Unclenching My Fists

I don’t even know where to begin.

There have been so many times over the last four months that I have sat and stared at a blank word document in an attempt to capture my thoughts and feelings in writing. I just can’t seem to collect my internal ramblings into something cohesive or understandable. The phrases and prayers I have scratched in miscellaneous notebooks never seem to amount to anything useful. My thoughts, my time, my being is all fragmented.

So the word documents have remained blank and all of my emotions have remained bottled inside me, occasionally bursting from my eyes in moments of vulnerability or racing through my brain during late nights of insomnia.

I think part of the reason these last few months have been largely undocumented is because their beauty cannot be captured. Yes – I am torn and pulled by a million different responsibilities and roles and obligations that comprehensively overwhelm my brain and overtake my planner, but every single area of investment is one that I feel passionately tied to. Every single person that I get the privilege to be in fellowship with is one that reveals more of the heart of the Father to me.

When I let the incredible weight of this privilege sink into my heart, tears immediately spring to my eyes (which is exactly what’s happening as I’m writing this in a coffee shop – oops). I simply cannot find the words to say how grateful I am that the Lord would allow me the joy to be at the school I am at, with the jobs I have, in the relationships I am in. I never could have imagined in the midst of the dysfunctional state I was in last fall that I would be the (semi) functional person I am this fall (let’s be honest, when am I/we ever “fully functional”). Even in moments of high stress and perpetual brokenness and weird emotional breakdowns, I know I am in the place(s) I am supposed to be in.

However, I find myself once again brought to my knees, unsure if my intentions are pure. I find myself once again unable to fall asleep at night because my body and brain don’t know how to slow down. I find myself once again singing worships songs with words like “with everything” and “ you have me” and wondering if the state of my heart and the way I live my life really amounts to those bold statements.

Does He really have everything when I schedule every hour of my day so that dear people become part of a to-do list? Does He really have my heart when I place so much weight in my academic and professional accomplishments, when I lean more into my resume than the current condition of my soul? What does it say about my heart that I cannot allow myself to take any sort of Sabbath because I cannot let go of expectations and deadlines, placing all my value in performance? And even as I place all my significance in my ability to measure up to worldly standards, I don’t fully invest myself in the work set before me. What does it say about me that I do a whole lot at a level of mediocrity, lacking the vibrance and excellence I know I am capable of because I do not take care of myself in other areas?

Whose strength am I leaning into?

To be honest, the last few weeks the answer is definitely my own. I have scarcely stopped to let myself breathe. I have rarely whispered prayers of thanks for all the wonderful things I described above. I have not been honest with myself about the state of my heart.

Several years ago a dear friend showed me an analogy that has stuck with me through many seasons and sheds light on my present state of being.

Hold your hands out in front of you and let them fully relax. They should still be held buoyant by your arms, but allow your hands themselves to be free of all tension and pressure. Now, are your fingers curled inward or flexed outward?

They are curled inward, aren’t they?

In our most relaxed and natural state, our hands close in on themselves. If we are not active in surrender, our fists begin to clench. If we are not purposeful in choosing His strength over our own every day, we will quickly find ourselves clinging to strongholds and shouldering burdens we weren’t meant to carry.

I don’t want to live a life characterized by white knuckles and held breaths and harried conversations. I don’t want to wake up each morning so consumed with my to do list that I can’t take 5 minutes to exhale prayers of thanks and surrender. I don’t want to hold so tightly to my definition of what this life should look like that I miss the entire point of my being created.

So today I commit to unclenching my fists. I commit to waking up each day with gratitude on my lips. I commit to putting my phone away so I can acknowledge the present. I commit to measuring my day by prayers and conversations and embraces over assignments and plans and check lists.

I commit to giving myself grace when I fail, but I also commit to stop saying “whatever” with my mouth and my life when I do less than what I know I am called to.

I commit to the Will of Jesus, acknowledging that I will fail, but my inadequacy doesn’t inhibit His capability.

I could write novels about all the things I am thankful in this season, but this coffee shop has seen enough of my tears. In the absence of words, here are a few pictures of who and what I am most thankful for.

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