It’s the little things in life that make the difference.
The constant trickling of the Colorado River dug into rock and, little by little, formed the great expanse of the Grand Canyon.
A child sets her small fingers on the piano for the first time. They are too weak to pull the piano’s true strong voice out of its wooden frame. But, little by little, day after day, the accumulation of years of practice, and a performer is born.
It’s the one white lie. We convince ourselves that it was necessary; no big deal. Each day passes, and each lie falls easier from our lips. And before we know it, we have a cavern full of rotting secrets devouring us from the inside out.
Last week, I found myself sitting in a place I’ve sat hundreds of times. The church’s lights were dimmed. I sang the worship songs. I prayed. I lifted my hands to God. I listened to the sermon. I sat down to listen to the closing song, and then I realized something.
A part of my heart was missing. A part of me had been stolen.
There was no life-changing event that caused a part of me to disappear; no great wall of grief that had laid its claim. But, little by little- with each passing challenge and disappointment – a piece of me had crumbled.
I can remember the dream that was placed so strongly in me. As a child, I would dance while singing at the top of my lungs in the shower, in the car, in my bedroom, in my living room. I would stand in front of my parents’ television screen under the constant tutelage of the greatest singers in The Sound of Music, Annie, and My Fair Lady. My family believed in me and invested their limited funds in my lessons. My music teachers believed in me and sent me off to university with confidence. And, somewhere in the midst of attempting to force my voice into the corset of an opera or not having enough confidence to bounce back after a harsh review, audition, or recital – I let the dream die.
After graduation from university, I was silent. My car's radio was silent. My shower was filled only with the sound of water bouncing off of ceramic. My piano gathered dust; untouched. I told myself that I was just tired; that I needed a break after years of being locked away in practice rooms. But, little by little, a decade passed by.
That was the first time I let a part of my heart slip away. Then it just got easier.
I started to dream of a life outside of formal ministry or missions. Little by little, I convinced myself that I had other gifts that were not being used. I was trapped. I was made for something more. I could certainly love God and serve Him without being this extreme. Why was I being consumed by my husband’s calling to minister overseas?
Sadness settled in, and little by little, so unnoticed, I gave a piece of myself away.
After publishing my book, I Am There: Armenia, I was determined to continue writing. I would find a literary agent for my newly completed children’s book. I would blog. I would grow as a writer. Two years passed and my blog following dwindled as I convinced myself that I was too tired, too sad, too busy to write. The little spare time I did have was consumed by trying to find some sort of relaxation in the corridors of the internet, facebook or instagram. And another part of my dream vanished.
I am an excellent specimen of a Christian. I am mostly patient; try to be kind and generous. I know how to act and serve. I listen to peoples’ stories and I pray for them while on long walks early in the morning or late at night. That had always been enough. It worked in America. It worked for nearly a decade in Armenia.
But, there I sat – three rows back in a church sanctuary full of Estonian people. And I realized that my first love had been stolen from me. It was God that met me as a fourteen year old girl – swinging on my front porch swing at midnight – praying that He would somehow save me from the grip of anorexia. A dream was born amidst the back and forth motion of that swing – I began to truly believe in God. I sang and my spirit felt as if God picked up my exhausted heart and nestled me in His gigantic, fatherly lap.
It was the dream of serving God that helped me to look confidently into the eyes of my high school counselors and teachers as they smirked at me when I said I wanted to enter the Christian ministry. They believed I was made for more. I believed I was made for God.
It was a dream that brought me to Tallinn- sitting in a café, reaching across the table to grab the hand of a beautiful Estonian friend; standing with her and loving her through the fiercest battle of her life. My hope was not that she would become a religious rule-follower, but that through our friendship, she would discover the complete peace that is found nestled in the lap of God.
And as each dream silently disintegrated, discontentment took its place. I became blind to the light in my life – an adoring husband, happy children, a beautiful home, faithful friends, and the opportunity to use everything I am for God.
When I die, I can’t take an elegant home or a flashy BMW with me. My degrees will eventually be stacked in an attic chest and discarded by some distant relative who doesn’t even recognize my name. My success or notoriety will not help me battle the deadly clutches of cancer. My years of struggle to be good enough, hard-working enough, fit enough will disappear as my body and mind fade with age.
What remains? Not even the loving arms of my husband, nor family can accompany me along the journey as I pass over to the other side of life. At that moment, it’s me and God. And, when I stand before the Creator of everything, who knew me in such great detail, who sees the hidden corridors of my soul, I don’t want Him to see a part of it crumbling and stolen.
I want to climb up in His lap – as I’ve envisioned dozens of times – and have Him see me as whole, full of dreams, and completely His.
**As I was pondering the concept of this blog and walking around Tallinn, I heard this song on my iPhone. It was perfect. I stopped, stood and just listened to the perfection of the words. Click HERE to hear "Broken Vessels" by United Pursuit - Hillsong. I look forward to leading this song over the next few weeks at Focus Church/ Fookus Kogudus.**