Showing Up

I live in this weird tension of soaking up spills, matching socks and slicing onions (again), all while remaining acutely aware of a hunger inside of me for adventure which I can’t cap. Some days, I’m still in slippers and sweatpants at four o’clock — yet I feel like I spent the day back at the Amalfi coast when the waves crashed just a few feet below our window, carved out of the rocks.

I was made for more than the mundane.

At every stage of life, I’ve been haunted by a desire for something more, something bigger, something that would fulfill empty places within me. It’s made me feel unsettled, this discomfort festering under the surface. What’s wrong with me that I can’t quite ever get really happy?

In my late teens and early twenties, my stop-gap was impact. I saw the world’s great need and I wanted to be a part of the response. As my ministry grew, so did my vision. But I never did quite fit in those vision-sewn britches.

Then it was marriage. If we could only find stability, once we found stability, my heart would be free. Then, children, the question mark which hung like a cloud over my late twenties.

If only was the anthem of a decade-plus.

And, though I might be tempted to label myself as discontented, the Lord had another plan for that hunger. Because it wasn’t wrong — just misplaced.

Ironically enough, the itch of ages in my life is finally getting scratched, and at a time where the outside eye might say it was the most gritty. As I can’t get away from writing about, it’s adoring this God-Man which is taking me there. (The perspective I have on my children — it all comes from Him, from this place.) I’ve written several posts about why I adore but sometimes you need to just get a little more practical. And, though I love to live in story, there are times when that story has to find its way off the page and into your own story for it to do anything more than just warm you for a few minutes.

So friends, the summary of what I will, here, suggest about adoration is this: it’s all about showing up. Like dressing the part and starting the car down the street towards the gym before you have a chance to decide you don’t want to workout today, adoration — at first — requires a determined motion. Yes, even if you don’t feel it.

The battle in my own life has rarely (if ever) been against the 20 or 60 minute stint with my Bible cracked and pen in hand, or the Sunday-morning serving line. Instead, the fight has come against my finding Him when the dishwasher breaks and that friend just doesn’t get me and those wounds of my daughters‘ continue to surface. I can show up, morning after morning for a marked “quiet time” with the Lord, without obstacle — but when my feet hit the stairs for the breakfast round-up, the barriers between me and the God-Man surmount.

There’s a war against our hearts finding adventure in the right now. Simmering below the surface of what appears to be circumstantial disruptions is a staged battle keeping me from communion, the minute-by-minute communion which makes me alive and makes Him known to me.

We were made to find joy in relating to Him across the whole span of our day.

But I can’t relate to a Man I don’t really know.

Adoration is my introduction.

So, after stumbling hundreds of times, I am learning the art of getting back up. And for me that means showing up. It means choosing, each day, that I will adore in any pocket of time I can find. If (and when) I fail the day before, I press delete and declare my morning a new day.

I will adore.

I’ve put together a few practical lifelines that I’ve clung to, these past few years in this journey towards adoration. This list is by no means complete — and I feel deep within myself this need to communicate to you, dear reader, that they have been birthed out of years of perplexity. My heart cries alongside the numb, the cynical, the disconnected and the ashamed. Because I’ve been all of those things.

But here is what I have been learning to do, even so. And here is what I am finding is changing my every-day experience and understanding of Him:

Prepare for those pockets of time, because winning a heart and life back to His perspective starts with the simple minutes. Take your Bible down from the dusty shelf, or from the prayer-closet where it typically stays, and onto your kitchen counter, or beside you at your desk, or propped up against the treadmill. We have a lot of ideas about God which aren’t actually God’s ideas about God. We see Him as boring because our method of pursuit has been boring. Try Him on against your most mundane minutes. Practice adoration over what used to be blank spaces, your mind’s graveyard.

Start with a word or phrase which resonates with your particular need that day. Pick up the Psalms (or purchase this book), choose one each day, and let your mind grab hold of a word or phrase within that Psalm which resonates with an irritant or particular pain in your life. Write it down or say it aloud. Practice telling Him who He is — it takes you beyond reading to receiving.

For example, if I’m caught in a mind-trap, condemning myself for failing in some area, there is no better time than this to remember that He is faithful. So that’s where I start. Psalm 36:5 “Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” God, you are faithful. You are faithful when I am fearful. I can count on You. You will not leave me. I start here, and carry this conversation throughout my day. I scribble notes in my moleskin journal from a new phrase of adoration which came to me on my way down the stairs or in between peeling carrots at the sink.

I get comfortable with His words.

Take baby steps toward breathing adoration. Hagertys don’t often set goals, but we take small steps toward life-habits every day. Because whether we realize it or not, we are always habit-making. So bite-sized portions of adoration will soon lead to meals. Plan and pray towards a 5-minute adoration break over laundry, on the walk to lunch, or during your morning and evening commute. For one week. Then add another, and another. Before you know it, a habit of praise is being formed. It will feel awkward at first, as does any new practice. Push through the awkwardness with expectation.

Taking thoughts captive — I mean really winning your thoughts back to God — requires replacing them with the true knowledge of God. Without a replacement, they’ll forever taunt you. When His Words about Himself become a part of my everyday vernacular, something inside me shifts.

When your heart feels most hard to His Word, lean in. Just the other day, right before my husband had to leave on a trip for work, our Reverse Osmosis water tank fell from the basement ceiling, where it had been suspended, right onto the table below which held years of memories in the form of pictures and maps and documents — all waiting to be formed into baby books. This, after the overhead lights in our closet suddenly popped a fuse which we couldn’t remedy and our stereo refused to work. I sent texts, moaned to my husband, shed tears of frustration … and then remembered: there is treasure to be found here. 

My stubborn heart wanted to stay in the grumpy nest I’d nurtured for years, subtle but toxic. Adoration replaced frustration with expectation. God Almighty had Words to speak over that day.

When your feet are dragging to adore and you have a dozen excuses not to, take that as your signal: it’s time to win those minutes back.

Speak it, sing it, say it, write it. Adoration isn’t just one new way to wrap your arms around His Word, it’s an opportunity to inherit a new perspective in the knowledge of God. The phrases you’ve written in your moleskin journal and whispered under your breath on the way to the water cooler or in folding laundry can now be integrated into your everyday conversation. Talk to your kids about it, find a writing space to declare (you can share it, here, with us on Mondays), write songs with the phrases of adoration He’s given you from His word.

Steep yourself in who He is showing Himself to be, to you.

Communion can’t be compartmentalized.

Don’t let your objections speak louder than your hunger. We all have it, this hunger. It’s not a personality trait, it’s inherent in man. If you haven’t yet identified it in yourself, start searching. We were made for more. Even the most dedicated God-follower was made to know Him more. The “gospel” is but a doorway, not an endpoint. It opens into a vast, open field filled with the beauty, majesty and splendor of God’s character and thoughts.

We have been lulled into believing that this Book and the God-Man behind it is ornamental and separate from the cravings in our lives that we just can’t quench. But we were made to crave. Him. 

So when the objections come up (because they will), as do the opportunities to satisfy that craving with the broken thing you’ve come to expect will leave a sour aftertaste (though it feels so good in the moment), remember Who sourced the hunger. It may take weeks or months of pasting adoration, piece by piece, as the new backdrop of your life, but I promise that you won’t regret it.

From one who has spent years letting her mind and, subsequently, her life, dance around worst-case scenario expectations, making His Word my word is re-wiring my constitution.

And adoration is my introduction.

After all these years, I’m finally finding Him limitless.

 

 

Photos compliments of Mandie Joy and Lucy O’ Photo [I love having such beautifully talented friends!].

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13 Responses to “Showing Up”

  1. Cindy on

    Sara, as usual, your writing deeply touches my heart, but then you also pull back the curtain and help me see how the Lord brings beautiful drops of adoration from your pen (computer?). You encourage me! Thank you!

  2. Amber on

    This is my day to learn His name as Jealous. (Ex. 34:14)

    I was reminded this morning that He is jealous of my time, of my affection, of my praise.
    Too long have I been in bed with lesser gods. Too long have I kissed the lips of what can never satisfy.

    Adoration is my gateway back to knowing Him alone as Lord.

    Thank you for the great reminder.

  3. Natalie on

    Thank you, Sara!! I had been wondering just practically how you are doing this so well. It’s obvious that adoration has changed you, brought you closer to Him…thank you for sharing the practical side…very encouraging! I’ve been trying my own thing, but you’re right, the minute by minute throughout the day is SOOO crucial…it’s how we fight in this spiritual battle and have victory! It’s truly how we have the mind of Christ.
    Love, Natalie

  4. Erin Farley on

    This is EXACTLY what I needed to hear. I feel like I have been getting tripped up in focusing on the “not yets” in my life…thinking that I have to wait on those things to happen before I can feel this completeness or closeness to God. Although, I know that is not true in my head, it is hard to feel it in my heart. I have not had any practical ideas of how to put it into practice. I am excited to get into the habit of adoring and reclaiming my thoughts for Him. Thank you for the reminder that He offers me everything I need right now!

  5. Christy on

    wow..i was taken back again…this is exactly what i am going through right now..i needed to hear that today…thank you…

  6. Kaleigh on

    This post shocked me- who knew that anyone else felt that way or thought that way?… I wont take time to share all the details but am 19 and feel all the things you describe- that constant desire for something more despite abounding blessings… THANK YOU! This post is amazing and so helpful.

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