Well, today it’s back to the grind. We just wrapped up a week and a half of vacation…glorious, glorious vacation.
There were numerous moments during this furlough that renewed my spirit and challenged my heart. This was more than a break on the beach with a margarita in hand…although I’m not denying that happened. This trip will forever stand out in my mind as very transformative. And, so, in true “life after rehab” fashion, I feel as though I need to intentionally ponder and reflect on the meaningful moments, so that I can treasure them in my heart and share them with you.
However, as I open up the computer today after the long hiatus, I struggle to find my words and my rhythm. I sat on the beach last week and actually read a book from cover to cover. It was amazing. Not only was having the freedom, time, and ability to read a whole book without interruption amazing, but the content of the book I chose has also left me somewhat speechless. Ann Voskamp’s one thousand gifts has been so enlightening and transforming. If you haven’t read it, please do. It is worth every minute of your time. The combination of her poetic prose and down-to-earth writing is a humbling joy to read. There is no way I could ever write in such a masterful way. It is truly amazing. In her book, she writes of her own revelations on thankfulness and recognizing God’s gifts in the every day. It has made me realize how much I neglect the sacrament of thanksgiving and how often the Bible speaks of its’ importance. I feel as though there is a whole undiscovered path to joy whose trail head I have been aimlessly walking past. I am anxious to unearth more of “eucharisteo”, as I have been inspired by Voskamp’s own hunt.
The “sleuthing” that she refers to–this treasure hunt for the things to be thankful for–urged me to seek God and His blessings during our vacation. I found myself swooning over tiny sand-dwelling creatures and huge panoramic views of slate blue sky meeting shimmering crystal waves. I stumbled upon restfulness, with my eyes closed and ears focused on the hush of the waves, the rhythm of their meter, rocking my soul to peacefulness. I can’t really explain it, but as I sat still and took in some of the amazing sights and sounds around me, I felt as though I was being wooed my the Creator, reminded of His serenading love.
Voskamp is on to something here…and it’s more than “positive thinking.” In counting my blessings, I am forced to not merely count, but to consider them, and the Giver who gives them to me. I am forced to be still and know that He is God. I see how big He is and how infinitely small I am. That doesn’t really fit the criteria of American dream setting and the “do what makes you happy” kind of joy in which we are encouraged to partake. Being small–knowing my mortality–these are not “positive” thoughts. All things will come to an end…including me. Reminding myself that I don’t have control over anything in my life sounds like depressing pessimistic water-cooler talk. But in actually seeing the God I believe in, feeling His endless pursuit of me in the form of beauty, and knowing that He is bigger and grander than me, I am fueled by a humble peace, a sure contentment, and a deeper, more satisfying joy than simply seeing the glass half-full.
This kind of detective work requires sitting at the private investigator desk searching through files of evidence. It takes time and intentionality, which eerily sounds like the slow process of Family Rehab. My journey to restore family and home isn’t done. Jesus is restoring my heart–my joy. Life After Rehab looks less like returning to normalcy with all the appropriate sobriety tools gained from being secluded in a rehab facility and more like continued study and rehabilitation with the distractions of everyday life now being added into the mix. I still have so much to learn. And as Voskamp also mentions, learning takes practice, practice, practice.
In addition to reading books, Paul and I had the opportunity to watch a documentary entitled, Holy Ghost. (You can watch the trailer here: http://www.holyghost.wpfilm.com). The whole movie was guided by the Holy Spirit. “What the what!?!?!,” you say? No plans were made, except ones that were the result of ‘inner voice’ urgings or visions. As a “conservative” Lutheran, some of the conversations recorded in the street scenes, in which the Holy Spirit was called upon to send a physical sensation through a person’s body, were a little wild. But, honestly, it was no more untamed than what we read about in the book of Acts. The movie features such celebrities as Lennie Kravitz, Brian Welch, and Fieldy from Korn. As I watched people step out in faith, taking risks, and even entering into places that are dangerous for Christians, I again was struck by how intentionality and stillness were key in seeing all that God had in store for them. How can one discern the voice of the Holy Spirit if they are not still enough to focus their hearts and minds to intentionally hear Him?
I think about all the practicing I do. I consider all the rehearsing that goes on in my mind. I add up all the time spent mulling over the lies of the world that tell me I’m not enough or of any value without the perfect body, successful children, or tons of money. I compute all the energy and time I’ve spent repeating the same failures or hurtful behaviors. What am I learning? What am I teaching myself? How much of the life-giving lawn of truth am I repeatedly treading worn down paths of lies over its’ surface? What opportunities have I lost in the meantime? What holy risks have I avoided or squashed because I was busy in the practice of listening to another’s voice? What routines, patterns, and new trails have disabled my senses from hearing God’s audible voice? What amount of blind ignorance has limited my vision for His kingdom, His glory, and my ultimate joy?
Jesus says in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
“Life After Rehab” might as well be called “practice”. I haven’t yet learned. I need training. I need the Holy Spirit to teach me. Sometimes it will be hard. Sometimes it will bear fruit that I could never have imagined. My prayer is that I am teachable, moldable, and pliable. My prayer is that my senses are so overwhelmed with the Spirit that I can’t help but walk in unabashed gratitude and risk. Life is about to get busy and hectic with school and work. I pray that I find the words of the Spirit in the midst of the mayhem (that they fill me with truth and with holy pomptings) and the rythym of His grace, blessing, and spontaneity in the mundane (that it moves me into new depths of sobering joy).