Already Included #44 – Disappointed?

By: Sarah Nyhan

I heard someone say that He absolutely adores me. And you. Everyone.

So I asked Him. Because frankly, there is no shortage of criticism and I am often disappointed with myself.

The picture I believe He gave me was of this day back on August 12, 2014 when I took Mickey to the clinic so Naminé could get her first shots. I took this picture as we sat in the waiting room for a long time. Look at that beautiful smile!

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Only a few minutes later we were called back to the room for Naminé to get her first shots. The medical professionals laid her on the table. Me on one side, Momma Mickey on the other. And then despite all of us doing our best, Naminé started crying so much when she was given the shot. I remember the look in her eyes like – “What?! What is happening?! Ouch!!!”

It felt like her eyes were telling us that we betrayed her trust. She was so hurt and mad.

But were we disappointed in her for her reaction?! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! In fact, I was crying so much! Oh my gosh, my heart was breaking! The tears would not stop from MY eyes. I ABSOLUTELY did NOT want her to be hurt! I would have done anything if there was another way.

Nobody in that room that day was disappointed with her! We knew she couldn’t understand what was happening. But we couldn’t wait to give her the shots until she was able to understand. She needed the shots now. It didn’t feel good but it was ultimately for her best.

She wasn’t able to understand love. Much less science and why we had to make her hurt. She was only able to understand when she felt good and when she felt bad.

Same with bringing children to the dentist. We have to do it before they understand what is happening. Some of them panic and freak out. Do we not have empathy for them? And yet it would be doing them a disservice if we allowed any infection to fester until they were able to understand. They need healing now.

I feel like that is what He told me about me. And us.

I get so mad. And frustrated. Sad. Etc. I want what hurts to go away! Now! I look Him in His eyes and feel betrayed! “How can I trust You anymore?”

I am not saying He causes bad things to happen. That is way above my pay grade. I’d be a fool to speak with certainty about much of anything. Much less that subject.

All I know is that He is love. He is good all the time. And I am His kid. And He gave me this picture today. It comforted me and I hope it will comfort you.

He isn’t disappointed in us or our feelings when we don’t understand. I don’t think He is disappointed in us as we scream and kick like a little kid who doesn’t want anymore pain.

Even though I took care of Naminé by taking care of her momma before she was even born, even though I took care of Naminé from almost the day she came home from the hospital, she didn’t know me or my love for her. I knew her, but she didn’t know me. She only knew when she felt good and when she felt bad.

So it’s ok for us also. He knows us and He knows we don’t know Him… yet. Someday we will know as we are known. In the meantime, we learn and His patience and mercy endures forever. He is loving kindness.

He is not disappointed. None of this is a surprise. He knew it all before and still said it is good. He still waits, looking on the horizon in order to celebrate us seeking shelter in His heart.

And this is not the end of the story. We are not able to see the big picture yet.

Ask Him. Whatever you need. Whatever you want. Ask Him. See what He says.

Already Included #43 – Exposed

By: Sarah Nyhan

I used to read it that Adam and Eve covered themselves due to shame about something they did. Now, I wonder if they covered themselves more because their eyes were opened to see their vulnerability. And in turn maybe the covering and the hiding was an effort to do what they could in their own strength in order to not feel so exposed.

These times certainly have me feeling even more vulnerable and exposed than usual. And I seem to have almost exhausted every one of my own efforts to shelter my place in this world and existence. He said to come as a child and I think the farthest I’ve made it is coming as a teenager, so to speak, with lots of energy spent towards ya know, doing MY part.

But is that really being in the complete dependence of a child? Children are so exposed and vulnerable! I saw a wild animal who birthed an offspring that immediately started walking. Are human children the most dependent out of all Creatures? I wonder. I suspect so. It takes years and years for a human child to be able to survive “on their own”.

And if you had a parent that you trusted, did you spend all your time helping them provide for you and protect you? Or did you spend the majority of your time enjoying the world they provided for you?

I don’t think this is a test. I think this is deeper, and deeper healing. Deepest healings. For my benefit. Not for His ego. To bring forth all the potential that was Created in me. In us.

I realize I have never fully trusted. And for good reason based on human interactions. But my soul is continually comforted when I reach my ends. And I am continually, gently reminded of all the times before when my strength wasn’t needed. When He was bigger than me. Than anything I could bring to the table.

This is not easy. But it is simple. And I ask in gratitude for more. For the most. For everything there is to enjoy.

I heard someone say today something to the effect of: full reconciliation is a done deal; full realization is the current aim. It resonated with me. Sharing in case it resonates with anyone else.

We get a choice. To live only according to what our eyes can see? Giving fear free reign? Or will I, will we, dare to listen to that persistent hug of a whisper that speaks to endless mysteries pregnant with much greater possibilities? Way beyond the galaxies and our imaginations.

Already Included #42 – Rejection as Positioning

By Sarah Nyhan

My grief tempts me so much to replace the message of my feelings for truth. To switch my focus from God’s heart to how the situation seems to look right now.

I have the choice to indulge in self-pity and hopelessness. But I feel God calling me to have courage, frankly. To think on all He has done before. To remember His heart for me as evidenced in the ages and so many times personally before.

I fear and resist because I do not want to experience more pain and disappointment. I don’t want to feel appearing like a fool for the millionth time. I get exhausted when I take my focus away from God’s heart for me.

This could be an adventure. This could be flying instead of falling. The anticipation of mystery revealed instead of framing uncertainty in dread.

Who am I? A beloved child of God. He loved me to and through death.

This is what Jesus endured as everyone abandoned Him. Naked. Exposed. Crucified. Right before the great resurrection of all brand new abundant life.

This is what Joseph experienced as his best landed him in prison, forgotten by those who should have known better. Right before the purpose of all the preparation was revealed.

Will I continue circling the desert of my abysmal self-sufficiency? Will I settle for camping just outside unlimited potential in exchange for certainty’s colorless “comfort”?

Who is this God that loves me so much? That is my Father? My warrior for all He created in me?

Who is this gnat, this flea, this mosquito pestering me? This mere illusion of a formidable enemy?

I get to choose. This is only a battle in my mind. Will I collapse into His more than capable embrace? Will I let go of needing to know how it all works out? Will I let God surprise me? Will I choose the dreams my desires dare to consider? More than I can see. More than I can ask or imagine.

An unceasing whisper to imagine where this rejection is positioning me. Asking me not only what I need to survive, but what I’d want if I didn’t put any limits on God. If the Trinity was united in and exceptionally eager to bust apart all the boxes I thought I could carry God in. All that He has is mine.

Will I insist on this just being a story about what I can do in my own strength? Or will I open my heart to trust God for much bigger beauty?

Already Included #41 – Best

By Sarah Nyhan

I have received a lot of rejection in response to my changing beliefs about God over the past few years. People I once was close to have told me they were going to warn others against me. Judging from the rejection I have received, I don’t doubt that has already happened.

As much as I still very much miss the connection I used to have with those that have rejected me, I strongly disagree with some of the responses that I’ve seen from “churchfolk” in response to this real health issue (ask Italy, South Korea, China, and the nursing home in Washington).

In that respect and on behalf of all those who are struggling with concerns or thinking differently, I would just like to point out that South Korea reports that as of today 5,016 cases (60%) of the virus are connected to Shincheonji Church – which in my opinion negligently over-spiritualized and ignored physical realities of this virus.

I used to be one of those people, so I understand how they end up there and I have compassion as much as I expect my words will fall on many deaf ears.

But for anyone on the fence, this is for you: God is not “quarantined” to a specific building with specific people. God will find you wherever you are and whoever you are with. You will not be loved less by God for using your God-given brain to do what you feel is best for you and yours.

Already Included #40 – Ezekiel

By Sarah Nyhan

Ezekiel was sent to his own people. He was rejected over and over again. This was not a surprise to God. Ezekiel did not fail just because nobody listened to him and changed their ways. Not even Jesus in human form was enough for many people.

So I can let myself off the hook. Is relationship with God the goal, the end-game? Or is there some other race I think God asks me to win?

What if everyone truly is eternally safe in His heart? What if God cares more for us than I could ever imagine? What if He isn’t disappointed with us? Can I be assured that just as Holy Spirit never leaves me, Holy Spirit is always in endless conversation with them? In ways they can hear.

What if He already tore up the report card I created for Him to sign? What if inviting Him into our grief, sadness, and anger is what it is all about? What if our hearts echo the cries of His heart? What if He sits with us and holds us together when we can’t keep everything together? What if He never expected us to fix these things? What if it all works out on the other side, if not on this side? What if there is something bigger going on?

Tell it to my heart. My heart only wants relief. My heart wants results, Lord! My heart doesn’t understand what You are doing! Why You let this go on so long! Where are You?!

He meets me every time. Satisfying my soul,  often without answering my questions. Even as I put Him on trial. Peace that truly passes understanding. Knowing that I am seen. That I am so clearly heard. And fully loved.

I walked the dog this morning. New house, new neighborhood for both of us. Only a week in. The dog bolted forward ahead of me. I let him go because he was so excited. It wasn’t about being in control this morning. It was about enjoying the walk.

We crossed the street about 30% of the way down. We continued on to the end and then turned around. A neighborhood where almost every house looks the same. No scent on that side of the street.

The poor little dog went down almost every path to the front door of every house for three to four blocks. It’s like his little mind was thinking, “Maybe this one!” And he would run up the path and stare at the front door and have this confused, thoughtful look on his face. Then I would walk ahead and he’d run to catch up, pass me again, and run down the path to the next door.

He didn’t trust me. He thought it was his job to get us home. I wasn’t mad at him. I was just heartbroken seeing him try to find home over and over again.

Finally he caught his scent from the beginning of the walk and stepped a little more confidently the rest of the way home.

It reminded me of how I don’t trust God. How I bolt ahead of Him offering solution after solution. And He knows where I need to be. He isn’t worried at all. I want the answers without the intimacy. I want to be in control because I don’t trust His heart for me.

I don’t think He has me on a leash to restrict me; just to protect me from what I don’t even know I need protecting from. Can I learn to relax and enjoy the journey?

Enoch walked with God. I want to be like that. Not tiring myself out by dragging God along every path I think I need to go down. Instead trusting He will be with me always. But checking in, looking to Him more.

Relationship. Real relationship. Not just reading books, listening to sermons, studying the Bible, listening to worship music. But a real relationship. That is going to be messy. There will not be any formula I can fall back on. But it thankfully doesn’t depend on me either.

Already Included #39 – Redeemable

By Sarah Nyhan

A person I once considered one of my best friends told me in all seriousness one day: “Your most redeeming quality is that you take abuse.”

Well, a person can only take so much. As I learned better, I reacted by being hyper-sensitive to any hint of forthcoming pain in all its forms. I developed a different reputation as a runner!

I was so frustrated with the naysayers. So easy for them to throw stones from the sidelines. They weren’t in my shoes. Wasn’t I doing the intelligent thing by avoiding being a target? Just give me time and I’d figure out who was safe.

That approach left me completely isolated. With a lot of time to see my own faults and failures.

Now I am learning that not all pain is destructive; that I don’t have to immediately run from any and all pain. That beneficial growth can also feel scary and painful.

My real estate background helps me understand this. There is a big beautiful property with an unfinished, abandoned mansion. The new owners seem to examine every nail, every face of every board. Ripping off walls, tearing down, pulling out, etc. Metaphorically so much pain involved. But not for destruction. They are only doing what is best to build the house back up even better.

So also with me. I pray to be a better person, but then I get lost in the pain when the pruning proceeds. It feels like I am dying versus being healed. I lose sight of the point of it all.

My business classes further educate me in one of the least threatening ways possible. I can hear what I need to hear there because my mind isn’t on high alert as business can sometimes be thought of as more transactional than relational.

But I love the genius of God. Because business is all about seeing opportunity and creating value as responses to perceived needs. Rarely, if ever, is running away a suggested solution for the typical pains of business challenges.

So instead I am taught things I’d expect to hear more from a pulpit than a professor: things like valuing everyone equally, giving people the benefit of the doubt, adopting a learner-mindset versus a judger-mindset, being honest and open, being caring and credible, etc. I am challenged to step out of my fortress of ego and pride (that victimhood helped build) in order to understand situations from everyone’s perspective.

This really helps me start to calm down and see that most of the time people are probably not being hurtful on purpose. And even if they are, it’s probably because it’s their way of responding to feeling like there isn’t any other way to escape the feelings that also feel so threatening to them.

So then, will I respond in like-kind? Fear response to fear response? Or will I take on the challenges growth is bringing to the table? Will I quit being emotionally lazy? Will I really lean into the love available to me? And respond from a place of maturity? Not better. Just enlightened differently in that moment. By the grace of God alone. Truly.

What if there is something in it for me? What if it doesn’t have to be forced? What if my strength of will is not needed? What if I can relax and bring all my resistance to God and He’ll love all the hell out of me?

What if for now running to Him is enough? What if there will be a new moment one day when I feel filled up enough with His love that the kid in me will feel safe enough to share the excess organically? Where I feel secure enough to creatively seek solutions that improve relationships versus only running away.

No condemnation. God leads us in all forgiveness. Of ourselves for all these years. Of others as our eyes are opened to see them through Love’s Truth. Never excusing or condoning hurtful actions. Simply understanding. Seeing us in each other.

God even invites us to be honest about our anger towards Him.

Later I say to God, “Look at me – I am the least. There is no way I can do these things. I am Gideon, God – who am I?”

And He says, “Exactly. Let Me love you –  just run to Me when you are scared. That is step one. I’ve got the rest. I’ve got rest. I AM your rest.”

So much more. But that’s the food for thought right now.

Already Included #38 – Wrong

By Sarah Nyhan

One of the biggest changes in my life over the past almost three years is that I now experience the freedom to be wrong. Like the prodigal. Or the prodigal’s brother. Or like when Peter grossly abandoned and denied Jesus – his great friend, his God – in the darkest hour. Afterwards Jesus pursued Peter and made him some fish tacos. 😉 Not the other way around.

Peter was given the freedom to be wrong. Abraham was given the freedom to be wrong. But here is the point – did their choices serve them and theirs well? Do my choices serve me and mine well?

Yes, I can be wrong and assured that I am loved exactly the same. Yes, I can be wrong and God will not abandon me. But will my choices even get me where I ultimately want to be?

Forget rules. Rules are somewhat of a base level of operating to me now. Rules are for when I’m not experienced enough to understand and comprehend the consequences of my actions.

For example, a baby or a toddler needs rules because they don’t have the context to understand how vulnerable and powerful they are in the world. That yes, mom and dad are always watching out for them now – but that is not always the environment outside and away from their parents. So you give your toddler a rule to never touch the stove because sometimes it could be hot and there may not always be someone there to pull them away from the stove in the nick of time.

You don’t tell your toddler not to touch the stove because of your ego – or hopefully not. Some people are like that. Some people make rules just to have control and power over others. But as they are properly designed, rules are a protector and a teacher. Not an end unto themselves.

This is TOTALLY new thinking for me. Overwhelming at first. Like when a kid graduates and goes out into the world for the first time all on their own. The freedom to make every decision they want.

Yes, I can do everything and anything I want to do. Technically. But what am I here for? What am I doing on this beautiful planet spinning out here in space? What is the point? How do I place myself in the middle of all the people I have the privilege of doing life with? If rules are the only thing keeping me from hurting myself and others then I have way bigger fish to fry than debating theological nuances.

Or maybe not. Maybe I do need to go back to square one. Because my view of who God is and how God sees me and others is at least the unconscious basis for how I treat myself and how I treat others.

Am I faithful to my spouse just because of rules? That’s ok, but that is base thinking for the immature (without any negative connotation or condemnation). I think eventually the idea is that I graduate from base rule-thinking to understanding how important I am in this world and to the people I have relationships with.

There will never be another person who can be me to the people I do life with. My spouse may be able to find a different spouse who treats them better, but they chose me first – and no one can ever again fill that first role that I filled. No one can ever be my child’s biological parent again. Or first adopted parent again. No one can ever be my brother’s oldest fully biological sister again. Or fill in the blank.

No one can ever replace me in the places I am in people’s lives. My mark on this world, myself, and others cannot be erased. Yes, they will encounter other people, other people who will love them better that I have tried to love them. But that will not erase the impact my presence, absence, and choices has on them.

And not only that. But this minute, this hour, this day is not a rehearsal. I will not get to do it over again. I can do differently, but I cannot do over.

So is this the life I want? Am I being true to even myself? If all else goes away, am I even the person I want to be? Do my choices reflect that? Am I unhappy because I don’t live up to my own values and don’t even respect myself?

Rules paint me into a corner. But higher thinking gives me my life back. With all its freedoms and responsibilities. I am no longer a child. I can no longer blame God, religion, or rules for checking out and disconnecting from my heart, mind, and spirit. Those I do life with will only buy that for so long. God will always love me and others may also. But that doesn’t mean people will always tolerate my choices.

Perfect love drives out fear. Today is a new day. I can’t do over, but I can do differently. I may not be able to repair what is broken, but I can at least stop being destructive. I can make different choices.

As I experience God’s love, I can accept myself and life as is and move forward accordingly. I can grieve without feeling despondent or hopeless. The sun rises again. This moment is a blank canvas.

God knows who I am. He meets me right here, right now. He is always for me, always for us. Satisfied with nothing less than our complete healing. Until all that is not of love’s kind has been replaced with all the good that is freely ours to experience all the time.