I woke up to what I thought was the sound of the boys who live above me; I started to wonder if maybe they had taken up skateboarding in their bedroom because of this whooshing sound that shook my walls. Turns out it was the wind, whistling and rattling the trees at a surprisingly disruptive volume level. I got out of bed, came and sat on my couch and as I spent some time journaling I also watched the wind pummeling the tree outside my window. I observed as the wind threatened to steal the leaves right off of the branches.
Meanwhile I was processing life as of late and making discoveries with Jesus. I have been reading Love Lives Here by Maria Goff (book recommendation of the week) and she talks about how different she and her husband are. And she says that they have learned to laugh about their differences. I started to think about my own relationships, and how often insecurity and comparison keeps us from just owning our strengths and weaknesses and laughing about our differences. I wrote about how if only we could be confident in who we are and aren’t, then we could deal with our differences and laugh at them and love each other without fear or comparison.
So then I thought, well, I can only start with me. Who am I? And I started to list the big parts of my life, attributes of myself, and found that I kept writing disclaimers or criticisms next to each one. For example:
I am in my late twenties (which is terrifying)
I am single (Also terrifying and a current deep prayer)
I am a resident director (still figuring that one out…)
And so on. You get the picture. I started to notice a pattern that I wasn’t owning any part of my life. Age. Relationship status. Job. Friend. Sister. Daughter. Human. I am a mess and feel often like I am failing at every area of life. YIKES.
So I stopped writing at that moment and asked the Lord to speak. Ya girl needs a word right now, Jesus!! What do I need in order to stop being so insecure and worried and start owning my own life?
The word I heard was abide. I love this word. It would be on my list of words whose beauty is matched in sound and meaning. Just hearing it calms me down.
And then I thought about the leaves on the tree outside my window. I always have that John 15 imagery of plants/trees/vines in my head when it comes to abiding. I usually picture a cozy leaf that loves to be attached to its branch. That is what I usually think abiding looks like with the Lord.
But what if it looks like this windy day? What if actually abiding looks like hanging on for dear life as the winds try to separate us from our source? Because we all know the reality of life is that most days it isn’t peaceful, most days it isn’t a cozy, relaxing snuggle time with Jesus. Life is insane and can blow us over. It is trying to knock the wind out of us. We are in the midst of a storm that is trying to separate us from the One who gives us life. And when we let go, we do the same thing as leaves separated from their branches – we shrivel and die.
We sing songs all the time with lyrics like “We will not be shaken” and we are so confident in our ability to abide, yet we allow the winds to carry us so far off course.
So what does abiding look like for me right now? Holding on tight. It means getting closer to the heart of the Father so He can hold me tight. I try so hard to feel connected by grasping for other things and other people. How often do I believe another leaf can keep me rooted? Believing that things that are flying loose already themselves could keep me steady is a joke. We are not each others’ branch, we are all leaves trying to stay on our tree. The only one who can give us life and sustain us is Him.
I love that words can create such different pictures or understandings for us at different times in our lives. I have defined and needed the concept of abiding in many unique ways throughout my life. Sometimes it is the calm, quiet experience of relationship with the Lord. And sometimes it is holding on for dear life within the winds that blow.
So for you today, friend, hold on tight. Even when you are tired and weary, it is worth it. Abide in Jesus. Seek the Father’s heart. Listen for the Spirit. Our Triune God is worthy of your attention and your heart. One of my favorite ever worship songs is the Bethel version of It is Well. One line says, “The wind and waves still know His name,” which takes us back to that story of Jesus and His disciples out on a boat in the middle of a storm. At one word, the storm was stilled by Him. He will not let you be tossed around by the winds of the world. Even in the midst of the storm, He will keep you close.