Week Five: Sky Stories

I tried not to expect too much. In this way I could guard against disappointment. So many promises were made that never came to fruition. Trust was a slippery slope.

Do I dare open my heart-temple to the sky?

…The sky, vast and changeable, sometimes beautiful, is not seen as trustworthy. Any sparrow with its wits about it might consider staying grounded.


It occurred to me one day that I was like an earth-bound sparrow. I did not trust the sky. Growing up in an alcoholic household will do that to a person. The sky, or in other words, the social setting which is larger than us and that we look to for direction, the way we eventually learn to look to the Divine, does not invite exchange. (L.L. Barkat, God in the Yard).

This morning as I run along my dusty trail, I think about these words. The light blue of chicory cheers the roadside and the swallows perch above my head. If I get too close to their hidden nests they swoop and dive at me, warning me of my trespass. The world opens up before me and as I crest the hill, the sun appears–pink around the edges from a warm night’s sleep. I am running into the sun, ascending rays of light.

Sometimes I think God hates me, my young patient told me yesterday. His pastor had just left and the words took me aback. Do you have bad luck, I had asked him, or do you make bad choices?

But I had said nothing of God. And here it was.

As I run, I wonder. When things don’t go my way, do I think like my young patient? Do I think God hates me?

I shake it off.

Do you believe in God? I asked another man…an elderly stroke victim.

I go to church and stuff, he said, but I think the only thing that will get me through this is a bottle of whiskey.

We both laughed because we knew he didn’t drink. And then he cried.

I cried a little too.

Life is hard. If I close my heart…if I let fear of the sky win…I will never fly. I learned a long time ago that trust in man and trust in God are two different things.

But here is what my heart hears this morning as I put one foot in front of the other: Laura, you have let your mistrust of man shape you more than your trust in Me.

And I know it is true. I kept Him out of it. I have taken His trustworthiness and set it on a shelf. This knowledge hits me full in the chest and I gasp for air, clutch at my heart.

My heart-temple has been boarded up, the sky a memory. Oh, God, how does this happen, when I love you so much?

If my heart is closed to others, how can it open up to Him? I thought I was warm and approachable and open. But, at VBS last week when the water balloon burst in my face no one told me I had a big black smear of mascara under my eye.

You are so pretty, a male friend once told me, that guys are intimidated by you. And by the time they get to know you, you become their best friend and it’s too late to ask you out.

I was in grad school. Reeling from a broken heart. And lonely. Why doesn’t anyone want me? I wondered, over a beer and dinner. I trusted him…he was going to seminary. His answer surprised me. Intimidating? Pretty? Cute, maybe. But I was never the prettiest, or the smartest, or the best at anything.

I was always trying to prove I was good enough. I never expected anything. But, oh, how I longed for more.

Too many years of pretending I didn’t care…stifling the hurt. You always want too much, was the message given. I was easily wounded and my mother would sigh heavily as she turned her back on me and let me cry myself to sleep.

It’s all buzzing around in my head as my heart quickens and then settles into a new rhythm. I don’t want this. I don’t want my substance to be determined by other people. This is not who I am.

Grace says otherwise. I feel my resolve strengthen. I open my heart up to the sky. I hear a faint rumble and the rain comes. I close my eyes and lift my cheeks.

I am baptized again this morning—in rain and sweat and tears and road dust. The sky never was so sweet. Hope lives inside of me.



This was written in response to chapter five of L.L. Barkat’s God in the Yard. Guess what? If you are game and are the first to email me (laraj@suddenlink.net), I’ll send you a copy of this wonderful book. All you have to do is agree to send it on in the same way when you finish. We are sponsoring a book journey. Read about it here.

Comments

  1. says

    Well, you brought tears to my eyes. There is so much here, so much. I feel like I’m standing on some kind of vulnerable holy ground. And now I’m reaching to take my shoes off.

    Thank you, Laura, for this.

  2. says

    I agree with Maureen. How you closed your post was beautiful.

    I’m so glad I’m subscribed to your blog. This was definitely something I needed to hear today.

    Thanks!

  3. says

    Trying not to expect too much of others (and myself) has tainted this girl too. When we guard our hearts against others, we over-protect ourselves and clip our own wings unintentionally.

    By the way, your beauty through words enraptures too.

    Blessings.

  4. says

    what a beautiful, profound, touching post. I can not cry – it is too early in the morning, I have to much to do – but I feel drawn to cry, just from the deep emotion of what you have expressed here.

  5. says

    Laura you always touch something deep inside me. I remember being the new girl in a second grade classroom. I was shy beyond words and longing for a friend. One day I overheard the other girls talking about how stuck-up I was. I simply didn’t know what to do – that just wasn’t me.
    As I look back with adult eyes, I understand that if I had been brave enough to talk to them about it, it would have made all the difference – if I had just opened my heart.
    Whenever I read the word “trust” my heart beats faster, for it has been the defining struggle in my spiritual life. It is a journey for me – of opening my hands and then taking His. When I do that, I find such peace. He is all He has promised to be.

  6. says

    I am enjoying your thoughts on LLs book. I am a chapter behind you, and need to go back through and respond and play like she suggests. Right now, her words are good balm before bed.

    How do we avoid letting others have that kind of influence over us, telling us whether we can fly or not? I guess it happens when we listen to them more than the One who made us, who knows we can fly because he will help us.

    Your idea of baptism at the end was captivating. Baptism and hope . . . I need to think about this connection. I like it.

  7. says

    I believe that what you have so eloquently described here is every woman’s struggle. It is Eve’s struggle in a fallen world.

    Others may not be aware, but they push against this too.

  8. says

    I have to agree with Cassandra- you nameso much of what I face too- this Eve problem. My mother always made fun of my passionate feelings, made me feel broken. Now I understand that they are part of what makes me who I am, but it has taken so long…and oh, how it affects my relationship with God!

    Thank you for leading me to holy ground…you are beautiful,in so many ways, and I am so grateful that you are…

  9. says

    The Lord gives such peace when we have alone time with Him, doesn’t he? I need to carve out time to walk this neighborhood and just listen to Him. My house is quite noisy and will be for a lot of years. Definitely need to get out into nature by myself. Bless you for revealing what a wonderful tool this can be in our “walk” with the Lord.

    Always a pleasure to visit here! Inspired words, to be sure!

    Thank you for your encouragement over at my blog. It means a lot. I highly recommend Hugh Lofting and his Dr. Doolittle books. Your boys aren’t too old.

    I grocery shopped today and by the time I was finished, torrential rain had started, along with thunder and lightening. The employees offered to watch my groceries while I went to get my van. Just running to my vehicle completely drenched my clothes and hair and face. Talk about running mascara.

  10. says

    Laura, your heart and your writing carry beauty in their pain … it’s like watching a flower unfold as it reaches toward the sun. Thank you for trusting us with that.

  11. says

    This is such a beautiful post Laura.
    I love your writings.
    Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog.
    I think of you so often too and thank you for being such a sweet, caring & praying friend.
    I sure hope one of these days I get to meet you face to face & give you a big hug!!
    I’m thankful for the beautiful woman of God that you are. I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again….”After all you’ve experienced, you didn’t get bitter, you got better!”
    Love you ~

  12. says

    Good to hear your heart again this night; I find rest here.

    I’m doing well, but my physical, emotional, spiritual reserves are at an all time low. This has been the most exhausting move I’ve ever made.

    More later.

    peace~elaine

  13. says

    Laura,
    thank you for sharing your heart, I was especially struck by this ….

    “you have let your mistrust of man shape you more than your trust in me”

    I find myself there today, a place I don’t want to be. I want to live in His peace , trust in His sovereign care. However that may look.

    Your words always make me think …

    Blessings
    Tina

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