Tears are a language I know well, pain a companion I strive to learn from but often fight. Know that I write to you from a fully human place, it is why I write.
“Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
– I Corinthians 13:12(b) ESVi
So, today, I write with dreams and hopes that as I do, maybe together we’ll understand a little bit more, one more…part. For most of this year I’ve been contemplating and writing about love. It is united with faithfulness.
“Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”
We are etched in intention, engraved with purpose, a handwritten letter from Beloved to Beloved if we will. if we will. if we will.
I used to live as though the end of that sentence depended on, “if you will”, a universal other “you”— just anyone but me. I didn’t matter enough, in my mind, to count. I also didn’t believe I had the energy or capacity to do anything about it if I did.
I’m still unlearning that. Two things that have tended that unlearning along:
- Knowing many struggles, we blame and disqualify ourselves for, are tied into our physical body’s needs. oh humanity.
- Recognizing our only real limitations are in our mind. How we choose to think about ourself, is how we will live.
We are quick to feel shame and wrong for the struggle that is actually intended to remind us we are alive, intended to invite us to live awake. Wisdom calls even through our bodies as we lie awake in our beds at night.
We are geared in goodness, it is written into our very nervous system. Sometimes we call it fight or flight, like it is cute, or laughable. Laughing is good medicine yet, still, we were created to learn from elders, wise men and women to go before us and teach us how to listen to our body and how to instruct it as well. In their absence we must learn to listen to the story written into the world.
My own heart hurts with the stretching and firing that comes in this furnace of formation. I have been an earnest but clumsy disciple in this school of life. Respecting the nervous system given to me, not hating it, has taken time and quiet that I was convinced I did not have.
Respect and honor seem easier said than done. I think I would respect a grandmother in the faith, until she speaks slow and differently than me and I struggle to listen. Or, what is higher than honoring a babe being birthed from my body? Yet learning that my breaths were necessary for their oxygen stretched my practical way of living this out and meant unclenching my fists and releasing control, choosing breath over stress.
All of these things are simple, but not easy. All of these are learning that it’s never just about us, and yet we matter something shockingly.
In the autumn the earth sounds the call, “let go”, “let refinement”, but sometimes I mistake the grief in my body that responds to this call as a mistake itself. I forget that there is nothing wrong with feeling reality.
Loss comes only at a price, even if the deepest truth is that it is also rewarding. To stagnate and hold and hold and hold is the greatest loss of life. To prune and be pruned, to release, is to be prepared for greater life than we’ve yet known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; …
1 Corinthians 13:13
Writing about love this year has filled me and grown me, thank you to those of you who have shown up here and read my heart. Your togetherness changes everything and is profoundly felt and appreciated by me. Thank you.
I hope to soon report to you that the letters written here, to you all, are published in a new book I never intended to write! Funny, but I do love that it has come about and to get the opportunity to put these love letters in hands and homes. Wanna see a teaser of the cover?
I’m excited to share more with you about this project. The front cover and inside work is illustrated and designed by my husband Jay, working with him on a project like this is a dream come true for me.
Though contemplating lovingkindness can never come to an end and I have so much further I want us all to go in its deep and wide embrace, I am turning my attention to one of its greatest strands of truth—steadfast faithfulness, or as we sometimes simply call it: faith. This has been difficult, honestly, because I’m not good at completing one thing when beginning another, but it feels like time, so here we go… a new day. Come with me?
When I read the dramatic story of the man of God, Abraham, warmth envelopes and my sense of adventure awakens. At one point in his story we see him send a man, Eliezer, whom he had placed in charge of all his mighty household to go find a treasure for his son, Isaac. Eliezer was to go find a wife.
Setting out gift-laden for this future bride, Eliezer reflects great love for his master and a taking on of his own faith that he witnessed in his master Abraham. A veil gets pulled and we’re actually allowed to listen in to this man’s prayers. He entreated HaShem, the Lord, for lovingkindness, yet when Elohim of his master Abraham, answered He added not only love, but faithfulness…
“The man bowed his head and worshiped the LORD and said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the LORD has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.” (Genesis 24:26-27)
His worship makes me want to worship. His esteem for his father figure, Abraham, makes me want to live wider, deeper, larger, stiller…
Then I realize I get to, right now, here in this place.
Faithfulness is not a far away thing.
It has taken a path of gritty transformation for those words to be real to me. I have watched this grow and stem from understanding more about the word used for faith in the New Testament (B’rit Chadashah in Hebrew, meaning “new covenant”), namely that “faith” would often be best understood, and has historically been understood, as faithfulness.
Track with me while I try to do my best at explaining what I mean by this? The Greek word often used for faith, pistis, is most often used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament) when translating the words for faithfulness.
To get a picture of this, we can see this word we use for faith, in its first use in Exodus 17:12,
But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. (Ex. 17:12 ESVi)
And he (Abraham) believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.(Gen. 15:6 ESVi)
It is easy to think that if we keep all of this faith-stuff as a mental ascent, something ethereal, then we keep the emphasis on what only God can do, but do we? Isn’t the emphasis (as well as the blame) often still upon us, relying on our own ability to conjure up enough “belief” so as to have “faith”…
Yet, when we see and understand our wholeness there is always an invitation to put the emphasis on who God is. We are invited to be found within the declaration that every fibre of our being already knows: He is the faithful One, worthy of trusting, worthy of living our lives like Abraham did, moving out into the unknown because God is trustworthy.
And so faithfulness will always be born of faithfulness, as love is always born of love. We love because we have first been loved, we are faithful because He is first faithful and able to be trusted.
This is not a call to a perfectly steady mind that never has a doubt, no—doubts are integral to a life of steady faithfulness, just like hands are integral to holding upraised arms steady. God has always known that, it’s us that gets to figure it out. He is not afraid of our doubts, neither should we be.
Play, breathe, enjoy all this wonder we’ve been given today. It is a miracle.