Life isn’t usually a contact sport, at least for me. I much prefer to be out on the periphery, an observer, invisible to those going about their daily routines.
I’ve worked hard to develop and maintain my stealthy behavior, not speaking unless spoken to, not making any sudden moves or noises, and I even check to make sure my outfits and jewelry selections are muted, understated, and most certainly not jingly so I do not draw any attention to myself. I even choose my shoes based on how quiet they are.
I’m not a private eye. I’m a writer. My mission in life has been to view the habitat around me without it being affected by my presence so I can witness life in its truest form, so it can be as natural and organic as possible.
But that mission has slowly changed as I’ve come to understand the real reason I prefer to stand in the shadows – it’s to spot danger and hide from predators. It’s a survival instinct.
We are all formed by our childhood, and that is where I learned how to go unnoticed. It was purely accidental at first as I began to observe the chaos saturating the adult world in which I lived. It churned around me with no effort or input of my own. When someone did notice me, it usually ended badly; I was either harmed, frightened, shamed, or punished for somehow interfering and disrupting their flow.
Due to this, I began to anticipate possible problems at a very young age. If the room was messy, or there was trash on the floor, I would quickly and quietly straighten it up and throw the trash away, lest I get blamed. I never drank the last of the milk, took the last of the bread, or helped myself to anything for that matter, lest I be seen. I certainly didn’t interrupt the flow, question the chaos, or ask why I was even there, lest I be heard, and no one have an answer for me.
Invisible and without a voice, by the age of 10 I had learned how to block out the pain and simply go numb. A few years later at age 16, I left home and lived almost three decades of my life off the emotional grid, looking for new ways to numb.
However, this survival technique also alienated me from the very people put in my life to help me see the goodness, the love, and the hope that coexisted amidst the chaos. I just didn’t know to look for it, so it took a while to find.
Fast forward to today, and God has worked miracles in my life, yet there is still such a long way to go. And isn’t that the truth for us all. At the age of 48, I have worked hard to break down the fortress I built to protect my vulnerability, preferences, and tenderness from the outside world.
I want to be the best possible version of myself that I can be, which means there’s a constant vulnerability I endure as I dig deep, question behaviors and confront the root of false beliefs so I can abolish the lies of unworthiness and condemnation that have saturated my life with fear and anxiety.
To do this, I read, pray, journal, and listen to that still small voice that is always leading me to a better place than where I’ve been. I open myself up to being explored, to have my heart searched, and for excavations to take place to unearth buried events and memories that have unknowingly dictated behaviors in my life. It’s a constant stirring, where I must also take time to rest and let the dust settle before going in again to do more work.
It’s amazing how God paves the way for us before we begin our journey. Each step rests on the foundation of his grace, unconditional love, forgiveness, and his favor. Because Jesus is always in right-standing with God, we too are righteous before God, so what can man do to us?
Replacing old harmful beliefs and behaviors with the lifestyle of a beloved daughter of God is not a simple one-and-done thing. It is a daily, sometimes hourly process of speaking truth and light into our lives, and into the lives of others. It takes dedicated effort and a constant renewing of the mind.
I want to be saturated with so much love and light that it pushes out all the fears, anxieties, false beliefs, and darkness that remains. I want to drip with his presence so that other people can make contact with the only person that can bring them the hope they’ve been searching for.
How do you live a life like that – saturated with the love, light, and grace of Jesus?
This is a question I asked God, and he gave me a very direct answer – a book called Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life, by Jeff Vanderstelt. In it he talks about how to live every moment in a way that allows God’s light to shine through you so that it draws others to you and more importantly, closer to God. We are here for each other, to live in community with one another and to treat others like family – even the hardened hearts and the unlovable, like I once was.
Life – it’s ALL about contact. To find the hope and love we all need and are searching for, you have to come out of the shadows and be noticed so you can serve and connect with those around you. Contact… it’s the very thing I had been fighting against.
As I closed the book, although this type of saturation was a foreign concept at first, I came to understand it theoretically, but I longed to see it and to experience it in real life. I’m a tactile and visual learner. I again prayed and asked God to show me what this looks like, and what it feels like, so I could better represent it in my own life. And again, he gave me a very direct answer during a road trip with my mom and my daughters.
We took a girl’s trip to San Antonio, and on the way, we stopped and visited Magnolia World. We are (my husband included) all big fans of Chip and Joanna Gaines. We were there from the very beginning as we were let into their world through Fixer Upper, their TV show on HGTV. Five seasons just wasn’t enough.
This was a show that highlighted their values of faith, family, and community. We watched Chip’s antics bring laughter into abandoned spaces, and Joanna’s brilliance transform dark, disjointed rooms into bright, joyful homes. We saw their children grow up, we watched the community of Waco expand, and we witnessed the beginning of their spoken dreams and then celebrated with them as those dreams became a reality.
Magnolia Market at the Silos, knowing there’s always a seat at the Magnolia Table, the Silos Baking Company, the Carriage House, Magnolia House (Hotel and Bed-n-Breakfast), and more. They restored a community and continue to make other people’s dreams come true. We saw the rusty, dilapidated buildings turn into places where we all wanted to live, to eat, to shop, to meet, and to share life. They became a part of our lives that we looked forward to week in and week out – even though we’d never physically been there.
From our first step onto their property, that still, small voice whispered, “This is it. This is a place saturated with my presence – my light, my hope, and my love.” And I could FEEL it – in real time. I was immediately moved and overwhelmed emotionally. Tears filled my eyes. Such attention to detail, divinely inspired, and a true-hands on experience. Contact. Every aspect of Magnolia World connected with my soul and lightened my spirit, something that can happen to anyone who is open and willing to receive it.
Looking around at the Market, it helped me see how I had let things go at the house. I had an overwhelming urge to commit to stepping it up at home, to bring this saturation of joy, hope, and light into my own environment, and to make our space the best it can be – saturated with light, hope, and love.
Our place is neat and kept up – but clutter filled the unseen and hidden spaces we just came to ignore. Junk drawers, under beds, in closets, and stacked on shelves, were piles of needless papers, nick-knacks, and more that invaded our space and robbed us of true serenity. That was two months ago, and since then I’ve donated tubs of clothes, cleaned out all our junk drawers, eliminated the clutter on shelves, and I continue to clean out all that detracts from the home I wish to have.
It’s the same process as cleaning out the clutter in our minds, and in the hidden corners of our hearts. Things can just become invisible to us, even though they still dictate our behavior and the way we live.
Saturation – it’s something that happens internally before it can spill into the world around you. We are all saturated – but what with? Is it chaos, fear, anxiety, worry, stress, condemnation, or unworthiness?
Or are you saturated with the light, power, grace, love, approval, and hope of Jesus?
Don’t just be an observer of life, hiding in the shadows. Take one small step today – internally and externally. Clean out a junk drawer in your house and ask Jesus to reveal the clutter in your mind, so you can replace it with the truth of his purpose, worth, and significance. We are ALL Fixer Uppers, and YOU are here for a reason. You AND your story – your entire story – can be used to bring light and hope to others. Don’t hide it, don’t run from it – use it to help others find their way.
It’s time to make contact. It’s time to discover the freedom that comes when you saturate yourself with SO MUCH of Jesus, that all fears are gone, and only faith, hope, and love remain. It’s happening to me, and it’s there for you too. You just have to be open enough to receive it, and saturate yourself with it.