Of Courage and Selkies

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For each of us, there is something we dread to face.  Something impossibly horrible.  Sometimes that thing is short, over in a flash, and gone.  Other times it drags on, for weeks, years, and each day when you wake, your first thought is that it is still there.  It is not easy to face our fears for a day, but it is far more difficult to live with them.  Where is the courage to face a life in which every familiar thought bears the face of terror?

Stories make it sound easy, even exciting.  They can give no sense of the burden of time.  The moments bereft of hope which stretch on and on.  The thoughts that come unbidden to stifle every smile.  There is no one-time act of courage which can pull you through.  It keeps returning, and like some ancient monster, seems to grow stronger with each blow you deal it.  Where is the courage to face a life in which every familiar thought bears the face of terror?

Even at the worst of times, one can be distracted.  One can escape, lose oneself, in the thoughts of another.  One can even laugh.  The laughs are tasteless.  Utterly disconnected with who you are.  Stolen from another person’s life.  Where is the courage to face a life in which every familiar thought bears the face of terror?

There is a beauty in acceptance, like a cold, grey, dawn.  When one realizes that there is no where else to run.  One steps out of the dark corner and says to one’s fear: “Yes, you belong to me, and I will live with you because I must.” Then one can see, that there was never any other way.  That is where courage is born.  The courage to resist hiding, day after day, to keep looking your fear in the face.

Courage is artificial.  Something put on, like a costume.  But like the selkie’s skin, once donned, it becomes a part of you.  Put a good face on life, and it may even smile at you.

~Jane

Surprises

I feel like the general concensus is that 2016 was a hard year. I know it was for me. But it was also a year full of surprises-both good and bad. 

As this year is coming to a close, I just received my greatest surprise of the year. A surprise of – possibilities. 

So, you’re probably thinking, yeah, yeah whatever. We all have possibilities. What’s the big deal? But for me, this is huge. 

Have you ever had a dream-a good dream? A holy dream? One that was completely normal and God-honoring? Have you ever felt like that dream was stripped completely away from you, never to be fulfilled-not even a little bit? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Even if it wasn’t something that big, I’m sure we’ve all had something similar happen. And has that stripping away of that dream ever scarred you so much that you stopped dreaming? You stopped aspiring and just took every day as it came at you with no fantastical thought for the future? 

That’s what I had done. After several dreams had been stripped away in the refining fire, I had stopped dreaming. I had decided that it hurt too much to dream and so I would just take one day at a time and not dream of the future. I would only live in the present. Then as I healed, I started to dream again, but never got too attached to those dreams. They resembled fantasies more than dreams. But there were also dreams that I had shut out completely from my life because why hope for something impossible? 

Not so long ago, maybe a month ago now, I had a friend give me a gentle lecture. He brought to my attention that not only had I accepted my “fate”, but I had then ceased to allow for even the slightest possibility that maybe my dream could come true. I had cut it off and discarded it; regarding it in a hostile and distant manner. He pointed out that by doing that, I was claiming control over that area in my life and not surrendering it to God the way I should. 

At first, I’ll admit, I was annoyed with him. Who was he to tell me that this dream was even a slight possibility? But as I pondered his words, I came to realize-he was right. I had not and was not surrendering this area to God to do with as He saw fit. Instead, I had made my mind up and said, “this is the way it is going to be.” Slowly, I began to surrender it to God. But I still held it in skeptical contempt. It wasn’t until I was able to look at the dream and honestly say, “Not my will, Father, but Thine be done.” that I reached full surrender. 

At full surrender, I got bowled over. All at once this dream that I had considered dead and impossible suddenly became very alive. I began to have hope that maybe, just maybe, I could see this dream fullfilled. I don’t know what God is up to. But I know that He is a God of surprises, and we have to not only trust Him, but accept the radical and unexpected in our lives while living in full surrender to His will. 

As we turn the page to 2017, let’s live our lives in full surrender, eagerly waiting in open anticipation for the surprises that He has in store for us that will radically change who we are.