Monday, July 11, 2011

A Thousand Times Over

We're sitting on a sunny bench by the playground when she tells me a story and I hear something I'm not expecting.  It's not in the words she says, but somehow it's plain as day, this piece of the mystery I've been wrestling with for weeks.

When we shield others from the full weight of who we are, we rob them of the chance to love us.

This fear that runs in my veins, I've been mulling it over since that day across the mountains when I realized where this fear would take me.  And I see it now, how I've spent a whole life believing that it's my job to protect the world from all of me.  From my pain and all the broken places.  From my thoughts and my hopes and all the million things that make me who I am.

Because being a burden to people means they'll get tired of carrying me.  And when they do, they'll leave me on the side of the road for someone else to find.  But I learned it young that maybe I wouldn't have to be left if I just carried all this weight alone.

And I've done a pretty good job of it, these decades of a life.  But people, they leave anyway, and I just keep trying to protect them from the full measure of who I am because I keep hoping it'll be enough this time to put an end to all the leaving.

But there are all these things I didn't know before.  First came the revelation that this fear can only take me to a place I never want to go.  It's the place my great-grandfather ended up and it's the place I've promised I won't go.

And now comes this, a piece of Truth found on a park bench beside a sister who's walked a bit of life with me:  When we shield others from the full weight of who we are, we rob them of the chance to love us.

We rob them.

I rob them.

And it isn't just them I've robbed.  No, it's Him, too.  Because I've been busy shielding a whole world from me, and all the while, it turns out I've just been shielding myself from being loved.

I've been robbing myself of love.

The way down deep kind of love that reaches every part of who I am--that's the love I've been shutting out by protecting the world from the weight of me.  It's the kind of love that pours down a thousand times over from the One Who bore me out of nothing, the One Who carved my name into His Hands.

And all these years of a life, I've been robbing Him of the chance to love me.

I'm stuck on #999, afraid to even pen the next gift for fear that it might be the last.  But suddenly there's no holding me back and I know exactly what I need to write.

1000.  I am loved.

And this is why I started counting 216 days ago, and it's taken me every last one of those days and every last one of those gifts to find what I've been searching for.  But it doesn't end here--not me or Him or all this love I'm in.  Not the counting of His graces, not the throwing off of this fear I've carried too long.

I've already made the promise, but this isn't the kind of thing you say just once and walk away.  No, it's the kind of thing you keep on saying until the words become the living, until you become the woman you were born to be.

So I raise my hands again and I promise Him I'll live out all the days He gives and I'll do everything I can to lay down this fear of being a burden.  Because I refuse to go where this fear wants to take me and I've finally seen this evil for what it really is.  There's no protection here for anyone at all, only the theft of our chance to be loved.

And here's the place I make my stand.  It's taken me long enough to figure it out, but after counting a thousand ways He loves, this I know without any doubt at all:

I am loved by the God Who breathed me into existence.

A thousand times over, I am loved.




Click here for all 1000 gifts I've counted so far...

30 comments:

  1. "A thousand times over, I am loved."

    and the Truth will set you free. no more robbing of anyone. you are loved.

    wonderful praise!

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  2. Thank you. Just *thank you*.

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  3. @ -t-

    Thank you for reading and for celebrating with me. What a joy to live and grow and find God in community. Grace to you...

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  4. @Amanda: You're welcome. May His love find you, too, wherever you are in this crazy life journey. Thank you for reading.

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  5. i wrote my post before i read yours...His love is *such* a precious gift.

    just like this journey i've been able to share with you.

    you made it to 1000, courtney!! one. thousand.

    and i've watched it change you, deepen you, enrich the offering of your writing.

    oh, i love you. so much, dear friend.

    here's to another 1000...? :)

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  6. @Kimberley: Thank you for inspiring me to start this...it *has* changed me and I am so very grateful. Looking forward to celebrating your 1000 soon...and yes! Here's to another 1000, and another after that!

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  7. It's like you just handed me the missing piece too. I've lived most of my life feeling like I had to keep certain parts of me hidden, and never ask for help even when I've desparetely needed it, because I learned at an early age also to carry the weight alone. The constant anxiety and fear of rejection, humiliation, etc. It's no way to live...
    But I think learning a different truth over time is part of our "working out our salvation". Thanks for sharing. Caught the link on Ann's blog!

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  8. Wonderful piece! I'm so thankful Ann V. linked to you today. For the last year I have had considerable, ongoing physical needs due to chronic illness, and this "not robbing others of the chance to love me" has been a struggle and recurring lesson of this season. Thank you for capturing the opportunity and calling so well.

    You ARE loved. May you realize it afresh today.

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  9. I have tears in my eyes. Thank you ever so much for writing this. You have no idea how much I identify. I'm a 20-year-old girl and I needed to read this. Today. Thank you.

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  10. @Jackie: Oh, Sister, I am so glad He is opening your heart to see this truth, that it *isn't* our job to protect the world from who we are. Who we are is beautiful and complicated and oh-so-worthy of love. May you keep pressing in closer to His love, learning to drop the shield and let the weight of who you are *change the world.*

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  11. @tinuviel: And I am so thankful you took the time to click on over and see what God has been doing in me. We are fellow travelers in this journey through chronic illness and I know well the struggle to which you are referring. It is a hard, day-by-day process of learning to accept our limitations and allow those around us to hold us, help us, be with us in our weakness. You are *not* a burden, and you, too, are loved.

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  12. @AnneGirl: Thanking Him for sending you here just when you needed it. Healing is a long road, dear one, but He has been so faithful to me and I am a million miles from where I started. May He hold you close as you learn to let in the love and let out the beauty of who you truly are. Blessings to you.

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  13. Perhaps this is the exact place where i get caught--never move forward to true Freedom in Christ...learned so early on to shoulder it all alone & that i was just too much for everybody. Have been hanging my head in sorrow the past few monts because i just can't ever let anybody in, now, even holding the One who loves me at arms length because I'm so caught up in protecting. Thanks for your sharing:)

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  14. @Anonymous: Oh, Friend...my heart hurts for you because this is a sorrow I have known all my life and I want you to know love. I want you to know that YOU ARE NOT A BURDEN. There isn't any secret to this kind of healing. Just day by day persistence, a constant choosing to let go of the things we learned when we were too young to know how much they'd harm us. Start small. Let someone in a little. And then let them in a little more. Once you've tasted the love that accepts who you are, you'll never stop pushing to heal this broken place. And may our God whisper His love to you over and over until you really do believe it.

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  15. This was sent to me today and as I read it, I thought you were talking straight to me.
    I have hidden myself from Everyone for many years including from God. To get confirmation that no matter what, He does love us, a million times over.

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  16. I am visiting from Ann's. Thank you for this. I made it to 1000 last week and am encouraged by the heart change, the looking it has fostered in my heart for gratefulness.

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  17. such a thrill, you have accepted the gift and opened it, and are now calling it your own! Rejoicing with you. Yes, you are loved, absolutely!

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  18. @Dee: I am starting to see that we who hide ourselves this way are not alone. There are so many of us afraid to let all of who we are into the light, to let others into our deepest places, to share the full weight of ourselves with the world. May He pull you out of the shadows bit by bit, and bathe every part of you in His glorious love.

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  19. @Lynne Hartke: Congratulations on your 1000 gifts! Keep counting...His love will never run out and we can never get enough. Thank you for stopping by to read my heart.

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  20. @Sheilah (aka "Mom"): Thank you for loving me long before I ever knew what love really was. I love you.

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  21. Been the most open & honest I could be my whole life with everyone-- with God the most. All friends have rejected me because they couldn't handle the depths of my mess. God, on the other hand, has not rejected me. There are blessings, graces. But I feel, experience NO love from Him. & I continue on, day by day in my faith & clinging to Him, but many-a-day it just feels ridiculous. Yet did Jesus FEEL the Father's love in the Garden, on the Cross???

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  22. @Anonymous: I don't know your journey and I certainly don't have all the answers. Some days it *does* feel ridiculous, this faith in what we can't see or feel or hear. But this Love of His? It's more than a feeling. Those blessings and graces you've found...they are His love. The not-rejecting you...that is His love. I grieve for your losses in this life and pray that as you seek hard after Him, His love will become more and more real to you.

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  23. You ARE loved, Courtney! :) It took me 2 silent retreats, 8 months in a terrifying place, slipping of my health indicators, and a painful process of shedding pride and plucking up courage to say NO to realise - I am loved. Incredibly. Madly. By a God who refuses to go away. Not because of anything I've done or not, or who I am or not. Beloved beyond belief. I celebrate with you!

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  24. @Lilac butterfly: And I celebrate with you, too! Your journey sounds about right...we all take different paths to healing, but none of them are easy or fast. The Enemy seems to know that this Love is the one thing that changes everything and he's hard at work convincing us this Love will never be ours. But it is. It's always been ours because God loved us from the beginning. Many blessing on you as you continue your journey of healing!

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  25. wow, you pray so beautiful. very good post!

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  26. @tibi: Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I really appreciate your kind words. Grace to you!

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  27. Thank you for this beautiful post!! and for counting to 1000!!
    I am just passed 100 on my list! i am encouraged by your 1000th!! how precious!

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  28. I hopped over here for the first time today from aholyexperience.com. For your post today and the June 14th post, thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I'm so glad I'm not the only one who hides, who fears, and yet knows there is SO MUCH more and how I long to live a life of wild and crazy grace in His love. I will be back to read more another day. May God richly bless you for being real, for being you. ~ samantha

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  29. @Fran: You are welcome! And thank *you* for reading. I'm so glad you've joined all of us on this crazy path of counting the ways He loves. It's a heart-healing, life-giving journey and I'm excited to see how God fills you with Himself in the months ahead.

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  30. @Samantha: So glad you've stopped by! This has been such an unexpected healing, to hear that we who struggle with this fear are many, to know that we are not alone in this fight to love and be loved. I long for it, too--that life of wild crazy grace--for you and for me and for all of us who have hidden and feared for far too long. May we all keep counting His love until our trust in His goodness far exceeds our fears. Grace to you, Friend.

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