142016_AmberHaines_LoveIsOnlyGoal

For Christmas my husband gave me a beautiful green pen. It’s heavy and glides ink like silk on skin. He bought me stationery, too, thick paper with envelopes lined and Italian hand-crafted. It’s all I can do to not write everyone I know a letter. Thankfully, a dear friend in a lonely place needs to hear from folks, so I get to scribble my heart out to her.

I’ve written two letters in two weeks after months (even a year) of feeling overexposed because of writing. Vulnerability has always been a strength of mine, but writing my memoir made me feel scared because of how much I had to pour out. It was more pouring out than I would have dreamed. I’m not as quick to write anymore for fear of drying up.

Somehow letter-writing opened something in me and protected me from the fear, because my expectations for myself were simply that I show my friend that I love her. Both times I began to write not knowing what would come of my words beyond the greeting and mention of the weather. Then a part of my heart came through, and because I’m a writer, my words weren’t a ministry only to my friend. They were a ministry to me. This, I believe, is a gorgeous part of being a follower of Christ. Our gifts are for the world and the church, and our gifts are also the Spirit within us ministering to our own souls. It’s the paradox of becoming full as we pour out.

If love is the only goal, then I wonder what can hold us back?

Here at the beginning of the year, I realize just how held back I’ve been, so held back that I feel near paralyzed. As I look ahead and decide the kind of year I want 2016 to be, I first have to figure out what’s keeping me from the LOVE to which I’m called. If I love you, I will pour out and hope for nothing more than to show the love that Christ has to shown me. When I show it to you, I will see it all the more for myself.

I believe I write in the Spirit when I say that we are not meant to withhold.

“If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” {Jeremiah 20:9}

Unforgiveness or fear or unbelief, the things that hold us back, can be sneaky and strong, but the burning in our bones will tell us what’s up. Oh, I’ve been weary, and if I want to be healthy in 2016, I cannot hold it in any longer.

Do you feel the burn? For me, obedience is in the pen. I pick it up. I love. Fear dissolves, and I heal.

What is it for you? What holds you back from LOVE?

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To love is to pour out and hope for nothing more than to show the love that Christ has to shown us. {Tweet this!}

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  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Amber,
    I have learned the paradox that you mentioned…that we become full as we pour out. I love writing notes of love and encouragement…always have. Sometimes what prevents me or slows me up is the enemy getting in there and saying, “Who do you thing YOU are to encourage someone else?” Because he knows darn well I don’t have my act together most days. He accuses me of being an imposter. Even as I share on the (in)courage site he chides me. But, God calls us to be authentic, real, and vulnerable with each other so that His glory will shine through our weaknesses…so I continue on writing. Good food for thought this am.!
    Blessings,
    Bev

    • A

      Hi Amber and Bev! Amber thank you for this posting. It so speaks to my heart, the tender Love of the “One who is Love ” calling to my weary and broken heart. Bev, I have experienced and am experiencing what you are talking about and am grateful for your sharing. It is again the Love being poured out. Thank you both for being vulnerable and open, allowing God to use you to help others be who they were created to be. May the Lord bless and keep you both today and always :)

      • Bev @ Walking Well With God

        Thanks and blessings back to you!! xx

      • http://therunamuck.com amber@therunamuck

        <3

    • http://therunamuck.com amber@therunamuck

      Thank you, Bev!

  • Elizabeth

    What a way to decide to conquer fear… by not conquering at all, but submitting to the mission. Thank you for the inspiration to love more and think less.

    • http://therunamuck.com amber@therunamuck

      Yes, Elizabeth. We’re called more than conquerors, but focusing on how to conquer is actually very defeating. Thank you for encouraging.

    • jenni ho-huan

      she didn’t quite put it that way but it’s so spot on. i was ruminating on Mary…gosh what kind of submission was she ever called to? i wouldn’t like to have a kitten that way – no baby showers, no cozy care, no other women around (unless it was a cow and not a bull)…and then fearing for your son’s life! What madness did God call her to!! I am not Catholic but i think Mary is so powerful for us gals if we care to look at her closely!

  • http://www.buildinglifeslibrary.wordpress.com Amy M

    Oh yes…sometimes the more love we show others, the more we remember it and feel it ourselves. So true! For me, that fear of rejection sometimes holds me back. The world, after all, can be a very unlovely place. Yet God calls us not to hide that light we’ve been given and like you, I just can’t hold it in any longer. Here’s to 2016 being a year to overcome fear!

    • http://therunamuck.com amber@therunamuck

      Amen to that!

  • jenny.marrs

    Oh, Amber. This is exactly what I needed to read this morning. I relate so deeply to what you’ve shared. Thank you for writing, for picking up the pen in obedience. Your pouring out is healing for you and encouraging for all of us who read your words.

  • Rachel Barker Brown

    Exactly what I needed to read/hear/follow through on this 1st Monday Morning of 2016!!!
    Thank you for being obedient….it is great confirmation to my soul…

  • JeanneTakenaka

    Amber, I loved this post. It aligns with the One Word God’s given me to focus on this year. I am one who tends to hold back, to slip into Observer Mode. One thing I believe God is challenging me to do is to live in Presence Mode, being engaged and present with those around me, rather than distanced by my own fear of rejection.

    You add in an additional aspect of the equation: Love. When I am genuinely engaged with others, I can love them with Jesus’ love. I needed this perspective as I begin to unlock all God has for me to learn about my word this year.

    And how beautiful to have a wonderful pen and lovely stationery to write to friends with. Your personal notes will be a blessing to all who receive them!

    • http://therunamuck.com amber@therunamuck

      Oh, Jeanne, you’re singing my song!

  • http://tropichomeandfamily.com/ Holly

    I feel like I need to read this every day! Thank you for your beautiful words.

    • http://therunamuck.com amber@therunamuck

      Thank you, Holly!

  • Nancy Roe

    Girl? I am an old one with lots of wounds. Powerful and liberating vulnerability is yours!!! LOVED your memoir. I so relate to how our writing is gift and healing for us too!! Just beginning to pen, so powerful and compelling in all the good ways!! Love all your amazing words!!

    • http://therunamuck.com amber@therunamuck

      Thank you, Nancy. This means a lot from you.

  • Joanne Peterson

    Amber, I fear seeming to be a know-it-all, or talking too much, or wondering what I have to offer, or the thought, who am I to be speaking like this to them? I struggle to write, and have a hard time keeping my thoughts down to a reasonable length, or have a hard time weeding out so something is shorter and then don’t way it at all. I speak more, and have often wondered if I’ve said the wrong thing. Blessings, Joanne

    • http://allmimsyblog.blogspot.com Jaimee

      Joanne and Amber, So healing to read your words today and feel my soul bared! I’m preparing to teach another Bible study and just last night was battling the “who am I to talk to them like this??” I always go back to the heart: I know deep down my heart’s desire is to please my King, and His grace must be enough to carry my broken self forward. Thank you for beautiful vulnerability.

      • Joanne Peterson

        Jaimee, so amazed my honesty and vulnerability is being used to speak to you. Only God…..grateful for the humble offerings. Blessings to you as you teach and reach to meet the women right where they are and direct them to the beauty and power of Truth. Joanne

      • http://therunamuck.com amber@therunamuck

        Yes yes yes. I so get this.

  • Louise

    Love is my one word for 2016! This has been a real help in my journaling. Thanks Amber!

  • Veronica

    Hi Amber. This resonates with me. I too, love sharing my heart and faith through letter writing. Writing in general is especially healing and your memoir hit home. Sometimes, hurt holds me back from showing love. 2015 was a particularly painful year and my trust in people has see-sawed. Thank you for reminding me in His Spirit that we aren’t meant to withhold. Praying for continued healing and God’s Grace in your life.

  • Rebecca Jones

    Great article, people should write more “real letters”, though I’m thankful I’m getting better with my computer. Thank you that Jeremiah 20:9 verse, I know it’s why I feel like I have so much to say about Jesus. Maybe, we will all silence that accuser and his, who you you think you are, and you think you’re so smart, remarks. We are smart enough not to listen to him, and we know who we are in Christ. Who does he think he is? And it wasn’t smart to try and overthrow God. Keep it up ladies, minister to whomever you can, how ever you can, Jesus is our confidence!

    • http://therunamuck.com amber@therunamuck

      Yes He is.

  • Tami

    I loved this part: “They were a ministry to me. This, I believe, is a gorgeous part of being
    a follower of Christ. Our gifts are for the world and the church, and
    our gifts are also the Spirit within us ministering to our own souls.
    It’s the paradox of becoming full as we pour out.” I think that tiredness puts me into a cycle of not getting around to doing the things that vitalize me, then I feel even more tired, and the cycle goes on!

    • http://therunamuck.com amber@therunamuck

      This mama of four boys is shaking her head all wild at your tiredness comment. It’s a cycle, and it takes faith to step out of it for sure.

  • http://livingcenter.me/ Nancy Wolfe @ livingcenter.me

    I always thought I knew what I would write about … and that I would be the one in control. That was before I let myself write about the real – not just the hoped for. And I’ve found that the only thing I know for absolutely, positively sure about writing is that it rarely turns out to be what I expected. Which is such a relief. Because by opening up to God’s direction, I’ve felt free to love and tell and be honest. Thank you, fellow writers, for being wonderful models of love and hope.xoxox

  • Inspired Life

    Sweet Amber,
    I too withheld in my writing this year. Unless my story was “complete” and had a perfect opening body and close, I didn’t want to share it. But God has exposed me and has challenged me to share the story right in the heart of it, right downtown main street pain and agony of it. So I’m determined to obey him and not withhold the “going through” process. I celebrate us as we surrender to loving freely.

  • http://www.christanperona.com Christan Perona

    Oh, this is beautiful, and so many of us can relate. Thank you for making Scripture so relevant and so TODAY, Amber. You ask what holds us back from loving? I am frozen and paralyzed sometimes as I imagine how I could fail in a relationship… how I could unintentionally hurt a new friend by not being “enough”. Thank you for this challenge to love others well… to heal as a result of being others-centered. What a great way to start of the new year.

  • jenni ho-huan

    am going to steal the bit “a gorgeous part of being a follower of Christ. Our gifts are for the world and the church, and our gifts are also the Spirit within us ministering to our own souls. It’s the paradox of becoming full as we pour out” which i too have been feeling is so so real! Only God can do it, his generous open-handed way! Thank you for this post! Have a great-love year!

  • Beth Williams

    Amber,
    2015 was a tough year for me! I feel somewhat drained and weary. I know it is the evil one that so easily slips in and tries to destroy us. Need a time of refreshment for God to fill me back up so I can pour out His love on this others!
    Blessings :)