It takes a long time for grace to soak deep enough to begin spilling back out.
Nine years of back and forth with the black and white. Rainbowed shades of gray finally began to make their way to the surface.
I’d been looking for the opportunity to use my skills as a hair designer to serve abused women. Sometimes I get my own voice mixed up with God’s. (I know, control issues.) So, I was slightly miffed when I called the local shelter and they didn’t give me a date. It was more like….hmmm, weelllll, ok. They gave me another contact and after three calls and no answer or returned messages, I let it go.
I knew I’d heard clearly and wondered why the mission hadn’t gotten the same memo. I wrangled a lot in those days with hearing Gods voice and came to learn than when I heard but I couldn’t see? God counted that to me as faith. Faith like Abraham. I think comparing myself with Abe is slightly lower on the aggrandizement scale than the comparison to God. Baby steps, I say!
I spent a lot of time learning to thank God that he was finishing what he’d promised to start. So I was surprised, but not really, when a friend called and asked if I’d like to serve in a pampering day she was organizing for a large shelter in a bigger city nearby. Apprehended faith is spectacular.
Because I knew that I knew I was to serve the following day in that very specific shelter, when my sister ended up in the ER late the night before the event, I didn’t question whether I should cancel or not. I slept for a couple of hours and drove an hour and began setting up around 8.
Kids playing, groups of ladies gathered around to watch as their friends had manicures, pedicure and cuts. After several cuts, a lady brought her quiet friend to me. She didn’t have any ideas about her style and asked what I thought. I give my opinion when people don’t ask, so I was all in.
But something changed as I watched her face.
Questioning eyes, hesitating breaths, ears searching for the right words.
I was talking, but she was doing so much more than listening. She was feeling for resistance, watching for dissent, listening for contention, inhaling for signs of hostility, sipping slowly to avoid detonation. Her head toggling the whole time I was talking, looking for any clue I might give that would tell her how she should respond. She was more than just hesitant, she was afraid.
After a few minutes, I realized that if I suggested we shave her entire head, she would have agreed.
All of her seemingly insignificant movements served one purpose, keeping her options open, allowing her to align her response with my suggestion.
A hush came over my soul as I worked. It was holy ground guarding her heart, and I hated for our time to end. I wanted to take her home with me. Wrap her up, tell her it was going to be alright and hide her away where no one would hurt her again. So I gave her every product I had that was designed for her hair .
She hung around with her friend and watched for several hours. We were about ready to pack up when I realized that I’d forgotten to offer brow waxing. My timid friend stayed on the fringe as the others formed a line. They wanted her to join them and she reluctantly agreed. When it was her turn, she was gone and I never saw her again.
I realized on the way home that she have enough strength to disagree with her friends. For whatever reason, she didn’t want her eye brows arched but couldn’t say that, so she left.
I couldn’t get her out of my head and just kept seeing her vacillating responses. Exhausted and haunted, I got up at 3 A.M. I grabbed my bible and my coffee and starred out the window as I tried to assimilate the pain and brokenness. It was in those dark quiet hours that God spoke to me about the state of my own soul, and his response stunned me.
I was exactly like the woman that captured my heart. Though there was no abuse in my life, I looked to anyone standing in front of me for affirmation and kept my responses neutral so I could mirror what they thought of me. I bobbled my head as I let other people write uncensored on my heart.
I knew I had deep insecurities, but it was humbling to realize just how much of a mess I was. Humbling and healing.
I think we all reflect her to some degree.
Craving affirmation of our desires.
Wanting someone to nod and smile telling us that we’re gonna be alright. I feel the ache almost all the time. I have to make daily conscious decisions to look to the face of the Father to nod at me, realizing that the only approval that matters is His. I want to align my responses with only his suggestions in the deep realization that he is the author of my story. I’m learning that….
A constantly calibrated heart is a dependent heart.
A dependent heart reflects grace.
And grace cultivates growth.
[That you may really come] to know [practically, [a]through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses [b]mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] [c]unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and [d]become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!
You can find the rest of this series here.