Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Out There

Our discussion has been on my mind all the livelong day.

Thank you so much for thoughtfully, honestly weighing in. Thanks for holding a frame up to so much of what's in my heart.

Here's where I've landed: Going is sacrifice. It's surrender. Beyond that, it's anything He wants it to be.

When we go, we are letting go of our plan, our idea, our money, or our time. We're pulled from comfort into the unknown.

Today I talked with a friend who moved from the city to the country. I talked with a friend who began leading a small group of girls from her church. I talked with a friend who adopted a child.

They're all going.

Going hinges on faith. Faith grows when we find ourselves exposed and see that we're covered. Exposure comes from putting ourselves out there (and there's no such thing as small exposure.)

Last year I was hunkered down in our rental house, waiting. I didn't understand the quiet. I didn't want it. Like many of you mentioned, God was busy making room in my heart for this season. Going meant searching and learning. I read a ton of books and had dreams and nightmares about what might happen next.

But there had to be more. Not because I felt guilty. Not because I wanted some good works to brag about.

I hear you loud and clear about waiting and tides and seasons and all of that. I'm right there with you. What I can't see past is that we're commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. We're commanded to care for the poor, the orphans, the widows, the hungry, the lonely, the sick, the sad.

So maybe our season is a quiet one, but our hearts should be His, and He didn't live with the shades drawn, brewing tea for one in his pajama pants. He never checked out of the world around Him. He didn't take a sabbatical from people.

I can't even imagine what it would look like to love other people as much as I love myself, my husband, my littles. I'm no good at it. I'm not.

Left to my own devices, I'd pick up a blanket and a book and call it a day.

Left to my own devices, I'd budget our money and keep as much for myself as possible. I would schedule my time around me and my little family and call it "putting them first", even though that's not what was asked of me.

Left to my own devices, I wouldn't bother myself with complicated tragedies like 3rd world hunger or 10 year-olds abandoned by their Mamas because it's the only possible hope for survival.

I hope you already knew this, but my instincts about how to live life are often not biblical or noble or anything other than selfish.

The nagging burn for surrender grows. I fight it. And fight it.

God proves more tenacious than I, and slow as molasses, He shows me glimpses of the world He sees. He compels me to care more about them, about you, about anyone other than myself.

Of course He wants rest for me. He wants joy for me. I daresay He wants salsa for me. But He also wants me to know the beauty of redemption and the simple relief of carrying something around other than myself. That's how much He loves me.

So when I'm in a fleeting season of peace, I'd better find someone to love. Because the world is bleeding for just a little of what I've got. A little of what you've got.

We have to take it out there.


  1. Loving this. Thank you for words of strength.

  2. Amen to going out. And salsa.

  3. I identify with the 'nagging burn for surrender' you mentioned. I also identify with fighting that burn. It's interesting really, that a person can have such a desire for something yet put up such a fight against it. I guess that throws into the light our two natures: the human nature--the sin that we are all born into and the Christ-likeness that the Holy Spirit is continuously ushering us towards.

    You're not alone! Your listening, striving, writing, and going inspires me. Also I'm quite sure that He wants salsa for you just as much as He wants peppermint patties for me! =)

    1. RIGHT!!!!! It drives me crazy how much I WANT to surrender but how hard it is!

  4. I needed to hear it tonight, this moment...the part about being no good at it. Struggling through the strains of foster parenting and I hear the whisper rattling my brain..."I'm just no good at this. I'm not." And I've copped out before from His work for me with just that phrase. You reminded me tonight that 'not good at it' might be true but it's the bridge for transformation, not the catalyst for comfort. Thank you for these specific words, friend, and for all your wisdom and the way it all breathes Jesus.

  5. instinctual is what it becomes. so true. when we're in the midst of the grit and smell and sheer heartbreak of it, we become more intimately acquainted with Him...and like brennan manning (ragamuffin gospel+)says, not only does He love us, He really likes us. folks around us, they know we as believers are commanded to love. but, when we love them and really like them? in the middle of all the mess? then, we are all transformed.

    i have "abba" tattooed on my foot...when i start to wonder about this mess of a world, i look down and i'm reminded of who i belong to.

    He gets us <3

  6. Ah! So good. So very good. These are perfect companion thoughts to go with the scripture I read this morning--Isaiah 58. It's instinct for me to think I should be doing more. More of the tangible. Cooking food for the homeless, money for the poor, gifts for the underpriviledged. But it isn't so much what I am doing, is it? It's why I'm doing...and WHO is leading me. It MIGHT be adopting a child or it might be helping tie a shoe. It MIGHT be giving all my goods to the poor or it might be helping the mom with the three little children in the grocery store. It's His will, His way--ALL the time.

  7. This 31 Days required courage to trust that He'd see you through. And He is. What you're writing here is so important. So necessary to seeing His heart even more. It takes a willingness to go wherever He wants us to go. This post reached me. It made me want to stand up and shout, YES! I'm trusting that God is using my today's to lead me to the tomorrow that He's impressed upon my heart. Honestly, I think my groom is sometimes behind the eight-ball on this and I ask why he isn't there with me on adoption. But, He wants me to love my groom well. And trust Him in this. Today is a part of that plan. (so much to think about here, friend.)

  8. Thank you Shannen for writing what God is speaking. I'm taking it in and beginning to grasp all this. He's faithful to complete His work in us. I don't want to stay where I've been, I want to know Him more and be a true follower. I'll read this one a few more times.

  9. Amen. Thanking Jesus today that He still doesn't take sabbaticals from people. (And I'm not saying He couldn't use a break from me. I could use a break from me...)

    I love where you're taking us. I mean, I'd kind of rather hole up in this house and wait for Heaven, but this going is right. Hard but right. For our joy to really be full, we've got to love one another.

    Peace, Love, and Salsa, FPFG.

  10. Thank you. Your words break me open every time. Never doubt that your words are specifically what someone needs to hear. My story nearly mirrors yours. God moved me where I swore I would never go and I crumbled. He is slowly putting me back together and showing me why I'm here. There are teen girls coming into my life through my daughter. (Maybe she is the one that God really moved?) They walk across my heart when they tell me little by little about their lives at home. Most days I don't know if I'm up to loving them, but a wise person once told me that where He leads, He feeds. And so I surrender....

  11. Okay you sold me. While not nearly as important or life altering, I will take it out there: Blogher 2013. Would you consider being my roommate if you are planning on attending? I'm sorry I sound like such a creep.

    1. You're my kind of creepy! Ha. I don't plan to attend Blogher '13...but if that changes, you'll be the first to know. :)

  12. stop it.....(hands over ears)lalalala....my sin self doesn't want to hear this......keep pushing (my heart whispers)....this child of God needs to hear this.

  13. I am with you on this post. As a recovering Martha, I'm learning a little bit about rest and thought I'd share this perspective.

    Maybe it's the Bethel "indoctrination," not necessarily a bad thing, but there was such an emphasis on the Great Commission, which incidentally begins, "Now go." We are Evangelical after all. I love the Great Commission, and I love the vision of starting local then reaching the ends of the earth with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can see the map and the 10/40 window and what a thrill to imagine a people group going from unreached to reached.

    I deal with a lot of guilt when I'm not BUSY at God's work, whatever that happens to look like. I tend to imagine God with a pie chart looking down at my time spent and urging me to make sure my biggest slice of pie lines up with His. But this is so skewed. And I know that. He doesn't want slices of pie. He wants the whole dang pie. Eat, in thanks to God. Play, to His glory. Give, in Jesus name. Laundry, to show God's cleansing power. Rest, leaning on the everlasting arms.

    Yet Jesus urges us to be like Mary. Sit at His feet, because she had chosen the better thing and it would not be taken away from her. (Even when it's her turn to do the dishes.) Before He fed the 5000+ and then the 4000+, the first thing he had the crowd do was Sit. Down. Sit down, and receive, and be filled. Times of receiving and filling are vital to our doing and going. We will faint on our way if we are not filled before we go. Sometimes I think this is more than just making sure we do our morning devotions. Sometimes this looks like months or more of being still and seeking Him. Seeking to see what He sees and love what He loves. (During that time, we're still be praying for and giving our money to ministries full of folks who are in a season of doing and going, right?)

    Soon it will be our time to go. We can't sit on dining room floor or on grassy hill forever!

    Your time at the Betty Draper house was a long time of sitting and receiving. What a gift from God! And I hear you saying that in this post. But thank God He doesn't leave us resting in the Betty Draper house forever!

    As a military chaplain family who can never put roots down in any ministry that has geographical ties, we have to work at finding that going/resting rhythm. Sometimes we have been thrust right smack dab in the work with no rest and boxes still unpacked and kids going nuts. Other times, we've gotten settled, rolled up our sleeves ready to serve...and then we can't even find a church home that needs/wants our gifts and the leaders of the husband's battalion just don't seem to value their chaplain and won't let him fully serve. But even in those times, like you said, God is compelling us to care more about the people around us, so the going never really stops. But the resting becomes very intentional, and the going just looks different. And I love what one commenter said, that sometimes the going is "going deeper." Oh, yes.

    Love your heart, Shannan! And I pray for filling and rest for you and your precious family as you go, go, go! xoxo

    1. Yes, yes, yes. I hear you.

      What's funny to me is that I did not walk away from BC giving a single hoot about the Great Commission. Not for their lack of trying, but I was obviously in a more self-centered phase in life than you were back then. :) Despite being taught and taught and taught, it never sunk in for me until a couple of years ago that we are commanded to do actual stuff. Not just say we care. Not just pray. Not just close our eyes to it and focus inward.

      So I think we're looking at this in the same way, but maybe from a slightly different angle? I'm a recovering Mary. Haha. :)

      Love you, J!

  14. This is so good and spot on. Thanks for sppeaking the truth. We all need to hear it.

  15. I'm here and reading each brave and honest post. I'm challenged and inspired and thinking more about all of this than ever before. Over the summer I read Generous Justice by Tim Keller...I've been unraveling ever since, thinking a lot about what this looks like here in our locale, for our little family.

  16. You know the waiting is often what shreds us up and takes away the faith in going. You are a brave girl.



  17. This has my insides all tangled up today. So, thanks. :)

  18. thanks for being so open and honest. it's inspiring!

  19. Thank you so much for your obedience and insight. I am, right now, in the midst of learning to GO for the first time. I need the reminder that it isn't meant to be comfortable, but that it is meant for His will to be done. God is grabbing my heart for the lost and hopeless, some of them in my own family, as well as the hungry (literally). I am scared, I've never allowed God to truly lead my steps in this way before. But I can't just sit idly by anymore and NOT do what He wants.

    So, thank you for your encouragment and wonderful words. I am still scared, but I know that He will be with me when I am following His lead.

  20. I read this verse yesterday and I felt like it fit with what you wrote. :)

    Matthew 11:28 MSG (http://bible.us/Matt11.28.MSG)

    "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

  21. Amen!! A powerful post and reminder! Thank you for your honesty and sharing- you have a gift of putting into words what so many of us feel in our hearts :)

  22. I just want you to know how much this series has been speaking directly to my heart. God does have us where He wants us and sometimes He has to kick us to get us back on His righteous path. While I never imagined divorce to be the kick that He'd use, somehow I find myself in the midst of one...but also recognizing that it's God taking me back into His fold and planning to use me for His intended purposes. Who thought that He might use something that seems so negative to hopefully realign for good--definitely not I. So now I find myself in a holding pattern, seeking, exploring, wondering just in which direction He will lead me...and hoping that wherever and whatever it is, I hear Him intently. Thank you for your realness, your honesty, your journey...and for encouraging routinely my very soul.

  23. ay yi yi.
    you had me at the drawn shades, tea and pj pants.
    ripping through my selfish heart.

  24. There is a book you MUST read. It's called "Pray and Watch" by husband and wife co-authors with the last name Brower (or is it Brauer?). It completely and totally changed who I am when it comes to Real Life and changing the lives around me. Liberating, eye-opening, humbling and heart-changing, it's a can-opener for the soul and I'll never evangelize the same. Although, it's funny because it's not an evangelism book. It's a viewpoint that is mysteriously all over the Bible, but I've never seen a book construct the concept the way they have. They self-published, I think. It might be on Amazon now. Google it. Buy it. Read it. You'll see everything differently and never be the same! Your TownKids will be blessed and you'll be amazed at how quickly things start happening.
    Hope you get it!

    1. Thanks for the rec! I Googled it and had trouble finding it..

  25. I found your blog today - I have enjoyed every word. It has inspired me and confirmed so much in my heart.

    I could have written this post myself! Well, no actually I couldn't have. Because I have a HARD time putting what is in my heart in print. So, thank you! Thank you for writing, thank you for your obedience and inspiration :)

  26. Oh my gosh Shannen! I know that I've said this to you before, but you inspire me to be the person that I know I should be. God bless you and please keep on being you. :) xoxo

  27. i don't know what to say....but i am crying. does that mean anything?
    basically i feel a confused mess and the silence is where i am.
    wishing for unsilence.
    but knowing i am not ready for it yet.

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