October 6, 2013

For God's Eyes Only

My cat Moses being a literal writing block
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens...a time to be silent and a time to speak." Ecclesiastes 3.
I may not have written in a long time on this blog but despite my absence, I do write. I write A LOT. Every day. For hours. And I have every day for nearly THIRTY years! I’m not trying to infer that I’m somehow more awesome because of this fact because to be honest, it’s as much of my life as putting on my contacts every morning or bathing every night. I’d even say it’s as necessary to my life as breathing, but that might be a tad dramatic. I suppose if I lost both hands in a horrific chimp attack I wouldn’t die from not being able to write but I do think that not only would writing be the thing I’d miss the most but it would affect how I process my emotions. Well God willing I won’t lose my hands anytime soon, so every day, come hail or high water, I write. It is not just a hobby or a habit, it is a vital part of who I am and how I tick. It frankly keeps me emotionally sound.

It’s a very unusual morning that will not find me, pen and coffee in hand, hunkered down over my simple spiral notebook. I seriously should own stock in the Mead company. Heaven to me would be to own the perfect fluid writing pen with a cushioned grip and enough ink to survive an entire notebook. I go through at least one pen a week. Maybe it's the pen company I should own stock in. Anyhow, you’d think with all that writing I’d be more proficient and have plenty of profound words to share with the world. But to be honest, the daily words I pen are for mine and God’s eyes alone. I’ve often told Keith that were I to kick the bucket suddenly that he probably needs to burn my boxes of notebooks. I don’t exaggerate. I have BOXES of them.

I started journaling in my early twenties. I read a book by Catherine Marshall (the author who most impacted my life) about how she wrote prayer journals to the Lord for years and years. I decided to try it, just pouring my heart out to the Lord- the good, the bad, the ugly. It’s the bad and the ugly parts that make me want them destroyed in the event of my demise. Because I don’t hold back from talking to God. I figure He knows it all anyway, so why not just be brutally honest? It’s not like I can shock Him. So I pour out the things I’d not share with anyone- my frustrations, my joys, my worries and fears, my jealousies, my greatest longings, my failures, sometimes my fury, and often my praise. Through my talking to Him all these years, God has become my confidante and my friend. He’s a safe place to vent. I’m not going to influence Him or cause Him to stumble. He listens and hears and cares and then when I’m spent, He gently walks with me through my tangle of emotions and He leads me to see the whole picture, not just my narrow-minded, emotional view. When life happens, sometimes suddenly taking my breath away, I find myself running to my notebook to write it down. It helps my scattered mind to focus so I can get down to business with God. Although yes, it is a place to unleash my thoughts and feelings, my motive and desire in these writings is to seek truth, to seek God’s perspective. And if I truly want it, He does give it. I know not everyone needs to do this and I suppose I would have still grown up to be a responsible adult had I never journaled. But it’s a tool I stumbled upon years ago and I never would have imagined that thirty years later I’d still be writing every single day.

There are the rare days where I’ll not fill an entire page.  But more often than not the words spill unedited out of my pen, page after page after page. Then there are the dark days when I tear through epic amounts of paper and ink until I fight my way through to the light. It can get intense and ugly sometimes, but He is safe. He knows what I mean. And He always leads me home. Especially in the processing phase, His word and Spirit’s influence in the secret place are vital. When our hearts are in a fragile, malleable place, the careless opinions of others can confuse our path. In such times, I guess I am extra careful what I share and to keep my thoughts for God’s eyes only.

I was raised in a different era. It was a time when, for the most part, certain things just weren’t shared or talked about and often things that should have been discussed were shelved or swept under the rug and kept to oneself. But as with most things, when something swings to one extreme we can over-compensate by swinging to the opposite extreme.  Either way it remains out of balance. And today, conversely our kids are being raised in an uncensored culture where nothing is left to the imagination and too much is shared. Today’s social media and reality shows are shaping this generation in such a way that discretion is becoming a thing of the past.

I use social media a lot and I’m not saying it’s bad, in and of itself. It can be a very useful and enjoyable tool. But the easy access to being heard by an opinionated audience can prove to be too big a temptation for some. Any random thought that occurs to us can be instantly shared seconds after it arrives in our brain.  We can get feedback immediately and be influenced and persuaded and heading down a particular path before we’ve fully processed or filtered the thought. Before social media, when we got aggravated, we would just mutter to ourselves, complain to our spouse and pray until we got breakthrough. By the time we actually saw someone, we would have had time to sort it through and to come to our senses before we had the opportunity to speak about it. But not so anymore. Today's unfiltered, premature sharing is like serving a cake half-baked or delivering a baby before it’s due. Social media’s encouragement for individuals to expose their tender hearts and uncensored thoughts to the masses is tainting this generation's understanding of the need for discretion. And in the area of entertainment, particularly with reality tv, there is nothing sacred or kept private anymore. There are some harmless, fun reality shows that I love to watch.  But this generation's constant exposure to the shameless voyeurism into the secret lives of other people for sheer entertainment is corrupting their understanding of the need for dignity.

I've succumbed all too often to the culture of over-exposure and have shared things I wasn't ready to or I shouldn't have. We all have done it. And there IS a time to speak. There's a time to testify and to proclaim. But especially when our hearts are in that fragile in-between place, before it's found it's way home, there needs to be a journey into the secret place where Gods perspective and heart are sought. It's wisdom to process our thoughts through His word and Spirit before we unveil them raw to the world. But even in times of strength, God's secret place is necessary, safe and beautiful.

"Here it's You and me alone God; You and me alone
You've hedged me in. With skin, all around me
I'm a garden enclosed; A locked garden
Life takes place. Behind the face". ~ Misty Edwards

Some things are private and just not appropriate to be shared. Some things are not safe to be shared except with certain trustworthy people. Some things are just not ready to be shared until they've had time to be sifted through the Truth. And some things are just for God’s eyes only.

Like my notebooks.

"O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him for God is our refuge." 

Psalm 62:8