This Week's Focus

Investigate my life, O God
find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
get a clear picture of what I'm about;
See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong—
then guide me on the road to eternal life.

Psalm 139:23-24

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 4: Sponge days

My heart seems to be in an "extra absortant" mode :) ... Though we continue to read through the whole psalm, we have also been absorbing verses 1-5, which seem like an essay (maybe because that is what the kids have been immersed in in writing class). The first sentence/verse tells us a summary of what the next six are about: Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. This opening statement establishes the fact that God has the power, authority and presence to view everything about me. Then the next several verses explain in detail just how present and how perceptive He is: when I sit, stand, think, am near, far, travel, rest, talk. It isn't really the specifics that are important, I think, but the emphasis that He is everywhere and He sees it all. The details give us an incomplete hint of his comprehensiveness.

The details would be a little scary if I wasn't also reading the entire Psalm... :)

All through the past couple of days, I have tried to be conscious of God looking at me when I do all those things. Literally, when I would sit down I'd think to myself, "God is watching me." When I stood, I'd think, "God sees me." When "traveling" (driving to Overland Park and back). It would work for awhile, then I would "slip out of consciousness" and fall back into doing life. Then I would work at remembering again. I've concluded God is far more constant in His awareness of me than I am of Him.

It is really cool to be ultra alert: THE GOD OF THIS UNIVERSE has his eyes on me every moment! How difficult it is to give Him the same attention! Even when I am really making an effort to focus on Him!

Just soaking all this in makes me feel special. I feel honored and flattered and amazed that He would want to look at me, know me, see me, be with me. I usually feel like I want to EARN that, or feel pressure to be smart, creative, interesting, interested, current, relevant, etc. How freeing and wonderful to just be enjoying this new realization that God really just wants to be with me.

I know also this is not just true for me, it is true for all people...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 3: Is there a cure?

Since becoming a parent, I have believed, and taught my children, that the cure for jealousy is the opposite of it: be happy for the other person in whatever the situation is.

I awoke this morning with the violin scene in my head but this time as I played it in my mind I responded in awe, enjoyment, enthusiasm and valuing the beauty of my mom’s playing, the sound of the music she made, the amazing-ness of her talent, asking for more, wanting to have her teach me even…

The contrast strikes me deeply. I see the first response falls short. To be happy for the person is good. But it is like pulling the top of a dandelion when weeding, and leaving the root. Eventually the dandelion grows right back. Or only taking part of your antibiotics prescription; eventually the bacteria gets smarter and stronger instead of defeated.

But if we confess our sins to Him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong.

You will always reap what you sow.

We must replant in the empty hole cleansed by confession seeds of treasuring others. Joy is good in the mix, too. But the reason just being happy for the person falls short is because the result is likely still distance, still insecurity. If we can find in our heart true value for what the person is doing or has, and we can allow that to attract us toward them, then we connect and grow toward that person, which is God’s ultimate plan for love.

So my treatment plan? Well the picture of a different response to my mom inspires me so much and truly, truly makes me so sorry because it helps me to see what I have missed. Every time I have chosen to be happy for the person I am jealous of, I have remained empty and hurting for myself. Repent means to change, to turn. I want to be transformed – to change, to turn toward and move forward by finding, valuing, respecting, and honoring the treasure that God puts in others. In sowing value, I will reap value.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 2: at microscopic level

We started on verse 2 but the 1st has continued to echo and work in me:

O, Lord, you have examined my heart ... Psalm 139:1
Examine. Examine. Like a doctor...

So... the Great Physician has examined me. The compelling question is: what did he find at that microscopic level of the "vital center of my being?" Jealousy. (I'm sure there is more but that is what the diagnosis is for now.)

I imagined what would be on the slide if he took a specimen of my heart and slowly made a list of all the jealousy I was feeling now.

King Saul loved David the shepherd and harpist in the beginning. But at some point that changed. When the people expressed their love and admiration of the warrior David, seeds of jealousy sprinkled in Saul's heart.

When were these seeds planted in mine?

To dive deep with God down into the microscopic levels of our hearts takes extraordinary courage. I took a big breath and braced myself as I dug in with Him and his holy microscope... he took me back in time and showed me pictures of those seeds. Virus or infection are more apropos analogies:

In a thin-walled room of a late 60s trailer home, an almost 2-year old stood crying as her mother practiced the violin. The tears of the toddler were not because the music hurt her ears; they were because she was jealous that her mommy was paying attention to the instrument and not her. She hated the pretty brown thing her mother spent time with.

On a white vinyl couch, a 4-year old girl pouted on the lap of her father as they posed for a family picture, demanding unsuccessfully that she be held by Mommy. She'd been replaced by that chubby, bubbly baby brother.

Blue and green shag carpet made a soft play place for Barbies, but hardness grew in the 7-year old's heart as the girl had to share her time with her best friend. The extra girl always honed in and ruined everything. Then jealousy overcome her when a new baby sister was born; not jealousy because she wanted a sister, but because she felt she already had one in her friend. She never accepted the sister.

I hadn't consciously thought of any of those things for many years; but I can still feel all those emotions as fresh as the air I breath right now. Unchecked, the feelings, like a virus, multiply. Disease can lie dormant for years; but it eventually emerges. How much devastation will it wreak before the doctor discovers it? "When emotions are unchecked by the Holy Spirit, one negative emotion can easily feed another, joining together as links in a chain of bondage."

A healing thought occurs to me. Holy Spirit intervention? Just as I can love someone who is sick, I can love myself with a sickness of heart. The sickness doesn't overtake all the good that the patient is; we still invest in treatment! My value does not change because I am flawed. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

I recall the room with my mom and the violin, only this time imagine God in the picture. Why doesn't He reassure me? Why doesn't He fix it for me, why did He wait so long to put His truth in my heart?

Is it perhaps because I didn't want to hear it until now? Have I demanded my way for so long in this area that I didn't finally really turn to Him and surrender this area until this moment? You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I release the thing I've been hanging on to all these years. God, o, God. I have rejected you over and over. I have been like a vacuum in my need for affirmation and fulfillment from human beings. The hole in my soul that only You can assuage I have demanded be filled by someone tangible that I could see and hear and hug. I have tried to win the love of man by being good, kind, giving, creative, spectacular. But it has never been enough. And I can not be enough.

In the quiet, deep place in my heart I realize that every moment boils down to that. Will I seek Him and be satisfied in Him, or will I turn my back, dissatisfied, and look elsewhere?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 1: Under the microscope...

I decided to do this with my children. We started by praying that God would teach our hearts. And then we each read the entire Psalm, taking turns reading aloud. It is a practice I learned doing Lectio Divina. Then we focused on our verse for the day - Psalm 139:1. We again each read the verse out loud. Then we decided to get the dictionary and thesaurus and break it down. We wrote on the white board our favorite words [in parenthesis]:

O Lord [Master/Ruler], you have examined [investigated the state of/progress of] my heart [vital center of my being, emotions and thoughts] and know [have clear and certain perception/view of] everything about me.

Then we talked about each of the three things below:

How I Feel About the Verse: I felt a little uncomfortable with that idea. Like being under a microscope. My insides are supposed to be private. A place I can hide all the things I don't want others to see or know I am thinking. I feel a little invaded, scared of being that known, cause I know what's in there is bad. Just lately He's been showing me the blackness of my heart and how jealous I can be. And it isn't the Godly kind of jealousy that is FOR someone, it is the ugly kind that is OF someone. Beth Moore suggests that the root of jealousy is fear and as I explored that in my heart, I discovered that my root of fear is not being special, which I realize means I don't believe I have value unless I meet some random conditions set up in my head. I digress but that realization is how I ended up here. (I'm glad we read ahead)

What I Learn About God from the Verse: God is inside me. How else could he see what is in my heart. He knows everything. He can see my heart, my vital, living, important center of my being - the very core of who I am. No one else sees that. People only see what we let them see. Even those closest to me with whom I try to be real and honest. What God knows is clear and certain, no wiggle room for excuses, blame, arguement, justifying. And no running from Him either...

What I Learn About Me from the Verse: I am not alone and I am never really in hiding. And I am fully known by God - all the good, all the bad. All past and all present. He is Ruler and Master and so has authority to examine, investigate, look into what is going on in me. I also realized I can not manipulate God's perception of me because he KNOWS me, has a "certain and clear perception of" me. This makes me feel very odd because I sense a growing awareness, a slow unblinding of something... like how much I desire to control what people's perception of me is. To accept in my mind that God has the ultimate knowledge, that is most intimate, most accurate ... what do I do with that? I must ruminate with this for awhile. As much as I desire to be real and authentic, there must be a deeper level of it that He knows I am missing.


A lifetime of feeling worthless. Always looking to how others see me to feel ok. Dependent on the opinions of everyone else to feel valued. Thinking I have to be spectacular to be special. It is a rollercoaster I thought I'd overcome. And yet, in every conflict lately, in every relationship problem I have, in all the areas God seems to be revealing to me there it is: I don't really feel valuable. I don't live a life of power that comes from knowing you are. And so I have begun a journeythat feels radical to me because I never stick with any routine! But when I was reading a book last summer, Deeper, the author planted the idea. She gave a whole year to the process of reading Psalm 139 every day for a year. It inspired her to write the book as she began to see patterns of truth and it began to change her. I am begging God for it to do something deep in my own heart.