The Love Dare: Passion, Life, Love (Guest Post by Alise Wright)

Alise on piano

 

I spent two years not touching a piano. And when playing music is where you feel the most like yourself, two years is a long time to go without feeling completely you.

 

I was told that everything I was doing was wrong in the area where I was the most passionate and the most alive. I was told that I could still attend the church, but I could have nothing to do with music. I was told that my passion was self-serving and that what was life-giving was an idol. When you receive that news, it kills passion. It sucks life away.

 

And when passion and life are missing, it can be difficult to love yourself. 

 

I went through a season where this was my existence. A season where the pain of the words that had been spoken to me drowned out the knowledge that I was doing what I had been created to do.

 

For that season, I saw my talents not as a gift from God to be used for God’s glory, but rather as something of a liability to be used for my own glorification. This was not my heart, but because someone in authority had told me that this was so, I began to believe it for myself. The lies became reality and that reality crowded out feelings of self-worth that I had.

 

We are so often afraid to allow ourselves to be identified by what we do. We worry that our value is somehow cheapened by attaching significance to the titles that we have. We worry that if we enjoy the things that we do too much, we will push God out of the picture.

 

But I have found that the more I am fully myself, the more than I fully immerse myself in the passions that God has placed in me, then I am more aware of God’s presence. When I play the piano, and play well, I am more in tune with what God desires for me. When I am fully present with my children, when I choose to be a loving wife, when I write with conviction – these things draw me closer to God.

 

As I am closer to God, I am reminded of my value. I am convinced of the greatness of God’s love for me. And as I gain that confidence, I am able to love myself. Not simply the things that I do, but who I am.

By embracing my passions, I have found life. And by finding life, I have found a deeper Love.

 

Alise is a wife, a mother of four, an eater of soup, and a lover of Oxford commas. She is the editor of Not Alone: Stories of Living with Depression with Civitas Press. You can generally find her sitting behind a keyboard of some kind: playing or teaching the piano, writing at her laptop, or texting her friends a random movie quote. You can connect with Alise on her blog, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

 

Pre-order Emily’s new book, Mom in the Mirror, at 40% off, here.

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A promise to myself as a woman

As a woman living in the 21st century I will live as though I have a thousand daughters, even though I have none, because every girl is my daughter and when she sees me, or engages with me, she’s looking to me for how to live. So I will live, I will smile, I will laugh, I will speak, and I will pray as though their hearts and souls depend on it.

As a woman living in the 21st century I will not judge myself based on numbers. My worth will not be determined by my weight, by my height, by my social security number, by my Blogger followers or Google followers or by Facebook and Twitter. Only one number will ever matter to me, that is, the number One, who is God, who is my biggest fan, and all I will care about is whether or not I bring him glory.

As a woman living in the 21st century I will not depend on makeup or clothes to improve my self-esteem. If I am looking tired, I will take a nap, not put on foundation. If I am feeling sad, I won’t buy a new outfit, but I will bow down and pray and ask the Holy Spirit to mend these broken ways in me and comfort me and be my closest confident. I do not need to purchase or accessorize; I need to recognize my emotional and spiritual needs, and allow my creator to recreate me, daily.

(for the rest of this post, won’t you visit me HERE over at my personal blog today?)

why I write about God–and why I stopped

i write about God a lot. i write so i will know him more.

but there comes a time when i need to stop writing. and it happened last week while i was listening to Sons and Daughters’ Your Glory. i was sitting in my easy chair, the christmas tree alight and the children asleep and peace on earth, except i wanted more. i always want more. i’m a good-news junkie.

so i stop typing, i close my eyes and i raise my hands, listening to Sons and Daughters and in my mind, i see God’s light, a luminous light pooling like butter on the ground and there i am, running around outside the scope of that light, following flickers, pale white flashlight-flickers like fame and fortune and people’s opinions of me.

and more often than not for all of my running i’m left in the dark. and right there, in my living room, i put my face in my hands and asked God to help me step into his light, into his glory, and to stop worrying about what other people think. to stop letting humanity define my eternal worth. because bones don’t make the soul.

i sat there in my brown housecoat, Sons and Daughters singing and my eyes closed and face in my hands and then, the light shifted. God’s glory. it moved, and it came to rest upon me.

i didn’t have to.do.anything. i just had to ask. God wants to give us everything. why do we find it so hard to believe he loves us? to let him love us? maybe because the world tells us we’re only as good as the mother on the screen, or the wife in the church pew, or the size of our jeans?

and i realized in that moment of God coming to rest on me in my living room that this is what he did at Christmas. he came to us. he knew we couldn’t get to him. we couldn’t do enough good to reach him. so he did the completely unexpected, and came as a defenseless infant into a room that was a barn.

talk about feeling like a failure. i wonder if mary doubted herself. if she doubted God’s calling on her life to be the son of God’s mother, because she gave birth in a pile of straw and manure.

the Bible doesn’t talk about that, but i think we can be reassured that she chased those flashlight-flickers too… until she held Jesus in his arms and felt the strength of the universe in his muscles and saw the love of God in his old-soul eyes and felt God’s pleasure shake the barn rafters.

and again, God’s glory found Mary and Jesus and Joseph in that barn. angels on the roof, lighting up the night in a chorus of hallelujah.

so i’m going into this new year slowly, because i don’t want to step out of God’s glory. i don’t want to stop feeling his pleasure. i want to let him provide for me, and sing over me.

and i want to draw my children close and let them feel God’s glory too.

where does my worth come from? {psalm 139, rewritten} (guest post by becky strahle)

It’s funny how God puts people in your life to help you along the way.  A conversation with a friend, a forwarded email and a decision to pursue an assignment really opened my eyes to some beauty this week.

I’ve been struggling a bit with self worth.  Where does my worth come from? Why do I feel like I’m on a constant roller coaster of acceptance of who I am??  My favorite scripture passage of all time is Psalms 139.  My assignment is to read it every day this week and rewrite it in my own words. Maybe you should too.  This is my interpretation.

You know me so well Lord.  You know what I’m going to do before I do it!  You see my struggle, my anxious thoughts.  You put me on the right course by placing your hand on my head.

No matter where I end up you are already there.  You keep me from falling, you keep me from that hole.  You are right there every step…protecting me.  Helicoptering my every move…ready to scoop me up if necessary.

You love me so much that you had a plan for me before I was even conceived.  You watched me take shape.  You orchestrated the whole thing…giving breath and life to my being.  You know me inside and out.  You are my Creator and I am your beloved creation…utterly yours.

Because of that fact you think about me all the time.  You want the best for my life and countlessly check in on my daily walk.

Because of your devotion to me shouldn’t I despise sin and those in opposition to you?  Shouldn’t I defend you at all costs??

More than anything I want my life to be pleasing to you.  Use me Lord.  Show me what needs to change…the things that make you unhappy and reveal to me your perfect plan…your unwavering path for my every footstep.  This is my prayer.