Wednesday, July 3, 2019

worship


My ­black long-sleeved, long-panted bodysuit leotard encapsulated my bony six-year-old legs as I seemed to be the encapsulated essence of motion. I couldn’t stop. And I sure didn’t want to.

Two things captured my heart as a child. Okay, maybe four. 1) Penning tiny cursive e’s onto any scrap of paper I could find. I told my mom I was writing books, of course 2) Any sound of “worship Jesus” music. It could be the swell of the bongos and acoustic guitar at the light-dirt colored brick church or the sound-waved vibration spewing from the pink Hello Kitty CD player my sister and I maintained joint-custody over 3) My mom. The bond is special, ya know. 4) Chocolate milk, drank with a straw, blown into to make a cup-internal avalanche of bubbles.

My young heart truly had a lot in its life to love. And my affectionate passion for worship didn’t stop in my heart but compelled my feet to dance.

I look back, now, ay the home videos my parents recorded during those worship compelled motion days. It amazes me. Little Deborah’s feet would twirl for hours to songs like Joy William’s “Falling on my Knees.”

Hungry I come to You, for I know You satisfy // I am empty, but I know Your love does not run dry // So I wait, for You // So I wait, for You // I’m falling on my knees // Offering all of me // Jesus, You’re all this heart is living for

With time, worship remained a thread, but its strong part in the OG four-strand chord became buried. Just as my consumption of dairy-filled dark milk subsided, so did some of music’s passionate pull towards me. I decided that response to worship should no longer involve pink glittery headbands, leotards, and dramatic living room knee-falling reenactments. And I was probably right about that. But worship is more than just the posture of our feet and arms.

My mom fueled another thread-addition: the Bible. She’d have her brown-leathered Key Word study Bible, spine down, pages sprawling alongside her faux-suede red and black colored pencil carrier. She’d be studying. Deborah, we need to renew our minds (Romans 12:2). Deborah, we need to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Deborah, only think about what’s pure and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).

My “mind battle”—or “Deborah’s crazy brain” as it later became endearingly referred to—was intense. Imagine an eleven-year-old who would tip-toe down the hard, cold staircase to her parent’s dark-green sleeping space. “Mom, I ate part of this sandwich my friend had already eaten at lunch today, and I know she’s feeling kind of sick, but she really wanted me to try it, and everyone was watching, and I didn’t want to not look cool or to make her feel bad, so I ate it, and now do you think I’m probably going to get sick, because we’re going to Minnesota this week, and I don’t want to be sick because I want to go to the State Fair and don’t want to ruin everyone else’s time, but now I probably will because I just was selfish and did something I shouldn’t have just because I didn’t want to look dumb, do you think maybe I’m going to die?”

Not even kidding. These types of pre-sleep induced frantic feet-motioned descents were bringing me down more than just physically. They were wearing on my mental peace. They were bringing me down into guilt that I’d done everything wrong and would hurt everyone I loved. They were ushering me into hyper-consciousness of everything around me instead of enjoyment of everything around me. They were making it feel as it wasn’t even safe inside myself.

As the years rolled on, I realized that just as chocolate milk had to become a habit that no longer had a home in me, this habit of checking-everything-with-mom couldn’t last. Somehow, I developed more or less of a kill-switch and attention-diverting options to try and get me under control.

My feet had danced to music. My feet had descended to paranoia. My mind and heart were moving towards disconnect.

I was so paranoid in my mind partially because I so wanted, in my heart, to live a life that pleased God. And I just had to check the shallow is-the-door-locked with my mom and the deep here’s-my-sin-oh-no-what-now with her, too. I needed the reassurance that it was all okay. But what wasn’t okay is that I took her answers of “Dad locked the door” and “There’s mercy and grace at the cross” and confined them to the corners of my mind, analyzing her analysis of my analysis, letting the fear-driven heart-pang of not wanting to disappoint God remain ruling, untouched in my heart but touching and coloring much of what I touched.

Eventually this separation of my mind and heart surfaced in other ways. I went from the music-dancing, flag-waving at church child to the cynical college student, more than knee-deep in a theology major, studying each Greek letter like it was vital to survival, internally scoffing at the healing prayers and “Holy Spirit” charismatic corner of the chapel space—even while songs in that same chapel moved even scoffing me to tears and made my feet want to remember their free, heart-engaged dancing days. I learned to live from my head because my heart held fear I didn’t want to acknowledge. I couldn’t trust others with it, clearly, but I also couldn’t trust myself. So headspace. Always. Disconnect the head from the heart.

Fast forward more years, and post-college Deborah is sitting in the therapist’s office. Alyssa’s fiercely kind eyes and incredible strong softness prodded with a gentle firmness. What would it look like if you learned to tap back into some of that deep care again?

My initial response was easy. It would crush me. My crazy brain hadn’t gone away. I’d been a little neglected, sometimes cared for, but generally turned off or turned on to run wild. If I cared, I’d collapse. If I reopened not only my mind but also my heart, I’d teeter back to the precipice of depression where I’d be strapped with all the ways I’m not helping others and the burden that I felt I was being to everyone and myself. I didn’t know how, I wanted to, I didn’t want to, I needed to, I should, I shouldn’t say should, I could, I might, I might not.

The feet that danced. The feet that descended. The head and heart that grew apart. The little girl who wanted to hope again. The hope who wanted the freedom of mature childlikeness once more. The one who wondered frantically wanting to turn back into wondering wonderously.

This is my desire // To follow You // Lord with all my heart, I worship You // All I have within me // I give You praise // And all that I adore // Is in You // Lord, I give you my heart // I give You my soul // I live for You alone // Every step that I take // Every moment I’m awake // Lord, have Your way in me

I started waking up, two hours before work took me, desperate to take myself back to the intentional presence of Jesus. And it didn’t take long. Worship. A space the Lord inhabits is the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3). And maybe it’s the key to reconnect. The words reached my mind, but they seemed to know a secret way to trickle down and sit quietly on near my heart, edging closer and closer with each beat

When I my mind can’t understand fully understand or justify what’s happening in and around me, I can still adore His unchanging goodness.
When my heart doesn’t seem like it can find the love for what and who is in my life, I can praise Him for Himself.
When I falter to reconnect my head and heart, I can trustingly worship Him to faithfully lead me there.

Always.

There is no fear, my heart, in loving the One who loves you beyond what your mind can grasp (Ephesians 3:18-19).
There is pure hope, my heart, in praising the One who can be trusted to lead you into all the places your mind can’t seem to discern to go.
There is a cure, my heart, for the restless brain frantics in worshipping the One who is above all.

And maybe this is the first and greatest step towards obedience. Worshipfully moving towards love again, with all our hearts, souls, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30 – 31). Any maybe one day my feet will remember how to dance.

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I definitely don't want this to be a monologue. What are your thoughts? Questions? Ideas?

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