Without the LOVE I wrote about in Love Broken Open: Part One, what are we… really? Where are we? What kind of life is that? Is it living? Really living fully?
The Beautiful World Project came about last year because I was looking for ways to create deeper meaning to my life. I also began asking bigger questions seeking to understand why I was holding back; why I couldn’t seem to give freely to those I loved most in my life, and what prevented me from fully showing up to my life’s work. I wanted to matter in the world, and obviously I was feeling like I was falling short in that department. Way short.
I wasn’t who I wanted to be and maybe part of that was because I couldn’t seem to find my community… you know… the ones who get you, who see you, who embrace you, who make you feel appreciated just as you are. The ones who lift you up and shine a light on all your goodness, enough that you begin to take notice, and live as you were meant to, as you really are and even more. The ones who gather together and will move mountains in their hearts and hands to see you through whatever storms come.
So many paths and beliefs I explored and even adopted for periods of time. Trying to make them fit, when they didn’t. Believing they lifted me up and made me more, but in reality, left me drained… oh so drained and unfulfilled.
Is this mine? No. Is this mine? No. Is this mine? No… again and again.
Where was mine? This call went out from my heart again and again.
Where are we without our people? Who are we without our people?
I was the lone wolf seeking its pack, wandering the desolate mountains for so long that I nearly gave up HOPE. But, where would this leave me… in this giving up HOPE?
Under the crushing weight of this, something glimmered. It was like my heart was picking up signals of some kind, leading me somewhere I knew not. I began to take notice of something so close to home, it was in my back yard and front yard. It was before me and it was behind me.
Something I watched from afar, but never considered for myself as I had relegated it to my NOT FOR ME part of my brain, because it was so contrary to the beliefs I had adopted for over 20 years. But I began to ask myself, “Where have these beliefs got me?”
All the self-help books in the world, workshops, studies… all temporary fixes. None of them could make me feel REAL… or fill me with any sustaining strength or confidence. If anything, they weakened me and they betrayed real LOVE.
Because somewhere inside I knew that nothing I had explored so far brought me closer to knowing, breathing, living and being that THING, that LOVE that was marked in me before I was born. I was closest to it in the unlikeliest (in my mind) of places. As a young girl I felt it, but could not comprehend it… could not see it… until recently.
As the dear man who put me under said in recounting the night my life changed… forever, “It was a snowy night, on Christmas Eve…and Kiernan came… and never left.”
Family together for dinner. I knew what they had planned later, and I waited. Having spent much time contemplating their lives and our lives, I wondered if there was something to it. Something that explained why they were happier, shined brightly, and were living lives of deep meaning, purpose and fulfillment.
So, I HOPED for a moment, an opening.
Never give up HOPE. Please never give up HOPE. For miracles do happen for those who SEEK.
The moment did come; “We have to leave soon for Christmas Eve Service…”
Something in my eyes must have traveled into her heart and mind, and she asked tentatively, “Do you guys want to come?”
GOD bless her. GOD bless her. GOD blessed me.
Smiling shyly, I said looking at my beloved, “Well, I’d kind of like to go.”
To my utter amazement he replied, “Sure, let’s go.”
My heart jumped in delight. I didn’t know that night would change everything… or did I?
A service they had never done before… a lovely woman spoke, an angel with a message, with conviction of her prayers answered years and years ago. It was her story that I understood, because somehow, she was speaking about THAT place inside of me, and I knew that this was where I could be, would be understood. If she felt this way, then others must too… for I had seen it in all of them that night.
The gleem in their eyes. The genuine caring and warmth. The light that radiated out from within… and the strength… oh my word the strength I felt… and I thought, ‘That’s what I’ve been seeking!’ I was being shown IT was possible, this THING that had been calling to me, it was real and it grew bigger… wider… deeper… it took up more space inside of me that night.
Person after person, pulled me in for an embrace… a genuine real embrace. Who are these crazy people who seem to be really alive, really living, really lit up from something indestructible and eternal?
It and they were like no other church I had ever been to, not that there were many as I was raised to figure it out on my own. I danced to the glory of the music and though I tried to sing, my voice could not rise above the swell of emotions in my chest.
It was the same feeling that I had when I was a little girl, on rare occasions in a church. SOMETHING inside me would make me FEEL that LOVE…and now I’ve come to believe it was the Cross, for what else could it be? I knew nothing of any of it, but it was already inside of me…. Waiting patiently for the day I would come to seek it out… To seek Him out.
Despite all this pull, it took two more months of daily, and I mean daily because this would not leave my heart and my mind alone for a moment; contemplation… consideration… pondering… before I would reach out to voice my interest in learning more about the Toronto Church of Christ.
This community who I had been hearing about for years with stories of people uniting in fellowship as a family, caring, supporting, encouraging and uplifting each other in hours of need. Missions… outreach… LOVE in action.
This year everything I think and believe has radically changed… because God has taken my life; my mind, my heart, my lungs, my blood, my bones and my relationships… all of me and made it new.
He has blessed me in countless extraordinary ways because I have devoted myself to living his teachings, his Word… His roadmap for living well and fully. Okay, perhaps not because of this, but rather maybe because he put His mark in me, to answer his call when the time was right. For I tell you, it was nothing short of a call my heart and soul absolutely could not turn away from and ignore.
The time came… and I am answering His call with all of me… how can I not? What He has done in my life in seven short months is nothing short of miraculous and I am in awe and gratitude with every breath I take, with every morning my eyes open and every day I get to live so alive because of His grace.
Right now… in mid-sentence here when the phone rang and it was my Aunt; one of my relationships healed and restored by his Grace. She was calling to find out how my baptism went… LOVE in all things and tears flow.
Nothing in this world has restored, filled and completed me like the power of the Holy Spirit. I feel like a different person in so many ways, and not a day goes by when I feel anything less than I’m living more fully alive than I thought myself possible.
“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave come over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“LORD, save me!”
The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return to your rest my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For you, LORD, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.”
~ Psalm 16: 1-9