Why I’ve Stopped Guarding My Heart

There’s something on the tip of my tongue.

I don’t know what it is but it’s burning in me. I think it could be the thing causing the migraine right now.

I can barely sit still as I think about what I want to say but don’t have language for yet. So here’s to hoping that somehow, as I write this, my words with transform into what has actually been wrestling inside my heart for days.

I wasn’t made for the waiting room. 

For my whole life, as I’ve grown and walked with Jesus, one of the things I’ve been trained in is how to guard my heart. Guard your heart, Courtney. Guard your heart. Guard your heart.

What does this mean?

In my mind it’s meant protect yourself. Keep yourself safe. Don’t give your heart away.

Hear me out – There is validity to this. 

We aren’t called to flippantly throw our hearts towards passions and people that are not from God. Especially when it is the wrong time and they are the wrong things.

But what happens when they are the right things?

What happens when Love begins to beg you to let your heart lead?

I’ve realized lately how risky Love is. And as a woman who struggles with wanting to maintain control over her life, I fear the totality of allowing Love to lead. Who might I be if I wholly surrender to It? What kind of decisions might I make if I let Love lead me instead of my own logic and reasoning? 

This is a terrifying reality to me.

Can’t I trust Love? Can’t I allow It to lead me into the good and pleasing will of God? God who is Love?

I still want control. And I realize it’s because I don’t completely trust my own heart. It has led me astray in moments before. It has been persuaded by beautiful words and empty promises and manipulated by false romance. How, then, can I allow Love… Love that is a matter of the heart and not the mind… to lead me? 

I can’t reason out falling in Love with Jesus. I can’t lay out enough evidence for why I should fall in Love with the Most Holy. I love Him, surely. But have I risked allowing that Love to consume me? To surrender my control and fall hopelessly into Love with Jesus?

When I fall in Love, there won’t be a logical reason for why I follow. I won’t be able to soundly prove why I will follow Him wherever He urges my heart to go. I won’t be able to argue my point for why I will obey His calling no matter what. My heart will be controlled by Love and nothing else. I will have lost control.

But He’s worth my whole heart.

He’s worth the surrender.

He can be trusted to lead and guide me into good and pleasing things.

My heart can be found completely safe within His calling.

Sometimes it feels safer to stay in the waiting room. 

We get into a comfortable place of waiting on a promise – interceding for the breakthrough. We know that we’re kept safe in the waiting room and at the right moment, the promise will come. So we gather in words and visions and promises for what might be on the other side of the waiting room. We develop expectancy. We foster unbreakable hope in the waiting room.

This is all well and good. It’s what we’re supposed to do in that season.

But how will we respond when Love calls our name? 

When He begs us out of the waiting room and into the promise? 

We must risk to believe.

We must risk to let Love lead.

We must risk to follow His calling – that He will keep us safe.

Sometimes, we are no longer called to guard our own hearts. Sometimes, when Love calls, He promises to be the One that guards our hearts instead. Sometimes, we’re supposed to open it up to whole-heartedly believing the fulfillment has arrived.

At the right time, we’re called to step out of the boat. And to maintain focus on the One who called us out of what felt so safe and comfortable. And into the risk.

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Whale Watching

This is an old post from almost 2 years ago. I recently found it for a friend and thought it’d be worth a re-post if you find yourself at the beginning of 2015 still waiting for breakthrough. 

Mystery (noun):
– One that is not fully understood or that baffles or eludes the understanding.
– One who arouses curiosity.
– A religious truth that is incomprehensible to reason and is knowable only through divine revelation.

God is all that is mysterious.

And that is difficult for someone like me who loves to understand. Because that’s the point of mystery…it’s not supposed to be understood.
Realistically, there is probably more that I don’t understand about God than the amount of things I do understand about Him. And the question I’ve been asking myself lately is “Am I okay with the mystery?”
Am I okay with not having the answers to everything?
Am I okay with not understanding why things happen the way they do?
Bill Johnson says, “In order to have the peace that surpasses all understanding, you have to give up the right to understand.”
That makes my heart ache. I insist on knowing the answers to things more than I accept this peace in the mystery. It’s funny because the verse before that one that talks about this peace starts off with “Do not be anxious about anything.”

Despite our anxious worries, and our vain strife of trying to understand the complexities of His mystery, God pleas with us “Learn to be okay with the mystery. Release your right to understand.

The hardest thing about living in the mysterious is balancing it with expectancy. Believing for big and mighty moves of God, hoping for the impossible, but accepting the mystery when it doesn’t happen like you expect to or it doesn’t happen at all.
This season…actually this past year…has been marked by God pleading with me to maintain expectancy for really big things. That sounds fun. But it’s terrifying. And Proverbs 13:12 has been eating my lunch. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”
Which can only mean one thing. Expectancy makes the heart healthy.

This is hard for me to grasp. God is saying it is better to hope and be expectant than to have no hope whatsoever. He doesn’t say disappointment makes the heart sick. He says a lack of hope does.
But disappointment hurts. It hurts. It hurts. It hurts. And I hate pain. Yet I will trust God when He says that not hoping is worse for my heart. And I will relinquish my right to understand.

The picture I keep getting in my head when I talk to God about expectancy is whale watching.

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I’ve never seen a blue whale. The only evidence I have that they actually exist is what I read on the Internet and in books. They are the largest animals on this planet. Yet I’ve never seen them. And for most of their existence, people have known very little about them. The biggest animals on the planet are extremely mysterious.

But how stupid would it be of me to go blue whale watching and not be expectant to see one? How idiotic would it be if I refused to peer off the edge of the boat into the vast spaciousness that is the ocean? How much would it affect my experience and the experience of those around me if I looked at my feet the entire trip, content with what was inside the boat, instead of scanning the horizon in the hopes of seeing even a spout of water?

I would be an idiot to get in that boat without expectancy.

Expectancy allows you to see so much more than your normally would. People who go whale watching and expect to see a whale, jump at any slight wave, any bubbles breaking on the surface, any foam of water. They’re more likely to see everything the ocean has to offer. They see more than people without expectancy.

So maybe that’s the point.

You get to see more.

So I will keep my eyes on the horizon, at the ready for a spout of water. I know there’s a blue whale out there. And I’ll keep watching till I see him.

I’d Rather Be Surprised

4 weeks ago, I sat in my discipleship group… crying.

Pathetic, woah-is-me, sack-cloth-and-ashes tears.

About boys.

And how I had prayed for everyone to start dating and then everyone (well.. a lot of people) had started dating. Just like I prayed for. But I must have been overlooked because there was just no one for me. I must have been exempt from my own prayers. Forgotten. Left behind.

I must have a fatal flaw. I must be too ugly. Too fat. Too emotional. Too… whatever. Because clearly… no one was coming to pursue me.

It was a low… being a 24-year-old woman and crying about boys.

“I must have missed it.” I cried to them. “I must be forgotten. It’s like it’s everyone BUT me.”

How many times do we feel like that? “It’s everyone BUT me.” We look around at our group of friends and see movement and provision. But that one tender spot of our own hearts, that place we’ve been believing for for years, is still left as a desire unfulfilled.

So we ache. And groan. And sometimes cry for this thing. Hoping and fighting, but often discouraged by the lack of any forward motion we see in front of us.

One of the biggest desires in my heart over the past 6 years has been to be pursued by a man of God.

Despite sounding superficial, it has been a very significant thing in my heart.

I haven’t dated anyone since I was 18. So for 6 years, it has been pushing in and believing for a man of God to pursue me, often when nothing looked hopeful. It has been filled with liking boys who haven’t liked me in return, boys asking me on dates who I wasn’t interested in, and seasons of God saying “wait.”

Waiting is freaking hard.

And a part of me thought I would be waiting forever.

But God is good and kind.

Waiting is not a forever kind of thing. 

There wasn’t some secret formula to having a desire fulfilled. But there was a release.

After that crying session, I went to a Heidi Baker conference that night. And something shifted during it. Where I looked at my circumstances and had this realization…

I had no idea when things were going to change. 

I became so hopeful that at literally any moment, things could change. Circumstances could shift. A man could come walking out of the wilderness and start pursuing me. I had no idea what my next moments would hold!

That night felt like Christmas Eve. I could hardly sleep. I was on the edge of my seat… thrilled at the potential and hope for every future day of my life.

“I have no idea when things are going to change.” I kept giggling to myself. Today could be the day. TODAY COULD BE THE DAY!

He’s the ultimate surprise artist. It’s the reason we’re not told the date or time He will return. He lives in the unexpected, surprise moments simply to delight us. Sure… He could tell us every detail. But He doesn’t. He doesn’t for the sake of our tender hearts and the magnification of His kindness.

He delights in us. It is His great pleasure to surprise us with good gifts.

So I became thankful for my season – knowing that at any second, things could change.

And three days later, I started talking to this boy. This boy who loves Jesus whole-heartedly. This boy who is Spirit-filled, Spirit-lead, joyful, tender-hearted and compassionate. And a week later he asked me to be his girlfriend.

Friends.

You never know when things are going to change.

He’s the ultimate surprise artist. Give Him a chance to prove it. 

The Glorious Now

Around 3 years ago, this lovely little thing called Pinterest came into my life.

And I don’t know about you guys, but Pinterest is straight up, my jam.

I love it. 

I love it for being a teacher. I love it for decorating my house. I love it for cooking. I love it for exercising. I love it. I’m very “pro-Pinterest.”

It gets my mind dreaming and creating. It allows me to see things according to their potential, and not their current chaos. It gets me stoked to take on a new project. Like lately I’ve been doing some  furniture rehab. Not that I’ve gotten super crazy with it, but still! Pinterest is there telling me “Hey, Courtney. You’re so creative. You can make your house look like anything you want it to look like! You can be as organized as this teacher on this blog right here! You can do ALL OF IT.” 

And I’ve tapped into this whole other side of myself I didn’t know I had. This girl who loves the potential of what things could be – who lives for the “will be one day”. 

There is SO much value in dreaming. There’s value in seeing the hidden beauty in things when they aren’t there yet. It gives us hope for what’s to come. If a day seems bad, we have promises and words and dreams to hold on to about things to come. And we maintain hope. 

As prophetic people who can hear the voice of God, we see things that aren’t yet as if they were already. We get promises from God about situations around us or victories we’re GOING to have or the person we’re GOING to be. 

We need this. We need the dreaming and the promises for a hope and a future. We need it to live.

But sometimes, these fulfillments don’t come immediately. And as receivers of the promises of God, when things don’t happen when or how we want them, or how we expect the promises to pan out, we gather up disappointment by the fistful. 

We then shove them up to God, pouting “BUT YOU PROMISED.” Another day goes by where the promise didn’t happen. And we disappear from the present; sulking and persevering and pressing in for what isn’t yet.

Our days become occupied with what is to come and what isn’t yet. We work FOR something or TO BE someone we aren’t yet. Because we’ve heard “the best is YET to come.” So we look forward to tomorrow or maybe even the day after because then, maybe then, the best WILL come then. Just not yet. 

My life seems to be full of “not-yet’s.

My house is not-yet put together quite how I’d like it to be.

My classroom is not-yet as organized as I’d like it to be.

My family has not-yet experienced the major breakthrough they need.

I’m not-yet dating someone after what seems like a while of waiting.

I caught myself occupied in them this morning. I held these promises from God tight in my fists, swarmed with pressing in to the ‘not-yet’s’, disappointed and heartbroken by the middle time.

And then it was like I rubbed my eyes and woke up.

I’d been missing it. 

I’d been missing the glorious right now. 

If every day has a greater glory than the day before it, that means every day HAS glory. And it’s my job to see it – to find the glory in the now – to absorb all of the glory that’s wrapped up in today.

And then, go to bed knowing that tomorrow is going to hold even more.

Dreams were created to give us hope for AMAZING glories to come – not bind us to an obsession with the future.

When my life is occupied by the ‘not-yet’s’, I miss the oh-so glorious now. I don’t see the glories in the moments that pass me. I’m too busy thinking about “what could be” or “what isn’t yet.”

So on my way to school… I danced. A lot.

I blasted music and jammed.

I noticed a gorgeous bush full of red flowers at my school I’d literally never noticed before.

I became overwhelmingly thankful for a lot of friendships in my life. 

There were glories… I just had to look for them.

But “He will complete what He appoints for me…” 

He will bring about fulfillment to His promises.

It’s my job to enjoy the glorious now.

Yes, the best IS yet to come. 

But the key to contentment is knowing the greatest glories of my life so far are happening today.

It’s our job to find them.

My Groaning and His Glory

I wish I could just let you read my journal from the past few months. The pain, the timing, the oh-so-perfect alignment, and the now-evident irony.

 

You might’ve gotten a feel of it from my posts from this summer… But since April, I’ve been full of groaning. Groaning that might not have manifested itself in the natural but was more than felt by my spirit in the unseen. This feeling of longing… that if I have to wait any longer for something to change, I just might die.

 

It was this terrible battle inside of me.

I wanted to quit. To give up hoping. Abandon ship.

But I also knew that if I stopped hoping, I would die. 

I had to hold on to hope; to hold on to the unseen belief that He is trustworthy and good. Because without it, I would be dead where I stood.

 

I say “dead” like it would’ve really happened because that’s how it felt. The hoping was painful but the quitting was sure to be even more so.

 

There was nothing I could see to make me believe He was moving – nothing I could even feel to make me believe He was actually listening to the painful groaning of my anxious heart. Peace came in waves. When one revelation of hope washed over me, it was soon followed by doubts and lies that swarmed me like bees.

In the morning, I could wake up fine. But by 3 pm, I would be overwhelmed with everything that needed to be taken care of that I had absolutely no control over.

 

I couldn’t put my hand to anything. Nothing I did could bring about forward motion.

I was forced to be still. 

To move when He said move, but mostly to be still. To press in when He said press in, but mostly… to be still.

 

But He was listening.

 

When I didn’t see it or feel it, He was listening.

He was behind the scenes, silently orchestrating every little detail.

 

As I groaned, He held me, not saying a word but allowing me to dig deep into the truth of who He really was.

I dug for answers. I dug for revelation. I dug for truth – something to hold on to.

He mended my heart. He brought up places of pain, hurt, neglect, and doubt. Every inch of them, He brought to light. I tried to not feel, but He pressed in. Trust me, He begged. Hope in meHe reminded. My thoughts are not your thoughts. Nor are my ways your ways. Trust for the fulfillment.

 

“But why?” I wanted to, and often did, scream at Him. “God, what is the purpose of hope?”

“Hope keeps your heart alive. It keeps it healthy… beating… thriving. It allows you to see things that haven’t happened yet. It allows you to laugh through pain. It supplies oxygen to your lungs. It keeps you breathing. You must hope in my Goodness.”

 

So I chose to believe for provision, for fulfillment, for answers to promises. That I wouldn’t be numb forever. I wouldn’t be stuck in the same thought patterns forever. That the season WOULD shift.

 

I just had to wait.

 

He loved me in the middle of my mess and impatience. He loved me despite my doubts that He did. When I told Him that there wasn’t any way He really loved me, He never left… He just made Himself even more near… never angered or frustrated. Always loving.

 

And then just like that, one day, everything shifts.

You feel it. Something in your bones says “Today is the day that everything changes. Today’s the day that we’re done with that old season and we’re walking into a new one.”

 

For me, it started with a new house. 

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A house that has almost every minor detail I’ve secretly wanted. A house that has enough room for hosting people. A house that I have come alive decorating and creating in already. A house God promised I would have when I moved to Raleigh… I just had to wait a year for it.

 

It was then followed by a table. 

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A table that was totally free. A table that should’ve cost a month’s rent. A table that can comfortably seat 8. A table that makes my heart flutter with dreams of dinner parties that fill people, body and soul. A table that is a symbol of a dream of God in my heart and this is only the beginning of the fulfillment.

 

And then there’s this last part.

How when I left California, I felt like God had said “Let’s go home and buy you a car.” How after that, I just chuckled and said, “Well okay. This should be good because I have $350.” But this time, there was no doubt that followed. I knew it was going to happen, despite the facts. So I came home and told a few people “This week, I’m buying a car.”

I asked God for specifics.

He mentioned a silver 2009 Nissan Versa with 110,000 miles on it. And something about $3000.

 

Last Sunday, I texted a friend to pray for provision for a car. This is the same friend who prayed for me to get a job this time last year, and two days later I did. The guy has serious favor for asking for big things. So he prayed.

 

On Monday, I came home with one of my friends to my roommate in the kitchen. We started talking and then I heard what sounds like running coming from the other side of the house. In seconds, about 12 of my friends swarmed my living room, cheering and yelling! Confused, I start laughing and said “What’s going on?!” They told me that we were having a surprise encouragement night for me (!!!) and then a worship night. I was so overwhelmed. Surprises are one of my love languages but it is extremely hard to surprise me. Apparently not as hard as I thought though, because I had absolutely no clue this was happening.

So they each took turns encouraging me. My heart felt like lava was being poured in it. Refreshment washed over me and I was totally undone with love.

 

My roommate ended the encouragement time by hanging me a gift bag with an envelope inside. I opened it to find a stack of 100-dollar-bills and started bawling. “That’s a little over $2500 we raised for a car.”

 

Undone.

 

Overwhelmed.

 

The tears could not stop flowing as I covered my mouth and looked around the room of my friends, cheering and clapping.

 

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He had heard.

This whole time, when I had doubted that He had heard, He was actually rallying the troops. He had been organizing a battle plan all along. He had been moving on my behalf when I couldn’t see it.

 

This weekend, with the money my friends spent a month and half raising for me, I’m going to be able to put down exactly $3000 on a 2009 silver Nissan Versa that has about 110,000 miles on it.

 

 

He’s a God of breakthrough. He’s a God of fulfillment. He finishes what He starts.