Dusting off the shelves

Hi! I’m Carmen. Nice to meet you. I used to blog here.

Here I am again, dusting off the shelves, cleaning out the cobwebs and restarting my sharing of thoughts. Maybe no one is following me, and for now, that’s ok. Why? Because I’m about to share some information that not many people know about yet. I’m not ready for them to know yet, but I need an outlet for my thoughts, and lately, there are a lot of them.

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Lots of things have happened this year, especially with my family. My grandfather had a stroke, two of my dad’s siblings’ marriages fell apart, my parents bought a resort on our lake, my sister is going back to school to be a nurse… And amidst all of this, I have changed. I’ve grown as a person, learned some things about myself, had some weird experiences with dating (no more online dating for me!), and biggest of all, realized that Chicago is not my home.

I have realized that I took community for granted when I lived in Virginia. I didn’t have to worry about having friends or the lack of being able to connect with people. Since I’ve been in Chicago I have found it incredibly difficult to find community. I have a few friends, but everyone is so busy with their own things that it is difficult to connect very often. I love being close to my family, but I honestly miss having friends and being able to have good conversation over food and wine. I miss spiritual camaraderie. I have felt out of place for a while and also that something was going to change, but I didn’t know what it was until I recently spent a week in Cincinnati with my best friend and her hubs. I feel like God is calling me there. When I returned after the week, it was the first time I did not feel like I was coming home. It felt, instead, like I had left home.

Since that week in Cincinnati, I have been very excited about moving. I was wrapped up in the excitement and the peace that I felt over finally being “cleared” to leave Chicago. I felt myself moving forward without looking back, family be damned and I’ll be out of here as soon as possible. But, yesterday I went for a walk and while walking, I was praying. I heard, “I’m not done with you here yet.” Sobering because I was feeling so forward focused (even though I tried not to be) that I didn’t want to even think about continuing to be involved in relationships, church, etc. here, because I knew I would just be leaving soon.

But, what I heard was different than that. I am still called to “be” here until I leave. I must still go to church and have relationships and be involved in the community until I go to a new community. The call to move is not the call to stop existing in one location, just to try to jumpstart existence in a new location. I need to live and be where I am, no matter if I am sent to a new location tomorrow or a few months from now. I honestly don’t know how to do this, but I must not isolate.

Since about a week ago, I have felt plagued with doubt about if I had really heard a call from God to move. I was second-guessing and feeling stressed, putting too much pressure on coordinating life to make sure I could leave when it was convenient. I lost sight of the fact that GOD called me and HE will lead me at the time that HE has planned for. And, right now, all I need to do is live like God has called me to live now. To live in the knowledge of who HE says I am, not who my perceptions tell me I am. And to continue to learn about who I am in HIM and how my identity is in HIM alone, and what that actually means and how that informs how I live.

If I cannot live where I am, moving to Cincinnati will not be a step in a new direction, it will only be the same tired steps in a new location. I do feel His call on me and that does hold excitement, but I need to not be so forward focused that I loose sight of what is here and now. Waiting to move should not be waiting at all, instead it should be living just the same until it is time to move. I want to go from living to living, being to being.

Wisdom from Fenelon…

This is entitled Surrender to His Plans, it comes from The Seeking Heart by Fenelon.

“I am truly sorry about all your troubles, but I know that God is working on your behalf. Remember that God loves you and therefor He does not spare you! He lays you on the cross of Jesus Christ. Whatever revelations you receive or whatever emotional experiences you have are worthles unless they lead you to the very real and constant practive of dying to your self-nature. Unfortunately, you cannot die without suffering, not can you be said to be fully dead with part of you still lives.

“The death that God bring you will pierce deep within. Soul and spirit will be divided. He sees in you all that you cannot see. He knows exactly where the fatal blows should fall. He heads straight for that which you are most reluctant to give up. Pain is only felt where there is life. And in this situation life is precisely the place where death is needed.

“Your Father wastes not time by cutting into that which is already dead. If He wanted to let you remain as you are, He would certainly do so. He seeks to destroy your old nature. He can only accomplish this by cutting into that which is alive. Do not expect Him to attack only those obviously wicked desires which you renounced forever when you gave yourself to Him. Rather, He may test you by taking away the wonderful sense of freedom you feel, or by taking from you all that now brings you spiritual comfort.

“Will you resist? No! Allow everything! Volunteer for your own death, for God will only accomplish His work to the extent that you let Him. Do not push away the progress that God wants to make in your life.

“Cheerfully give up everything you now rely on to God’s good pleasure. Give up spiritual things, too, whenever He wants to take them away from you. What do you fear, your of little faith? Are you afraid that He may not be able to give you His strength when He takes away yours? Why does He take it away? Only so that He might be your supply. The lesson may be painful, but He wishes to purify you. I see that every natural means of help is shut off. God intends to accomplish His work in your by cutting off every human resource. He is a jealous God. He wants you to see that what He is going to do within you can only be done by Himself alone.

“Surrender to His plans. Allow yourself to be led where He wants to take you. Be careful when you seek help from people when God is not wanting you too. Remember that they can only give you what He gives to them to give you. Why should it bother you that you can no longer drink from the faucet? You are now being led to drink from the ever-flowing spring!”

Some of this is hard for me to read, and to digest. Truthfully, my flesh does not want to digest it. I would much rather not go through pain. But, I need to keep being reminded that the pain I am going through is not just be for the sake of pain, but for God’s ultimate purpose. Why am I not giving up the things I rely upon? Mostly because I am comfortable. I am comfortable in my controlled misery. I want the faucet. I can’t even fathom that there is an ever-flowing spring. I get hung up on experiencing more pain before there is less pain. I wonder, “what will I have to endure to get to a better place?”

On the other hand, I want to be purified. I desire whatever it takes to bring me to the ever-flowing spring. I want to trust Him and believe Him enough to allow Him to work in the way He needs to work. Oh, that is so hard!

But, last night at small group was another confirmation from God that I am not alone, that I am not the only one who has these thoughts, struggles, doubts. I am so thankful for that and to God for bringing these people in my life. and, as hard as some of these words are for me to read, they do bring hope.