Fifteen years ago, I heard a whisper on my insides: you’re gonna marry that boy. One quiet day at the creek — quiet enough for me to hear the methodical splash of the rower’s ores and a dove’s distant call … and a whisper — and everything changed. I’d never been in love before and didn’t quite expect this kind of preceding introduction before falling into it. I hadn’t even had a chance to try on the feeling. (I wouldn’t advise this method for my daughters — but sometimes you live a story you don’t think others should try at home.)
But boy did we feel, that boy and I.
For the first few years, I wondered when I might stop feeling. I was befuddled by who I turned into when things between us didn’t go my way. How was I twenty-four and had never seen these sides of myself? I was angered when he didn’t approach life like I did, but felt the sweet sense of home in sharing long weekend mornings and late-night ice cream splurges during the pockets of life into which you don’t normally invite others. I was disappointed at a seeming lack of newlywed bliss and saddened by the loss of my independence. At the same time, I felt a measure of peace in the new release-valve I’d found for my interior life: this person who was learning to receive all of me.
I spent years feeling and falling in and out of affection with the person I’d committed to love with my life.
Love was loud, then.
We said it took work as if work took on only one form: active labor.
We did heart-work sitting on the couch in a counselor’s office and staying up later than normal to finish a conflict that started in the morning. We worked — we labored — saving money we didn’t have to make an anniversary trip happen. I listed items on ebay in order to make money to buy him a fishing rod. I spent weeks preparing for a surprise camping trip for his birthday and he spent long days painting our first home a color that he didn’t like but that I loved. We worked at love in ways that could be memorialized and remembered and love was loud. And we felt it all.
That loud love which was measured by above-ground labor and a torrent of feelings has slowly morphed into a love that is now marked more by the five minutes he spends, first thing, at the sink doing dishes, right after he comes home sweaty from the gym, and by the hand that holds mine across three children’s backs while at church. Like my children’s growth spurts (where they happen and I miss them until two seasons later and they’re back in pants that are inches too short), this love shifted.
And to grow in love — to keep falling in love — I have to shift with it.
This week, I don’t feel those 34 turbulent emotions about my marriage — and I’m planning an eight year-old’s birthday party this year, not a surprise weekend camping trip for my husband where we’ll have nothing but time together. But I walked the circle in front of our house last night, asking God to open new parts of Nate’s heart and I whispered “you’re a great dad” to him as he coached our son through assembling a bench. I held his hand in the car, with children screeching over a spilled smoothie in the back.
My marriage and my walk with God are comprised of a hundred little moments over a week that are opportunities to catch a spark and start a interior fire — and a hundred little diversions that could allure me into subtly believing there is a ceiling on love that isn’t loud.
I can wait until the next “big thing” to fall in love — the next conference, the next grand idea to change the world, the next catastrophe that makes me fall flat on my face, crying out to God — or I can tell myself, right now: a wild falling in love with God happens over the quiet minutes.
This is adoration, for me.
Adoration is seeing His word as a formative part of my life and thoughts — at 7:30am and 2:53pm and 10:32 before bed. Adoration is speaking God’s Word back to Him, all the while realizing how little I actually believe it and how much I need to cling to it. Adoration is the honest reckoning of my interior life where I acknowledge there is a great dissonance between what His Word says about Him and what I believe about Him when the car stalls out on the highway.
Adoration starts with this grand (but often subtle) admission: there’s a whole lot about Your Word that I’ll put up on my walls and tweet about and say in a conversation that I don’t really believe here, deep on the inside.
And it moves me into replacing those newly-identified (but maybe always having been present) toxic thoughts with the only thing that will change a human heart: the Truth of this beautiful God-Man. His Word. (And the wind of His Spirit that comes when we invite His Word to be bigger than our toxic human logic.)
Adoration is for when my child puts her foot through the less-than-year-old painted wall and I find myself saying under my breath “these kids are ruining my order” and God nudges me to look at what’s revealed in that moment about who I really believe Him to be.
Adoration is for when my friend breathes air on support in the ICU and takes in food through a tube while I remember dozens of conversations we had about her dreams for her family and I’m confused and scared — and God whispers: who do you say that I am in this moment?
Adoration is for when the dishwasher stops working on the same day the hospital bill arrives and there’s no room in the budget for either. Adoration is for when your insides feel hollow — bored — and you’re finally sick of scrolling your feed through others’ exciting lives.
Adoration is for when you remember the fire you once had for God that’s now barely a flaming ember and you finally muster the ask: is there more of You, God, than what I’m experiencing?
Adoration is for Monday morning at the same old job and Friday night at home, alone.
All those buried thoughts about God that we spend so much of our lives carefully pretending aren’t there are meant to come up and out. And then to be expunged.
You’re not too old (or too young), too tired, too worn, or too boring to fall wildly in love with God.
Just like you don’t want to wait until your 15 year anniversary trip when the love is loud, but instead you reach across the cluttered console of your mini-van and grab his hand and say let’s stoke this ember until it becomes a fire:
Grab His hand too.
Adore God, right here.
It’s the kind of habit that’s best started in the middle of the month, in the middle of a transitional season, when it’s unplanned. He loves to show up in our very-weak lean. Jump in with us for August:
Photos thanks to my sweet friend Cherish.
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