The Spill

My job, jam, gig, ministry: helping people align their emotions with God’s grace, love, and truth.

  • Success rate for others: not too bad—if you count people wrestling with being made in the image of God, the depth of their brokenness, and God’s delight in them—as a journey toward healing and fullness of life in Christ. And not too bad if you can consider and maybe even believe that grief, joy, pain, and trust are not mutually exclusive and can live together in the messy glory of a heart inhabited by God’s holiness and love and intimacy.
  • Success rate for my own heart: not too bad … better than many years ago … and maybe I kind of have a handle on this … and I know I am not perfect and haven’t “arrived” and there are always rough spots to smooth out … but I seem to have a good idea how to roll in this God-connection-with-Kathie thing.

Until I bump into the parts of my heart I don’t even know I have cordoned off. And until that bump creates a spill that feels embarrassing and messy. And then the control-it-get-it-right-clean-it-up-keep-it-neat-Kathie thing kicks in. (I have a new habit of ending sentences with prepositions. It’s a tiny rebellion. Get used to it.)

This spring, summer, and fall were full of God cracking open doors in my heart I didn’t even realize I was guarding. Some led to rooms I tried to pretend didn’t exist and some to rooms I didn’t know I had; some were rooms I was pretty sure I had already done a good job straightening up and sorting out.

You might not even know what’s in that silly room anymore, but if you’ve had yellow caution tape and a bouncer stationed there for years, it’s scary to let someone through—even if it’s God who’s asking. At times it’s felt like I’m a human Operation® game, and even getting close to certain thoughts or emotions starts the electric buzz you can feel in your fillings. I feel my heart and thoughts and defenses and habits and fears and hopes laid wide open and I am suddenly a Scrabble® game, letter tiles spilled all over the floor. Here and there a word happens to form, but mostly it’s splutters and jumbles of letters that don’t make sense together. (There’s probably Trivial Pursuit®, Risk®, Monopoly®, Twister®, and Hungry Hungry Hippos® living inside me, too, but that’s a story for another day and probably a check I’d have to send to Hasbro.)

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I took these photos January 28, 2015 for a blog post I started that day. Felt like a clever and tangible representation of the jumble I felt inside. Cheers to me for closing in on nearly two years to touch the real letters of my heart.

If there was a way to combine an eye-rolling emoji and a gratitude emoji, that would go *here*.

From milk to marbles to a mess of a heart, who ever thinks a spill is good news? Usually, what ensues is panic. Mop it and catch it is the knee-jerk. If your heart dumps unintelligible blech like scattered wooden tiles, get the letters back in the bag.

But maybe there can be something different in the spill.

Maybe God is asking, politely and pleadingly, asking.

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“Kathie, can you wait? Wait while I show you some things? Can you hold still, not scoop up and stuff the surprise back in? I mean, this stuff you are calling a ‘surprise,’ but doesn’t surprise me one bit? Can you hang out with the mixed-up letters and the splurts and splutters that are part of you, because I am here in this, too, and you will be hanging out with Me?”

Maybe He’s me reminding of truth, the truth of His own character.

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“By the way, kiddo, you aren’t lost. I haven’t wandered off, and I won’t let you wander into the weeds, either. I know you have boxes and cubbies and bins and shelves and labels and tags and all sorts of ways you try to organize, categorize, analyze, synthesize, theorize (Wow, you ‘ize’ a lot. Aren’t you tired?), and try to keep everything around you—people, places, objects, emotions, unknowns—steady. And part of that steadiness reflects Me and I love it: you are calm and loving when the hearts of others are aching, and I often allow you to be a safe place so someone can get a glimpse of my immense joy and delight in them. But, sweetie, I never asked you to partition and sort your own heart to the extent that you don’t need Me. I never asked you to steady yourself. To handle everything to the point where I can’t even give you good gifts … surprises that delight Me and will delight you.

“What if you let Me hold your heart again? Remember when you used to do that? I won’t lose it. In fact, if anyone is going to lose it, it will be you. You set it down places and wander off and forget it. You’ll organize and edit it to death, Kath. You pack your calendar and your brain and your here-let-me-help soul so full, it’s hard to get a word or moment in there with you.

“I know what these letters are about and I know the words I want to write. Please just let me write. I am a Great Author.”

A good Father longing to give good gifts to a beloved daughter. How strange that we run from gifts! I mean, I get it. I’ve seen cartoons: wrapped and ribboned boxes can explode and cakes can have dynamite instead of candles. But they were usually handed out by a coyote and you’re probably a roadrunner.

What if—with God—even a spill is a gift?

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