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We share a common journey yearning to have . . .
our efforts noticed and not ignored,
our children fly and not flounder,
our husbands relate and not disconnect.
Yet, even as women we detach daily.
Bumping into each other with “howdys” and “hellos”.
So easily missing the blessing of significant connection and community.
When someone replies to my brief question,
“How are you?” with,
“I’m fine thanks.”
I accept her simple words . . . and am easily persuaded it’s true.
But it’s not true.
She’s merely appearing to be happy and together.
Growing increasingly discontent with superficial conversation among her peers, and longing for deep connection, she searches for friendship online, but finds it to be hollow.
Submerging herself in a culture of illusions and pictures of perfection . . . she is dissatisfied with its superficiality, and the deceptive fingers of isolation slither into her heart.
While habitually repeating to herself, “everyone else has their lives together except me”, she caves in to the quintessential lie that she is not worthy of honest face-to-face friendships.
Feelings of shame engulf her.
She isolates her real self and puts on the pretend.
Her suffering is swelling in silence . . .
Honestly, I’m not always doing my part in connecting and relating.
Sometimes I’m concerned about my own sense of
‘not-enoughness’, and it dulls me to myself . . .
It numbs me to her . . . and other-hers.
At times I conjure up my own lies and believe them about myself.
They sound this way:
“I’m not as important as her . . .”
“surely my real self is not enough . . . ”
Self judgment tempts me to live pretending I’m someone other than my honest self.
Hiding feels safe.
Fearing I won’t measure up to others standards . . . I crawl into my pockets.
It’s cocoon soothes me as it blocks out my painful thoughts about myself.
Thoughts that are so easily triggered when I’m not tucked in here.
After a while, I can’t see anything including my hands that are right before my eyes. I’m feeling cold, alone, hungry, thirsty, unsafe, and disconnected from everything except my cramping legs.
pocket-life betrays me —
Longing for daylight, eyesight, and enough room to stretch my aching legs, I decide it’s time to shimmy out of my pocket.
Needing brave thoughts . . .
the words that gave me strength before come to mind . . .
“The hour has come for us to shake loose from our hiding and fear . . . To wake up from our slumber . . . put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Rom 13:11-12)
Oh what joy even the thought of being in the light brings me . . .
To be covered with an armor of light protecting me from darkness and isolation gives me hope that I can face my fears.
Shaking loose from my hiding place, I uncurl first by stretching my hands to the light around me.
Poking my head out, and then slowly opening one eye at a time . . . I see an unusual glistening in the distance.
Pulling my legs from their cramped quarters, jolting up, and regaining my balance, I dart towards the odd glow while soaking in all the beauty I find along the way.
At my path’s end, finding the armor of light, and donning it without delay, I rejoice in the protection it promises.
Though my thirst weakens me,
the armor’s strong embrace emboldens me.
Hearing the cascading of water, I blaze a footpath through the wooded area craving refreshment.
Drinking it in –
it spills across my face,
runs down my cheeks,
and rushes over my feet.
Now completely drenched in it, I experience a quenching of my thirst like never before.
The life-giving water mysteriously satisfies my thirst for the Truth.
The Truth that says —
My honest self is enough because Jesus makes up the difference.
He rejoices over me with singing. (Zeph 3:17)
It is God who made me and not me myself. (Ps 100:3)
His hands made me and formed me. (Ps. 119:73)
The all-wise and all-loving Creator has an order and I am part of that created order.
He has called me His friend, and has made available to me everything He has learned from His Father. (John 15:15)
As I drink in these Truths of God’s delight in me, I am filled and overjoyed . . then I remember her.
The one who says, “I’m fine thanks.”
Suddenly flooded by an overwhelming desire to connect with her –
deeply connect –
over a cool cup of fresh water —
I ache to take her to the fountain –
where she can have her thirst quenched too —
As I’m darting around hoping to find her,
the water leaves a spotted trail behind me as it splashes from my cupped hands.
When at last, I find her . . .
. . . her head hangs low. And without eye contact she mumbles on . . . telling me the heart-breaking tragedy by which her life is now forever changed.
I sit with her — my hands still filled with water — Living Water.
In listening to her story I recognize the dark place she’s been hiding.
Perhaps she’s been there for a long time. Maybe, ever since we last exchanged “how are you’s” and “I’m fine too’s.”
Her suffering has been swelling in silence much too long.
I’m filled with compassion for her.
Wondering if I would have taken the time to listen to her, before this tragedy occurred, if it wouldn’t have occurred at all.
Or perhaps if it would have lightened her load had she a friend to share it with.
A deeply connected friend, or a small group of friends, who did not judge.
Wanting to get her suited up in light armor, and over to the fountain, I guide her out of her small hideaway.
First I help her stretch her arms out into the light. Then her head and stiff legs . . .
I tell her . . .” the hour has come to shake loose from her hiding and fear . . . To wake up from her slumber . . . and put aside the darkness and to put on the armor of light.” (Rom 13:11-12)
With a renewed sense of protection and peace, and after donning her armor of light . . .
she looks me eye to eye . . .
Together we go to the fountain of water that faithfully hydrates with strength. Along the way, I speak Truth to her in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. (Eph 5:19)
She cups her hands like she sees me doing – and she drinks deep.
The water spilling over her cheeks,
down her chin,
and across her elbows.
While she’s drinking deep of the water, I look around and see other-hers. Joyful sisters gathering for sustenance at the fountain of Living Water.
I hear the longing for communities. Do you?
armor of light wearing —
who gather around the fountain of LIving Waters.
Join us on Friday and Saturday May 12 – 13, 2017, in Manns Choice, PA, at the Heart Working Women’s Retreat.
We are committed to helping women grow in authentic community. A light-bearing, armor-wearing community who gathers around the fountain of Living Waters.
Joy Thacker loves to listen to your stories. Especially when they are your stories of transforming grace. As a recovering pocket-dweller she has some of her own life-altering tales to tell. She shares them in writing and at the Heart Working Women Retreats where she is passionately dedicated to helping women grow within authentic community. Joy is joyfully outnumbered in the parsonage with her four good men . . . one husband and their three sons.