In 2015 my word for the year was LIVE. On the heels of several funerals at the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015, death made me look at how I lived. LIVE – to seize the day, to make every moment count, to stop and smell the roses, to be grateful in everything.
As one month of 2015 rolled into another, I struggled with the word “live.” Is it possible to live in this life with so many distractions, demanding schedules and daily routines? Is living isolated to a few occasional moments, hoping to not miss them? Is it possible for one see to live when seeing life through tear blurred eyes?
Weddings and funerals. Retreats and struggles. New beginnings and doors closed. Blessings from some and condemnation from others. Relationships strengthened and others severed. Living or surviving or dying?
Last year, I was more face down in my tears and turmoil to the Almighty than face up with joy, seizing the day living to the fullest as promised by our Savior. Through the blur of tears, the anguish of heart, a position that felt more like dying than living, I began to see more clearly. Clearly see the things that blinded me, blocked me from the very life I sought to live.
Hurt. Control. Anger. Pride. The need to defend to be right to be understood. Layer after layer like Eustace, in the C.S. Lewis book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when he tried to shed his dragon skin. The book’s account is more graphic than the Disney version. Eustace knows he must shed the skin of the dragon in order to live. At first Eustace tried to do it himself, but it was only affective when Aslan, symbolic of Christ, did it for him.
I can tell you I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay on my back to let him (Aslan) do it. The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I have every felt. (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, p. 90).
When we face down before our Maker, we position ourselves for some painful yet necessary shedding. There is a deeper pain, beyond the pain of our circumstances, but only found through those circumstance, that deeper pain emerges when we turn to God and allow Him to reveal the unlovely dragon like things about our inner self.
Avoid. Placate. Run. I know I did.
But, in the peeling, the ripping away of the layers of pride and self-righteousness something unexpected happens. Raw and tender the heart is, but after the shedding, there is a rush of life sweeter than before. Like Eustace adjusting to his new skin.
Then he caught hold of me—I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on—and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything…after that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone… (p. 90-91)
All my pain is not gone, the pain from circumstances or the pain from the inner workings of the Spirit on my heart. Shedding dragon like characteristics is not pleasant and grief takes time.
In 2015, I turned 50. Through the blurriness of many tears, I feel I see more clearly than ever before. Clear enough to know, that face down dying leads to face up living. That I may be 50, but I have only begun and that is okay. Clear enough to know that in order to keep living, I must keep dying.
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13, NRSV).
Dying to live?
What might be blocking you from living?
(Picture: The bench was given to us in memory of our beloved Gay Gay. It sits under a purple blooming tree. Purple was her favorite color. Gay may have passed away on December 27, 2014, but she knew how to live and she is truly living now.)