It’s been hard for me to choose joy.
That’s because choosing joy isn’t really about what I want to do. Choosing joy is about choosing who I really want to be.
And well, the time for me to be the-me-I-feel-God-created-me-to-be — never seemed convenient, possible or easy.
I’ve always been waiting for a chance to be welcomed, to belong — to come to a place or opportunity where I felt “at peace” about all the ideas that I’ve been carrying — about who I could become or the life I could experience if I was no longer:
— or if some of the family or friendships in my life were
I guess I’ve always been waiting to receive some kind of permission to choose joy.
I’ve longed to hear a loving voice who could whisper to me, in the moments I don’t know what to do — “Don’t be afraid. I love you.”
Maybe joy is something a little girl feels when her daddy picks her up and holds her in his lap. And even when she is all grown up, a momma herself with two little boys of her own, maybe joy is something she feels when her daddy walks into her kitchen, sits her down at the counter, gives her a hug, and pours a cup of coffee for her in the morning light.
Maybe joy is found in his voice as he whispers to her, “What’s going on? Tell your daddy all about it.”
I guess I’ve always wished for a father.
Maybe that is what would give me joy this Christmas.
I wish I had a father.
Not In Kansas Anymore
Those where the words I whispered, as I sat in therapy session recently.
I needed to see Dr. P because I didn’t know why I was having such a hard time deciding what to write for my second book.
Isn’t this supposed to be easy?
I already wrote one book. Wasn’t I an author? Wasn’t I a writer?
Why would I feel so stuck? I had a gazillion book ideas after my book Finding Spiritual Whitespace was released last year. I felt like I was Zacharias waiting for Elizabeth to give birth — having been silent for so long as a new life was taking shape in me — I finally was able to speak. And I had so much to say.
This past year, I was so heads down focused on getting the word out about the book — doing interviews, writing articles — I never had a chance to process what life ahead would look like post-panic attacks.
It was as if a hurricane had swept through my heart, picked up my house and blown it into smithereens — and I was like Dorothy dropped off in the middle of Oz — except for me, I wasn’t coming back home to Auntie Em and Uncle Henry.
Except unlike Dorothy who returned to Kansas by clicking her ruby slippers, the little girl in me stood in the middle of what it seems like a wide open prairie, out in the west.
I have never journeyed so far before.
I’m no longer in Kansas.
As I ended the book Finding Spiritual Whitespace — I said this to you, friends, in the Afterword:
“I’m standing at the edge of town. This isn’t a city you can see on a map. But, I have been living in this place for a very long time. This city is called survival. I have been a city builder creating makeshift shelters of safety. But my city has crumbled.
Where do I go now? I ask Jesus.
Look beside you, Jesus answers. Who is holding your hand?
It’s Jesus. He is calling me to journey to a new city not made with hands. It dawns on me, as my heart pulses through my fingertips. I want to go back. To fixing and buliding again.
But Jesus points me ahead. He wants me to rest.
I’m walking into the desert, trusting there will be roadways and rivers. I don’t have to wait until I’m unafraid. I don’t have to be sure and I don’t need to know the way.
I’ve found the little girl lost and I’m not letting go of her. We both have Jesus now.
I am leaving my city of stress. I don’t have to go back.
A new story is coming alive. I’m learning to live it in my every life new. As is.”
Something dawned on me, as I sat down to think about what my next book would be about: Can I really write in my full voice again? All these book ideas were inspired by the little girl who has just begun to find her voice. But, I’m still learning to navigate making new choices as the beloved. God’s beloved.
Maybe writing from this new world I’m learning to make real in my everyday life isn’t good enough yet.
Maybe I’m really all alone, as the little girl lost and found. Even though my family of origin was broken, dysfunctional and harmful, at least it was some sort of family. But, now that God has redefined what is family and what is friend, do I have the courage to write, while still finding my way in the world?
I began to think of books to write as the old Bonnie who survived — who knows how to get things done, who writes about safe things, about what I know in my head, rather than what I am experiencing in my heart — in my story and my journey. As is.
It would be so much easier to write from my head than my heart.
Or so I thought.
I was torn between who I was and who I am becoming.
My Heart Knew
Friends, that’s why I went to see Dr. P.
Because once I tried to write with my old voice, I began experiencing anxiety.
I even considered not writing a second book. Maybe I was only meant to write one book, I reasoned with myself.
But, my heart knew. God was whispering to me —
Choose to be the beloved. My beloved.
Choose to be mine.
Speak in your full voice.
As I cried talking to Dr. P, I told him I was afraid to put my heart out again.
What if the book I want to write doesn’t get picked up by the publishers? Could I take the disappointment?
Then, what would I do?
As I sat there, I had a flashback.
The Little Girl
Of my kitchen. As a little girl. Walking home in the rain from school alone, my clothes were soaking wet, cold down to the bone. And as I opened the door to the empty house, I walked to the kitchen to get a snack and opened the door to an empty refrigerator. Except for a box of baking soda, a sticky jar of jam and sticks of margarine.
I don’t know what it was about that memory, but I just cried and cried.
Why are you showing me this memory? I silently asked God.
And that’s when God led my mind to another little girl, who laid lying on the bed.
Her hands were lifeless, yet when Jesus quietly came into the room, he had asked everybody to stay outside. He only wanted Peter, John and James to come in with him. And the little girl’s mother and father. He wanted it to be an intimate moment between him and this little girl.
As Jesus reached out to touch her, at the moment his fingertips rested on her hands and he whispered, “Little girl,” her heart began to beat, and as she took a breath and opened her eyes, the little girl saw Jesus, looking at her with love and compassion.
“Give her something to eat.” Jesus whispered, his gaze gently loving her, his voice warm with affection.
And as those words from Mark 5:35-42 & Luke 8:49-56 came into my mind and descended like a dove into my heart, I heard the voice of Jesus saying those words to me.
It Dawned On Me
I imagined the little girl in me in that drab, dreary kitchen being taken by the hand of Jesus and led to a beautiful new kitchen — in a home filled with light and warmth, with floor to ceiling windows facing a big wide meadow. And in that home, everything was beautiful. She was beautiful.
I continued to imagine Jesus sitting me down, bringing me a cookie on a beautiful white plate in one hand, a cup of tea embroidered with painted English roses in the other, warmed my hands around that cup, smoothed my hair, looked into my eyes and whispered to me,
“What’s going on? Tell your daddy all about it.”
And I cried and cried as I told him all about it.
Jesus understood every tear, eventhough I had no words to describe them.
And I realized sitting there in the office with tears falling from my eyes closed, that I was praying.
It began to dawn on me that I understand what it feels like to have a father now.
The tears that were being shed were those of a daughter in the arms of her daddy.
This is the moment my Christmas wish this year came true.
My Christmas tears of joy.
I have a daddy.
Reflect. The Christmas Story
Sometimes, we want to choose joy. But we’re afraid it can’t be ours to stay.
God understands this fear — that’s why he never tires to whisper “Don’t be afraid. I love you.” God sent us Jesus.
Just as God chose to announce news of Jesus to the shepherds in the night sky with a simple announcement — no explanations — God does the same with us.
God whispers to us —
Choose to be the beloved.
His timing is peculiar too.
God hits us with an inspiration, when we’re feeling most inadequate.
Like the shepherds, we encounter God as we’re sitting on the outside, on the fringes of what we think is our best.
Just as we begin daring to believe what we’re hearing or seeing about God and His invitation — Whoosh!
Everything returns back to everyday sameness. The night sky.
Circumstances and people around all circling and in holding patterns, just as they’ve always been.
This is when we must hold onto faith and gather our courage.
Everything around us may not change. But, sweet friends, we are called to be changed.
In an instant, God calls us leave where we are, to go and see.
Let’s say— just as the shepherds did to each other that night: Let us go. And see. Let us choose joy. Today.
“Let us go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15 GWT)
We need to say good bye to some old ways and even some familiar expectations.
It’s time to point our steps to move out. It’s time for us to choose joy.
Respond. Share Your Heart
As you enter into Christmas, be attentive for what God has in store for you.
No matter how brief the encounter, hold onto God’s One Word for you this Advent.
He said it. And you heard it.
Dare to discover what the Lord has for you.
Celebrate Christmas born in you — and me.
Choose joy this year.
Pray. Our #OneWordAdvent Prayer Today
Dear Heavenly Father,
Help me to hear your voice.
Touch me once again.
Give me the courage to be your beloved.
Give me courage to choose joy.
I need you now this Christmas.
Be born in me again. Today.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
“This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time,
but now it’s out in the open…
The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you.“
~ Colossians 1:27 (The Message)
Pull up a chair. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Click here to comment.
Last month, I submitted a book proposal for my second book to my agent, to see if a publisher will . Once I chose the book my heart wanted to write in full voice with Jesus, my anxieties dissipated. Pray for my heart during this time of waiting. To choose joy. Just as I am. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. with love, bonnie
#OneWordAdvent Link Up
Whole-hearted Writing. You & Jesus.
Welcome to our special #OneWordAdvent Blog Link Up!
This week’s 12/17/15 #OneWordAdvent Prompt: joy
Next week’s 12/24/15 #OneWordAdvent Prompt: love
OneWordAdvent is my invitation this month to do a Thursday weekly one word prompt writing challenge for you for Advent: hope, peace, joy, love.
* A special thank you goes to Jamie@writinginthestillness for gifting her beautiful calligraphy just for our #OneWordArt badges. Please visit Jamie’s shop & browse her artistry! Use ‘whitespace15’ for 15% off in Jamie Johnson’s shop until 12/31/15.
Join me. Here are two ways:
1. Link up your reflection on our #OneWordAdvent prompt at the end of Thursday’s blog post. Click the Link Up button below & share the specific url of your post (not just your website). You can also directly share a comment.
– Place the #OneWordAdvent badge in your blog post & link back to thebonniegray.com. It lets me know you’re part of this community. Download the badge by right-clicking your mouse on the image & click “save image”.
– Read the post before yours and comment. Let’s savor the journey together.
May the writing prompt bring you to a quiet place in your soul as you share your voice. Click here for details.
This week, I want to spotlight Krista from 31ForeverMama, who wrote a poem for last week’s peace prompt:
“Perfect peace you’ll find
For body, spirit, and mind
Saviour King of the world
Shining His light for all men
Every week, I’ll spotlight a tagged #OneWordAdvent image from Instagram (like the beautiful one to the right) or blogger in our community. * To be considered as a spotlight blogger: please kindly be sure to use the #OneWordAdvent Badge and link back to Faith Barista in your post.
Kindreds, I can’t wait to see your photos & read your words. Thank you for sharing your voice.
photo credit: kelly ishmael @mindingmynest