Posted by: karanoel | October 22, 2019

A captured heart

Typically, I’m not an intense doer kind of person. The only to-do lists I ever create are on the infrequent occasions I actually intend to set aside my normal tempo and plow through a chunk of tasks. And the only reason I would ever choose to do that, apart from the occasional need to feel like a productive and useful human being, is to remove from my path those undesirable barriers that keep me from rambling about my day in introspective bliss. 

This focus on my thought life can be a wonderful thing, especially because it is often intertwined with prayer and the sense that Jesus is with me… hanging out, talking, doing life together. It’s in this white space that understanding magically appears; that ideas for blog posts form in my mind; that I feel calm, settled and most like “me.” 

height-requirement.jpgThe downside is that my thought life can also be very self-focused. It’s where all those measuring sticks live with their nagging doubts about my ability to meet their standards, making me feel like a perpetual child whose head never reaches the height mark for the rides I most want to go on. But instead of height, it is: 1) Beauty – something that has always felt so important and yet out of reach. I would settle for “decent” with the ability to dress it up well, but that’s never been my thing. And, 2) Success. By this, I don’t mean a winning career with a cushy salary and fine things; those have never interested me. But the idea that there’s something I’m good enough at to hold up and say, “See, I’m good at this so I have worth,” preferably in a form others can recognize. I’d probably settled for decent here too, with the ability to dress it up a little. But that’s never been my thing either.

These shortcomings don’t plague me the way they used to, but they still try to say that I’m not allowed to get on this ride, throw my hands in the air and live my life to the fullest. Until I can measure up, that is. But here’s the thing I’ve been realizing and it has to do with the one exception to my aforementioned approach to life: When something captures my heart and interest, I become consumed; single-minded; thinking little – or nothing at all – of appearances. Not because I’m trying so hard not to care, but because my cares get squeezed out by something greater.

A recent example is gardening. I don’t understand why, but when I’m planting new things in part of my yard, I can hardly think of anything else. It doesn’t matter that it requires time, focus, money (sorry John!) and demanding work under a hot sun (because I just don’t want to wait until later when it’s cooler). It’s all I want to do. John would be the first to acknowledge that I get so consumed, any thought I might have for beauty goes out the window. He has often come home to a feral wife with wild, tangled hair adorned with sticks and leaves, dirt-encrusted skin and nails, makeup running down a sweaty face and, I’m guessing, a savage look in my eyes. I’m talking working-man dirty, not cute-girl-on-TV dirty. He hasn’t bought my suggestion that maybe it’s a “jungle sexy” kind of look and, upon inspection in the mirror, I have laughed out loud in agreement… and don’t mind a single bit. 

Flowers

The other thing that’s goes out the window – at least long enough for me to pour my heart into my task – is my care for success. You see, my fear of feeling like a fool and looking like a failure has been so dominating that it typically prevents any kind of action in which success is not predetermined (which, let’s be honest, is everything worth doing). So the fact that I’m actually acting on a spark in my heart and admitting through my visible efforts, nursery receipts and this blog that I really enjoy it is fairly miraculous – and equally terrifying. It’s one thing to care, invest and look messy if you are on the way to producing something of verifiable beauty and worth; maybe like an artist covered in paint while creating a masterpiece. But what if all those resources are invested in creating a piece of art that could be made with far less effort by your kindergartener? Or, in my case, what if all my efforts fall flat and my plants either die or fail to produce any beauty? That would suck really hard. Or would it?

What if success isn’t defined by a product – an end result that can’t be guaranteed and might keep us from embarking in the first place, but by the act of showing up with vulnerable hearts willing to engage? And what if beauty isn’t something on the outside that we dress up, but something on the inside that gets uncovered and discovered as we follow the joy of our hearts? And what if by learning to show up and be led by this joy, we are actually learning to connect with and be led by the source of all joy, God’s own heart? And what if His heart love nothing more than to take us on amazing adventures to places we could only have dreamed of going and use us for greater purposes than we ever thought possible? And what if we become so enraptured by this whole joyful, relational, consuming adventure that all our cares for appearances simply fall away?

That, my friends, is what I’m discovering. It’s the very thing we are here for: Joyful adventure with a God who will carry the burden of the outcome for us. All He is asks is that we show up and join Him. There are no height requirements; not a single exclusive standard. All are welcome. So let’s hop on and throw our hands up in the air as we passionately, wholeheartedly live in the fullness of our joy – and His.

Roller Coaster.jpg


Responses

  1. Kara, I just want to say THANK YOU for your honest, raw, beautiful, loving blogs I get the privilege of reading. I have cried, laughed, cried some more and resonated with many things you have shared. Thank you for taking your pain and sharing it openly. . sharing it with people like me, who have experienced pain, but in a different way. I have NOT lost a son or daughter, so I have NO IDEA what that is like, but I can see your grief, see your pain and the way our loving heavenly Father is bringing you thru it. Im so sorry you are having to go thru this, but I hope you know that a glimmer of your light and pain has helped me thru my own darkness. Thank you so so much!

    • What an incredibly kind and encouraging response! I am humbled that you would invest your time and heart in reading my posts and sharing my pain – and in some small way letting me share in yours. Thank you! ❤️

  2. Love this Kara! 💕

    • Thank you Kelly! ❤️

  3. Thanks for this post, Kara. As one who abhors to-do lists but still craves the “fruits” of success, I identified very well with this one. I appreciate that God is doing something bigger and better in me through my efforts at life. He’s helping me really believe that I’m his kid. Period.

    • Beautifully said! Sounds like we are kindred spirits 🙂 Amen to really believing that we are his kids. Period.


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