I have trouble spelling Brenna's last name, but that's okay, because on Twitter she goes by Brenna D anyway. And, it feels right to think of her on a first name basis, even though we have never met in person. I think most people feel that way about her. Her presence is a warm and encouraging gift to many. I hope her words are a gift to you today.
I've spoken before, about these Psalms, about my heart clamoring alongside David's very heart. I have felt it coming from all sides and cried out to my God, praying for deliverance, asking for help. I look back on my Bible and I can see tear stains next to some of these Psalms, the ones that I would read aloud over and over as my prayer to God when my own words failed me.
But today. Today I read this Psalm, a Psalm of deliverance and praise.
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises! Awake, my glory! Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to You among the nations. For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens And Your truth to the clouds. Be exalted above the heavens, O God! Let Your glory be above all the earth.
Psalm 57:7-11, NASB
How did I miss that? How have I never noticed the words of praise that came from David's lips? These are words that have filled the songs we sing at church. These phrases and word combinations are ingrained in me and as I read them I can hear the melodies that accompany them. And yet, in my fear, in my longing, in my desperation the only words I saw were his words of supplication.
I think that sums up the past few years of my life. It's a horrid thing to admit and I feel exposed as I share the raw and tattered bits of my heart. But it's a true thing and I have to believe that I am not the only one. Is it a universal, or perhaps at least a Westernized, feeling to be so wrapped up in our pain, in our hurt, in our disappointments, that we can't see past them?
I don’t think I’m alone.
This past weekend I went on a writing retreat with some amazing people. As I drove the two and a half hours to a cabin in Michigan, I was alone with my thoughts. I recalled the events and the feelings which had shaped me and made me who I was at that moment - tired, fearful, cynical, and entirely not myself. My empty car suddenly felt very full.
We sat that first night in a circle, and wrote on post-it notes two words that described us at that moment. I held back tears as I scribbled out in black ink the truth on a blue, sticky square. Moments later I held an orange square and we were asked to write two words that we wanted to describe us. The words came from a part of me I don't even like to go to, because hope has become a liability. But I wrote them out, feeling miles away from them.
The next day I took a walk. I walked outside and even though the air was cool, the sun shined bright on me, casting shadows through the leaves of the trees that covered me as I walked down paths, finding my way to the lake that was somewhere hidden behind the cabins. I followed the well worn path and came to a V in the road. I chuckled to myself as I heard the words of Robert Frost echo in the great expanse.
It was a moment of realization. Perhaps it was the fresh air. Maybe the shining sun. The dirt road underneath my feet? Or maybe it was a heart that was open to hearing the Spirit. But I knew that I had two choices. I could continue on as I have been, and I would spend my days crying out for deliverance. Or, I could live a life of praise, even when the circumstances around me whisper to me that things will never change.
I know it would be foolish to imagine I live in a utopian dream world where I will never have struggles, never want to shake God and ask Him why. And that’s not what I am choosing. I am simply making a decision to praise, even after I yell to the heavens. To praise, after I cry, crumpled on the floor. To sing His goodness, even in the midst of my pain.
Brenna is a city-living, tender-hearted wife and mama to three little girls who encourage her daily to seek out the beauty in life. She loves travel, Diet Coke, homemade bread, and Indian food. There is always something cooking in her oven so stop on by. You will most likely find her either shuffling her girls off to an activity or cuddling with her family at home. She blogs about brokenness and redemption at Beautiful Things and you can find her on Twitter and Facebook too.
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