the sacred

When Luke said “but Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” {Luke 2:19}, did you ever wonder what that meant?

I kind of glossed over that verse for a very long time, noticing it and thinking oh, what a beautiful way to say that, but not really thinking about what it was saying.

Until I became a mom.

And then… well there are just things that are just not easily expressed. Partially because we’re sleep deprived and the formation of words is just sometimes not possible. But also partially because there truly isn’t a way to verbally express just what that sweet-smelling, smooth-skinned baby that was formed from virtually nothing-but-everything and yet now somehow holds the entirety of your heart right in his eyes (how’s that for a run-on?)… what he does to you inside. There also just isn’t a way to express how exhausted you are. Or how proud. Or how much you love the person you made that baby with.

And so I thought, Mary pondered it all in her heart because of that, because how on earth can you express that.

I realize I am totally putting words in Mary’s mouth. But that is the meaning that verse immediately took for me.

But there’s something else, I think.

There’s the sacred.

We share so much of ourselves these days, whether it is our true selves or just the scrubbed and combed and decorated self that we are okay with others seeing. But we put it all out there. Is it just me, or is there this temperature in the current-day that almost implies that if it’s not published it’s not real, or important. So much of the world shares what they ate for breakfast, what their kid said, what their husband did, exactly what they’re thinking, it has almost become the norm, the expected, for everyone. Or maybe it really is just me. I can admit that.

I can admit to feeling that pressure, whether I succumb to it or not.

There is a Chinese proverb that goes like this:

“a woman has three hearts… one she shares with the world… one she shares family…  and one she shares only with herself.”

That proverb can be taken two different ways, as far as I’m concerned. Either we are most truly ourselves with just ourselves (and maybe a spouse or select few? I don’t think it necessarily has to be just you), sort of ourselves with our family or friends-like-family, and then we do that cover-up, make-up, try to look as good as we can in front of the world. And I am sure that most of us do that to varying degrees.

Or maybe it means something else? Maybe it has to do with the sacred, too? We were made to share things with each other – parts of our heart – stories and art that tell a story of who we are and what we’ve been through, I am sure of it. But maybe there are some things that, when treated as the truly sacred things that they are, don’t need to be shared. At least not with the world. Those things we share only with ourselves, or the few in our closest circle.

I am not, by any means, criticizing the content or how much other people share. Only you can decide the size of those three hearts. And maybe it changes based on the season of life you are in? And whatever you decide is just right for you. I just hope that you are not dictating the size of those hearts based on what has become the social norm for this time, or any expectations – real or false – you might feel from others. Base it on you. Just you.

So back to Mary? She pondered all those things in her heart. I can wonder all day what Luke really meant by that. I am not a Biblical scholar, or any type of scholar whatsoever.

But gosh, does that verse mean so much more to me now than it ever has.

Whether it is because of lack of words or because I just truly want to treasure the sacredness of something, just me and my guy, I am pondering so much in my heart these days.

Psalm 42:2

I’ll be honest. For the first time in months (many of them) I am finding that I’m actually eager to have God time.

Do you remember, not that many posts ago, when I told you about my guilt-inducing lists? And how I realized that I set myself up for failure with too-high expectations of myself?

My pastor started a series on Spiritual Fitness recently, and with that series he created a workbook/calendar that is designed to help his church to develop and strengthen spiritual health. I won’t go into too many specifics, because the most significant part to me so far is that he broke up each day into 3 parts. A warm-up for the morning, a middle-of-the-day exercise, and a cool-down in the evening. It’s been perfect for my life as it is right now, with non-napping baby and tired eyes and my own spur-of-the-moment cat naps on the couch…

I can’t even tell you how excited I was to start on Monday! Me! A “non-list person,” excited to start a routine?? (Remember, though, I discovered that it’s not that I’m not a list person, I just had those way-high expectations).

After the first “warm up” I suddenly found myself thinking when do I get to go have time with God again? and after the first exercise started praying please just let the baby nap long enough for me to have this time with You. For the first time in I-don’t-remember-how-long I wanted to go meet with God… I didn’t just feel like I had to, or I should, or “that wasn’t enough time”.

It took me three days to actually find this verse that my heart was crying out. (Someone had read it at our small group weeks ago… I hadn’t imagined that it would actually be how I really felt any time soon).

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

When can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 42:2

My heart is smiling. My soul is excited to meet with the Love Of My Life, to be courted by my Soul Lover, to date my Lord. To sit over coffee and pour my heart out to Him, invite Him to inspect it, turning it over in His hands and speak to me honestly and in love… and let Him take it all and my hand and gently remind me that He loves me even still.

Gentleness…

Nothing like walking out of the baby’s room to find my husband finishing reading his Bible… and then deciding when he has left for work that I should have some God time, too. No, I shouldn’t wait for guilt or some other similar feeling to propel me towards an intentional conversation with God, but I’m glad it did this morning nonetheless.

I opened my journal this morning for the first time in more than a month.

And opened right to where I had copied 1 Peter 3:4

Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

Then, in trying to find the next blank page, my thumb hit an entry I wrote months ago… one in which I asked God to help me with gentleness (though I didn’t call it that at the time. There were various parts of my actions and demeanor that I wanted help with, and it was only today that I assigned the word “gentleness” to those things… and asked for His help again!).

This is what my KeyWord Study Bible says in the lexical aids in the back about the word “gentle” in that verse in 1 Peter:

4558. πραΰς praus (that’s the Greek): meek, mild, gengle.

Deriv.: πραΰτης prautes

This is part of what is said about prautes:

Meekness, but not in a man’s outward behavior only, nor in his relations to his fellow man or his mere natural disposition, but an inwrought grace of the soul expressed primarily toward God… according to Aristotle, is the middle ground between two extremes, getting angry without reason, and not getting angry at all... is a condition of mind and heart which demonstrates gentleness, not in weakness but in power. It is a balance born in strength of character.

It’s funny… I was asking God to help me, as the lexical aids say, have gentleness in my “relations” and my “natural disposition” but I find that next part really interesting… and convicting.

“an inwrought grace of the soul expressed primarily toward God”

Does this mean that my attitude towards God – the state of my soul, which affects what and how I express myself towards God – affects my “natural disposition” and the gentleness that I use in my relationships? It makes sense.

And I feel silly for not realizing it before, and also humbled and so thankful that in trying to find a blank page to talk to Him, God brought me to those pages in my journal and showed me what exactly He wanted to talk to me about. And here, when I know I want to post some of what I was feeling about gentleness I look in the lexical aids to find out what does the word “gentle” means in Greek anyway and here I am… being completely floored by God… again.

Wow.

I want to discover what exactly it means to have an inwrought grace… expressed to God by my soul…

 

*On a side note, I used to be part of this amazing women’s Bible study in high school. We had beaded bracelets, each with a fruit of the spirit on it. Each week, we would share which fruit of the spirit we thought we needed the most based on what was happening in our lives at that moment.

I think I need to make myself some bracelets…