My Natural State

Confession: I’ve written approximately 8 drafts trying to share what I want to share today. One was rather eloquent. One shared a poignant story. One was filled with Bible proof and conclusions. One confused even me. One painted a rather personal portrait. And none of them passed my pray-before-hitting-publish-to-get-the-final-approval test. Not one.

I think I’m trying too hard.

Would you mind if I just share it with you like we were sitting down together in a coffee shop? I just ordered a chai tea latte skim, small, and you ordered something much fancier than that. After some small chit-chat, you lean in, look me square in the eyes and say, “So, tell me what’s on your heart? How are you?”

My shoulders sit back, alarmed at how well you see me (even though it was a fairly basic question for a good friend to ask). Because I can sense your heart and know how you’ll treat mine, I breathe in deep. And tell you everything the rest of this post reveals.

~~~~~~~~~~

Something I read recently will not leave me. It didn’t hit me right away — I didn’t even write it down. I do know it was in Brennan Manning’s book All is Grace. But I’ll have to ask for grace, because I cannot quote it exactly.

What I remember of it is:

Joy is what happens when we let go…
It is indeed our true natural state
and like everything, joy is a gift.

My mind keeps saying “Joy happens…it’s natural…a gift” over and over again.

At first I was trying to figure out what happened. When my normalcy changed. When I began grasping for joy instead of simply receiving it as His gift. After praying about it I now see what step I was skipping over.

Letting go.

You see, friend, I like to think I do this easy. I’m quick to forgive. I don’t harbor ill feelings of anyone. You might remember all that I let go over Easter this year. I honestly thought I was doing good in this area.

I was wrong.

This is where I would take a sip of my steamy chai and try to regain my composure. Pull my thoughts together as you ever so politely ask me to continue with

“What do you think you need to let go of?”

Myself. I’m clinging too tightly to…me. My need to control. The love of my family. My ambitions. My dreams. Take your pick, it all boils down to…Me.

I need to come undone.

Now I’d be starting to worry about you becoming uncomfortable. Thinking I expect you to have something to add that could contribute to my solution. That could help me with my uneasy state.

I would reach over the table to touch your arm and say “Aren’t you glad for new mercies?!? What grace, I get to lighten my load! I get to shed more of myself and give more of me to Him! Oh, sure it won’t be easy, but He’s promised to help me. And wouldn’t you know, He’s still giving me joy through it.”

We would then go through our gift lists together. Sharing moments of joy we gave thanks for through the week. Here would be some of mine:

  • Curtains delaying dawn
  • That I’m hopelessly flawed and hopelessly forgiven
  • Great garage sale finds
  • “Heroes don’t always make the best parents” ~ Brennan Manning so I don’t have to be one
  • God never tempts us (James 1:12-18)
  • Playing scrabble with my hubby
  • My sin shows God’s righteousness (Rom 3:5)
  • The gift of joy and that it is intended to be our natural state

How about you? Can you help me finish the conversation? What moments of gratitude have you had this week? How do you let it all go? I’d love to hear.

Thanks for sharing your time with me. I’ve loved our date.

Simply striving,

Nikki

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33 thoughts on “My Natural State

  1. oh, darling. i WOULD have actually wanted to hear this in person, in the way you just described. but then? then i would take you outside. and i’d make you race me down the street. i’d have you race my mama, non athletic self, i will be wearing flip-flops {because i always do} so i’ll cry that you have an unfair advantage. BUT my yoga pants that i always wear will be redeemed by seeing ACTUAL physical activity 🙂 i will push you until we both fall down of laughter until all of the striving falls way to just, “being”…. you see, i am this tightly strict, perfectionistic girl – that has learned that i can’t even look the way of rules without feeling bound. I need to stay all the way in grace. it has saved me, and so honestly i tell you has brought me back to myself. This post? just opened up so much for you dear one. i’ll take this road with you. not because i’ve got it all down, but because going with a friend is way better 🙂

    • Oh, girl. How you’ve made my day. Yes, I’ll meet you at that coffee shop. we’ll run free and wild, then do cartwheels down the grassy hill till I see how capable I am of letting go. Thank you, friend. For meeting me here. For encouraging me that I can be so much more if I dive in the deep end of grace. I’m so grateful to you for holding my hand. Thank you.

  2. Dear Nikki, oh, how much I’d love to be across from you now, sharing my thoughts aloud rather than typing them onto a computer . . . but I am grateful for this — your beautiful place here. And I would order a nonfat latte (although right now I have a cup of boring but yummy plan black coffee on the counter next to me). When you ask “what do I need to let go of”, I share your answer: “me”. And it is letting go of all my trying to be someone different from what He has created me to be — but to listen closely, and claiming confidently, the girl He has always known and adored and loved and whom it is His delight for me to more fully see. Lying down lies and picking up truth and holding fast. Choosing things He has given me to love — thing I love to do — and doing them, with Him, (hiking/running, reading, writing, listening to Him, going on adventures) and then being more ready to pour out His love into the things He calls me to that I am less confident about {helping co-lead the children’s ministry component of our upcoming family mission trip to Mexico, making choices towards carving out more time to write, in the fall, even though I am not, right now, sure why} . . . Yes, so much to be grateful for! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful heart, as always.
    Gratefully,
    Jennifer

    • My dear Jennifer, thank you so much for meeting me here today. He knew I needed your words. I see you two steps ahead, but still within reach of holding my hand as I dive deep into grace. As I seek His face to listen intently for what He has in mind for me. And why do I even care what He has in store when I know with every fiber of my being I want it no other way but His way. Thank you for encouraging me here, friend. I might need more, but I know where to find you.
      All for Him,
      Nikki

  3. Oh, my, I read your quote and your post, and God has been telling me, yesterday, in particular, that I need to let go…I don’t even know what to say…your post was like another “See” from God…it would be so lovely if we could have coffee or tea together one day…have been praying for you and am so proud of you for just following Him as you let go and become undone of self, but held together by His love…you know from my e-mail to you, and my posts that I have been undone many times…so it would be my privilege to pray with you and to go on this journey with you, as He reshapes us…last 2 days, I have been undone…hugs and love to you, dear friend 🙂

    • You know full well from my emails that I need you on this journey, friend. Thank you. For encouraging me to keep plunging into grace. God is doing amazing things through you right now. One day, we’ll look back and see how far He’s taken us both. And wonder how we made it this far without letting go…
      So thankful we can do this together! Am praying for you, too, dear one!

  4. There was a lot I needed to read in this post…thank you. The letting go, the second-guessing, I do that all the time. I want to show the rosy, happy side of life and worry that no one wants to hear the rest…but really, reading those kinds of posts make me realize I am not alone.

    Also, I forgive very, very easily. There is one person who hurt our family tremendously…from my mother-in-law to my husband’s aunt and grandma and uncle to my husband and I… I miss them so much lately…but I miss the side of them that didn’t hurt everyone, the side I wanted to believe, not the side I thought I could pray and love and accept enough to make it go away…

    • We are kindred on this one, Theresa. I’m optimistic by nature so it is so hard for me to realize accepting things just as they are isn’t always what He would have of us.
      I believe you have mentioned this one person before. It hurts my heart to hear your whole family has suffered because of the mess. I am so sorry. Thank you for letting me know how I can pray for you.

  5. Nikki, I so wish I could be across from you during this conversation and offer my love, support and prayers and tell you that you are so not alone. I am a very forgiving person, probably too optimistic and I definitely worry and second-guess too much…

    Let’s promise to get together some day and share a cup of tea. I know it would indeed be a wonderful conversation! 🙂

  6. Sweet Nikki. I see the bok has stirred things in you as it did me. I can’t lay it all out here, in this space, this box is too small for my ramblings and reflections… but please know, my inbox, my phone line, there’s more space there, and should you want to have that talk, over chai or a mocha, I’m here. I completely, COMPLETELY hear your heart here. ((hugs))

    PS: you won my Swipe Book giveaway. Your nephew will enjoy the book! 😉
    XO

  7. What a beautiful conversation we are having! I would say, “Hey girl, I just finished reading this book called Holding on Loosely and it describes what you are talking about. Somewhere between the “I’m in control” and “I want to quit” there is a beautiful place to be found by all where we hold on loosely. We hang on to Christ and find that joy and peace, but everything is not in our control. Our intimate relationship with Christ is where our peace lies, not in all the other crazy things we want to do or control.” I love you and your heart!

  8. I have underlined nearly half of every Brennan Manning book I ever read. They always strike me down, stun me, move me. I like this, “I get to shed more of myself and give more of me to Him!” Just beautiful! I wish I could sit with you and drink a double shot espresso and chat:)

    • Would you believe I have only recently discovered Manning and am soaking it all in…the library cannot keep up with me! and yes. I am coming undone… Double shot espresso, I’ll remember that, friend : ) Thanks for stopping by and sharing with me, Christina.

  9. Hi Nikki,
    So here’s the thing about your post today, as I’m reading I find myself getting comfy in my chair and taking a sigh of relief. I have to compose myself because I just want to shout, God’s grace has kept ME!
    This week I found myself struggling because something about a decision I had made was wrong but I couldn’t figure it out. That gnawing feeling that I missed the mark wouldn’t go away. Then, in His gentle voice God reminded me that I had made a decision which didn’t include Him. My struggle led me to the discovery that God was missing. But, in a demonstration of true Grace He didn’t beat me, He gave me a chance to make some changes and invite Him back in. What a merciful, loving Abba Father we serve. Grace gives me the chance to see when something, or in this case, Someone is missing. Oh that He would keep me from forgetting to seek Him first. I think you’ve inspired another blog post.

    Be blessed today!

    • Oh Diana,
      I’m so thankful you shared this with me. thank you!
      Thank the Lord for that gnawing feeling the Holy Spirit provides so we can regain our focus.
      God’s grace has kept ME….I love that.
      So blessed by your words here, Diana, Thank you!!!
      (looking forward to reading that post)

      All for Him,
      Nikki

  10. I have to strip off me every day to see Him clearly. Sometimes I can’t get past the first button and it ends in frustrating tears. I want to be free, but some days I just need someone to show me what that looks like.

  11. Nikki, you are such a beautiful person with a beautiful heart! Reading your prayer for me and my family is one thing that I am grateful for and having to call you friend even if we haven’t met is another. I so wished that I was the one person you are having a talked with over coffeee? Blessings to you friend!

  12. Nikki…oh I would love to sit and share our hearts together…I will say…age just helps with the letting go…not that I have arrived…but as the years go on…I see God’s vastness …His love …and when that becomes larger than life…we can release more and more into His hands…it is all a journey…each time we let go…we grow…and little by little we become more free…I use to dread the thought of getting older…but with the freedom I have begun to taste…I think 70’s are looking better…blessings as He continue to take you by the hand and lead you deeper into His heart of Love~

    • It’s funny, Ro…the older I get the more I realize I have to let go of. and I wonder: when did I pick that up and start clinging to it, anyway? Grateful for the time He gives me to seek Him. Discover more of Him. Give myself fully to Him.

      Always love your encouragement, friend. Thank you for stopping by today!

  13. coming undone to be the you God created, yes? Your post reminded me of a most excellent book by emily freeman “grace for the good girl”. For those of us who strive in order to be loved, instead of just receiving God’s love.

    also, your opening resonated with me. I wrote two posts yesterday, both still drafts and both almost entirely from the head instead of the heart. As I fell asleep last night, I realized that there was nothing of “me” in it, and so now I’ll have to go back and rewrite them …. so thank you for sharing that you pray before posting. So often, I just post. 🙂

    • Yes, that is exactly right–becoming the one God has created me to be. So glad you saw my heart, Leanne!
      And I have been on the waiting list at the library for that book — cannot wait to get my hands on it.

      I know exactly what you mean. Right now I have 46 un-deleted drafts that most likely will never see the light of day. Sometimes, I need to write something for just God and I. Sometimes, I write things neglecting Him and am blessed to be reminded. And sometimes, He shows me I am not quite there yet. Praying before I post helps me keep my eyes focused. Trust you gain the same result!

      So thrilled you stopped by today. It was a delight to “meet you”!

      All for Him,
      Nikki

  14. Thank you for this lovely and heartfelt reminder. I have a hard time letting go, too. I think it’s difficult for so many of us who were raised to be strong, independent women….letting go seems to go against all that we were raised to believe, but what we have to learn is that the real strength is in the letting go. Christians are the most joyous people I know…because their joy doesn’t come from anything in this world.

    Have a blessed week!

    • Oh, Stacy, I couldn’t have said this better. I feel like standing up and applauding your words here. So true! Our joy is out of this world!
      So thrilled you stopped by today. Thank you!

      All for Him,
      Nikki

  15. Loved your honest post Nikki.
    I can very much identify with the”trying too hard” when it comes to posting something significant. And control…yes…control. For me control is steeped deep in my need for over-achieving perfection. What a sweet and radical word of encouragement in your “aren’t you glad for new mercies”. It’s a amazing fact that my Creator made me with this over-achieving and controlling brain, and He knows that I am will FOREVER be that way. And so if I let Him, He will be FOREVER blessing me with His gifts of mercies and as helps me let go and trust. And that makes me more like Christ and that give me joy. So mind blowing (and hard) but the good hard.
    I am officially a fan of simplystriving.
    Cheers,
    Leah
    PS
    I popped in from a holy experience, but did not link up, just reading

    • I’m so thrilled you stopped by, Leah. So happy to “meet you” and gleam words of wisdom from you! You and I sound kindred on this one. The need for control, over-achieving… And you’re right. He gave us this for a purpose. Striving to utilize it. To give it back to Him so He can use it for His glory through me. And reminding myself I don’t need to know what that looks like. I just need to trust. and believe He’s got this under control better than I ever could.

      Thank you for warming my heart today! Hope to see you again soon.
      All for Him,
      Nikki

  16. Pingback: His Waiting Room « simplystriving

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