Breaking Enigma or Embracing It?

419622_10200430372023974_1308410213_n - CopyIt’s been one year.  It’s been a year of walking, talking, growing, sharing, laughing, crying and praying with three amazing women.  We call it a mentor group, but it’s so much more.  People use words like “awesome, great and amazing” so often, but these are understatements when describing the gift of this year.  It’s rare to find people you trust enough to lean into the mystery of faith and life and share your ugliest and brightest, and know with certainty they won’t run from either.  They won’t run from your darkness and they won’t be intimated by your light.  Instead they’ll embrace you and celebrate you and hold up your arms when you grow weary.

Have I sold you on mentoring? Great! (Totally not my point.) Instead, I make a case for mystery.

Life is full of mystery – the fear of the unknown can hold us back so often.  However, Jesus embodies mystery.  This can be beautiful and let’s face it; this can be frustrating.  We like order, known-ness and clarity.  But can we freefall into mystery and become friends with ambiguity?  Do we have a choice?  Of course we do, but perhaps we’ll breathe a little easier when we shake hands with the enigmatic.

Have you ever stood before a mountain range more powerful and more magnificent than you?  Do you seek to understand it’s greatness or do you embrace the climb?  Have you stood on a stretch of sand breathing in the salty breeze?  Do you dare to understand the ocean’s pull on your soul or do you marvel at the gentle calm and raging power of the sea?

Is the mystery of Christ in me any different?  Mystery and victory go together, just ask Jesus.  There is no time for sleep in the ocean of mystery for transformation is but a wink away.  To resist mystery is a prison of our own making.

Lean into the mystery
Jump in

In the depths of the unknown
We find ourselves intimately known
We are named
Again and again Grace calls out

Who am I to dance in delight and tinker with desire?
Beckoned into a vast sea stirring with power
Mercy on the surface and strength below
Stillness covers a raging war

Mystery wreaks havoc within
It’s the kindest act of mercy
Lonely soul jolted with truth
Smooth out wrinkles in my twisted breath

Boundless tenderness and strength
Tug and pull this heart of mine
Awaken and jump, Dearest One
The mystery flirts and flits before you.

Soaked full
I press deeper into the mystery

And then I asked Him, “Lord, what do you want me to learn about you and your mystery?”

My heart already knew the answer while my head was catching up. He reminded me of truths I learned in a little prayer room warmed by the sun and by the love of a woman after God’s own heart.

I can rest in His mystery and be at ease in the unknown. I can rejoice in uncertainty because He holds my heart close. I can delight and be delighted in—that is the measure of joy in embracing the risk of mystery. There is no end to the unknown – it’s the only thing that’s certain.  When did we become obsessed with safety? There is no celebration in risk-less living. The call is to step out, to jump into the mystery of daring to be known in certain unknown-ness.

When was the last time you jumped? 

Fifteen days into 2015

5603130The past few years I was inspired to choose a word or focus for the year.  Have you ever done that?  Last year, God took me on a journey of learning to be present in His presence.  I was also inspired by Shauna Niequist to “live freer, softer and braver”.  This was my prayer countless times throughout the year.

This year my word is “abide”.   I want to learn to live with intention, grace and courage.  I chose these words, or more accurately these words chose me, after a painful, yet eye-opening moment.  I had forgotten how messy freefalls are.  Wouldn’t it be nice if waking up a little deeper were just clean and pretty?

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What I learned brought me into this year slightly bruised from sliding into home plate, but exhilarated from the run.  (You’re welcome baseball fans.  And yes, I know it’s not baseball season.)  Being present in God’s presence looks a lot like resting, waiting, listening and being still.  Things I’m naturally quite terrible at doing.  I thought abiding would look the same.  I was wrong.  I think abiding – remaining connected and living deeply – looks much more like stepping out in faith.  Thanks to Andrew Murray’s beautiful little book, I’ve learned that God is even more invested in me abiding in Him than I am.  After all, he abides in me as well.  Crazy wonderful, yes?

A year of being present (or doing my best) has prepped me for a season of stepping out with intention, living with grace and listening with courage.  Let’s call this “Game Day”, but in the quietest of ways.  There probably won’t be much shouting or face paint or butt slaps (well, maybe a little bit).  There will be a sense of purpose and poise in stepping out.  I will step out onto the field of writing bravely and daring to pursue my dreams, and I will step onto the court of leading with grace and loving deeply.  I’ll say yes to things that matter instead of staying paralyzed with fear and waiting so long for the right moment that it passes me right by.

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So here are fifteen things I’ve learned on the fifteenth day of 2015 (because I’m sure you were dying to know):

1.  Bossypants by Tina Fey is a worthwhile read – don’t take yourself or the book too seriously, but don’t be surprised when you learn something.

2.  Moving in with your sister and brother-in-law and bonus roommate is surprisingly awesome, but don’t make a fire in the fireplace and close the vent too soon.  I’m now sporting a musty scent today at work.  It’s not my favorite.

3.  Eating clean makes you feel good inside and out.  It takes planning and budgeting, but it’s worth it and the buddy system helps.

4.  Make new friends and grow old friendships.  (I’m not saying I’m old).  Community is priceless and takes work.  Build community and be committed to it.  It’s a beautiful thing.

5.  Support other people’s dreams.  I love giving my brother books by comedians so he knows he is seen, loved and supported in dreaming big.

6.  Chase moments of whimsy and grace.  They go hand in hand more often than you think (or so I think. Bob Goff does too).

7.  You are never too old for Disneyland, Harry Potter, the zoo and dance parties in the living room.  Enough said.

8.  Networking is really about friendship and wanting the best for others.  I’m so thankful to be surrounded by great examples of this.

9.  Sometimes you feel lonely.  Know that it’s okay.  Just sit with it for a moment or two.  Maybe cry and hug a dog.  Then get up and shake it off just like said dog. (Psychologists say this works).

10.  I’m convinced family is God’s greatest gift.  Friends that are family are just as wonderful.  Someday I’ll take them all to Disneyland.

11.  Embrace moments of “Carpe Diem”.  Remember those who have gone before whose shoulders we stand on and then look around for those who have grown weary and need someone to lift their arms for them until the battle is won.

12.  Learning what kind of eggs you like is liberating.  (In case you were wondering, I like them scrambled with lots of veggies cooked with curry, salt, pepper and a dash of cardamom).

13.  Be mentored.  My mentor embodies intention, grace and courage.  I have learned so much from her of the kind of life I want to live – find someone like that in your life.

14.  Read a lot. Read your favorites, read recommendations, and read something totally outside your norm.

15.  Say yes, say no and let things go.  (Brilliant, I know).  I’m learning to say yes to what matters and to what takes me deeper, say no to what adds clutter and chaos, and know when it’s time to let something go.

So there you have it.  Fifteen things that you didn’t ask for, but you got them anyway.  If you’re one of my tens of readers who made it through to fifteen, let’s be friends.  Chances are if you read this, you already are.  So here’s to a season of intention, grace and courage.

Wishing you a brave week friends!
Love,
Esther