Windows & Critters

The other night I was freezing. I was sitting on my bed wondering why spring suddenly felt like winter. After being stubborn and shivering for a while I eventually went to investigate. What I found was so simple and yet so profound.

One of my 6 windows was open. Only slightly, I’m talking about a slither. I closed the window but I hadn’t closed it properly. I was shocked at the massive difference it made when I completely closed it – it was no longer cold and it felt like spring once again.

This moment which only lasted about 20 seconds in total spoke to me so succinctly.

Its funny how even the tiniest crack in our hearts can invite an icy wind in that surrounds us and makes spring feel like winter. I had left home and left the window to my heart slightly ajar and yet was surprised when something bad seeped in.

To me, the heart operates just like my windows at home. In winter, I close the windows and keep the curtains shut to keep out the cold. I know it’s bad out there, I can feel the cold even when I’m near the window. Spring then comes knocking at the window and I get over excited and I want to open it all up again. It’s great – except for that along with the arrival of spring and summer come the bugs! My old school home doesn’t have screens and I can’t open up the window without letting all the critters in. Even with the screens, I’m sure you’ve experienced waking up and being surprised at all the mosquito bites only to discover the tiniest hole in your fly screen. It doesn’t take much – a tiny slither, a tiny hole – and we invite the cold and the creeps in.

Sometimes guarding our hearts is a bit like a navigating a mine field in that we try and keep everything all locked up tight but are also meant to know which things to open ourselves up to. When winter comes to your heart – close the dang window and close it properly. Don’t let negativity, judgement or fear in. When spring comes again – you gotta get yourself a screen for that window and make sure you repair the damages. It allows you to be open but to filter out all the junk.

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Ready for Love

Last year I decided that I’m ready for love.

That to me, sounds like the craziest/boldest statement I’ve ever made. And if you’re like me, you’re probably thinking.. Ok wow Steff, hold the crazy – tell us what you really think. I’ve never been one to be particularly publicly honest about being single but if you can’t be honest about love on Valentine’s Day, then when can you?

I couldn’t tell you the exact moment when everything changed, but it did, and I’m ready.

I don’t really mean this in the way you might think I do. I’m still not actively looking for a boyfriend, I still battle everyday trying to decide if it’s even worth wearing makeup or doing my hair and I’m actually still really content being single, but something changed, inside, and I think it’s worth talking about.

Having been consistently single (yeah points for consistency right?) for a really long time gives me a certain level of authority to say that everyone’s advice about being single kinda stinks. I know they mean well and to some degree, there’s a level of truth to what they’re saying, but unless you’re actually there, you don’t really know what it’s like to be single in today’s day and age. Just like I don’t know what it’s like to be married and my marriage advice probably rebounds in a very similar way. One of the best and worst pieces of advice floating around for Christian singles is this;

Stop wanting and desiring a boyfriend or girlfriend. As soon as you stop, it’ll happen. As soon as you stop caring, that’s when love arrives. Or something to that effect.

I am totally on board with what I think the heart sentiment behind this advice is, but the notion or the premise of it, is total bullocks. And I don’t mean any offence to anyone who has ever given this advice as I’m pretty sure I’ve dished it out also. It is absolutely so essential to strive to be content with being single but it is also okay to want to eventually be with someone one day. Finding the balance is what is tricky. Telling someone to try and stop the desire for love, but then all of a sudden switch it back on when love arrives is like asking someone to hold their breath indefinitely. It works initially, but eventually your body aches and forces you to take an almighty gasp for air. Your body wasn’t made to do that – It’s unnatural.

But I don’t know, somehow I managed it.

At some point I stopped telling myself I was okay with being single and I actually started believing it. It became a heart thing rather than just a head thing. You can tell yourself something over and over and eventually it does work its way into your brain and things travel smoothly until your brain and your heart start to fight, and that’s when it’s critical that you’ve made a heart decision and not just a head one. I actually truly believed deep down, that I was content on my own. I actually was, I actually am.

That was until recently.

I actually don’t think anything drastic has happened externally. I still don’t feel like it’s worth doing my hair, I still don’t really notice new “hot” guys, I’m still rocking up to coffee solo and enjoying the crazy freedom that comes with being your own person but something internally shifted.

It was like a couple of years ago God came and flipped a switch. I was struggling, trying to force down those emotions because I knew if I wanted a boyfriend, I had to stop wanting a boyfriend and I couldn’t make sense of it, let alone actually do it. It was unnatural. I felt a certain way and I couldn’t seem to stop feeling that way. Eventually God came and did what I naturally couldn’t.

I know my heart needed work. It was a mighty mess of tangles and knots inside and sometimes God, as chief architect of my life, makes an executive decision to shut off the power while critical maintenance occurs. I now know the risk was probably too great for me to be “emotionally active” while repairs were made. Perhaps in this instance, God is more like a Project Manager than an architect. I like the idea of God being an architect because it sounds more beautiful to me, and sometimes it’s like that, but often it’s just messy and hard work. That’s life.

The amazing thing is that now that God has flipped the switch back on – I feel, just right. I don’t feel the striving or the turbulence of being ruled by my emotions anymore but I’m also acutely aware that if the right thing presented itself, that I’d be ready. As ready as I could be. That’s a scary and ultimately beautiful place to stand with God in.

So what does all this honesty mean to you?

Well I’m just hoping that if you’re single like me on Valentine’s Day, that maybe you’ll decide to do a little heart check/heart maintenance. If you find yourself a little sad on Valentine’s Day, spend a bit of time praying and thanking God for this season that you’re in, asking Him to give you wisdom and insight about yourself that you wouldn’t normally notice. If you’re exceptionally sad this Valentine’s Day, take that as a blinking warning light on your heart. It might be time to let God take the reins and get inside and do some repair work.

Don’t be afraid of pain. God has it all monitored and he knows what you can and can’t work through – he knows when it’s time to cut the power and work out the kinks. Trust me, He knows your heart best. Trust Him, he knows you best.

Home

I always thought that as you get older, your passion for things would wane. I thought that as a late teenager my passion for travel, for new things would never be stronger, so it always striked me as odd that the desire was never that strong. I was shocked to find that as I got older, my passion for new and different places actually grew. I wanted to explore, to see more, do more. This passion hasn’t led me very far across the globe yet but I find myself very drawn to the road and to airports. Something that leads you somewhere. Places that take you places.

Despite my urge for adventure, I flew into Brisbane last night after a trip away and felt a very distinct and yet surprising feeling.

Home.

Brisbane, feels like home. Home is most definitely a feeling, an emotion. I felt home as I walked through the terminal. I felt home as the rain fell on my face and I was picked up. I felt home as I slid into my bed and closed my eyes after a wonderful weekend. Despite my craving for something else, this felt like home.

I think sometimes we mistake familiarity for home and I think that is a mistake. It’s easy enough to do, familiarity often means safety and we often feel safe when we are at home. It’s easier to collect my baggage at the Brisbane airport because I’ve done it 30 times before. It’s easier to drive to my house because I know the streets, I know the way. It’s easier to fall asleep in your own bed because you do that every night. But I don’t think familiarity and home are the same.

Familiarity breeds contempt, laziness and the safety of it all can keep you bound up and driving around and around the same life you weren’t meant to live in. Home, however is where your heart lives. I felt home when I arrived last night because the people I loved most, are in Brisbane. Collecting my baggage quickly at the gate meant I could see my family quicker. Falling asleep in my own bed meant I would wake up to people I loved. A home is a place of love, encouragement and nurture and it should build  you up and prepare you to be propelled into whatever God has called you to. Whether that is here, or elsewhere.

Familiarity breeds an unhealthy attitude of safety – where you never try anything so you never fail.
Home creates an environment where its okay to fail – it allows you to try, knowing home is your safety net.

I know now that I probably won’t end up in this place in the end and that is scary for me. But it’s also really wonderful. I know wherever I end up and whenever I end up there, I’ll have been lovingly sent.

For me, for now, this place is home. This city, its my hearts resting place.

 

Retrospect

In 2007 I kept a pretty intense journal. I use the term journal pretty loosely as it contains bible journalling, frustrated emotional entries, sermon notes, speeches, stage design drawings, lists as well as those typical girly entries. I was feeling pretty retrospective tonight and was thinking about all that has happened in my life over the last couple of years, things that have changed, things that have stayed the same. I was flipping through this 2007 journal and came across some gems to share.

 

Longing is the hearts treasury – Augustine

We are desperately aware of how much more we are capable of – James Macpherson

You broke the night like the sun and healed my heart with your great love – Hillsong United

God is a timing freak – Glen Cochrane

What we behold is what we become, behaviour is always the echo of belief – Peter McHugh

Thank you for always listening to my request, yet doing what IS actually best for me, not just what I think is best. I know that within you is all I need for an amazing, exciting and impacting life. Help me to be the kind of friend, employee, daughter, sister, colleague, leader that you want and need me to be. I love you – you are more than my messed up writing and my badly constructed sentences could ever depict.

Steffany Willis