So, we had our spiritual life retreat this past weekend. It was awesome, albeit slightly chaotic. (with around 190/200 people, holy freakin cow!)
I spent a lot of time meeting and visiting with new people (something this introvert doesn't take pride in doing), laughing a lot with said new friends, leading a small group one day (another thing this introvert doesn't do often- yay for comfort zone breaking!), and most importantly, had some much needed quiet time and resting in His presence (actually resting didn't occur until the 3 hour nap I took shortly after our return to campus;)
God left me a little restless spiritually this weekend. Not in a bad way, but restless nonetheless. He didn't put a lot on my heart per se, but the one thing that He was speaking to me kept. showing. up. EVERYWHERE. It was great yet chaotic and confusing all at the same time.
Backing up a tad bit:
We've been reading Finding Father in the Campus Ministry team this semester, and it's been pretty great. It focuses on time on spending time resting/ soaking in God's presence. It's great when I carve the time out to actually do this... which is of course is a struggle when you're type-A schedule oriented fool like me that doesn't like spending time doing "nothing", but I'm working on it :-P Anyways, over Labor Day weekend I spent some time "soaking. I went to Ezell chapel and laid on the floor and just rested, saying breath prayers for about a good hour. Then I spent an hour journaling and praying and whatnot.
Love was the thought/word that kept reappearing. And much to my chagrin, it hasn't stopped showing up since.
I've never been too keen on love, well romantic love at least. Letting people truly love me, or even thinking they can love me is hard. I've given people in my life that power and it's been abused too many times. It's where I am most vulnerable, and vulnerability is something I struggle with daily. (Though I must say: this is probably one of my most vulnerable blog posts. The fact that I even have the gaul to write this down is even surprising myself. I'm a work in progress, people.)
I have many walls built up against most kinds of love. Yes, I know my friends and family love me. Yes, I know God loves me. But letting Him truly love me... romance me. I just can't. It scares me. God just won't let it go, though. He relentlessly wants that kind of love... that love I've never been willing to give anyone, including myself.
As I said, love keeps popping up EVERYWHERE. Starting in my quiet time and ending...well, it's still showing up, so I guess this is something God wants me to think about, huh!?
I played a worship station on Pandora during my "soaking" time, and two songs came on that spoke to my heart in the quiet.
One was "Love Never Fails" by Brandon Heath, a song I'd never heard by a singer I love. I don't know how I've never heard it before.
"Love is the arms that are holding you" was the line that struck me. Isn't that just a beautiful image?! I've always been the "comforter" so to speak, the one that cares and comforts others; I won't let myself be that vulnerable to actually let someone else hold me/comfort me, so this idea is a new one. But it's lovely, at that.
The second was "Your Love is Strong" by Jon Foreman, a song I've mentioned before because I just love it too much.
Gah I could write for hours on this one song. For real. But it's past midnight and tomorrow is long so I will save you the soliloquy.
This time the words that got me were "invade my heart, invade this broken town." This has since become part of my nightly prayer: invade my heart. I need help breaking those walls down, because apparently, as I wrote in my journal afterwards, I need to be "filled with the love that I crave." I need to let God love me in such a way I can let my guard down and let him hold my whole heart, not just the parts I hand over.
My heart comes a little battered, a bit bruised and fairly broken in places. Not by any specific incident, just by life, and not keeping guard of my heart better. It's been broken by unkept promises, bruised by hurtful words and self-worth struggles, battered by people stepping on it. But it's still alive, and can be healed to the full. If only I'll let it happen. It needs to be fully invaded with the love and passion only God can bring, before I even think of ever letting someone else touch it.
Fast forward to retreat weekend:
I spent a majority of my free time reading Captivating. You know, the book I started in like January?! Yeah, that one. Well, I stopped reading it for awhile. Partly because I was busy as a beaver and put it away... but mainly because I got stuck on a chapter and needed to sit and think on it. It was a chapter for me that I was unable to understand.The chapter title?
And of course I decided to pick this weekend to start reading it again. God's really throwing this whole thing in my face. In a good way. The fact that after "love" showing up in my quiet time, reading this chapter makes me laugh and realize that God has a sense of ironic humor when He wants to. It's truly funny. It's like God is just trying to tell me something, am I right? ;)
I struggle with the concept of letting God romance me, love me, woo me- whatever you call it, it still freaks me out. I am still struggling with this whole "God as lover" concept. I've never really thought about it til this book mentioned it. (They gave a whole chapter to this very topic, so it must be something worth discussing). It's hard not only because I don't see how I can see God-my father, the king of the heavens- in such a light, but because I've shut myself off to those thoughts in general. I've never trusted that part of my heart to anyone. It's freaking hard for someone that's never experienced or seen a good example in my life of that kind of love to be willing to accept that from anyone.
It's still not something that's fully sunk in for me yet, but as I keep praying for God to invade my heart, maybe He'll help me understand what He means. He'll give me some direction.
But that's not all, folks! [say that in your best game show announcer voice! at least that's what I did when writing it:) ]
Our nighttime session consisted of Papa Steve (one of our campus ministers whom I could describe with hundreds of kind/awesome adjectives) spoke about God affirming what He's saying to us through different channels. I was laughing and crying, because it was exactly what I was going through. God was using all sorts of different channels- books, music, friends, etc.- to hit this home for me. It's crazy how many different ways it takes for God to speak to me. Or is it that this is just something I'm not as willing to hear about? (Yeah, definitely that). It was amazing yet chaotic, how much God was working in me, speaking to me through so many things. It really sent my soul through a tailspin.
Then, on the ride back, I was thumbing through facebook when I came upon this quote that just knocked the wind out of me (thanks Jon Acuff):
God is not moody or capricious. He knows no seasons of change. He has a single relentless stance toward us: He loves us. - Brennan Manning
He loves us. Relentlessly, passionately, tenaciously. He is jealous for me. He wants to love me, to fill my heart with his true love- only if I'll give Him my heart, as broken and frail as it may be. It is enough for him to fix and fill back up, and put a new light in my eyes and loving song in my heart. It's something I am working on, trying to put together- but I can finally, finally say I'm starting to "get it", at least. It's a start. :)
I guess putting that book down and picking it back up now was really worth it.