Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Unexpected Pause

Selah. This mysterious word I'm focusing on in 2016 (which is already zipping by, um, hello May?). I chose this word because I was desperate for calm and solid ground to stand on. Taking the intentional time and effort to breath slowly and pay attention to all moments. A pause woven throughout my days bringing sweet relief and comfort to the hectic pace and uneven footing 2015 seemed to be. 

I even, unintentionally, created an expectation in my mind. I chose my own definition of selah. Picture a woman in a sparkling clean kitchen in the perfect warm morning light slowly making a cup of tea. The teacup's contents steaming, finished with a fresh squeeze of lemon. She holds the cup with both hands, breathes in the soothing aroma and quietly takes a sip. This moment. This moment would be all my moments. 
That picture however reads like a commercial...and like commercials they insist that if you just buy this, do that, consume this then you will feel just as like the woman in her kitchen. And I think we can agree that is really not the case. 

Those sweet moments are possible, but they are the exceptions. And when the expectation is to live in the exception it can be terribly frustrating when mornings unfold more like a chaotic panic with Flight of the Bumblebee as its theme song. 

As with every single other word I've chosen these past few years, God takes my offering of a word and gently, but firmly, begins to unravel His definition. 


Selah has looked, more often, like the only option because all of the other things I try so desperately to control are very much out of my control and the only thing to do is wait. To stop. To reflect and listen. To sit fidgeting, grumbling, that I've paused and I'm very much ready to do, to fix, to control. 

And the answer continues to be - not yet. 

Learning to be in that uncomfortable space of unknowns and anxiety. Learning to actively pause - if that can be such a thing - engage with the pause instead of pounding on the locked door screaming that you want out. Instead, to sit in the silence and observe. To allow those pauses to teach me and strengthen me. Each time they arrive (which has been a lot lately) they don't seem to be any less scary, but I think this is a much bigger exercise in trusting. Pausing when every nerve and fiber is screaming to do the opposite. 

As I start to untangle and re-make my own definition of selah, I wonder about my desire for that peaceful kitchen moment to be all moments. But if that was all moments it would be stripped of its beauty, and power, to impart such peace and rest. Because what would you be resting from? How would you even recognize that moment without knowing moments of having to trust in the uncomfortable pause?

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known by God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." 
--Philippians 4:4-7 (emphasis mine)

I believe a peace that "surpasses all understanding" must be a peace that arrives in the midst of the chaos, for peace in a perfect & calm moment is not hard to understand. Selah, to me, is finding how to allow that seemingly impossible peace in, which means allowing yourself to feel all things that come with those hard moments. Ultimately trusting God to be God.

"A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you..." 
--Ezekiel 36:26-27

A heart of flesh? A heart of stone sounds safer, stronger, less vulnerable. 

This song wandered in, unexpected, but so pertinent as I sat exhausted in one such pause. Walls create the illusion of control. There is no such thing. Walls just suffocate the very thing you were trying to protect. 

Hello my old heart
It's been so long
Since I've given you away
And every day I add another stone
To the walls I built around you
To keep you safe

Hello my old heart
How have you been?
How is it, being locked away?
Well don't you worry
In there, you're safe
And it's true, you'll never beat
But you'll never break

Nothing lasts forever
Some things aren't meant to be
But you'll never find the answer
Until you set your old heart free
--Oh Hellos, Hello My Old Heart

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