At the risk of sounding too ethereal, I want to tell you about a place in my mind called beautiful. Because tonight, after the appearance of an annual migraine and a day pretty much shot, all I want to do is go there.
My mind has been a war zone. And just like any war in history, the real damage is something I haven’t been able to fully assess until all the dust has settled. And just like any real freedom won, I didn’t comprehend how badly I needed it until I finally lived it.
Much of my perception of life and God revolved around me. My sin, my failings, my inadequacies were on the forefront of my mind. Interactions with friends only served to send me deeper down a path of “super computing”, as Nate affectionately called the dark-side of my limp. I could get lost for days in that gap between me and God. I called it repentance, but really it was a purgatorial penance. If I just served enough time in the form of dwelling on my shortcomings, than maybe my heavenly Father would one day catch a glimpse of me and have mercy.
Round and round I went on the hamster wheel of sin acknowledged and seemingly repented of, except the missing piece was that those sins didn’t really ever change. Same cycle. Same sin. Same self-hatred (although I never would have called it that). Repeat.
But I don’t want to get stuck in the very weeds that made my mind what it was. Instead I want to tell you about drew me out of it.
In one of the lowest periods of my life I learned a “strategy” that became my survival. It was this: Meditate on Him. I sort of entered this way through the back door. When you can’t get out of a deep, dark hole (which for me was a spiraling of circumstances), you make a garden there. Any way to find beauty.
So in my “dark night of the soul”, I found the truths of who He was, and I lived there. I wrote them down. I sang songs about them. I paced my first floor in the wee hours of the morning whispering them under my breath.
Words in scripture that I had grown accustomed to skimming through, in an effort to find the instructions God had given me for living for Him, became my treasures. Wonderful. Counselor. Father. My Joy. Exceedingly Great Reward. White and Ruddy. Chief Among Ten Thousand.
And the key that fell on my lap in the meantime was to this place called beautiful. Here I found respite from my burnt-out mind. I was never intended to purge myself through the constant mental re-living of my own fallenness. Repentance is turning, and for me that had to start in my mind.
Turning my mind from my own depravity to His glory. Such a simple truth only profoundly impacted my life when I started to adore Him. I moved from praying against my own failings to worshiping the One who is freedom. And as I fixed my eyes on Him, I could finally breathe again. Or for the first time.
Call me crazy, but I sometimes think about what scriptures I will actually remember if I am under some sort of persecution which prevents me from having my Bible. If in a prison cell for my faith, on what would I meditate? There are thousands of tucked-away phrases that are worth gold, which take me to that place with Him where no one’s opinion of me matters. Not even my own.
My worst thoughts about myself are left at the door of adoration. And on the other side is a Man who knows all of the things I’ve been flogging myself for and says something to the effect of … time is short, lift your eyes.
Whether an actual prison or the prison of my mind, the doorway out is beauty. His beauty.
Today I overheard Eden giddily saying to her babydoll in between kisses, “I delight in you. You are beautiful. You are my delight.”
The times when I believe this is truly how the Father sees me (and, yes, even in my worst sin — it is how He sees me; He made me) are the times when I am most alive. Ready, at His service. But in order to get there, I need to first spend some time eyes fixed elsewhere. On Him. On His beauty. On the ever-unfolding pieces of His nature only waiting to be discovered.
There is freedom to be had in our minds. And there is space, currently occupied by self-condemnation in the form of manufactured holiness, that God wants to create for more worship and more prayer and more partnership.
Migraines have become flag-bearers to me. They often come on the heels of a mental battle. So, as I drifted in and out of sleep today, allowing the headache to pass, I re-set my gaze. I committed again to adore Him. I repented of recent battles lost in my mind. And turned my eyes to the beautiful One.
And tonight, rather than preparing to sit before Him with my head hung in shame over these losses He’s brought to my mind, I – can – not – wait – to – meet – with – Him. The one called wonderful offers a hamster-wheel exit strategy that I just can’t resist.
Oh, and there’s a great little resource, Adoration Prayer Book, I’ve picked up recently that is full of these scriptures that lift my eyes. I highly recommend it.