Seeing In The Fog

“Are you trying to be who Jesus wants you to be?

Or do you trust him to bring out who he has already created you to be?”

-Emily P. Freeman

Autumn in Idaho is my favorite. Last October, on a bright and bitingly brisk weekend, I attended a retreat in the mountains with a group of ladies from my church. The setting is one of my favorite places. It’s our rustic and cozy church camp, tucked away in a sandy-curved beach with the most breathtaking view of Lake Cascade, framed by forests of ponderosa and tamarack trees. As my friends and I drove along the river-hugging highway towards our destination, I anxiously anticipated seeing this spectacular view with wide-eyed wonder. My soul longs for the opportunity to breathe in these spaces, a generous gift crafted by the Creator for my weary, suburban-dwelling soul.

If you asked me just a few years ago to join a group of ladies for anything, I would have said, “No, thank you.” Or maybe “Heck, no!” Growing up like most girls, I was hurt by jealous, gossiping, controlling, judgmental “friends”. But who wasn’t. My interests tended to put me on the outside of the homemaking, image-obsessing conversations dominating the relationships of my gender. And unfortunately, I’ve spent a lot of my life in the church being intimidated and insecure around strong, capable, amazing, faith-filled women when I knew I didn’t have my crap together. I looked at society’s standard for the quintessential woman, and determined I simply was not enough, didn’t have enough, and could never be enough. The checklist of all I thought Jesus wanted me to be was overwhelming and exhausting. And in the vulnerable moments of my current life when I feel like I don’t measure up, that checklist gets up in my grill and taunts me with the haunting reminder, “You’re not enough.”

When we arrived at the church camp, we got busy finding our rooms, unrolling our sleeping bags, and chatting with the gals. Soon it was dinnertime, and the sun set without warning. It was dark and I hadn’t even gone to the beach to soak up its life-giving beauty. Oh well, I made a date with the lake for the morning.

We spent those evening hours in sweet worship, singing “Christ is Enough”. Other women shared how they experienced the same challenges as I did, how they didn’t like to be around women, how they didn’t fit the mold. What freedom comes from hearing someone else share in vulnerability, “Me, too.” Through times like these and honest conversations with women, I’ve learned we need each other. We all have our stuff, we all need more of Jesus. It might seem emotionally easier to isolate ourselves and claim that we simply don’t fit in, but we all struggle with the same things. We need each other’s perspective. We’re made to struggle together, to triumph together. We are better together.

After a comical round of embarrassing moments shared around the campfire and an uncomfortable few hours of sleep on a thin bunk mattress, I woke with the sun and an eagerness to see the lake…and a desperation for coffee. I stumbled out of the cabin to a thick, white shroud of fog so heavy it hid even a glimpse of my precious lake. Unbelievable! With headphones and journal, pen and Bible, I sat in dining hall with the company of my coffee… in close proximity to more coffee. I thought about the 40 ladies with me at that retreat, how we’ve each had to face the relentless lies that we are “not enough”, and how the life-sucking checklists we make for ourselves follow us around like a cruel, taunting bullies. I wanted freedom. For me, for all of us.

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{my notes}

These sweet words in Psalm 4 jumped right off the page and into my soul:

“Why is everyone hungry for more? ‘More, more,’ they say. ‘More, more.’

I have God’s MORE-THAN-ENOUGH, more joy in one ordinary day.”

This is the ammunition I needed, a gift from the Creator, to face our culture of scarcity and every reminder that lies about my worth. I already have God’s more-than-enough. I have worth because HE is more-than-enough. And He loves me. Endlessly. In Emily P. Freeman’s book, “Grace for the Good Girl”, she says,

“You are not accepted because you are good.

You are free to be good because you are accepted. 

You are not responsible to have it all together.

You are free to respond to the One who holds all things in his hands. 

You do not have to live up to impossible expectations.

You are free to wait expectantly on Jesus, the One who is both author and perfecter of your faith.” 

I decided to take a walk on the beach and let this sink in. I walked down the creaky wooden steps into the thick curtains of lung-clogging fog. I turned on my Pandora station, and the random selection of these words by Sleeping At Last came blaring through my headphones:

“You are enough.”

These little words, somehow they’re changing us.

“You are enough,”

So we let our shadows fall away like dust.

“You are enough.”

These little words, somehow they’re changing us.

Let it go, let it go, “You are enough.”

So we let our shadows fall away like dust.

I about laughed my head off, amazed at this holy moment. Of course, God would send this through the interwebs to my earbuds to be my much-needed soundtrack. I walked along that sandy peninsula, tear-streaked cheeks stinging in the fog, breathlessly soaking up all these life-giving gifts. The Psalm about God’s-more-than-enough, the randomly selected song with those transforming words, and the craziest thing was…I still could not see the lake. The lake that is faithful to be there in all it’s glory every time I make this trip to the mountains. How I longed to see the lake, but the fog had done the most amazing thing. I began to look closely at all the things along the beach that I COULD see. The fog had frozen water droplets to every detail of every little thing. I saw each branch of each bush, each blade of grass, even a delicately frozen spider’s web. I thought the grand beauty of the large, always-present lake was incomparable. Now I know, all the tiniest details of the living landscape are important, beautiful, and are enough. When the heavy fog of expectation settles into the lake of my soul, I will focus on what I CAN see, and trust Jesus is working out all the delicate details of who He has created me to be.

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