Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Proverbs 3:5-8 (MSG)
Nearly three decades ago, newly married and living in a tiny apartment in Paris, I purchased a pair of brown leather cowboy boots with stars stitched on the sides. I had no idea all the places these “frenchie” boots would carry me, nor that nearly a decade later I would move to Music City where cowboy boots are like holy vestments.
Together we have covered a lot of sacred ground from hospital floors to candlelit chapels; from nature walks along the Snake River in Wyoming to glacier paths in New Zealand. Paired with sundresses, tucked under jeans, and peeking out from my Church robes, they have seen it all. The leather has softened in just the right places, and they fit me like a glove. Every few years they require new soles and an oil leather polish. But then they are back in business.
Recently, I took them in to be re-soled. The right boot had a hole in the toe, and the left boot’s sole was rubbed so thin, you could see my heart socks peeking through. The cobbler took one look at the boots, shook his head, and said, “Ma’am, you have worn these boots out! They need toe to heel loving if any dancing is in your future. Is it worth it?”
This question caused me to think about my faith, the way I look at the world, God, myself, and my investment in hope. This past spring tested me in mind, body and spirit. Four tragic funerals. I was soul-flat. The pain and suffering had worn down the leather soles of my faith. Instead of panicking, I got quiet. I have been here before. Over the summer, I asked some soul-searching questions: Is the world more benevolent than broken? Is God really present? Am I connected through my soul to a sacred reality that transcends this temporary, earthly one? Will there be a day when there is no more pain, only joy and peace? Just like my old, faithful cowboy boots, my faith was in need of some deconstruction and reconstruction.
My weariness had little to do with God, and everything to do with my willingness to rise, and keep the hope in a world of infinite beauty amidst infinite pain. I know that God never ceases mending hearts and opening doors to new avenues to love. Think of the people God has put in your path, the “hope” words God has put in your mouth, the courage and stamina God has placed in your gut before you even thought to ask for it. Even more profound are the surprises of beauty and experiences of joy that keep us believing, hoping, and looking toward new horizons.
And yet, oh how this brutal world can rub our hearts thin.
The world feels darker, less secure. It is surreal that my church is holding active shooter training, and installing bullet proof windows in Sunday school classrooms. But in the same breath, I took a walk at Radnor Lake and encountered the most exquisite owl, Finn, my seven-year-old told me he loved me more today than yesterday, and I made a fantastic, yummy dinner with lit candles for my family.
I struggle as anyone does to navigate a world of so much beauty beside so much ugliness, so much love juxtaposed to so much hate, brilliant light to darkness. We have to be watchful that the negatives do not overtake the positives. Ready for the good, the beauty, the holy.
I believe resurrection happens for cowboy boots, life stories, and personal faiths. Joy will come in the morning. Be greedy in filling the cup of life with beauty, joy, and laughter. Daily, work on resilience because it can be powerful for you and for others. Listen for and be open to God’s nudges in everything and everywhere. Read psalms, cook for family and friends, spend time in nature, commune with God. The soul will be refreshed, as the boots are re-soled!
I am excited for this new season at Bread and Honey. This fall, I am bringing the joy. Good book recommendations, stories of wonder and awe, yummy recipes, and nourishing prayers. There are some fun live events this fall to celebrate the launch of SOULFULL, one at Parnassus (October 23), another at Woodmont Christian Church with live music (November 8), both in Nashville, TN. I will also be coming to a city near you! More to come with dates and locations!
Creator of me,
You gifted me with one, precious life.
I have less time than I imagine.
Take my fill of joy.
Holdfast to hope.
Love with abandon.
“Thank God I do” has been my personal theme song! Lauren Daigle’s new album is a work of art!