Filling the Holes in our Hearts
Some time back I searched through a number of Christian blogs. I was looking for a tiny bit of encouragement, a message of hope, or an uplifting post. What I found was eleventy thousand posts all dealing with the negative and the hardships and the trouble with life.
[Yes it’s a real number, and it’s mine.]
When we have holes in our spiritual life, they are not necessarily filled by focusing on the bad, by reworking and reliving and re-discussing the negative situations we encounter daily. We can’t fill those holes by dwelling on them.
Just like a hole in the side of a boat, the holes in our spiritual cloth must not be left open; if they are, the good that is inside will leak out and the dirty water that is outside will leak in. Instead, they need to be plugged with a different substance. Sometimes they are filled by hearing a positive message. Often they are filled by other people.
Those holes in our spiritual life represent our neediness. We need/want to be accepted. We want to feel loved. We want to believe we are worthy. We want to know for sure that we are forgiven.
I remember a friend observing someone….she said, “He has a hole in his heart that needs to be filled with the love of God.”
She was right.
Often we go to others to get these needs filled, and something different happens. We think we will get help. We think that our community holds the answers, they are more mature, or they have a higher position, or they’re older so they know better.
Instead of helping us patch the holes they drag us down. And we would have known this would happen, had we read our Bibles:
Isaiah 14:10 They will all respond,
they will say to you,
“You also have become weak, as we are;
you have become like us.”
“But wait!” You cry, “I didn’t want to become like them! I’m not supposed to.”
You would be right. Because you have that hole in the boat, and you decided to repair it using rotten wood and a toy hammer–your friends– instead of the grind and patch process, now you’re part of a different community. In this community, everybody’s boat is on dry land. It’s like a sea of boats except they’re not on the sea; they’re all laying side-by-side in a vast field of brokenness.
“All I wanted was to feel loved,” you say, feeling hopelessly off course and off kilter.
Ah, but it’s the way you went about it that was wrong. It’s the way we all go about it that moves us so far from True North.
C.S. Lewis said, “We do not want to merely “see” beauty–though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”
We want to belong.
That’s the crux of the matter.
It is why we reach out, over and over, to the wrong places in the wrong people. It’s why we can’t stop trying, even when we say we are going to. How many times do we say “Never again will I—“
We are compelled to keep reaching.
When your heart is only half full, it is easy to reach in the wrong direction. It is only when we see dirty water leaking into the boat that we realize what we’ve done. It wasn’t helpful, but detrimental. It wasn’t quenching your thirst, instead it left you begging for more. And when left alone, that heart will not fill up by itself. Next time, drink water straight from the source:
John 7:37,38 “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (MSG)
Rivers. Of living water.
Rivers that brim
And spill from your depths, my depths
Imagine the beauty, the fulfilment of brimming with the Holy Spirit until we spill over.
Sounds like there are no more holes, doesn’t it?
Thank you, God!
Coming face to face with our own insecurities
I am currently working (slowly) through the book The Creative Call by Janice Elseheimer, shown here.
It’s really written–I think– more for people who are younger [than me] and deciding whether to follow a creative path or take the more practical road. I’m doing it simply because I love books, and especially love reading literature that is related to using our gifts and talents.
So it surprised me when the ‘homework’ said to think deeply on your past and write down limitations that came from another person.
I was even more surprised when I actually did it.
Because what happened was that voice, the voice of another girl in my class at school a hundred years ago, echoed as if she were standing right here. The years fell away and I had that same knot in my stomach, the same shortness of breath accompanied by tense, rounded shoulders and the cringing, shameful feeling of I’m not good enough.
I can’t go into the particulars or I will out the perp, so I have to jump over the specific things that were said. They hurt me to the core. They were multiple assaults. The person in question is one of those people you suppose “has it all,” so I’m not sure why she said the things she did.
My mother probably told me, “she’s just jealous.”
Yet what she said is still echoing in my head…. and we are about to have our 35th class reunion.
Good student that I am, I ruminated on the voice, the words, the results for a good 24 hours. Yes, I have limited myself in that particular art because of that person. I have skipped chances that would have driven me to the top, and given self-talk that would make your hair stand on end.
And yet God made me good enough.
He made me exactly the way He wanted me to be. And I think when He creates us, He expects us to use the talents He gave us. Instead I have spent a lifetime hiding mine under the proverbial bushel, fighting it, struggling with it, and asking Him why in the world He gave me this talent that hangs like an albatross around my neck.
A talent I love, and at the same time I despise.
It weighs me down, I tell Him.
That’s not what weighs you; look again, He urges.
Sure enough, it’s the words, the mean hateful youaren’tgoodenough words, that’s what weighs me down. THAT is the albatross around my neck.
I tried to think on the words and feel the hurt and throw it all out the window. Forward, forward; we always need to go forward and not back. Then I realized I didn’t know what forward really looked like. So, like any intelligent soul, I went to Facebook. (Hah!)
Have you ever thought deeply on your past and realized you limited yourself for years because of what someone else said? How did you come to terms with it?
Here’s What They Said
- Yes. Then I looked at myself in the mirror. Called myself a dumb *** when I realized it was about the other person’s insecurities.
- Yes!! I just keep moving forward now.
- There’s a Christian 12-step program called Celebrate Recovery that is for dealing with “hurts, habits and hang-ups.”
When someone hurts you, it’s important to feel it, not stuff it, *says the Queen of Stuffingit.
Be sure to put it into perspective. If you stuff it and don’t think about perspective, the hurtful words grow. They become like a twisting, fire breathing dragon up over you when in fact maybe the person is a little shorter than you and the words are just small, momentary bits that go into the air and dissipate.
Yes, dissipate! Poof, there they go! Words weren’t meant to linger in your brain hurting you forever.
Remember too, wherever that person was in life at that moment probably also contained insecurity. She was having a bad day, or her cat died, or she was insanely jealous because your mother let you do whatever you wanted and her mother was really strict.
Yes that’s a babified example; I was in high school, remember?
And this: She wanted to put you down? So what?
So what works really well for me. Bad Tanya, the one on my shoulder, wants me to start saying it aloud. Good Tanya says nuh-uh. Bad Tanya says Maybe if I see her at the reunion I’ll say SO WHAT?
an app Bible Verse for that?
Of course. There are several Bible verses for moving on/ moving forward:
Isaiah 43:18 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
2 Corinthians 5:17 The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! (MSG)
Philippians 3:12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running,and I’m not turning back. (MSG)
Job 17:9 The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (ESV)
And of course, stay in your Bible:
Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Psalm 119:110 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
(Verses from the NIV, unless otherwise noted.)
I truly feel better already. Knowing that I am made in His likeness, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that God’s Word lives in me–that’s exciting. Reading His Word is exciting. Feeling empowered by His Word–that’s exciting.
If you’ve had an experience like this one, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I have a cockatiel that loves to whistle the song “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands.” He of course, can’t clap his hands claws, so he clicks with his tongue. He likes that song so much he tangles it into most of the other things he whistles. As a result of hearing it 14 hours a day, I sing it a lot too. Sometimes I even clap.
I wonder how our lives would be different if we continually sang such a song? It could be out loud, or simply in our heads. It doesn’t have to be a child’s verse. It can be your own creation. It could be a hymn or praise song, or just a mantra. Something to reflect the deep joy of being alive, being God’s creation…just being. We are promised:
1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
True joy floods the soul. It overwhelms with a sense of comfort, of well-being, of love.
One reason we don’t feel that joy continually is that we don’t slow down. We’re overstimulated, bombarded with noise and offers and things that want to pull us in every direction all day, every day. Because of that, we are in such a hurried, harried state of mind that we miss the joy. What a tragedy!
Here are some ways to be sure you experience the joy:
Savor the existence of the Father. Slow down to feel His presence, to appreciate His intervention.
“Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30:21
Who else but us has this awesome private GPS signal?
Savor the blessings. “What?” you ask, startled. As if there isn’t a blessing.
You’ve probably been so buried in work and home and church and life that you forgot about blessings altogether.
If one doesn’t come to mind immediately, try simply loving the moment. Spend today, just a day, loving your tiny patch of the world, with all its warts and turmoil and chaos and stuff. No, the world isn’t perfect. Yes, you wish your daughter wasn’t such a drama queen. You don’t understand why your friend talks behind your back, nor why your husband insists on being so loud.
But all in all, the world is a pretty good place and you are blessed.
Be the Optimist. You know that gal who’s always positive, who always sees the blessing in a situation? Be her.
To an optimist, obstacles are challenges. Waiting is God’s way of making you grow. She never sees loss as failure, but as a chance to change, and she opens her eyes for the next blessing headed her way.
People who think this way see life as full of opportunities. They tune in to God in order to see what awesome adventure is coming next. Their upbeat attitude is contagious.
You see, even non-Christians know that deep joy can’t happen until you are able to slow down, to embrace, to radically experience it. Sometimes the smallest things can bring great joy. Pause and allow yourself to encounter joy today.
Need More? Try the Get Closer to God ecourse.
I confess. I’ve submersed myself in art and creativity this week, to the exclusion of almost everything else.
While doing that, my mental wheels were turning as I began to plan the second book of my “One Step Closer” series. (The first ebook is here.) I actually got a lot of physical work done while the mental work went on.
I made wreaths. Ordered more wreath supplies. (click to enlarge photos)
Large Burlap and Blue Beach Wreath
Worked on my latest painting:
Doesn’t it look a ton better with that road gray instead of pink?
And started a beaded necklace with a stone cabochon as the focal, which I blogged about here.
What do you do when the creative muse strikes?
I’ve been thinking on this blog for months. Actually not just the blog, but the entire website. Does it meet its purpose? Why am I feeling like it’s a weight around my neck lately? Am I burned out? Should I stop writing?
My focus over the past few years has been narrow. I did it that way on purpose. But now I have the God>I website to handle the “narrow focus” part, plus I’m feeling rather squished in this box, the one I put myself in.
You see, I secretly have desired to expand into more lifestyle-oriented topics, yet I want to honor who I am as a child of God. Is that possible?
Well, of course it is, I decided; after all we struggle and think on and marinate in all our daily “stuff.” Things like, should I switch churches? Should I send my child to Christian school? Do I really act as a wife/mother/teacher ought to act? What do other people do when X does XYZ?
And I would like to share my wreaths, handmade jewelry, and *maybe even* my paintings-in-progress with you. And yes, recipes. But I’ve felt that I shouldn’t, in order to be true to the ‘purpose’ of the blog.
Then there’s my voice. I talk to you like I speak in person, but I’d really like to talk to you like I think. Like I speak to myself in my head. The silliness, the fun jokes I don’t ever share; I see humor almost everywhere. Really. You didn’t know that, did you?
You thought I was some serious Jesus freak. You were both right, and wrong.
So friends, we’re gonna fix this thang.
Starting now, we are going to embark on a new adventure. First, I am melding the website and blog into one. It has a new look. (Do you like it? I wanted something reaaaally girly) And I’m going to talk about the mundane things of life, the things that affect us whether we are Christians or not, whether we are thinking Christlike thoughts in that moment or not, and whether we are doing the right thing.
I might even share a recipe or two.
I believe this will enable us to have dialogs that are more real, more honest, and probably deeper than we could in the past. I hope this doesn’t offend my 2,000+ followers. I truly believe it will be for the better — but I know we humans hate change.
Let me know what you think.
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If you have ever considered a parrot as a pet, let me tell you that rescuing a parrot is nothing like getting a dog from a shelter. As you know if you read this post, I didn’t really adopt Ernie; he adopted me. I have no knowledge about parrots – only little finches, which are a completely different pet. Finches live in the aviary and I provide food, water, clean papers, and a lot of watching. Parrots are interactive, needing to be talked to and petted and tended to almost like a perpetual toddler.
My parrot? Not so much. He’s afraid of everything, and it’s not simply fear. Everything new is a BIG SCARY MONSTER. Dreams of a chattering parrot that goes everywhere with me are out the window. Dreams of him coming out to greet me are out the window too. He prefers his cage. L
Last night I had a small glass in my hand, and it was very frightening. Yet he sees a coffee cup every day. I have to be careful, thoughtful, about everything I touch or move. For every step forward, there are at least 2 backward. Victories are never large, they are tiny. We’re learning to make a really big deal out of a tiny, seemingly insignificant step.
Not knowing what Ernie went through before makes it tough to be a good Parront [parrot parent]. He’s probably set in his ways in addition to having (I think) little interaction with his previous owner. His cage is near my desk, and if I glance over while he’s eating his breakfast, he stops eating and moves back to the top perch. Sigh.
I’ve purchased several books and videos on parrot training; they have titles like ‘teach your parrot to step up in 20 minutes.’ Ernie isn’t learning in 20 minutes, 20 hours, or 20 days.
The instructions all start with feeding your parrot treats. The training gurus all assume a parrot will automatically get a treat from your fingers. Not Ernie. I suspect he was taught to only eat from a bowl. At first Ernie didn’t seem to like anything – except Zupreem fruit blend, and ONLY the purple ones. He picks them out. He hates the all-natural pellets. I figure he’s probably been on an all-seed diet, so pellets are a step forward, let’s go one step at a time.
After two months of offering various foods, I have recently (finally!) found his favorite treats: almonds and cashews. Next is teaching him to take them from my hand. . He has bitten both me and Mickey trying to take an almond from us—nasty bites. I believe they were both accidents, his aim was off. But today he took 3 in a row with no mishaps. Victory!
Now that he takes treats, he needs a solid “step up” which means step onto my hand. He did this occasionally at first, but seems to have forgotten it. Or he’s bluffing. Did I mention, I don’t speak parrot at all? I have trained dogs and horses, and can glance at them and tell you their energy level. Not so with a parrot. I can’t read him. Fortunately he threatens to bite a couple times before he actually does it—otherwise I’d be sporting a lot more scars. But I stress a lot: Am I treating him right? Does he need more, less, better interaction? Would somebody else do a better job? (I’m pretty sure the answer to the last one is yes).
So for the “step up” command, I read about this great tool. It’s a perch that you hold in your hand, a wooden T shape. It has a clear acrylic cover over the part you hold – so if the parrot tries to bite you, he hits the cover. Perfect, right?
No. It is a big, scary monster. It is so scary that I’ve laid it near his cage for a month, and he still can’t stand it. Last night I held it up to him and said “step up” and he ran to the bottom of the cage. I placed him on the perch and he flew down in a huff, going under the secretary to hide. Poor baby.
As I said, the small victories, tiny forward steps, are to be celebrated. One that we have managed to conquer is getting him out of his cage on a consistent basis. I tie his door open every morning and invite him out throughout the day. He is having none of it. OUT is a scary place.
But in the evening, when the sun sets and it’s finally cooling off outside, he seems to relax. Or maybe it’s me that relaxes. At that time of day, Ernie happily comes out. Well, with a bit of urging. He heads straight for my shoulder. You aren’t supposed to let unpredictable parrots ride on your shoulder but that is where Ernie feels safe. It’s where he’s been since that first day at the shelter. So up he runs, and I ask “wanna go outside?”
We go out and sit near the finch cage and watch the action. Ernie makes the most sound then –he’s silent 98% of the time—he squawks quietly to the finches, as they’re pretty quiet themselves. He occasionally chatters to me, and when he hears the baby finches in the nest he says “baby birds!” Last night, he got off my shoulder on his own and went to his play stand, located near the finch cage. He didn’t want to come back to me when I asked (Victory! Cheer!) So I left him there until nearly dark.
I don’t know where this story will go. It seems like everybody else’s parrot will eat from their plate, drink from their glass, scream to be let out in the mornings, and fly straight to them like a child running to meet a parent. Not so my smart, complicated Ernie. He is a project, a constant work in progress. I am learning not to compare my rescue friend with other people’s feathered ones. Like children, we take what we are dealt and learn to make the most of it. Every day you wake up and learn that lesson over again.
We will continue to celebrate the smallest step. I respect that he is older. I respect his high fear level. I absolutely adore him. If three years from now we are still working on step-up, I will be a little sad but we’ll still be training.
I’m so glad he picked me.
“I want to change the way I relate to God; but I can’t.”
This was part of a private message (Facebook) discussion. The person was asking questions about my Get Closer to God course. Unfortunately, there are way too many people who take this attitude.
I’m not griping because she didn’t make the purchase. In fact, I encouraged her not to. The thing is, I want people who buy it to (1) actually work through it – it’s set up in worksheet style, and (2) allow God to help them make a change. If those things are not going to take place, then there is no need to purchase the program.
And if the first words out of your mouth are “I can’t” then nothing will change.
Isn’t the definition of madness doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Why do we do that? We say we are seeking God, yet have not made one single change?
I’m no longer talking about the one Facebook fan, but about myself, and maybe even you, dear reader…
What change have I made to find God
- This month
- This Year
Think about it………
Often the difference between a Christ-like person, a God seeker, and a person who struggles to implement positive changes in life is not the first one’s superior abilities or innate holiness, but the courage to step out and to take steady steps forward in prayer, Bible study, and by surrounding him/herself with Christian thinkers. Seeking God is a continuum.
“Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” Proverbs 19:2, ESV
One Step Closer is designed in a way that you will have to spend time on it, and therefore, time in front of the Lord. There was a reason it was created that way.
God wants you to spend time with Him. You already know that. People who want to change have to try things to see what works and what doesn’t. Seeking God requires action. Saying you want to change doesn’t work. You can say it until the cows come home. Actually making a change takes perseverance. It takes courage. And it takes… time. The course forces you to spend a little more time in front of God, listening to God…and as a result you’ll become closer.
I’m not going to go into my rant about ‘time’ and ‘busy;’ I’ll save that one. But there is a saying that goes “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” This is as true in strengthening your faith as in anything else. If you aren’t going to change the way… the time… the steps you take when you relate to God, your relationship will continue to be distant and formal. He didn’t move away, after all– you did.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8, ESV
Seek God Daily
Some people sit and wait for God to come to them in a shimmering epiphany. Others pursue Him as if they’re on fire, spending time in front of Him whether they “see” Him that day or not, constantly chasing after Him, stepping forward steadily.
It’s not a contest, but if it were, guess who’d win?
Maybe He even wants us to struggle, just a little, to get where He wants us to be: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,” 2 Peter 3:9, ESV
Since the only contestant is you, and the prize is a stronger, steadier relationship with the One who is Lord of All, why not change something today? See what happens. I challenge you.
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17, ESV
Let me know how it works out. 😉
To purchase One Step Closer, Vol. 1 click here.
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Shy Ernie – How One Bird Changed an Entire Household
or, How a Trip for Bird Seed Turned into a Parrot
I recently acquired a new parrot — he’s called a white-capped pionus. The author of Parrots for Dummies, Nikki Moustaki, has this to say about Pionus:
“The pionus isn’t the most popular parrot — it’s often outflashed, outcolored, outtalked, and outnumbered by many of the more commonly kept parrot species.”
I didn’t know anything (and I mean ANYTHING) about parrots. I have 6 finches which I bought myself for my birthday. They’re lovely and wonderful.
One day I went to the local parrot rescue to see their price on finch food. I stepped into the back and was looking at a bright blue Indian Ringneck (it’s a bird). I can’t explain what happened next.
Somehow Ernie, from behind me, got my attention. Now lest you think that was easy, there are at least 30 birds back there shrieking. If you have never heard parrots scream, go find some and listen; they’re ear-splitting! Among all that, quiet little Ernie spoke to me. I turned around. He sat there quivering, and looked at me sideways. Get me out of here.
I spoke to him a few minutes and left–but you know the rest. I kept going back, and being drawn to him. Everyone at the rescue said “He doesn’t like me!” yet when I picked him up, he went straight up to my shoulder and snuggled, giving a cackly little purr when I scratched his head. I filled out an application and ordered a cage.
My husband was, um. Less than ecstatic. I won’t even go into the ‘discussion’ we had. But I asked him just to go look. “Yeah, you can tell them to cancel the cage order,” he snorted.
Off we went.
But at the rescue, someone had let Ernie out of his cage. “He doesn’t like me!” both people present chorused. I picked him up and he snuggled up on my shoulder. My husband looked at them, at the parrot, back at me. “O-o-k-ay-y,” he said, getting the picture: Ernie had picked me.
We brought Ernie home. He is shy, afraid of everything. At 18, the only owner he’d ever known went into a nursing home. He then went to the parrot rescue, and now a completely different household. Everything new is a monster, and his wings are clipped so to “escape” he flies to the floor where there really are monsters (two dogs and a cat).
He shakes and quakes. I’m simply letting him be, and twice a day giving him rides on my shoulder. We play piano (he sways, and occasionally quacks softly), watch tv, surf the Internet. I sing to him a lot. There was that one day when I took him out on the screened porch but he flew into the pool. I jumped in for a rescue; that will be our last time swimming!
Pionus aren’t the wonderful talkers some other parrots are. They have low, rumbly voices that only a mother can understand. He will occasionally say “Good morning, Ernie,” and once he said “NO NO NO.” One day I mumbled to myself, “oh, goodness,” and I can’t promise he said it, but the inflection and the right syllables were there. Mostly he is silent.
I’m learning everything I can as fast as I can about parrots. We’ve bought as many toys and equipment as any parents of a first newborn child. I’m cooking for him, which makes for conversations like this:
Me: Are you hungry?
Husband: Yes! And what you were cooking smelled wonderful, what is that?
Me: That’s for the birds. You can have a sandwich.
Ernie is exploring foods he apparently has never eaten. He likes it steamed or cooked; he likes orange food; he flings cauliflower.
I’m crazy about him. Totally, unequivocally nuts over this silent creature that I don’t understand.
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