday, October 19, 2009

A New Start at 42,000

On Saturday night I attended Ruby Berry's 60th birthday party. It was amazing to see this woman who spends her life pouring out love onto others, surrounded by the people who have been blessed by her faithfulness. And there were lots of people who had known her for years, who have done life with her, who shared stories of living and serving and growing in Christ together with her. It really impacted me and moved me to tears...
...not all happy ones.
You see, the Lord first gave me a glimpse of it in the Bible study I'm doing (The Search for Significance)--the fact that I AM GUARDED here. To a fault. Sure, I love. A lot. I care about the people around me here. But the past two or three weeks it's become (even painfully) obvious that I have a wall up living here in Georgia.

In California, I think I was pretty much wall-less. Born, raised, happy there. When Justin and I moved, it was certainly out of a "need to" rather than a "want to." And God's hand was very much in it--but sometimes God's leadings leave us kicking and screaming a bit, and that was how it was. And so even though God's compassions and provisions were evident on a daily basis here, I have come to realize that I have never let myself truly, truly be all here in my heart.
Even more than SIX YEARS LATER.

Another factor is that I am held back by fear of rejection. My first year at Mount Paran, I asked another teacher if she and her fiance' would like to come over for dinner. She didn't respond, changed the subject, and even seemed to avoid me for a bit. Later, I discovered that she had about a billion friends already, so I tried not to take it too personally that she didn't need one more. But all I wanted was ONE. And it hurt me very, very much, and set up how I would approach future interactions. Or, avoid them altogether, should I say.

I cried the whole way home from Ruby's party. All I could think was how Ruby has loved and opened herself up and been vulnerable, and the fruit of her faithfulness was all over that room. Jam-packed into that room! And yet while I do love and try to show love to those around me here, and I do try to be honest and real, I go out of my way to avoid any scenario in which I could be rejected. I don't call people up and ask to go to coffee or hang out very much, or like EVER. In a group setting, I'm fine. But one-on-one I'm just so gosh-darn scared of being rejected that I don't reach out to people. What do I have to show for six years here? Knowing that I haven't really tried, simply because it didn't go over so well the first time I did. I love Justin, Trevor and Aila with reckless abandon. I am lavish and unreserved in it. And while I genuinely care deeply for the people here, I can guarantee that if you don't live in this house or out in California, I have only been so willing to let you in. I'll happily love you, but won't go so far as to let you get close enough to hurt me. And it's terrible, tragic, and a waste.

So as I drove and cried and prayed, fully realizing the need for a change, for a tearing down of that wall I've so carefully constructed, I noticed that my odometer was at 41,999. The end of something. I pulled over and took a picture. Then when it hit 42,000, the beginning of something new, I took another picture. Kind of a visual to represent the end of this guarded season of my life and the beginning of sticking my neck out there. The start of taking risks. The commencement of a life that's more vulnerable, more susceptible, more real, more capable of giving and receiving love in this great state of Georgia.
Looks like we'll be here for awhile, so I want to be all here.

I don't know who reads this. But if you're someone with whom I've been guarded, I hope you can forgive me and be patient with me as I try to do things differently in His strength.

Guess I'm starting over at 42,000.


  1. Thank you, Thea, for trusting us enough to share your struggle. Most of us live our whole lives this way and don't even realize we are doing so.

    After an extremely hurtful time in our ministry, we were tempted to quit, because honestly, it would have just been easier. We were tired, hurt, feeling betrayed, etc... Closing off our hearts would have been the easiest, and most understandable, thing, but then God spoke to my (and Dave's) heart through a song that was popular at that time. We now have these words up in our bedroom as a reminder of how we want to live our lives.

    Two lines in the chorus say, "I will leave my heart wide open; I will love and have no fear." This is my prayer for us and I will pray that you will be able to do that, too. As you have found out, it is safer to close off from others in the short term, but we lose out big time in the long run.

    Start over, my friend, and risk loving others. Your life will be all the more rich for your boldness and bravery.

    Praying for you, Gena

  2. I love you, you want to get together for coffee or tea? :)