Sunday, January 27, 2008

say what you need to say

Recently, as I was getting my hair cut, I began to think about the part of the Bible where Jesus says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." When I was in high school, someone brought to my attention the fact that, whenever the apostle Paul wrote letters to struggling Christians, he usually began with "grace and peace" - a phrase that, were we to consider it closely, we'd see operates somewhat like an equation. Grace must first be received before there can ever be peace. As it turns out, Scripture is packed with these riddles; each word is placed precisely, meant to deliver an exact punch, so to speak. I became a little obsessed with this idea and, over the years, whenever a particular verse strikes me as poignant, I try to "plug it in" and decipher it. Most all of it seems to be more than what you see on the page.

So since Jesus says we should love HIm with our hearts first, I'm guessing that kind of loving is most important - or maybe the hardest. I sat in the chair and wondered what loving with our hearts really looks like. To say that you love someone with all of your heart is a pretty heavy statement, even more intentional than simply saying "I love you." It seems to have a desperation, a passion, a windswept feel to it. If I love God with all my heart - really, truly - then I love Him deeply, tenderly, unabashedly. I love Him so much it hurts me. If He were here, I'd want to take Him for a ride in my car to see the pastures behind my house. I'd play some John Mayer on my iPod and take Him to dinner at the local restaurant with the best crusted Tilapia. I'd want to look at Him in the eyes and hear His laugh and ask Him to tell me stories about His childhood and feel the weight of His hand in mine. Mostly, I guess, I'd want Him to love me. I'd want to know, without a shadow of a doubt that while I followed Him around like a puppy dog, hanging on His every word, He was doing the same. The kind of love that loves with the heart has no worry of being unrequited. Maybe that's why the Bible says that perfect love drives out all fear.

And yet, though He isn't here for me to touch or see or hear, He's present. And most of the time, my love for Him is anything but from the heart. It's practical, convenient, disinterested, obligatory. It's angry and unforgiving and selfish and holds quite a few grudges. It's formulaic. I'm always looking for the equation, for the variables to plug in so that I can "figure Him out." Not really the picture of a romance.

Perhaps I must love Jesus first with my heart because until I do the soul and mind stuff is a little irrelevant. After all, knowing and understanding someone aren't worth much if you don't love them. We scramble around a lot, trying to decipher a God who just wants us to give Him the time to reveal His heart. Maybe your time with Jesus would look more like several hours in intense therapy. Maybe you'd take Him to the house you grew up in where you felt unloved and insecure. Maybe you'd remind Him that while you went to church every single Sunday for ten years straight and prayed for the same things over and over again, you're still lonely.

I still don't understand why Jesus took Copeland from me. And I don't know what He's doing with my life. But I can say that, despite the moments when I want to scream at Him and throw a few mugs, I'm pretty in love. He wins me over. He reminds me of the ones He loves, like the Mathenia family, who are suffering and agonizing over this crazy, confusing, love-struck God of ours who would still allow us to, well, suffer and agonize (cold-water-news.blogspot.com). He reminds me that, as someone mentioned the other day, if our galaxy could be shrunk to the size of the North American continent, our solar system would fit into a coffee cup. I'm insignificant. David said it best: what am I worth that You, God, even think about me? And yet - He does. Constantly. Every single thing about us matters to Him. And He wants to hear about all of it.

John Mayer has a new single out called "Say." It reminds me of my dad because, when I was growing up, we were always taught to communicate. Don't let the sun go down on your anger. Get all your crap out on the table. The Bible is filled with men and women who were totally screwed up. And yet God kept pursuing them, kept revealing bits of the fantastic story He had for them, because even if they were yelling at the top of their lungs, they were still talking to HIm. Maybe that's ultimately what loving someone is really about. Saying what you need to say. The vulnerability that comes from sitting down with someone and saying, "Well, here's the thing. I need You to love me. I love You. Something about You makes me feel like I don't suck. And yet I'm coming into this conversation just about as messed up as anybody can get. I've been hurt and abused and pushed around. Take me as I am, because it's all I've got."

Loving God with all your heart is just like everything else in the God-plus-us equation. If you take us out of it, He's still enough. He can give us the love we need to give to Him, and He can provide all that Love requires. We just have to be willing to ask for it.

Say what you need to say.


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37 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've been following your journey and please know that you and family are in my prayers!

I don't believe that Jesus took the 7 babies that I lost from me (1999-2003). I choose to believe that there was a reason for it all that I just didn't understand at the moment. I thank him for what I had (with them) and I now know that I would never have known my 2 adoptive daughters (who we believe were meant for us) unless I went through what I did. I'm here for support and if you'd ever like to talk I'm close to you (Franklin)...avabga@yahoo.com

God bless~

sarahdodson said...

These are some good thoughts you've "penned" out. I so want to love my Lord with all my heart, first and foremost. I like how you brought that out. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm sorry for what you've been through/are going through; it's good to see the Lord working in your life:) He indeed is faithful!

Anonymous said...

"A Father's Heart"
A local radio personality in Birmingham lost his 2 year old son a week ago. He drowned in the family pool. Rick Burgess gave this speech at his son's memorial service. Please watch it. It is the most amazing thing I have seen or heard.
"The Burgesses want to give all Honor and Glory to God for the many blessings He has given us, especially the life of Bronner Burgess. And while we do not understand, we know who is in charge and His will be done in life and in death."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PUHUZWyFeg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7aNDixS2J0&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUT8Bk6Ou90&feature=related

Anonymous said...

Boothe,

Your post is something I've been thinking about a lot lately, so when I read it I was sort of glad to see that someone else thinks the same thing. I keep wanting to ask my pastor, or even my friends for that matter, how they love Jesus - what does it look like, what the relationship is like, and just really, how much can one love Jesus? How do you "love" Jesus?

I think that really, we can't love Him enough...in fact, I'm sure we can't love him enough. The fact that God would send His only Son as a sacrifice for us is more love than any one of us is capable of. And yet, in my life, I keep thinking and knowing that I need to strive more to love like this - the agape love the Bible talks about that Jesus has for us. That maybe, I would even die for someone, even if I didn't know them, just because I loved them anyway, no matter what. The great thing about God is that He has a never ending love, no matter our faults, sins, any wrong we do - His love is constant, never changing. And that is such a blessing.

So how do we do this? I think about how much I love my husband, how I would do absolutely anything for him, and how lost I think I would be without him. And then I think, maybe this is how loving Jesus really is - loving so completely, losing the walls we may build up around us, and just being who we are. And that I would be completely lost without Him in my life.

And like with my husband, who sometimes doesn't do things how I would, or channel surfs too much, or whatever it is that may just bug me on some particular day, I find that sometimes I get just as annoyed with Jesus. Why? Because we don't get what we want, things are taken away from us, and we just don't understand. At least with my husband he's there to talk to and get a response from. But with Jesus, I pray and pray, and wait for the answer I think I should hear or want to hear, only to really find out I haven't heard anything at all. I find that waiting on the Lord can be the most challenging thing - and sometimes the longer I wait the more discouraged I get. But I know that all things happen in His perfect timing - and I think that by being patient just goes to show that His timing is best. And really, I know getting "annoyed" with Jesus is not something I should do, but I think this goes back to just me being a sinful human who tries to live as godly a life as possible.

I've heard that life on earth is really just preparing us for heaven, and that how we live here should resemble how we want to live in heaven. I believe that more everyday, and it reminds me that each day is a gift and everything I do should glorify God. Anyway, wonderful post. It's so good to read your blogs still, and I pray that you continue to heal and feel the unending love of Jesus.

Thank you again for such a moving post. You are very gifted with your ability to write!

Mandy said...

Boothe, I check your blog daily to see if you've written, because God uses you to speak His word. He speaks to me through you- as I would assume He speaks to many. Well put, girl! You have been given such a gift. Thank you for sharing, still.

Anonymous said...

Boothe, You haven't been forgotten. Many intercessory prayers have been said for you on your heartwrenching journey. Jesus is holding you in the palm of His hand still.

"Be still and know that He is God."

Take care.

happy gram said...

i am thanking you once again for my daughter who isn't ready to hear these things yet. i know you miss copeland terribly and i think of you so often.

Tabitha said...

I enjoyed your blog, it was exactly what I need today. I had a miscarriage several years ago, found myself being so angry with God and completely shutting him out for years afterwards. But now...I am so in love with my Jesus and could never imagine a life without him. I look forward to reading more and will keep you in my prayers. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you and your family!!

Tabitha

Anonymous said...

i found your blog through a friend's and must say you're such an eloquent writer.. i had to comment, because this afternoon i listened to a pod cast from Rob Bell, a pastor of a church called Mars Hill. anyways, it was on grace and peace and what Paul was saying and what it truly meant. something I hadn't looked twice at before, then randomly i came across this and think i am going to look into it a little more.. God is using you to minister to others in various ways. He's using your loss, and your life to communicate His grace and sufficiency to others. I am deeply challenged by your thoughts, thank you for being so open..

Laurie said...

Hi Boothe,

It is so good to see you here tonight. I love this post. After so many years of searching for the right way to approach this love walk with the Lord, I discovered that it was just Him and me, heart to heart, one on one, personal. And it made me smile to know that He is there with you in your car, checking out the pastures, listening to John Mayer. He is laughing with you and crying with you and listening to your gripes and disappointments. He is everywhere you go, He is in your heart. He just wants us to be real with Him as He is with us. We are His children and He loves us just as we are. I am so grateful for this truth, it makes me love Him more.
I love your heart Boothe, and I pray daily that He reveals Himself to you more and more. I pray that your memories of Copeland are more sweet with joy and less painful with each new day. I remember her all the time.

Love you, Laurie in Ca.

PS. Did you get your package yet? I hope so.:)

mom2izzyandallen said...

Boothe,
I don't know you but have been following your blog and wanted to let you know how much I realte to you. I often feel and ponder the things you write about. Your family is in my prayers.

Barbara

Annie- Nashville said...

WOW! This spoke mounds to me today as I read this. I have some things I need to say to my own father, and given the strength and the grace, perhaps one day soon I can. We got in a little "tiff" last week and I can't seem to get it off my heart. Maybe soon I can. Thank you for your open heart and words that attract my attention from the very first letter. You are an amazing inspiration to me and so many others. Thank you! Still praying for you!

Elizabeth S said...

I needed this message. Thank you.

Candy said...

You have a fantastic way of letting Him speak through you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and words with us all. You are inspiring in your honesty and bravery.

Spooky said...

I only found your blog a few days ago, and I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you for putting your thoughts out for others to see. It's encouraging for me to see people who "keep on" with God even after such a loss.
"Grace and peace to you."

Lacey said...

Friday, the 1st, will mark one-year since my only sister suddenly & unexpectedly died at the age of 21. Almost one year later & I can still hardly speak the words, "my sister died". Almost one year later & I'm still hanging on to the injustice of it all. It was like you were speaking these words just for me. And I needed to hear them. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to write. I check every day to see if you have posted anything new for my heart to ponder.

Angie Luce said...

Boothe,

I love it. Loving a person with all of your heart doesn't mean you never get angry or hurt. Why should loving God be any different? I want to love him more and more for the rest of my life. I want to keep diving into that verse because I know that I will never reach the bottom.

Love you!

Angie

grey like snuffie said...

AMEN---He knows it already but is waiting for us to believe His love by being real before Him. We'll make a lot more progress in our relationship with Him when we get "it" out---and make room for His grace and peace to come in. Great post. He may keep allowing circumstances to keep knocking away at our walls of defense but He is a "gentle"man. He is always waiting for us with open arms.

Anonymous said...

You still continue to profoundly amaze me. I check your blog daily and it always seems that on the just the right day and at just the right time, you have written something that touches my heart It always seems that I need to hear it at just that very moment. Please continue writing--that sounds selfish-- and it probably is-- but you have a true gift and talent that many of us need to hear. In return, please know that I, and I am sure many others, continue to pray for you and your sweet family as you continue on life's journey. (I prayed just this morning for you)

May you continue to feel Copeland whispering in God's ear asking Him to send down blessings of peace and comfort to her dear mommy, daddy, and sister.

Tammy (Texas)

Mandy Hall said...

Boothe,
You are an amazingly gifted writer. You share your life's thoughts and experiences so honestly that I feel as if we are old friends. Your words also speak deep into the core of me and others. God is definately using your life to shine a light into others...to inspire us...to show us His love. Thank you for continuing to invite us into your life through your amazing words. I truly believe this is just the beginning...that God will be using your words & thoughts to touch people around the world. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing yours with us. We are made better by reading your words.

Your Sister in Christ,
Mandy Hall
McKinney, TX
(my husband works with Chelsea)

Martha said...

I know this is kind of "off topic", but I wanted to thank you for sharing the link for the Mathenias. Their family was mentioned in our church service, but I didn't quite catch the name. How devastating! It's nice, though, to put a face with the name; and as the Lord brings this beautiful family before my eyes, I can think of those sweet babies and their young father and pray that the Lord will carry them through this time of grief and immense loss.

Jessica said...

Boothe,
I still check in on you everyday. I am so glad you continue to write as your words and faith are amazing and inspiring. I love that song too especially this part-"Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open.."
It really encompasses how I feel about my husband speaking at our daughter's service yesterday... even though it was hard for him it needed to be said...
HUGS,
Jessica

Sarah said...

Hi boothe,
I've been reading your blog for a couple months and it inspired me to start my own. My heart hurts for you and I think and pray for you often. I can empathize with your feelings of not understanding why God allows the things he allows. Your faith is so raw and inspiring. Thank you for sharing so unabashedly.
Sarah Shipley (Coggeshall)
www.sarahcshipley.blogspot.com

Courtney said...

wow. i needed that. you have no idea how much. continually amazed at your ability to put a thought together.

Erin said...

I saw your link on Claudia's blog and WOW, you are such an amazing young lady bringing Jesus so much glory through your response to such a devistation. Thank you for sharing!!

Sun said...

WOW - this,as do all of your posts, nails me to the pavement and causes me to stop and examine my own heart! I want to link my blog to this post if that is ok - there is just SO much stuff here that is amazing -

You are so precious - God loves you so much and is using your blog to His glory! Sunshine

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. I have not met you, your husband, or your beautiful girls, and yet God showed me the way to your blog tonight. Thank you for sharing Copeland with us. She is truly a precious little angel. I have been so blessed by reading about Copeland's miraculous life. God has used her to bring me back to the true meaning of the love God has for us. I will have your family in my prayers. It is abundantly clear that little Copeland brought the love of Jesus to so many. Your faith and trust in God truly amazes me and has inspired me to keep pursuing my Father. I hope that God blesses you beyond measure and brings you much grace and peace.

Kimberly (Orlando, FL, River of Life Church)

Dani said...

I don't know you but came across your site from a friend's site...you have the gift of writing. Your family is in our thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Boothe,

You question what does God want from you....you have touched so many people with your faith, your heart,your an amazing person Boothe, we hear God's word through you....God Bless you!

Marie

(Shellee) said...

Boothe,
This is Shellee Coley. (Kent's wife, in texas, i.e. Leeland)
Kent has forwarded me your blog before and I am always forgetting to come and check it out. Your words were healing to me this morning in a way that I have not identified with in a while. I have recently hopped into the blog world and found it to be a very good place for me to "work out" my brain. I was struck by the resolve you have come to in your journey...still looking to God's face in the midst of suffering. My journey has been much different, as my struggles do not come from the loss of a child, but still I struggle to to be at the place that you seem to be right now. I am glad to have spent some much needed moments of "peace" and identification with you this morning even though we have never met! Thanks for letting me "read your mind" :)

shellee
iamnotasoccermom.blogspot.com

Jared, Kristin, Deanna, and Avery Edwards said...

Today is the first time I've read anyone's blog since Jonathan was taken home back in Nov. I used to follow yours and others closely, but it's been too painful these last couple months. What you said in this post is EXACTLY what I needed to hear. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Ours is a good and faithful God.
Kristin Edwards

Tori said...

Boothe, I've not commented on your blog yet, though have wanted to many times. All I can say right now is, "Thank you!" Thank you for opening your heart and being so transparent and REAL. I love coming here and reading your heart, because you lay it out so honest and openly for all to see. Your heart for the Father is beautiful.

Jared, Kristin, Deanna, and Avery Edwards said...

This is really good stuff. Thank you for sharing. It really ministered to my heart as my wife is going through the same feelings. She had me read this. It appears that God has seasoned you much through this experience and he is truly glorified.

Hope you are doing well.

Jared Edwards

Lynn said...

Hi! I recently found your blog linked on someone else's and I've gone back and read most of your story.I just wanted to let you know that you and your family are in my prayers and I wanted to thank you for sharing your story... your example of true faith has been really encouraging to me! God bless you! :)
-Lynn

Julie said...

You are beautiful. Your words are powerful. In the hardship of life you have found what it's all about.
You have found Him.

I cannot imagine the pain you have felt at the loss of your sweet Copeland.

But as I look at this blog for the first time I see the beauty that He has brought out of the ashes of your pain. (Isaiah 61).

You are a precious heart. I was writing about joy on my blog yesterday. I have come to believe that joy, not a feeling, is Jesus..... Joy is finding Jesus in the midst of life. I see that in you.

You are truly precious. I am convinced that God has amazing plans for you.

Many blessings,
Julie

Jill said...

A friend of mine sent me your link to read. I went back to your early post and was moved by the story of Copeland. She was a beautiful little girl. I am sorry for your loss, but praise God that you have been able to bless others with her story and yours.
Your family is in my thoughts and prayers today.