“you look…settled”

“you no longer have the wild look in your eyes”

Let me give context.

The statements above may seem like declarations of complacency or like the life was sucked out of my eyes instead of statements of goodness. Let me just tell you, the people who said those things are ones who have seen me in various seasons of wrestling, grasping for straws, and dancing with fullness of joy. These women have seen me process death, process lost friendships, and what it looks like when I crucify myself for failures. They’ve seen God’s pruning, the fall of my pride, the overflow of my walk in Christ, and how I walk with people in different seasons of my life and theirs. They know the wild that I am capable of and the stark difference between the wild of my worries and the wild of my wonder.

So for them to look at me after a semester like this one – after they’ve seen hours of wrestling, verbal processing, confession prompted only by God himself, and my leadership swing from relational and Christ-centered to over involved and self-sufficient and back again – and declare that I look steady, void of the wild look that took up residence in my eyes for so long, is a total God thing. I’ve felt hectic, wildly unfinished, painted in shades of pride I never knew I was capable of. I’ve hurt people, quenched the Spirit, demanded things that were not mine to demand, and sat drowning in myself. I was a barely contained hurricane, with moments of wild wind whipping from the far ends of jealousy and short moments of stillness found only in the eyes of such storms.

But God didn’t stop beckoning. He didn’t stop inviting me back to this table with Him. He kept dropping hints. He kept protecting me fiercely and kindly stripping me of things that I held tighter to more than his presence. He watched as things made sense knowledgeably and I stumbled blindly in search of Him, begging for more of Him and confessing He wasn’t enough. He stripped me of past lies, beliefs I held of Him, things I thought of self, and exposed my fear of man in stark contrast to the lack of my fear of Him. He whispered goodness to me in moments I crucified myself for failure and brought redemption in areas I had given up in. He continued to provide and bless abundantly and reminded me to abide in Him alone.

Then one morning the dam between head and heart broke and I sat in awe at the invitation He kept slipping into every moment, the invitation of the gospel that was extended to me to stop crucifying myself and come back to Him. Praise fell from my lips that I would have never meant before; praises of conviction, my limited view of God, the lack I still found in my body, and the areas I fell in leadership. The desire for Him to be the one thing I seek after that I so wildly prayed to mean, that I strove after for months, finally sank in. I was content to delight in Him and only Him, to know and be known, overwhelmed by the kindness of being stripped of self. It was a holy moment I became entangled in and did not want to leave. I felt known, sought after, and provided for. Not because of what had been given or what I could gain but because I got to sit with my Father and simply be. Stillness and faith mingled with the remnants of grief and questions and I was overwhelmed.

So when these women asked how I was, I stood still before them with renewed faith. Faith that though my pain, questions, and new normals hadn’t completely settled, the invitation to sit with my King was one I could accept in the middle of it all. I craved to see God rightly, fully, even though my flesh begged to keep dwelling on things of self and pain. I had peace in the mingling of the unresolved and the holy hope promised to me that I could actively partake in. It was nothing short of a work of God, a product of His kindness and long-suffering.

To have ones look at me and declare I looked settled was an act of worship unto the One who had pruned, waited, beckoned, and loved me amidst it all. It was a recognition of God’s handiwork and a testament of what it looks like to behold Him above all.

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