Random Blog Clay Feet: July 11, 2008
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Just Say It

Yesterday on the way home from work I was thinking about my relationship with God and my weaknesses in how I perceive my own identity. I thought about the discrepancy between what I have been learning and writing about and the contrasting beliefs that still lurk in many of the darker recesses of my heart. This unsettles my stability and disrupts my assurance and affects the way I relate to others and even greatly inhibits my ability to rest and trust in God at times.

I know that learning new truths about God are very important but are not enough to really transform my life in the ways that need to happen to make me a truthful and effective witness for Him. I also realize that I am generally incapable of directly changing the opinions of my heart (or anyone else's for that matter) by assaulting it with lots of information no matter how true or wonderful it may be. The heart learns primarily by imitation, by picking up on the nuances of body language, voice tone and absorbing the atmosphere of the spirit that surrounds the one it is learning from. Words for the most part seem to not get very deep into the heart part of the makeup and are not able to put down deep roots in that part of my brain. That is why a person can be very surprised at their actions or reactions when caught off guard under intense circumstances and temptations. They may suddenly find themselves doing and saying things that are later very embarrassing or humiliating and that reflect more their fallen nature of sin than reflecting the new heart Jesus has given them.

As I was reflecting on some of these things and the frustration that I experience at not being able to change my own heart's opinions about God or my feelings about myself to agree with the way He sees me, I found myself asking the question, “How can I do this? What can I do to really take hold at a deep level the real truth about my identity that God has given me and what He says about me?”

At the same time I remembered that whenever I get into times of sharing with others on a personal level the exciting truths about God that I have been learning, I often come away almost in awe myself at how much my own heart has been listening and absorbing during the conversation. I many times feel almost something like a buzz, an excitement of spirit, a warm kind of emotion that feels energizing and life-producing – I suppose it is something like the word thrive. This word has intrigued me for a number of years as something that my heart very much desires. I want to feel that sensation of thriving, of being filled with life and hope and energy and joy. I want to feel it much more often – all the time if possible. I believe that is what our hearts are all designed to crave and to enjoy because our hearts were designed to thrive in the presence of the Life-giver for eternity.

Of course it takes so much longer to describe these thoughts than the time it took for them to transpire originally. I drove along the highway contemplating this idea of my need to really embrace God's identity, His opinion about me much deeper into my psyche. I pondered His reminder of my experiences with what I suppose many people call witnessing (I still have baggage associated with that word from the past that I am getting free from slowly) and the effect that it has on myself. Then suddenly I passed a big billboard beside the road and read the words printed across the shirt pictured there.

When I read the words (and I never could figure out what the reason was for the message on the billboard), I realized they were so appropriate and direct as an answer to my unspoken question. In fact, it was so immediate that I was startled at first and then overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation for God's willingness to communicate with me so quickly and directly through any means available. The words on the billboard simply said, “Say it out loud”.

I couldn't avoid the truth of how those words applied to the things I was thinking about. It was clear to me that God was reminding me that my heart needs to hear me express what I am learning through my own ears so that in the expression of it to others I come to believe it much more deeply myself. I have heard about this principle before but I have had some skepticism about its effectiveness because of problems I have had experimenting with it. But I have also seen it work very effectively at times and I felt more and more strongly as I drove on down the road that this message was indeed from God in direct response to my question and desire to deepen His feelings about me into the heart-part of my being.

One of the reasons I have reservations about just speaking things out loud is that my own voice still reminds me too much of the negative feelings I got for many years every time I heard my own Dad's voice. It ignited many triggers and reminded me of many hidden messages buried in the tones of voice and the phrasing of words that usually tended to make me afraid of God and of authority. Long into my adult life those triggers were still very active and potent and it was not until just a few years before his death that I was able to start effectively getting free of many of those triggers.

Tragically I reflected the same pattern of child-raising to a great extent in my own family and today my voice has a similar effect on my own children. This distresses me greatly but as I have explained to them, I only have one voice and I am stuck with it for now. Until God makes significant progress in my healing in this area of my life, I don't seem to be able to change the affect that my voice and inflections have on certain people who are triggered by it. The problem is, in the times when I try to express certain things out loud even for my own benefit I am sometimes triggered myself in much the same way. It is almost like having an emotional auto-immune disease.

But I also notice that there are other times, times when my spirit is in tune to listen to God's spirit and I am humble enough to hear and synchronize with His quiet internal suggestions while I am sharing with someone my passion for the God I am learning about; there are those times when my heart seems to begin to ignite and burn with a sensation and passion that intrigues me and actually feels more life-giving than intimidating. It feels like I am finally finding that place as a channel of the Spirit to be used to bring hope and truth and life to someone else who is willing to listen and consider what I am so excited about in my personal pursuit of God.

I feel during those times a sense of almost fear and excitement mingled together. I have fear because I know all too well how easy it is for me to allow this passion to overwhelm the other person and turn them off the to very things I want to share with them, or I might begin making the conversation about me instead of about the God I am becoming so passionate about. But I also feel excitement not only because I see new life and hope and understanding and interest being generated in another heart that is hungry to thrive but that in the process my own heart is experiencing something very similar once again.

I suppose that something my left brain is deducing from these observations is that it seems more life-producing to share with others what God is relating to me than to just try to verbalize these things for the sake of saying them out loud. However, there are also exceptions even to that that I have noticed.

I have discovered in the past few years that writing has become an outlet for things that I cannot express any other way very effectively. There have been times when I have written very passionately what was stirring in my own heart and what I was hearing from God. But when I got done writing I still felt that it was not having the effect inside of me that I needed to experience or that could be seen in the words. There was a discrepancy between two different parts of me that needed to get together in agreement and I felt impressed to go back and literally read what I had just written out loud and try to do it while engaging my emotions and feelings and heart more than with my head.

Those times felt somewhat awkward for me, for when I speak out loud it has a little of the same effect on me that having someone else in the room has to stifle and suppress very effectively my ability to externalize my deep emotions and feelings. For whatever reasons, I have been extremely intimidated to share some of the deeper emotions that make me feel extremely vulnerable and so far I have generally just played it safe. I have gotten better about sharing deeper things with others to a certain degree, but there are still many levels that I simply do not have the courage to share with anyone and even believe to some extent that it is not even appropriate to do so whether that belief is right or wrong.

But that system of inhibition even affects my ability to verbally say those same things that I feel to God even when I am alone. That does seem a bit strange. And the scary part is that I am finding it easier and easier to write these kinds of things but at the same time I still cannot speak them out loud. It is at this point of tension that sometimes God asks me to go back and read out loud what I have just written to allow it to take on another whole dimension of reality for me that I cannot experience by just leaving it in writing only.

When I have done this I have experienced new and strange feelings that definitely were along the lines of what I likely need to experience much more but is still outside my “comfort zone”. But it is very likely quite necessary if I am to effectively grow in maturity and stability and intimacy with God and even with others. It is likely indicative of yet another false god that is trying to stand in my way of connecting intimately with God's heart, a fear that resists expulsion and replacement.

As I drove on down the road toward home I took the suggestion from the billboard seriously and began to speak out loud what I thought maybe I needed to hear about God's opinions and feelings about me. At first it sounded downright cheesy and artificial and I felt like scoffing at myself. But it was likely not really me scoffing but the false gods still hanging around inside my flesh that keep insisting that they are me and reflect my identity. So I persisted and continued to grope for what to say out loud that would affirm what my left brain had on file about how God feels about me.

It did not take very long before the verbalized messages began to have their intended effects. Even though it was very brief and simplistic, the words about how God feels about me as His son began to stir my emotions unexpectedly. As I said, “I am a child of God and God takes good care of His kids. In fact, God is very jealous about taking care of them and looking out for them”, I was amazed at the power that hearing words like these had on my own heart. I began to tear up and began to feel the truth of those words in ways that I very seldom feel.

So my typically skeptical left brain is forced once again to admit that its opinions or fears about some things are simply off track and I need to obey the promptings of the Spirit more readily. I want to live a more balanced life of utilizing both my left and right brain in better synchronization with each other and with God's Spirit. And for me that generally means much more exercise in certain activities designed to engage the heart to synchronize with the truths that the left brain is embracing. I want the truth of God and His presence of love and joy to pervade both sides of my cranium and electrify all of my body so that I can glorify His name more and be restored to my original design and function.

When I opened my Bible this morning to 1 Peter 2 I immediately saw a confirmation of this from God waiting there for me. It explains not only some of the aspects of my true identity but the reason behind why I have received that identity. In verse 9 it tells me that I am chosen, part of a royal priesthood, part of a holy nation of people and that I am designed to be God's own possession. Then the very next words give the underlying reason God has given me this identity. It is so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

While that may certainly include writing out those things about God's excellencies, it must also at times include proclaiming them verbally so that they become even more real to me. This also helps explain why evidently Jesus prayed out loud even when He was praying alone. If He had not been praying aloud His disciples would not have been able to hear what He was saying and thus had intense desire awakened in their own hearts to learn how to really pray with passion like Jesus did. I believe that Jesus realized that at least sometimes one has to pray out loud in passionate intimacy with the Father to stay fully connected with Him from both sides of the brain.

I do not take this as an arbitrary rule that I must now obey; that I must feel guilty if I don't always pray out loud. I do not feel God convicting me that only those who pray out loud will be listened to and will receive answers. That is very inconsistent with the truth about God's character that has so much warmed my heart over the past few years. However, I do feel Him reminding me that I am too much the other direction and that I will need to be more willing to engage my physical voice at certain times if I want to have more efficient growth in my soul. And I will have to leave it up to Him to heal me of the triggers that my own voice still sets off both in both myself and in others.

I sense that as the sweetness of Jesus more fully pervades my heart that the “edge” that comes through in my voice will gradually fade away. It is not something I can force on myself but is something that is going to have to happen in God's way and His timing. It is part of the transformation that He is in charge of and that I trust His faithfulness to accomplish.

For you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. (1 Peter 2:10)