finding jesus in me

after the semi-catastrophic day i spent with kirsten, i knew i would need to sit with God again in that place, ask him what he had to say about all this confusion and confession. but it seemed like the hardest thing possible to get to. i had two full days at the start of the next week that could have provided the quiet reflection with God that all this likely needed. but i avoided it on the first day, and also got caught up in all those food plans and preparations i told you about that completely wiped me out for the next day or so.

but eventually, a week ago thursday (what is it with thursdays??), God showed back up on the scene and began pushing some new pieces of the puzzle around.

but first, let me back up.

on that previous wednesday morning, i read a comment my friend tammy wrote to a friend on her blog. she said, "an emotional death is as frightening and as deadly as a physical death, and that is why we need real people who rescue the broken." totally off the cuff, i responded to her by saying how much those two statements meant to me, and how they were just the words i needed in that moment.

you see, kirk and i have been walking a semi-dark path before God for some time now. he felt God calling him to something more a number of years ago and took some pretty drastic steps to render himself completely open to whatever that was. i did the same last summer. and here we are, some time later, still trying to find our way to what that something is. the way has begun to seem so dark, and we both have begun to feel so discouraged.

when i read tammy's words, i felt my heart quicken. i felt such an identification with this need, and yet, as i told tammy, i feel at such a loss sometimes in this world to do anything about it. in fact, i have been feeling discouraged about my heart's desire to love people in these places because it seems such an ethereal desire and sometimes quite unexplainable in the world, much less possible to find a place i fit. aren't there people in the world with real physical needs who are just trying to survive and live to see the next day? what makes me think ministering to people on a heart level is anywhere near as important as that? isn't that such a first-world, twenty-first-century way of existing in the world? isn't having concerns about the heart a somewhat high-level privilege many people in the world never get? why should i think it's so important when some people are dying for lack of food and water?

it helped to hear someone else voice that emotional deaths are just as frightening and deadly as physical deaths. it felt good to find kinship with others who value these same things. it made me feel less alone and, to be truthful, less freakish.

so what happened first on thursday, the next day, was that tammy picked up my comment and talked back. she said she perceived my heart's desire was for ministry and that she would be sad if the world was deprived of my heart for hurting people. and then she began to tell me stories.

she told me one story about a friend who desperately sought God in a similar way, who had a heart for people, just to love them and bring them and their needs before God in prayer. so she started by visiting a coffee shop, each and every day. she began to make friends there. then this little band of friends grew . . . and grew . . . and grew . . . and today she is pastoring a church. wow.

this story totally floored me because it told me that God can do so much with so little, with something that starts with just a burning desire and an ability to see a need. the other reason it moved me so that i was losing my breath and crying all at the same time is that it bundled up exactly what i desire, too: to love on people's hearts and carry them to jesus because he is working his way through them. i really felt like this story of the starbucks girl was partly my story, a girl with a heart and not much else, starting somewhere and just letting herself be used for love of God and people.

and so i told tammy that this had brought tears to my eyes. i told her that she was saying things to me that i've been afraid to say to myself, particularly about my heart for ministry. i told her about being in business school and just not having the heart to run a company. i told her that i do have the heart, however, to sit with people for hours while they speak the truth of their hearts, or try to learn how to speak the truth of their hearts, or just try to listen to what their hearts are even trying to say. i could do this for hours and hours and hours, never tiring or even feeling the time passing. and then to wrap those lovely, beautiful hearts up in the love that is Christ, to embrace them with the embrace that is Christ, to offer a radical love and acceptance of them that is my love and acceptance of them but, even more, is how Christ loves and accepts them. exactly. as. they. are. with. the. truth. of. their. hearts. but that i feel so lost on how to even get to a place like this, to find a place that exists for me to do this, to find a place where i belong.

after all of this, i went to lay on my bed. it was around nine o'clock in the morning. kirk was home that morning with me, so i crawled into his arms and began to tell him what i felt was happening in me, starting with that conversation between me and kirsten and landing me at that morning, with tammy's ability to see me and share stories that i sincerely needed to hear. i told kirk that i felt my heart becoming stripped of everything else in there except this burning, pulsating desire to love people and receive them where they are, to offer them the grace that jesus offers, a grace that flies in the face of the lies and turmoil we otherwise carry with us each and every day of our lives.

pretty soon, i was blubbering all over the place. i felt like all i had was this bleeding heart to offer up to God, that i was holding it in my hand and raising it up to him with nothing, absolutely nothing else to give.

and what's amazing is what God offered me back in return. he helped me see in that moment that my bleeding heart is really his bleeding heart, the image of God placed in me. he told me it was beating so hard for these things and those people because his heart beats so hard for these things and those people. he told me that love was there because he put that love there when he made me. he told me that, really, this is what i have to offer the world because it's what he has to offer the world, and because it's what he made me for. it's what i have to offer, but it's really him i have to offer.

this completely floored me. i felt like i had stepped onto holy ground. and that's just the beginning of how things began to move that day . . .