Filling Places

Don’t give something up until you have something better to replace it with.
That’s normal psychology talking. And it makes sense.
But I was motivated to give up destructive feelings and attitudes,
Simply because they were bad for me, my relationship with God, and others.
Most of my life, I never went hunting with ‘the right’ replacement attitudes.

Except for specific revelations, it didn’t occur to me to pursue replacing:
Inadequacy with something better,
A bad self-image with a good one,
Not feeling good enough with feeling equal with everyone.
I just wanted to get rid of the bad stuff.
New good bits leaked in, but mostly I just ended up feeling neutral.

And for years, I went both ways from that neutral stance.
When things went well, I felt competent,
And all the good things that come with that eased my path.
But when things went the other way so did I,
Even though it no longer was a permanent state of being.

I developed a kind of dread, which I called Holy Dread or Holy Terror.
It filled my heart before every function and Sundays.
This has remained with me for many years
Even after God and I solved most other problems.
And I went back into neutral.

I suppose that was okay because it gave me time to not feel…
To let God reassure me it would all be okay,
To reassure me ministry didn’t always stay stable,
To reassure me participation is certain activities comes in waves.
To let the scars heal.

Then, all at once today, God sent an answer – prayers were answered.
The space in my heart once filled with holy dread was healed!
Like a cat, exploring the space left by moving a familiar object,
I walked around and through the space, rejoicing in its lightness.
And I opened up my heart and asked, “After you fill it, what’s next, Lord?”

“Well, get on with it, and don’t feel guilty,” He said.
“But, what do I feel now?”
“Not fearful anticipation, but joyful anticipation.
Prepare as usual. Get things ready. Then rest and anticipate my work.”
“But. . . but . . .but,” I sputter. “I’m not sure I know how.”

“Ah,” God said. “Let me teach you. And I will provide what and who you need.”
“Well,” I agree with a sardonic grin. “It’ll have to be your work. I’m all out of self-helps.”
“True,” God agrees. “So, do you want me to fill this space with joyful anticipation?”
“Yes. Absolutely. I’m tired of the unnecessary tension.”
I did accept God’s offer. He filled the space. Now it’s time for service…..

Prompted by a devotional my Monty Bower,
This essay is also included in Jo’s upcoming spiritual bio, “I Think I Lost My Why.”

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