Welcoming the Old with the New

 

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“That’s what people do who love you. They put their arms around you and love you when you’re not so lovable.”

 – Deb Caletti –

Bare branches in the trees are diamond crusted this morning. Hanging low and happily yellow, the sun smiles at its reflection in the powdered sugar snow.

As my favorite fictional redhead says, it is “a new day with no mistakes in it yet.”

That’s what I need, for sure.

Welcome is my word of the year, as I explained in my last post.

But I didn’t anticipate how far into me it would reverberate. I especially didn’t anticipate how much I would need to change.

But, now I see…Welcome can’t come into my life if I stay the same.

To grow a heart of welcome in me, God has to do some furniture rearranging. A dear friend of mine is currently living with my family. Today, she reminded me that welcoming in means we have to move some things out of the house. It means a bit of winter cleaning. It means we might bump into the furniture a little, because it’s in a place it has never been before.

But I learned something today about welcome—it is not just for the new people.

Sometimes, doors in your heart get partly shut. Sometimes, the hinges get a little rusty. And sometimes we avoid some halls in our hearts. They’re a part of us…but we cease to welcome them.

Maybe it is more tragic to be an insider who is not welcomed than it is to be an unwelcome newcomer.

I realized that, in my pursuit of welcome, my family was losing me. Somehow, my most favorite people were getting shut out.

It began when I decided not to tell a family member about certain thoughts or feelings, because I didn’t think they would understand. So gradually, I bumped that door, closing it more and more…

Until this morning, they came face-to-face with me, and I confessed that I feared telling them my true thoughts, because I didn’t want my feelings to be dismissed. They were shocked and saddened that I had not opened my heart-door and told them before.

I had been wrapping myself in silence–in a lack of welcome–in this relationship. And it took a toll. In my reluctance to bring them into my inner self, I pushed them away. I shut my door. I was slowly eroding a priceless relationship, by my own self-focus.

So I took a risk, when I confessed my hiding today.

And the sun came out, glistening on the snow.

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Are relationships hard? Absolutely. Are they messy? Sure. Sometimes it seems better to hold certain thoughts inside…it seems safer. Definitely less complicated.

But love often means sharing anyway, making your feelings vulnerable to criticism…and also open to understanding. Love means you welcome the other person into your heart anyway. It means you risk getting hurt..but it also means you open yourself up to grace.

Don’t stuff it all in and walk away from conversations frustrated that, once again, they do not understand you. How could they? You never told them. 

I think we can hide from our families, even while rubbing shoulders with them every day. We can put walls up to keep ourselves safe, exhausting ourselves with needless protectiveness.

So I am posting a new welcome sign on my heart:

Welcome, family. You, too, are welcome in my heart. In fact, I’ll make you duplicates of my key, okay? Then you can come in whenever you like.

In fact, could you come right away? I’ve been missing you.


If you are joining me on the journey to Welcome this year, how are you doing in your family? Have you shut a door in your heart? Is there a hallway barricaded? What old relationship needs a little oil and polish?

Don’t shut out your biggest fans. God gave you to them for a reason. He can give you the grace to open the door again. 

Why don’t you ask Him right now?

“He gives families to the lonely, and releases prisoners from jail, singing with joy!”

 – Psalm 68:6, TLB –

 

 

 

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Living Safe

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“A ship is always safe at shore but that is not what it’s built for.”
– Albert Einstein –

There is a part of me that craves safety.

Something deep–maybe fear? A wishing that the storms would never blow in.

This part of me–I know it’s selfish. But it is so tempting to just hide and pretend all is well when life has blustered up snow clear past the windows. The cold is everywhere and I’m snowed-in for a good long while.

With people, it’s just so hard to keep saying yes to them and no to the things tugging my heart. It’s hard to say “I’m sorry” again and again, to wonder if I’ll ever get this daughter thing right. This sister thing. This friend thing.

Safe.

Sometimes I just want to be a hermit and make my own pretend world–not because of a lack of blessings, but a lack of security in this real world.

How can I be safe?

I can stop trying.

No more caring–doesn’t love hurt too much?

No more reaching out. At least I couldn’t be rejected.

No more working for responsibilities. Can apathy hurt more than over-and-again failure?

No more vision. Why jump at all if the goal’s too high?

These thoughts, frustrated impulses, almost sweep me away. And, along, with these, comes the deeper conviction that the problem is mine. Something in me must be desperately wrong, for it to come to this.

This. To give in, to follow this only safe way–what is the cost?

Here’s the truth: Living isn’t safe.

And if I give up all these hard things, what’s left?

Nothing.

For safety, I’d be giving up life itself.

The options weigh heavy on my spirit. The real problem suddenly surfaces in my mind, in the shape of a verse learned long ago.

Lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God….” (2 Timothy 3:4)

Conviction hits, hard.

More than God?

More than Him, I so often cling to my agenda, my dreams, my way, my rights, my comfort, and my safety.

Pleasure more than God.

But if I were to retreat to the “safe,” lifeless place where my own pleasure lives, all would be lost. This soul wasn’t made to grovel for command or shrink from light or hide away from all that stings. This soul was made to soar the heights of what God’s love can do in a vessel given over.

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt –

And like that ship that Einstein spoke of, this soul might have a brief moment of safety by refusing to do what I was carefully knit together to do, formed to fulfill from the womb by my own Maker’s fingers. But if I do, I will miss everything.

If a soul does not surrender to Christ’s shaping…

…it is a tool rusting on the shelf, never to be used to carve a masterpiece…a bird content to look into skies he will never touch with outstretched wings…a stunted sapling afraid to extend its limbs, afraid to reach the heights…

And, yes, a ship.

A ship that will never feel the tickle of waves under her hull, never swell her sails with the swooping, rushing gusts of heaven, never bathe her deck in the shimmering gold cast to the farthest horizons by a sinking sun.

Even now, I’m weighing anchor.

I will not live the life of shrinking back (Hebrews 10:39).

Forget playing life safe.

This ship is setting sail.

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

– Philippians 3:12-14, NKJV, emphasis mine –

A big thank you to George Hodan at Public Domain Pictures for today’s photo!