I am afraid of what I love.
Let me back up and explain that statement. If you asked me what I love I’d tell you, “I love my husband, my kids, this calling to write and the women I write for. And I love the God who has given all of them to me.”
But about a month ago my husband introduced me to the writings of a professor who gave a talk at Biola University that has been picking away at my thoughts. In his talk, Professor James K.A. Smith says, “You are what you love. But you might not love what you think.”
Sit with that for a while.
He goes on to tell a story from a Russian film where the entire plot is focused around a journey to a room. And in that room you will come face to face with what you want. In the room you will achieve your heart’s desire. I immediately started imagining the room. I was excited to go into that room. I imagined how opening the door to that room would fulfill all those broken places in my heart that struggle with being dissatisfied with my life on Thursday afternoons when I’m tired of deadlines and the fact that I can’t seem to quit staying up too late to binge-watch old episodes of Frasier.
But while the main characters in the movie spend the entire plot trying to get to the room, once they’re there, they’re too afraid to go inside. What? What on earth? Why aren’t they shoving each other out of the way to get into that room and get what they want, I wondered to myself.
Why would you spend one second hesitating to open the door to your heart’s greatest desire?
Because, what if it isn’t what you think it will be?
This is the thought that has been haunting my head for the last month.
What if you open the door expecting to see your kids and husband and some kind of living depiction of your faith and instead all you see is a giant television screen, endless supplies of junk food, and not another single living human being that matters to you? (And by “you” I mean “me.”) Because for so long you’ve longed to be left alone, uninterrupted, undisturbed so you can feast on entertainment unbothered by having to take care of someone else.
These are my dark thoughts when I imagine the room.
So you can see why I am scared by what I love. Because what if a lot of my life is consumed by loving the empty things, the things that can’t and won’t love me back?
I know these things about myself – how tired I can get by the endless cycle of being someone’s mother and how many nights I have wished I could escape to a hotel room alone except for a giant TV and room service.
I don’t mean to scare you. Or guilt you.
But I think pausing to consider what might be inside our room is always wise. It’s an opportunity to remind ourselves of what matters. What matters the most.
Because I love downtime and obviously I love TV. But I don’t want them to be the loves that shape me and my story. I want to be radically shaped by something worth opening the door to.
I’ve been reading someone else at the same time. I’ve been reading Beth Moore’s latest Bible study, Entrusted. And in it she reminds us that we’ve been entrusted with something sacred. Something that Paul constantly reminds Timothy. We’ve been entrusted both with the Gospel of Christ as well as with the unique gifting to share it with others.
And while I love a good movie, I’m never more alive than when I’m leaning into the Gospel and letting that unique gifting God has entrusted to me spill over into the lives of the people around me. Into the lives of my tiny humans and the women I serve online. Into the lives of my neighbors who come by at inconvenient times and into the lives of the people in our home group. Into the life of the man I’ve been married to for nearly 20 years and the lives of his family and my family a world away.
The Gospel and the gifting you’ve been given to give it away will always, always interrupt us. It will come knocking at inconvenient times and we will have the choice to ignore it. Too tired or too irritated to open the door and the chance to keep changing what it is we love.
For me, my love is always in tension. My love of self in tension with my love of the Gospel and my desperate love to live up to the gifting God has entrusted me with. Maybe you can relate? Maybe we can encourage each other today. Because sometimes the best way to reshape what we love is to say it out loud.
I’ll go first – I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I’ve been entrusted with the gifting to share it with other women through my ability to laugh at myself and learn out loud through my mistakes – in writing and in person.
Your turn? What unique gifting has God given you to share the Gospel? We’d love if you’d share with us in the comments.Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Oh now you’ve got me thinking about “that room”…the only thing I can put my finger on is that the heart is sinful. It is fallen and deceptive. We like to say, “Trust your heart,” when in reality we need to “trust God’s heart.” I kind of see that room as the sinful, selfish desires of our heart. Much like you, I put myself out there. I do a lot of interacting with people. I pour out love on my family, the kids that we serve through our ministry, to my writing and the women who are touched by it. I pour out a lot and I think, like you, my room might be filled with emptiness because sometimes I do just want to be left alone. I want my down time. I just want to sit and drink my coffee and not be interrupted by anyone or anything. To me that sounds pretty selfish…but I believe that’s the room where my selfish heart dwells – in the “me”.
I do think, however, that God redeems our hearts. He replaces our heart of stone with a heart of flesh and I think that’s the heart we need to seek after…the one who (for me) loves my husband dearly, pours out unselfishly to my kids even though they don’t return in kind, the one who loves seeing children in a part of the world that is terrifying grow in the love of Christ, the one who is in her “zone” when she’s writing and encouraging others. The one that gets excited by digging deeper into God’s Word. I think that’s the door to the room I want to keep opening. As for the one to my selfish heart’s desires…I think I’ll leave that one shut because Christ died so I wouldn’t have to open it.
Be easy on yourself…even Christ got weary and needed to draw away and retreat from the world. That was because, at that point in time, He was human like us. You have a wonderful ministry to your family and to (in)courage and your writing….I know, you’ve touched me with it 🙂
All such interesting thoughts. I struggle with some of the same things. Just wanting some down time of watching a show, surfing the internet, or having a treat. And then comes the endless cycle of guilt. Like why can’t I overcome these habits? My struggle is, though, “what is my unique gifting that God has given me to share the gospel?”
Great thoughts. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you so much. Profound.
Jayne Smith says
I would bet that most people would find that they really want LOVE. Those other things you or I fear might show up are our feeble attempts at locating it. You might say wait a minute, I just wanted some down time from giving, some R&R, binge on selfishness for a bit. If that were the thing you loved most you wouldn’t even be asking yourself any of these questions. Of course we don’t know our inner most longings, that is exactly why God has the Holy Spirit interceding for us. Those groaning of our hearts are known to the only one who matters, our great wonderful loving God.
Now I know the above to be absolutely true with every fiber of my being, but half the time my feelings just get in the way. Right now I’m having the hardest time praying for what is needed in my life. Notice I said needed. Easy to pray for others most of the time,but sometimes I’m just afraid to open the door to opportunities to ……… yep, the unknown. Seek and ye shall find, well we all might be concerned where that would take us on earth, but not to a room of deepest desires, because heaven is there waiting for us.
Praying for your needs today, Jayne. ((hug))
Michele Morin says
I’m aware that God has gifted me and given me a passion for teaching the Bible, and that’s been the way I’ve shared the gospel through the years, but your words also make me want to stay close to the sound of His voice because you’re right — our own hearts surprise us sometimes with what they attach themselves to, and I’d never want to let a gift from God become the thing that separates me from His plan for me.
Oh, Lisa-Jo, funny that this is the topic today, because I was reading in 1 John this morning and one of the verses that glared back at me was: “…If we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.” (1Jn. 4:12, nlt) — “His love is brought to full expression in us.” Isn’t that lovely? I’m still trying to unwind it, figure out the nuances of its meaning, but I love the beauty–the poetry of that phrase. (God is the best writer ever. 🙂 ) — My unique gifting–hmm, God can correct me if I’m wrong (*smile*), but I feel like the compassion and heart for others He’s given me — approachablity, inclusivity, outreaching — seems to me, to be how I’m able to best serve. Mostly through social ministry and writing ministry. — Lovely post, Lisa-Jo, thanks for sharing. (And, I’ll have to try to come back later to read the other responses…interesting question. 🙂 )
Marissa Henley says
This was so thought-provoking and encouraging. Thank you. Lisa-Jo. I suspect that my room would look a lot like yours – room service is definitely one of my favorite things. But I pray God continues to work in me and cause me to love His Gospel even more. I love the unchanging character of the Lord and am gifted to walk alongside women who are suffering and remind them of His promises, in person and through writing.
Missy Robinson says
What a great exercise of envisioning “that room!” I have been uniquely gifted with the gospel to encourage and support others. For years I disregarded this gifting and and strove instead to be the one out front, competed for attention and accolade. But as I’ve matured spiritual and emotionally, I see how the Lord created me for partnership and uses that in just about every aspect and season of my life. Nowadays, I usually embrace my role and have learned healthy boundaries to avoid being taken advantage of for my given gifts (as I was in my younger years). Being satisfied with what the Lord has given is such a great joy!
Wow! Talk about making a girl think!!!
As someone who struggles with a few health things, lots of weight, my head, and I suppose heart, was like….Yes!!! Skinny, no aching knees or complete exhaustion from Hashimotos Thyroid! While that would be great…..I will have that in Heaven!
While I most often am one to quickly respond no matter what I feel like doing, I love my quiet, peaceful, ME time. And God has really blessed me, because the way I am blessed to spread his love is thru the crochet ministry He gave me. I get sit in prayer over someone, kniwn or not, and God uses my hands to create tangible pieces of love. Chemo hats tgat go to cancer patients, prayer shawls to those grieving a loss, baby blankets fir NICU babies, blankets for the Humane Society.
God knew my physical issues, and gave me a gift if prayer and creating beautiful things filled with hugs and prayers. I need to remember this more. And not feel like I am not usable, or doing enough.
Blessings to you.
Sue, that is so beautiful; to hear of His great grace. This is something, a privilege, I share with you. Thank you for using that gift to His glory 🙂
Blessings to you!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
What you are doing is MEANINGFUL! What a wonderful and tender ministry – what you do. You are literally being the hands of Jesus with your knitting. Keep using your gift to glorify him and show compassion to others.
Thank you for your kind words. God us good! Blessings to you.
Anne Capozzi says
Woman encouraging women! Iron sharpening iron, grace all over the place! All of us, in whatever capacity are right in the center of God’s will! This is the body of Christ
Dear Lisa-Jo and (in)courage friends who read the comments,
This comment is not on topic but I pray you’ll have grace for that. Yesterday, we got the news that my cousin’s six month old son has a rare and aggressive form of cancer. This morning as I was praying for them, I realized I wanted to share this with all of you and ask you for your prayers for this sweet baby and his family. Would you please pray for them? As believers themselves, I know that they’re thankful for all the prayers they can get in this unimaginable time. Thank you so much!! I’m so thankful to be a (mostly silent but very blessed) part of the (in)courage community!
Lisa-Jo Baker says
Hi there Allie,
Thanks for trusting us with this tender prayer request. I’m praying for you and your family right now. That the Holy Spirit would be as close to your cousin’s son as his own breath. That doctors would have wisdom and parents would have courage and family would have the words to say to hold them up when they feel like they can’t stand.
So much love to all of you right now
Thank you Lisa-Jo!
Praying Allison… He is right there with you and them 🙂
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Praying for this sweet little one…how good of you to intercede for this little boy…
Blessings and hugs,
Beth Williams says
Sweet Sister! I am praying hard for your cousin’s son! May God surround you all with His loving arms! Praying and working with ACS/Relay for Life to find a cure for all cancer.
Thank you Beth!!
Becky Keife says
Oh, Allie, no words can express the heartbreak of such a diagnosis. I’m so sorry your cousin and her sweet family have to walk this painful journey. Thank you for sharing with your (in)courage sisters. Praying for comfort, wisdom, peace, and healing.
Thank you Becky!!
Positively Alene says
I’ve been doing a lot of processing lately. Through a traumatic head injury, I lost all my hair within 21 days. It brought my life to a halt to reflect and redirect. I love This Room you talk of. I think mine would be filled with what didn’t really matter in the end. But YES this gifting to share the gospel will propel me forward to share Jesus with others. Needed these thoughts to help sort through this processing.
Barbara Higby says
How probing! Thank you for this post – it pushes me to healthy self-examination.
Corena Hall says
Practically speaking Obeying what He asks me to do is oftentimes sacrificial, difficult and bad for my schedule.
But my aha moment, ” it’s all His anyway!” so in grace I learn to obey and my life is never the same.
It all boils down to living in Jesus. Expressing life in love, trusting in Him and sheer obedience.
Sometimes it is to regroup pray and above all else listen.
God is so good always, no matter what! Amen!
Was your “AHA” intentional for the acronym of All His Anyway? I hadn’t heard of AHA that way, I was just wondering.
If it wasn’t before, it is now…for me.
Corena Hall says
love it but it was actually my “aha moment.” I am a CVICU nurse so AHA to me means American Heart Association . But I like yours anyway. Blessings Sarah
Jacque Watkins says
So moved and so thankful for the message of your beautiful words today. Thank you friend.
Jasmine Ryan says
Hi Lisa-Jo! What an insightful question to consider. I particularly relate to how you refer to it as a tension between the love of self and the love of the gospel; I believe this tension of our heartstrings is designed! If we let slack into that string, we will be jolted and hurt when God nudges us. But with tension, we are free to feel His tugs and slowly tightrope walk closer to His heart for us.
For me, like you, that is using words and story to share this radical, life-changing, all-consuming, relentless hope and love that won’t let me go, and helping women to know the God of this love through His word.
This verse comes to mind: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” – Galatians 5:17
Thank you for this post! Smith’s book, “You Are What You Love” is shaping up to be a good read! I’m going through it now. ❤️
I know I need the Lord’s conviction to love Him first, and to see why that’s so much better than anything else.
Thank you so much for sharing Lisa! Really made me think! I would always love for my greatest desire to be Jesus and spending time with Him and being surrounded by loved ones! Blessings always xoxo
Rebecca L Jones says
Oh boy, I though I had it all figured out. I must have only cracked my door, because writing flows easily, and wanting to help people. But God thinks so much higher, all the little dreams He turns into bigger ones. Sorry, Lisa Jo, you may have to give up some television to focus on Him. I hardly ever watched television anymore,when once before all I wanted to do was write was cop shows. I had a better covenant and promise and the reality is reality t.v….isn’t or quality either. The beauty of Jesus gives me better stories to share. Don’t be afraid of your room, it’s just better than you think and the enemy deceives. I read Bev’s comment and I know that verse, but I believe a born again heart full of Jesus will not deceive you and it’s alright to follow it. It’s more the thought process, the mind’s inability to really grasp His goodness, that’s where the attack comes from. So we must stay focused on Him or else, we wander off. He knows we all have things to do and people to care for, but He will help us manage our time.
I don’t know if this might be taken the wrong way (in fact it might even cause More guilt) but I envy you and all the lives of these in courage writers who do have a husband, and kids and people to love and love them. Be glad you have that because some of us don’t. Believe me, sitting alone and watching hours of Netflix and eating junk food can get old reallly fast: especially when you’re single and have TOO much downtime. It’s nice when u can have Both family time and ‘me’ time. Some of us have too much ‘me’ time. (Guilty as charged.) Anyway, it’d be nice to have that full abundant life where you have people who love u and u can pour into them and they can pour it back..I enjoyed your post. Its just hard when I hear people complain about things that other people dream about being able to do. You didn’t but I often seem to hear that as a complaint of women who have families and husband’s to take care of…
Beth Werner Lee says
I’m glad to read all of the comments today. I haven’t been able to do that for a while. Love and prayers as I read.
It’s a good question, to ponder our gifting. I have a friend who told me, “You’re a pretty good writer,” and I know God wants to love others through me. I pray in the morning that God will give me his love for my people today.
I remember a game changer when I was so busy with my little one that the only Bible time I had was when I tucked her into bed. I realized that I did have free moments in my day, I just DIDN’T KNOW WHEN so I didn’t plan for them. Once I realized that I planned to read the Bible and a devotional whenever the peaceful moment came. It was as if God was in charge of giving me time to meet with him. First it was only ten minutes but it grew to a half hour.
It’s a good question to remind us that our best love is God, but a bad one if we sidetrack and try to clean our hearts by ourselves instead of bringing them back to God daily or hourly or moment by moment (kairos time). Scott NcKnight’s book, The King Jesus Gospel gives a great picture of how we can live “under the influence” of the Father as Jesus did. Not that I attain this but my best moments have been thrilling. Trusting Jesus is better than trying to be perfect for him. Go ahead and ask for your daily down time!
Thank you, Lisa Jo, for these thoughts. I copied some of this into my journal – and want to keep it before me. So good – thank you!
Beth Williams says
You are what you love. But you might not love what you think.” AMEN! I, too, have weeks when all I want is to be alone with my thoughts. Life gets crazy with part-time work, caring for elderly parents, church, etc. I see that room only for me it is filled with quiet Christian music, a computer and myself. My unique gifting is encouragement. I send out cards, e-cards, texts, & e-mails letting others know how much they mean to me. Also go to assisted living and try to smile and say hi to the residents.
I don’t think it is selfish to want some alone time. What we do with it is a different story. This fallen world would have us want to watch TV and eat junk food. There have been times when I’ve craved just that. Mostly I just want peace and tranquility. Perhaps time to work on Bible Study, read an email or just be with God.
Shelly Wildman says
Lisa-Jo, thanks for the very challenging thoughts. So good! You HAVE to read James K.A. Smith’s book, You Are What You Love. I read it last year and it has stayed with me for so long. Truly, a life-changing read.