I’m learning to live with my hands wide open.
Open to receive the gifts God is giving me, the grace upon grace, the “unwrapping of love,” as Ann Voscamp puts it.
Open to trust the narrative of my life, that it is the best possible scenario; that even though I want some things to be different, God is working what is best for me, conforming me to the image of His Son. (Romans 8:29)
Open to believe that God will answer me with awesome deeds of righteousness. (Ps 65:5)
Open to give myself to others, not hiding behind walls or holding back, but generously and vulnerably pouring out my heart.
And as I’ve worked on living with my hands open, I’ve realized what a closed person I am.
I am amazed. I thought, after years of being “open” with others, telling them my deepest thoughts, that I was an open person.
But then on vacation my son in law gave us personality tests for fun, and when he read me my results, it said my trait is to be a private person. No, I thought, I’m not that. But then I started to remember the videos my mom took of me when I was in my 20’s. I looked so wooden and stilted. I always held back. I never wore my heart on my sleeve. I was never effusive. I was very cautious and reserved.
And I remembered that I am an extreme editor of my actions. Many possibilities are inside of me, and I consider them, evaluate them, worry over them until only a trickle of something comes out. It’s like a constant funnel. A clenched fist.
A fist of fear. A fist of self protection. A fist of numbness to the overwhelming pain of the world. A fist of unbelief, because the things I want so badly seem impossible, so I shut down faith and hope.
A fist I am now striving to keep open.
A personality change I am trying to make. I identify so much with the way Voscamp describes her former self, “discontent and self condemnation, the critical eye and never satisfied.” I always see the one thing that needs to change instead of the many things that are going right.
So I list the things I am thankful for, the vivid sunsets against the vast Auburn sky, the endearing conversations with my friends, the insights I have that are like a new lease on life, the good things to eat like crisp brown baked chicken and the first fresh apples of fall.
I slow down and TRUST that I am in the place I am supposed to be, with the people I am supposed to be with, in the circumstances I am supposed to be in.
I talk to people, and I picture that I am holding open the shutters of my heart, the shutters that keep wanting to squeeze closed a little more, and be safe. I let the warmth out. I let myself care.
And I pray that God will enlarge my heart, that he will enable me “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Then He can work in me immeasurably more.
Tom Brown said in his sermon last week that God broadens our hearts and lives to allow more people to come in. He quoted Isaiah 60:22, “The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly.”
God wants ALL people to be restored to him. As I read in the ESV version of Acts 2:39, “For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
This is my dream, that this ministry would become a tree where all the birds could come and roost in its branches. (Mark 4:32)
So let me open my hands and heart wide, not clenching my fists. Not shrinking back, which is defined as, “the timidity of one stealthily retreating.”
I am beloved. God is faithful. He is working.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (I Cor 13:7) Love is the epitome of OPEN, where all things are possible, and there is no need to fear. That is the seed I want to plant for the future
O Increase My Love (Romanian Hymn)
I pray, O Lord Jesus, my love you’d increase.
That I, like you, Jesus, might offer men peace.
My soul wells with longing for lips with Your grace
and eyes of compassion for each searching face.