“My Life is More”

Love is more, it is much more.

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I am a total fan of the TV Series, One Tree Hill. I know it’s completely 2007, juvenile, and for teenage girls, but you can’t blame me. I was a teenage girl when I first saw it. Yes, first, and yes, I have seen it more than twice. In fact, I am currently watching it again. Ha! I like to watch movies with perspective, which is why I watch it more than once. That way, I can look out for what I missed the first time when I was too emotionally involved to be objective about anything that was going on.

Anyway, I am watching One Tree Hill all over again, and paying more attention than I did the last time, trying to see and hear beyond the opinions that my clique of friends expressed when we all saw it together. I am at a certain point in my life, so it seemed only natural that I would be looking to draw something meaningful even from such a drama filled series.

Season 3 has the Naley Reunion (Nathan Scott and his wife, Haley). They need a reunion because Haley left on tour in Season 2 after an ultimatum issued her by Nathan, and she eventually came back after a long time but they have been separated ever since. Trying to get back together is one of Haley’s major goals. So I am watching this scene and Haley has won Nathan in a game called “Fantasy Boy Draft” where girls pick guys they like and/or want and take them out. Haley, in hopes of reminding Nathan about the early buddings of their love in order to help him decide against an annulment and stay together, organizes a date. Of course, interruptions from the aggravating Chris Keller and an irritated Brooke Davis crash some of her plans, but she isn’t to be deterred. At some point during the date, however, Nathan says that he wishes they never got married because it feels he forced her into something she didn’t want. Naturally, Haley is taken aback. When she questions him about it, his response is that he feels Haley would’ve had so much more in her life if he weren’t there to keep her restricted. Then she looks at him with those expressive eyes that are full of love for the man Nathan is (even though he is still 17), and she tells him how she broke down on tour, in front of a crowd of 3,000 people, to the sound of “Missing You”, because she realized that it all meant nothing without Nathan. And then she says to him, “You’re right, Nathan. Maybe this wasn’t the life I would’ve had. It is so much more…with you.” Or something like that. Haha. It is a total “Naley” moment, and it has the desired effect on me (I am a true romantic!). Her reply takes me somewhere that is entirely off the set of One Tree Hill. It made me think about sometimes when we meet certain people who eventually become a major part of our lives; people who are anything but safe. They have a bold existence, and by being in your life, they make you really live. Your normal safe life becomes a spectacle, and a beautiful one at that. They make you scream, cry, and get mad, but most of all, they make you love. You become vulnerable, too. Your safe spaces are finally invaded, and nothing is the same. Do you yet understand how elastic your life becomes after love? You cannot be the same person. No, not with actual love. You are stretched beyond the limits of your comfort and your own selfishness into the world of another. Oh, wow. It is the most amazing and humbling thing (albeit scary at times).

Haley did a song at Tric in Season Two of One Tree Hill, and in it she said, “…but if I cry a little, die a little, at least I know I lived…” and this was after she married Nathan. I completely understand her saying her life was more. She wasn’t just thinking of getting by like every other 17 year old at Tree Hill High. Her life was full. Her life was more.

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So. Here’s my question: Have you let anyone make your life full in recent times? My dear, you need it. When you look past the ups and downs, the inconveniences, the possible pain (‘cause I can’t lie about that though), the rigour, and even the joy of love, you will experience its power. I haven’t known or heard of anything that could change a life like love. This human heart, it was made for love. We can’t resist it. People who do, they have a hard time of it. The configuration of our humanity is set in love. Love is the singular thing that can reset the factory settings of any human here on earth. LOVE IS FULLNESS. LOVE IS MUCH, MUCH MORE.

Now, if you have loved and lost, that’s a story for another day. However, I would love to give you some perspective on love and loss, so maybe you should look out for when I write about that. I promise you, it’s great perspective, straight from the heart of Love Himself.

Oh, and by the way, you were right. Nathan and Haley are my favourite couple on the show! Haha!

Learning and living love,

Ele.

 

Life is an Interruption

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Growing up is a wonder. It is so little of all the things you thought you wanted, so much of all the things that never crossed your mind to desire, and even worse, much more of interruptions to the things you thought would go smoothly.

I came to this conclusion some months ago, that life is largely the interruptions in our lifetime. We love to make plans and think big and strategize, and we really dislike being interrupted on the road to the life we thought we really wanted. But do we really hate the interruption that much?

I don’t know about everyone else, but I find that so much of my plans get interrupted by people. Then, I am at an impasse. Should I simply ignore this interruption and fight for my right to continue with my life or should I stop and check on this guy bleeding by the road? Do I really want to go to the Straight Road and meet with this Ananias guy, or do I want to continue on to Damascus because I won’t be deterred from my goal? Do I want to help this bleeding guy carry his cross a while or will I slither surreptitiously through the crowds and quietly sneak into my house?

For all those who think I have no desire to make progress in life (I don’t even know what that means anymore), I have made lists and plans. I have thought and envisioned how to really live that “me” life that will be so shiny and impressive it either blinds you or nauseates you. I have envisioned doing one or two “generous” things to ease any inner turmoil I might feel at living selfishly. I have looked through that telescope of a minuscule life that ends with a few million naira and pounds that will probably, at best, see my kids through tertiary education (maybe not in Harvard, and definitely not if I have more than three kids). I think these things too.

But I have also stayed up nights, restless, struggling against the nudging in my heart. I have lain awake arguing with the voice in my heart that insists on interrupting the perfect life I want to make for myself. I have looked where that whisper is pointing, I have seen the interruption. I have seen the storms, I have seen the pain, I have seen the misunderstanding, I have seen the hardness involved. But I have also seen the impact. I have seen the love. I have seen a better and deeper and more fruitful me. I have seen the change that little me can precipitate. I have seen the strength. I have seen the victory. I have seen the adventure. I have seen a difference. So I took the interruption.

It costs me. Oh, man, it costs me plenty. It costs me my precious time. It costs me my money. It costs me my convenience. It costs me my heart. It costs me my rights. It costs me me. And I realize that that may be the point. To shred every vestige of “me” and insert in its place a person who is no longer so fixated on herself and her life that she can love, share and be Jesus to others. And then it becomes less and less a path that costs me, and more and more the life I have chosen.

I love this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to the whisper which is heard by him alone. And Lisa Bevere adds to that: Learn to listen to and for yourself. Don’t ask others to tell you what you alone can hear. Press into God’s whisper deep within your heart and live from that place.

Let me tell you, that whisper isn’t hard to come by. If you read your Bible daily or often, you will always hear that whisper. It will say things like, Hold your tongue. Or, give this or that away. Or, text so and so. Or, correct this sister now. Or, don’t say no. Or, (and this is really hard) don’t say yes. These whispers are barely audible, but they have the power to change us, to change our world, and to cause the kind of change that we may only ever dream about, in us and in others.

If we must grow, if we must live, really live, we have to learn to let the whispers interrupt us.

Courage for Honesty 

I really admire the way some people talk about honesty and vulnerability as though it is the easiest thing in the world. It is truly admirable. “Just say it”, they say, not realizing the mental and physical difficulties involved in “just saying”. And I think, Why don’t you just say it if it’s so easy? I, for one, have a bit of a difficulty being honest many times. Now, don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean I go about lying to people or cowering in fear when I need to speak. It just means that important moments that require that painful (yet freeing) kind of honesty leave me wildly ruffled and frightened.

Now, for example, every time I have to write a blog post, I think about it so hard one would wonder if this was really a decision about world peace and not a blog post. I go over my sentences word by word, analysing and wondering if I shouldn’t change this expression or delete that joke. I wonder if I am funny enough or if I sound sophisticated enough. I mean, there are lots of other bloggers and writers who do this probably even better than I do and reach even more people than I do. What is the point?

My thoughts jam at this question: WHAT IS THE POINT?

The answer began to come together for me in bits and pieces. One word here. A memory there. A picture from Pinterest. A comment on an article of mine. And little by little, I began to see the point.

I began to see that my honesty could cost someone something precious. I don’t just need to be honest; I am needed for my honesty. My gift will thrive in honesty and openness; when I am able to bring out words as they should be because they will answer the questions in the heart of another. The world will be a better place by degrees when I am honest. I don’t mean just to say what I think people imagine is the truth they want, but to say those things that God would use me to say. True, I was worried that I had nothing new to say. After all, there have been so many writers before me, more eloquent and graceful; faithful and accurate communicators. Why me? And then I realized that it may have truly all been said, but never by me. And there are people waiting who will only ever respond to the words that come out of my mouth. How do I know this?

I was listening to an audio message and heard this pastor talk about a little research he did. Thinking about the phrase “one in a million”, he did a bit of Googling and realized that if each of us is truly one in a million, then at least 7,000 other people in this world get you – because there are approximately 7 billion people in this world…on this earth. Is that amazing or what? So I got thinking that if I am one in a million (and duh!), then there are 7,000 people scattered all over the world who will a) get me, b) get what I’m about, and/or c) be affected by something I do or say. This knowledge is infinitely comforting and encouraging because I can go about doing the things I know and love to do and not be choked by pressure to be someone I’m not or fear of failure because I know that there is someone (multiply that by 7,000) who is bound to be blessed, impacted, affected, made happy or changed by an ordinary act of mine.

I don’t know about you, but it even makes me feel a lot better about my otherwise ordinary existence. I now walk with the sense that I CAN DO THIS, and it gives me such hope and confidence! I am not afraid to be my regular self any longer because I am learning what is packed on my inside and I know that if I can just bring it out for the sun to shine upon it, the reflection will hit someone else in the eyes and bless their life as well. The thought that I can be used to cause someone’s “Road to Damascus” encounter in a most normal but deeply significant way just blows me away. And that’s one reason I desire honesty – to use my extraordinary gift in the most spectacularly ordinary way.

It would surprise you to know that I only recently acknowledged this gift in me. Many others have done so before now, and more will do so in time to come. However, the acknowledgment that counts most is that of the gifted about his gift (Philemon 1:6). With this acknowledgment has come the desire to brave the fright and be truly honest. To speak about the wildness of life and love when God is in it. To tell about the darkness that plagues a soul unable to see Him. To tell of the greatness that is divine love and its effect on the human heart. To pour out and share with you times that will change your mind, your perception, your vision and if I dare it, your future.

So now I’m not just praying for the courage to be honest; I am standing up in the boat to put my feet out there on the water, in the storm. It’s exhilarating. It’s me, Ele! I’m actually doing this! My heart is beating wildly. I know I will make a few honest mistakes, but at least I won’t do it hiding. I anticipate the journey, the pain, the joy, the satisfaction, the victory that is to be found in letting go.

Join me.

(Oh, and have you noticed how much I’m using the word “wild”? Gets me WILDLY excited. Haha!)