“You can make people feel,” he told me. That’s high praise, coming from a world famous poet and a marvelous compliment coming from a person who is in touch with “all the feels.”
But it’s not me “making people feel.” The stories I share and the way I share them is thanks to the people who have inclined me to open the door to my feelings and offered a safe space for me to feel them. It’s my gratitude for these lessons learned, messages communicated, insights shone, and perspectives gained that spills onto the page.
My new book, Made to Move: Knowing and Loving God Through our Bodies comes out in February. It is a “devotional workbook” for individuals and small groups but not your typical book of devotions. It’s not a daily, Jesus Calling, kind of reading to assure you that Jesus loves you and God will never leave you, though I subscribe to both of those beliefs.
No, this book is really, well, I guess its the product of the practice of writing thank you notes that my mother began in me all those years ago. It started me writing notes to people who I thought deserved a thanking. And not just the canned version:
Thank you for ______.
I’ll use it for _________.
I really appreciate it.
But the real version — the “felt” version — written with the Lord’s guidance, letting a heart that was truthfully grateful take the lead. Somehow, gratitude lets us turn the knob on the door to a passageway we didn’t know existed. It opens onto the hallway of feeling. All feelings. None prohibited. It is a safe zone where trust can abide and healing reigns.
Because feeling can be hard. It can be gut-wrenching and head-spinning, earth-shattering and life-altering. But, it can also be breathtaking and awe-inspiring, heart-healing and life-giving. Life offers us the opportunity to turn the knob and enter in, not knowing what we will find on the other side.
The courage to do this doesn’t come from the author who invites you in, but from the Author of Life who is there to facilitate your discovery. Whatever you find there, I will help you handle. Whatever you need there, I will supply. Because I will be with you in the feeling, the you who emerges will be changed.
I don’t “make people feel.” I invite people, through words birthed in gratitude, to experience their feelings and then to be healed by the only Healer I know whose work lasts forever.
My book is a thank you note to the world. Each page, a person. If it “makes you feel,” I am grateful because I know God’s grace is at work in that space between gratitude and glory.
I don’t deserve what I have
any more than
the desperate refugee
deserves to flee for his life
or the starving child
deserves to go hungry.
Yet, I know them by heart.
As the mother
with hungry children
gives them what little
there is, and her portion, too.
As the one
without a home
respite and a way home.
I, with a home,
a kind word, a drink of water,
to offer in shelter
to the one who needs sanctuary.
I, with life’s bread,
to offer in sustenance
to the one who is hungry
and the one who is going without.
This is my nature, too.
Bill, sweet man, I just met him. Honest, open, friendly, kind. Shares a bit about himself and his family. Got three kids, “all medical,” he says. “The oldest used to be a doctor, but he quit.” “Says quitting is the best thing he ever did.” “Says, now he gets along with his wife…” Bill shakes his head, “Our health care system, it’s so broken.”
Bill may have said other things after that but I didn’t hear them. Broken: how do we know when something’s broken? It spills out into the rest of our lives. It pours out all over what we love and what we care about.
If the flow is unhealthy, it can extinguish what was once wonderful and pure and beautiful. Like the insidious oil of a punctured tanker, the evidence of the puncture doesn’t come first as a drop in volume, it shows itself in sheen and then surface-floating fish, disabled otters, and struggling seabirds, their feathers coated and useless.
We know brokenness by its damage. The spill. The despoiling. The carnage. The ugliness.
Now, call that ship on its misdeed and it will deny it all day long. It will gird up its loins, even as it goes below deck to patch the leaky spots. Not me. I am strong as they come. I am not responsible for this nastiness. Unavoidable. Not my fault.
Yet, when the ship is righted, the system mended, and the cargo tended to, that tanker sails on its merry way, delivering what it was supposed to, where it was supposed to, to whom it was supposed to. All systems go. Ecosystem maintained.
So many broken systems. So many people plugging holes with all their might. But the spill, it keeps coming. Because we humans are leaky. And feeble. No match for the tanker’s tons. But call us broken and we rail against it, blind to the drippings that puddle at our feet, coat our hands, and threaten to overcome our hearts and our lives.
In our humanity, we are broken, but also fixable. We’re clay, putty in the hands of our Maker. Pulling ourselves from the plug we once were, the spill may keep on, even gush a bit at first, but the evidence of brokenness begins to mend. We get along with the wife, the kids, the neighbors. We are whole again, and filling back up, we may even spill over in generous overflow.
Yes, there are many systems broken in our world today, but I refuse to be an unwitting funnel. It is amazing, just by taking one step out and two steps back, how one can welcome a new solution and a different approach.
Clear-minded and self-controlled, our adjustment does more than mend; it makes.