Wide space and undivided heart- about the freedom to be yourself.
"Guard your heart with all diligence, for life springs from it." (Proverbs 4:23, Revised Elberfelder Translation)
"And I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will take away the stony heart from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26, Rev. Elberfelder Translation)
"Our letter are you, inscribed in our hearts, known and read by all men;
3 of you it has become evident that you are an epistle of Christ, written out by us in ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of flesh." (2 Corinthians 3:2 ff, rev. Elberfelder translation.)
My dear companions,
I had to smile a little bit when I asked Jesus how best to start this blog. Today this website is finished, for a long time I thought about it, conceived it, dodged it and still kept thinking about how I can bring to Germany what I have been carrying as a vision for so long now.
It is unbelievable on which paths God has led me in the last months, so that I realize how much the message of His love should reach His daughters. And yes, I am nervous, feel that it was easier to share this message with those who live in America. They are much more used to encouraging each other, sharing their hearts, and believing that God is always making Himself known in real ways in our lives. The way they share their hearts, their struggles, and their faith is really uplifting and impressive.
But I live here, as do you. As one of many Christian women in Germany, where constantly looking for the hook is practically part of the "good tone". Don't trust your dreams. Don't trust the painful-sweet call of your heart. Control yourself. Fulfill the status quo. Live up to the demands. Check every source, and remember to be humble! Don't presume anything, get in line. And your pain - smile it away bravely. Why should you be better off than others?
Isn't it so? Oh, I smile. Of course it is, and not saying it doesn't make it better. We are not exactly masters of genuine, unabashed cordiality.
When I came to a leadership school in New Zealand many years ago and spent three and a half months there, I found the constant encouragement and emphasis on beauty -terrible. Automatically, I looked suspiciously at anyone who approached me with an "awesome" or "you are so beautiful!" "There's something rotten in the state of Denmark," I thought slightly ironically with raised eyebrows, "it's all hypocrisy." I want truth. Authenticity. And I am not at all "beautiful" today! If you knew how dark my thoughts are sometimes. How much I fight inside. And besides, you don't even know me!
When I returned after three months, I saw things differently. Completely different. The friendliness that had carried me and enveloped me for a long time gave way again to the distant gray-in-gray of the grumpy inspectors in the Cologne subway. Suddenly they were there again - the distant gradations between community nurse, fleeting acquaintance, friend. Like thick walls, opinions, bravery, standpoints and demarcation enclose our hearts. What we aim at is self-protection. What we avoid, however, is closeness and affection. What we miss is healing and the experience that Jesus' love is real. Not only to us, but also and especially to each other.
"Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it springs life."
The Hebrew word translated as heart is "lab." In Jewish thought, "lab" encompassed everything we would today call the inner man. Our soul life, our attitudes. The way we approach life. Our thinking and feeling. Everything that constitutes us in our innermost being. The Jewish conception of man does not distinguish between individual aspects of the human being. Thinking literally means "pondering in my heart." There is neither a gradation of thoughts in relation to feelings nor an abstract separation into outside and inside, no hostility to the body. What I am, I express in the outside. The hands that work, they also bless. We are souls in a body mortal by the Fall, by the fall of the world. We do not have one soul, we are one soul. And through Jesus we are reconnected to the right spirit, to the Holy Spirit who writes God's commandment on our hearts. Who is God. Actually- we should rejoice, shouldn't we? On top of that, Jesus then packs the prospect of full restoration of everything, including us personally. Says he is coming again. And says he will always be with us until then.
So why doesn't this work, this being happy thing? Openness feels like dancing naked in the marketplace. And when you make yourself vulnerable, you don't have to be surprised when you get hurt. Right?
Above all, guard your heart.
Our heart is the center of our being. When it stops beating, we die. Our heart, our inner being, it makes us live.
When we are hurt, by someone close to us, someone we trust, we feel a blow, a stab in the heart. An arrow of fire from Satan is rammed right into our well-being, we are confused, we feel lost.
Jeremiah writes that the words of God burned like fire in his heart.
Gifts that come from the heart give us a pleasant shiver of joy, of being seen. Words spoken warmly are like a spring of water in the desert. And when we love, our hearts warm.
The problem is: just as often our hearts are broken. Just as often we have heard that what we are is too much or too little. Inside us, deep down, we feel a lack that we think we have to accept. We have to live with our history, says a harsh voice. We have to fight with our weaknesses, to eradicate them. And if we screw up, the accuser is the first to say: "You screwed up all by yourself!
Grace-less. Heartless. Unmerciful.
What would actually be, if...
God would be good?
What would actually be, if...
there were ways to understand ourselves?
What if we were invited to bring all this pain to Jesus, and if He actually liberated?
What if we women were needed, seen, and known?
What if we had the right to gorge ourselves on God's love and were filled to overflowing?
What if God were not distant at all, but close at hand, if the Holy Spirit were always within us, and we were the ones to turn our hearts away? Out of fear, shame, stress or rebellion?
What if you were meant to be exactly who you are, and the target was not another version of you, but a healthily loved one?
These are the questions this blog will explore over the next few weeks. The basis of all these reflections are three books: "Becoming myself" by Stasi Eldredge (German version only Kindle: "Werden, wie du mich siehst", Brunnen Verlag Gießen), Kenneth E. Bailey: "Jesus was not a European", (SCM Verlag 2016) and of course the Bible. But first and foremost, my personal love affair with Jesus and everything else he has to say about it.
Are you with me? Then I am happy. Let's flourish and find community instead of living in invisible prisons that only make you lonely in the end. Because your story matters.
Be protected and blessed,