the comfort, security and completeness of His love is enough to cushion any blow that falls on me from now to the end of my life. i love Him. i think that now i am experiencing love for the first time: me, the die-hard romantic, experimenter and adventurer of the human heart, sexcapader of the forbidden realms :) now that is being removed from me. He is so pure, so honest and true; He takes me tenderly in His hands, and with gentleness and acceptance He speaks words of truth to my spirit, illuminating the ways in which my own weakness, sickened thinking, sin, selfishness, is like barbed wire imbedded in my heart and around my hands and feet and mouth. it keeps me from loving with His love, serving with His hands, letting Him guide my steps, allowing Him to use my mouth to speak His words. there is no obligation or compulsion or guilt with Him. there is safety, and complete peace. He is the only being that has ever been able to behold and contain my truth, without shrinking back from me in fear or disgust or exhaustion. i cannot exhaust His patience. i cannot do or say anything that would ever make Him stop loving me; my being, even in its imperfection, is not repulsive to Him. He sees and knows me completely, through and through, every thought, every intention, every emotion, every action, every desire, every wound... and His love embraces and envelops all, and calls me forward into this wholeness and beauty and wellness, He sees who i really am, and will never rest until He has brought that forth. He created us, and He is still creating us. it is so beautiful, coming to know Him like this now. i cannot believe that this is happening to me now.
gratitude is not an adequate word for the feelings i have for/about Him. "AWE" comes a little bit closer. studying the old testament with Jewish folks is such a gift and a blessing, because they can speak to you from/about the original Hebrew, and the connotations of any given word. for example, something i always hated about the Bible and the Biblical conception of God as i was taught/understood it was the whole idea of "fearing God". i had enough fear in my life as a child, i didn't want more. i also studied my scriptures as a child, seeking Him, because i believed even though nothing seemed to confirm that belief at the time... and i found the verse in paul's letter to timothy, "for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love, and a sound mind..." *that* was the God i wanted to worship and learn about, but i was always taught to be afraid of God, to view Him as a vengeful, hateful being who watched me every moment to make note of my mistakes so that He could punish me for them... but david was explaining to me the other night that most of the places in the Bible that say "fear the Lord/fear God" don't actually say that at all... in hebrew, almost all of those instances (except one or two, which DO mean "fear"), most of these references actually mean, "stand in awe of"/"have reverence for"/"keep in remembrance". speaking of remembrance, that is one of the super awesome things i got out of my practice as a muslim: DHIKR, "remembrance", consciously calling God to mind often, meditating on His word; also, reciting the names of God. i love that line in the Q'ran that says, "Yours are the most beautiful names..." and begins to list the attributes of God.
for me, becoming a Christian, or claiming a Christian identity (ie, in scripture, "take upon you the name of Christ") is kind of like falling in love with someone that your family doesn't approve of. :) it might piss people off, or make them uncomfortable, and maybe i will lose people over this transition or because of things He calls me to say/do... but i am so madly in love with Him that i can't refuse Him. and i have learned well by now that He loves me and only gives me His laws for my benefit and protection. He is not trying to deprive me of anything; in fact, He makes a provision for any and every need i could ever think of having. although some things i will not receive immediately. but even then, when He says "no" or "not yet", He gives me patience and faith so that i can bear the discomfort of not getting what i want/need. He wants me to succeed in living uprightly before Him. living righteously is impossible; no human is capable of doing what is right according to God's standards... but He wants us to live His way, and gives us His spirit so that we can. He makes us capable. HE IS AWESOME.
so this all leads to a fairly logical conclusion, which God reminded me of last night (we had an all-nighter last night, i was up with Him until 6am again...WHEW, whole other story...): i need to fellowship with other believers. i am a part of the "body of Christ"/His church, but right now i am an amputated part! i need to worship and serve and be part of a community of people who know Him and are striving to live His way. a lot of the problems, frustrations and emotional pain that i am experiencing in the present moment is linked to the fact that i need to spend more time with believers. the body of Christ (1 corinthians chapter 12) is made of many parts that work in concert... so other believers have spiritual gifts to help me, and i have gifts that i can contribute to them; we can build each other up. i get frustrated trying to be who i am out in the world (IN the world, but not OF it anymore) and constantly feeling rejected, unappreciated, etc etc wah-wah-wah! :) but last night i saw that my gifts are designed to be used among His people... they will know what i'm talking about, and what i'm doing, and they will receive it a lot better than worldly people who don't get it! i know from experience that there are imperfect people everywhere, so it's not like church will be a utopia... because really churches are more like triage hospitals, a place of refuge where people can come to be spiritually restored from the inevitable pain of living in this soulless, superficial, degrading, morally corrupt world. He told me a few months ago, "GATHER MY PEOPLE". still not sure what that means. but i do know that i need to be around other believers. now i'm just not sure *where* to go, because i am so afraid of organized religion/churches/etc... but i am confident that He will show me.
the other thing that He is showing me is love. i have been praying to understand the mystery of God's love. 1 corinthians chapter 13. at first, when He opened that to me last night, i got angry and thought, "great, another to-do list. another list of unattainable qualities that i have to try to live up to..." (silly katrina! that's not how it works!) but He said, "this is a description of how i love you. savor it." after sitting with it for awhile, it was not as hard for me to let go of my envy, resentment, fear. He showed me what i need to do next. He called me out on neglecting my gifts, and gave me instructions of how to re-engage in the work He has asked of me. i am ready to do whatever He tells me to do, whatever He asks. i am just so grateful that i belong to Him. i am so grateful and in awe of who/how He is. His work is wonderful. i am not going to sell my guitar now and give up on music as i was thinking of doing... instead, He told me to write hymns. not like old fashioned ones, but songs for Him, about Him. i am kinda excited to sing, or i guess excited that something has made enough of an impression of joy on my heart to make me feel like singing. it's been so long since music spontaneously flowed from me... i have been so blocked, so entrenched in fear, grieving so hard... still am, sometimes: He shows me what i need to see, and holds me through it. :) He has lifted me up, He has heard me and answered me. i don't ever want to go back. i have found home. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... YES, THANK YOU! :)
hum, last night talked to rowan for a few hours, and in the course of that talk some understanding distilled in me. i was surprised at how insightful he is, but with a very light touch, able to speak truth with humor that is not sarcastic/caustic/destructive, but with a lightness, as if to say, "this is the truth, and look at that falsehood we were distraught over, isn't it silly that we believed in that?" like it's ok to laugh at your imperfections. exactly what i needed to hear. he asks great questions, too! not to sell him short, but before i talked to him i didn't really understand why jessika was with him. he's a nice guy, but he doesn't immediately bring his qualities to the surface. he is a person that you have to sift. but anyway, he called me out on some bullshit, and through our conversation he made me realize how tiny and fearful i was being, and that really, at the core, this is somewhat related to joni, how i am still in love with him, and how i have been hanging onto the pain of that heartbreak because it insulates me from caring too much about anyone else, and therefore keeps me from getting hurt. and even if i do get hurt, i can say, "this is nothing compared to what i feel/felt for joni."
i also get to accept that the connection that came into being between he and i was genuine and real, and irreplaceable, and that i can let go of my insistence of bringing it into the present moment. i can let it be in my past, i can accept that that is over and that he and i will never be together again like i always hoped... i can accept all of those things, and all of my feelings about it, and LET IT GO without in any way invalidating its beauty or worth to me. he will always be with me; i will never lose him. anytime i love someone, a golden thread, like an umbilicus, ties us together as we nourish each other and grow together... and when that umbilicus is severed, it leaves a mark! what we experienced together is ineffable. i am grateful. and i can trust that if God can bring him across my path, and make me capable of opening to someone like i did to him, God can make anything happen. i *CANNOT KNOW* what will be in the future, but i can trust that it will be for the best, and that i will be joyful if not happy. i also gotta remember that the magic was not in joni... what made that connection magical and possible was what it brought out in ME, how I was different because of it. it was because i opened myself, because my desire was so intense that it led me to be fearless, even reckless, that i was willing to transgress any internal or external wall to get to the core of us. and i did. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! it was scary and revelatory and beautiful. like rilke said, "every angel is terrifying."
so i will take these lessons and apply them now as bandages to my more recent cuts, scrapes and wounds. i am quite a tender-heart! my toughness expresses itself in my tenacious edurance of being: not in a forceful protecting of myself, but in my willingness to allow the experience of pain to transform me, without resistance, without attack, and without laying down and being crushed by it. i endure. i remain. that is God in me. He has always, always, from my birth, blessed me with His strength. able to bear the unbearable. able to speak the unspeakable. able to love the unlovable. His power is boundless, and i can be an expression of it, if i will just be humble, just trust, just rest in Him: curl up in His arms like a little one, like the way isaac climbs up into my lap and squirms around until he gets comfortable, and just lets me hold him for awhile, because he just wants to be close. that's all that He asks of me: stay close. let me hold you, let me love you, let me give to you. all this time wasted banging my fists down, screaming for help. so unnecessary. :) but i am learning.