Thursday, July 12, 2012

for when you have nothing left to give


In my dream the other night, we were deliberating in a room on the second floor. Behind us was a window that showed the small group of people in the back yard outside. He had spontaneously decided to throw a small party. I think it was for our son, but all the guests were adults, so who knows. All I know is that we were the hosts and we were not out there with the guests – we were inside. Because I was feeling absolutely sapped. I felt completely drained mentally, physically, and emotionally. I had absolutely nothing left.

He and I continued to wrestle through finding a viable solution for tackling this dilemma. That troubleshooting dynamic one we’re well acquainted with, one that life has long woven into the fabric of our marriage. We were both clearly feeling the pressure of needing to be out there with our guests. And the guests were clearly awkward. I could see them looking around wondering where we were, exchanging scattered whispers about what to do.

Finally, I decided fine, I’ll go out. But unfortunately, he didn’t stay by my side to compensate for my lack of life. So I just stood there, stiff as stiff can be. I don’t even know who was around me. I was so sapped I couldn’t even look anyone in the eye.
My body had merely shown up.

After doing that for a matter of minutes, I decided it was pointless to be out there, and did an about face to return inside. After I did, the rest of the guests followed. Again, they were wanting to be sensitive to me, but didn’t know what that looked like. And so they were waiting for my cue, my initiation to engage and enter into my own social circle. In the meantime, they all opted to keep a comfortable distance.

As for me? I sat on a chair with my back completely to them. I sat there in desperate nothingness. Surrounded by friends yet completely alone. Until a close friend came over and sat down in front of me, her face toward mine. I hadn’t seen her in the crowd. It was as if she had come out of nowhere. Her disposition was as comfortable as always, unintimidated by my socially-offensive posture, as well as my nothingness. She hadn’t overanalyzed whether I needed space, or assurance, or what precise configuration of both.
She simply came.

Without her even saying a word, my body instinctively inhaled deep breaths simply with the relief of her presence. And I could feel those deep breaths initiating the early stages of physical restoration.
Her presence was offering my soul a calm that was giving my body strength.

~ ~ ~

There was so much reality to this dream: My feelings of isolation. My intense wrestling with feeling like I'm living life with my back turned to my friends because the demands of survival have left my margins so small I can barely discern them. And that nothingness. Oh, how I’ve been there.

But there’s something more powerful than the realistic picture of my life. In this dream, I also see a striking picture of the Lord in my friend’s response. Because unintimidated by all our offensiveness, He breaks through the uncertain crowd to come to us. He meets us in all our nothingness. He turns His face toward ours. And He comes simply to give:

To give encouragement for our burdened minds,
companionship for our lonely hearts,
and strength for our weary bodies.

And His presence draws our mind, body, and soul
to inhale renewing breaths of Life.


So the next time you find yourself feeling so weary that you don’t even have the strength to look life in the eye, know that God sees your need, and He is there. I know you don’t always see Him in the crowd – that large crowd of hurt and circumstance. But He’s there, my friend. And He WILL break through the pain to meet you where you are.

And by the way, if you ever find yourself wondering how to reach out to that friend in need, might I encourage you to not wait for them to initiate? When people are walking through a crisis in life, survival can become so all consuming that they oftentimes won’t have the strength or even time to express a need. And the enemy takes advantage of that – he wants to use your feelings of helplessness to keep you a safe distance from them.
Safe for your comfort zone and pride.

So pray for sensitivity, yes, but don’t over-analyze.

Be the one who comes.


Would you help spread this dose of encouragement by clicking here to share this post on Facebook? There are so many who could use this reminder.


Image above courtesy of Tammy J. Linking up with Ann Voskamp's The Practice of Suffering Series 
 

32 comments:

  1. What an absolutely beautiful post! Thankful for you, friend!

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    1. i'm thankful for you, too, jamie. i truly am.

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  2. you were the one who came tanya..... several times and you know each one.

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  3. What a beautiful dream. I have been there, am there in much isolation.

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    1. oh kristina, i am so sorry. and i understand. it's painful to watch the world coming and going around you and feel like you're not a part of it. i was struggling with those feelings of isolation just days ago, & the Lord lovingly brought this thought to mind:

      it's not where/what i'm doing that matters, it's Who i'm WITH that matters. and as long as i'm walking with the Lord during these days i spend in these 4 walls, i'm actually not missing out on a single thing, am i? . . .
      b/c He IS life.

      hugs to you, my friend,
      tanya

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  4. I pray that I can be that kind of friend and also that I have that kind of friend.

    Mary Beth

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    1. i am truly blessed to have that kind of friend -- several of them, in fact. the Lord has definitely drawn the boundary lines for me in incredibly-pleasant places when it comes to my friendships. and i am ever, ever grateful.

      i'm so glad you stopped by, mary beth -- hope to have you visit again!

      blessings,
      tanya

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  5. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Nouwen,

    "The emptiness of the past and the future can never be filled with words, but only by the presence of a man."

    And, my addition, the "presence of a Man."

    What a worthy read. So glad I peeked my head in here again. And thanks for your kindness at my place, too. :)

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    1. it sounds like you are a fellow quote lover after my own heart, kelli. love that nouwen quote -- in its best form with your addition.

      i'm so delighted that you stopped by again, & i look forward to continuing to journey with you in Truth & Grace.

      blessings to you, my friend,
      tanya

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  6. Replies
    1. thank you, denise. as with most dreams, it was all so powerfully vivid. i'm so thankful for His reminder to my soul.

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  7. Thanks for posting such a beautiful post! Very encouraging and a wonderful reminder.
    Much Love,
    L

    allglorious-within.blogspot.com

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    1. thanks for stopping by with your encouraging words, L!

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  8. Yes yes yes to the end -- to not keeping a safe distance. It's ok to just be with someone, in an accepting way. Don't worry about having the right words. Just be there.

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    1. that's exactly it. and i know how helpless it feels to look somebody else's pain in the eye. but once you've been on the other side, you experience that the reality is just the opposite, that there's immense power in presence.

      thx for the blessing of your presence here, joy. and thx for sharing this w/ your FB peeps as well.

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  9. Hey there Tanya - lovely post and am echoing that feeling of isolation and need for someone to come alongside. Sending you a big hug across the ocean! Xx

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    1. I know I have Jesus in my life but still the lonliness can almost get overwhelming. I also need someone to come alongside.

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    2. oh Father, i pray for tanya marlow right now. thank you for the gift that she is to this world, & her heart's desire to know You, and to make You known.
      God, i pray that in Your perfect timing and in Your creative ways, You would bless her with someone to come alongside of her, even if just for a season. someone to remind her to turn her gaze upon you in the middle of life's pain. but more than that, Lord, i pray that her eyes would be open wider than ever to see and experience the power of Your presence. and that her soul would embrace even more deeply the reality that You are enough. i pray the same for myself, Lord. because i sense my heart so easily looking, grasping, to find its fill elsewhere. but i know that my soul will never be full until it rests in the fulness of You.
      thank You for allowing these two tanya paths to cross, Lord. and thank You that you are, in fact, enough.

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    3. God, i pray for this friend who echoes these feelings of lonliness and isolation. Lord, we thank You that we have a High Priest who sympathizes with our struggles. thank You that Jesus walked on this earth and experienced the realities of this life. and God, i pray that you would flood this sweet soul with the reality that you are near to the brokenhearted. i pray that you would reach down to the depths of emptiness and turn the wilderness into living waters, that you would lead this hungry heart to a place of Rest, that you would bring an abundance of beauty from the ashes of the pain. and God, we know that we can only experience those things in You. and so our prayer is simple, Lord: just give us Jesus. for He is all we truly need.

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  10. Meeting someone right where they are at is not easy b/c you don't want to upset them. Yet sometimes just sitting, a hug or even a shoulder to cry on is all they need. Thank you for sharing and for linking up with Simply Helping Him

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    1. you're exactly right, misty -- it's indeed a hard call to discern. i know in the thickest of my health crisis, my body couldn't even physically manage a gentle touch. but i'm grateful that God is greater than our finite discernment, that He knows others' needs even when we don't & feel helpless to the opportunity. yet another opportunity to depend on Him & not ourselves as we reach out in faith according to His perfect leading.

      thanks so much for stopping by, and for the opp. to link up with your Simply Helping Him community,
      tanya

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  11. Such beautiful encouraging words. Thank you for this post. Yes to be open to minister in love to those in deep need and to be sensitive to the prompting of the spirit to just be lovingly present for the hurting. Visiting today from Jennifer's. Amen to your beautiful words from the heart. Just amen again.

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    1. thanks so much for stopping by, sweet sister, & for taking the time to let me know that it encouraged you. it's such an honor to be a conduit for Him, isn't it?

      blessings to you & yours this weekend,
      tanya

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  12. Be the one who comes- yes, how often I've been too drained to engage in the very thing that could spur me on- friends who care. Thanks for the beautiful encouragement. Found you through Jennifer's link up today. Glad I did.

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    1. hey there, alicia,
      thanks for your transparency. reminds me of the story of the fish & the loves that "weren't enough." yet Jesus only calls us to bring Him what we have -- & then watch Him do the unimaginable.

      i'm so glad you stopped by today.
      blessings to you & yours,
      tanya

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  13. I could tell you SO much, re: dreams and the tiredness and everything else you described. BUT what I will say: AMEN!!!

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    1. oh, the sweetness of hearing from a kindred spirit who can truly relate. (and btw, i see a pic of mt. rainier on your blog -- the friend in my dream is from WA.) :)

      thanks so much for your encouraging comment, caryjo -- sure hope you stop by again!
      blessings,
      tanya

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  15. Perfectly and beautifully put :) I have so felt like this-struggling to keep our home/life/health together and feeling so isolated in that experience. I appreciate that you spur us on to Christ and remind us that HE is the true source of life and strength in our battles. Amen, Tanya. SO grateful for your site.

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    1. thank you, my new friend, for taking the time to share your heart's response to this piece. i know that struggle you share, for i've watched my wonderful husband carry the weight of the world on his shoulders through this. and experience feelings of isolation as well.

      God is doing a mighty work in & through you, carly. and ryan is experiencing the grace of God in a powerful, powerful way as you love on him in his state of helplessness. it's the gospel, carly. and you're letting Christ live it through you.
      and so is ryan. (i hope he knows that. if not, pls tell him for me!)

      can't tell you how grateful i am for the privilege of crossing paths with you, & walking it with you,
      tanya

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  16. Been there in that barely hanging in there weak spiritual state. I hear Jesus saying He has prayed for & strengthened us & now we must strengthen the brethren! Going to church tonight to look for that opportunity. Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

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    1. boy am i ever glad you stopped by, cynthia, b/c i am so inspired by your comment. "Going to church tonight to look for that opportunity" -- love that!

      it's evident that His light shines so brightly through you, dear one. i sure hope you stop by again.

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