Posted by: karanoel | September 5, 2016

A place to rest and love

This summer, since we were anticipating several out-of-town guests, I got fixated on the idea of gracing our backyard with some new patio furniture – the comfy kind that makes you want to talk and linger while the sun goes down. I’m embarrassed to acknowledge how much time I spent searching for just the right set that appealed aesthetically, functionally and financially (FYI, the cost of some sets might require selling your soul or firstborn child). I had almost driven my husband mad and given up hope when I found my heart’s delight on Craigslist. We rented a truck from Home Depot, trekked down to Dana Point and returned as joyfully as if with a newborn babe.

The trick was figuring out where to put my lovely 8 foot sofa with chunky chairs, blocky tables and big umbrella. With every surface cluttered, I just didn’t have vision for it. So I dragged every chair, table, toy and BBQ off the concrete and stood back to survey what remained. The space was still broken up by several immovable obstacles: a built-in fire pit, the wood columns of the patio cover, the heightened deck area, and the baffling zigzag contour of the concrete. If I were the homeowner and had some cash, several of these items would be changed or removed. But I’m not and I don’t.

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So I took stock of the space and suddenly… golden rays of sun shone down from heaven on just the spot. That perfect spot that receives gentle morning light filtered through our neighbor, Ruth’s, maple trees yet is protected from late day’s harsh heat. Where the breeze from the distant coast jumps over the weathered fence and rustles the leaves of the eucalyptus tree overhead. Where the warmth from the fire is close enough to embrace the family on a chilly eve. And so the furniture moved into its perfect new home. About two minutes later, our kids spread themselves out on it, followed quickly by me and John.

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While all of this was going on, we were dealing with a very difficult someone in our lives. It was nothing new, really, but the increasing levels of entitlement and manipulation proved to be particularly exasperating and threatened another relationship dear to my heart. Attempts over the years to improve the situation only worsened things, and it wasn’t one of those optional people you can just choose to part ways with.

The Lord, so kind to enlighten my simple self, said that, like the recent experience with the patio furniture, I just couldn’t see clearly. The relationship was so cluttered by hurt and frustration that I couldn’t find a solitary square foot on which to rest. So He told me to clear off the movable items. Instead of toys or barbeques, it was resentment, bitterness and anger (okay, rage), as well as the accompanying judgment of this person’s choices and, well, their whole self. And then there was that whole pile of self pity, sitting there stinking up the place, making it known what victims we were.

If I’m honest, those things didn’t look like temporary pieces of clutter to be dragged off at will, requiring nothing more than a quick visit to the chiropractor afterwards. They had begun to feel as though they were eternal truths, secured deeply in the earth by my understanding of their injustice. So along with extending forgiveness for the hurts and offenses, there was an accompanying need to surrender my ideas of how things should look – you know, the fairness and generosity I deserve (oh wait, is that entitlement?) – and my attempts to control them.

After beginning to clear these things off the surface, a quick survey of the area showed a brutal truth. There are things that can’t be moved, by my own hand anyway – namely the free will of another and what they choose to do with it. How I wish I had some ownership of their life and could remodel it to my liking. But I don’t and I can’t. Like that zigzag concrete in my yard, it’s going to stay for the duration of the relationship.

But that’s okay because what is becoming clear is that God’s got this. He is actually using it for my benefit – to grow me up and show me just how capable He is. This is where the angels sing and the golden rays pour forth sunlight onto the perfect spot. With all else cleared away, I can now see not where to put a sofa, but where to put my trust. It is not in another person or in circumstances that go as they should, but in the Lord Almighty who lives to demonstrate His love. The truth is that He loves this other person as much as He does me (gasp) and wants freedom for both of us. As we trust Him to lead us, He is going to do the impossible. If they are not willing, then He will still make a way for me.

And let me tell you, He has. In the midst of the all the things that are still swirling and despite the fact that outward circumstances are technically “worse,” I am finding this joyful liberty to let go of what I can’t change and to love well – here and now. The relationship close to my heart that felt so threatened is becoming richer by the day as the walls created through the friction melt. It is truly a place of rest. And I am certain that, like the patio furniture, endless hours will be spent here greeting the morning sun in quiet thought or talking, laughing and lingering with loved ones as the sun goes down.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

                                                                               -the serenity prayer

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Responses

  1. Spoke straight to my heart. Can’t wait to see you guys again❤️

    • Thanks Sue! Would love to see you. Is it time for your Cali visit?

  2. I love you Kara! I love how The Lord always shows us a better way if we are willing to listen. Working on listening better.

    • Yes he does! I’m working on listening better too. And definitely need some more work on doing what I hear 😀

  3. Amen, sista!

  4. You’re amazing sweet Kara!!!!

    • Thank you sweet Pam!


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