A GARMENT OF WORDS
Looking from the Valley to the Moutaintop
Psalm 18:35 "....and Thy gentleness has made me great..."
Clothing projects. It speaks with silent but immense potency. It can shape, comfort, support, tread down. I have a lifelong love of "threads."
Childhood long ago in the dear old Baptist church saw me clothed in humble, simple garments of dresses, some pants we called " pedal pushers" (for riding my bike), and nothing flashy or provocative. I was content to follow the path my Mom guided me on...until my early teens when disaster struck with the sudden deaths of my Mom ( stroke) and then my brother( Vietnam) , two years apart. That broke apart my paradigm, including clothes. Innocence shattered to sorrow and anger and fleeing from God in oceans of tears. I wandered away from God in rebellion and sadness for 35 years (God did not give up seeking me and I finally came back to God, in disarray and despair.)
What is the clothing of the grumpy? Rumpled and dark and loose and hidden, no cheerful intent or presentation. I have lived in these since my teens, also through 45 years of poverty.
I have long felt divided. My lifelong love of the beauty and noble power of modest clothing slams against my dogged, sorrowful pursuit of "head down in survival mode", no energy to pursue my love of clothing and having the simmering concern that I may live my entire life in the valley. I have writing gifts from God, the ability to "encourage the discouraged." I also feel the invisibility and immense pain of the poor. How do I deal with the Grand Canyon-size juxtaposition of the message of my words and my ministry while I often reside in a pup tent in a cave on the edge of battle in the valley of scars??
In my core Christian faith, Holy Spirit is my Advocate, my Comforter, my Head Spelunker Guide through and OUT of the caves I have hunkered down in for so long. Coming up from the sad security of the cave is truly terrifying, an uncharted territory. I am an incredible control freak and do not adjust well to change, a formidable creature of habit!
I tremble in concern, my uneven temperament and past being a block to stable forward progress. How many hundreds of times have I “started over", tried a few steps and failed yet again. I see so many deeply wounded hearts and souls of the working poor, flattened by deep despair and defeat. They, we, get stopped at the gate, even when a Key is offered to us via the scarred Hand of Jesus Christ and the Bible itself, full of the (arduous) way to freedom.
Yes, I know that blasted tome of " if you think you can't, you can't. " Well, yes, I get the "concept" of this. For me, this comes off as a condemning and scolding harangue, possibly by someone who has never been poor and has no empathy or compassion. It does not recognize the vale of suffering of the poor. I fully understand the need for the mental state in coming up out of despair and God is the One Who can help me up and out and on a step by small step basis. The intellect alone will not do it.
God has kept me here on earth long enough to now have a tiny ministry via my written words, to those who suffer and stumble in despair and defeat. I am not remotely a "YouTube personality", I am in introvert and speak only through the written word.
I have felt the utter torment of the bottom of the valley, looking up at the world's tallest- looking mountain. Take a step? Yes...and then I stumble and tumble back down.
The sorrowful poor must be lovingly guided by the kind of Great Teacher that is Holy Spirit. He does not scold, torment, harass, intimidate or condescend. In fact He is unlike any Teacher I have ever had. That is why He is called "The Comforter." He tailors His lessons to me based on my sensitive temperament and in small sprinting bite size pieces that I can actually do without the spirit of overwhelm that has defeated me through my whole life. I am now attending a class of one, at the "University of Don't Give Up." Who but the wondrous Spirit of God Himself cares enough about this weary and still cynical wounded warrior who is old (almost 71), still poor and struggling with hopelessness based on past negative experiences?
I cannot comprehend ...and yet I feel...comforted around the Comforter.
This is real, even to the remaining cynicism still simmering in me.
Who could imagine this?? Me in my ragged clothes and flattened shoes and sometimes seemingly threadbare soul...enveloped in the arms of God while He loves on me, values me, exhorts the gifts He gave me...what an astonishing thing!
This is no pep talk or psychological discussion. No, this is meeting me down in the valley of despair and step by slow steady step, gently showing me the doors out. NO CONDEMNATION, only profound, authentic encouragement that is patient and kind.
No pushing, no shoving, no time clock. This is the deep inner work that must be endured, in order to build a strong foundation of faith. This is while walking with a loving Companion in Holy Spirit, Who knows my flaws and weakness and yet is the Master Encourager.
Somehow, this is masterfully woven by the Master Himself.
My lifelong love of all things fabric, modest garments and style has continued to feed my soul, seeing the positive power that some clothing can bring through. Seeing the horrifying lies the devil pushes on women, that dressing provocatively can "empower" them, pushes me on to speak from my own wounded soul, of the realities of this terrible lie. My survival of the damage of the sexual revolution has taught me some searing lessons on the profound need to stick close to God instead of wandering off into the gloom and pretending that I am "making my own way." This is NOT SO, the devil has led me by the hand and his way is NOT GOOD.
Instead, this is how Papa God works, through repentance and through the scratches, gashes and muddy mess of our lives in this material world. " All have sinned and come short of the glory of God", Romans 3:23. God is the Great Transformer of body, mind, soul and spirit. I cannot exit this cave of worry by myself, regardless of what the world tells me. I must have the Comforter to lead me...and He does and is.
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