Back on the Dance Floor

When loss is part of your story, another person’s happy moment can be bittersweet for you. It’s natural, I suppose, to feel a twinge of sadness when someone gains what you’ve lost. It’s not envy; it’s grief. And grief has a way of sneaking up on you at the most inopportune times.

Recently, I attended a wedding in which my nephew was a groomsman. As the groom stood by the pastor and watched his beautiful bride stride to his side, my heart twisted, and I blinked back tears. You see, the groom was in his momma’s belly when she sang at my wedding more than 25 years ago.

As the sweet couple exchanged vows, I begged God to bless their marriage with strength and longevity. I prayed for them to keep Christ smack-dab in the center of their union so no schemes of the enemy can squirm in and wreak havoc. I prayed for their marriage not to crash and burn like mine did.

Later, at the reception, I sipped sweet tea and watched a group of little kids bust a move on the dance floor. A too-cute little girl toddled to the dance floor. With giant bow bouncing atop her blonde curls, she twirled and did her best to keep up with the big kids. She’d dance a while and return to her grandma’s waiting arms.

On one of her trips to the dance floor, the little one tripped and fell hard. I held my breath as she stood to her feet, wondering if she’d shake it off or not. Well, she didn’t. With a giant wail, she ran to her granny’s special brand of comfort. Her tear-stained cheek stayed glued to her granny’s shoulder for a good long time.

After a while, I spied the granny tip-toe to the dance floor with her little dancer by the hand. Unsure and unsteady, the little one stood among the other young dancers with her granny’s hand in a death grip. Not much dancing happened, but she was back out there. A few minutes later, she ventured out on her own, but she kept peeking back to make sure her granny was watching. Finally, she let it rip and showed the big kids how it’s done. Her tumble was ancient history.

As I watched the little dancer, I felt my Savior’s embrace. I know you fell hard, Lee, but it’s time to get back on the dance floor. You can do this. Don’t worry. You’ll never lose my watchful gaze.

My divorce is final.

The process took almost two years. You’d think it would be old news to my heart by now. But seeing the decree on the county clerk’s website felt like a fresh break to my heart. But, it’s done. I’m a single woman whether I want to be or not.

People keep saying it’s a new beginning. A new chapter. I’ve gotten everything from “Congratulations!” to “I’m so sorry.” My response is more in line with  the latter. Put it this way. I’m not planning a “Whoopie, I’m divorced!” party.

But I keep remembering the little dancer at the wedding reception. And I keep hearing that gentle whisper. It’s time to get back on the dance floor. You can do this. Don’t worry. You’ll never lose my watchful gaze.

I’ve been sticking close to God’s lap lately. Afraid to venture out. Afraid to do hard things. Afraid to move forward.

The hermit life sounds strangely enticing, but I can’t keep hiding.

It’s time to get back out there on life’s dance floor, but I can’t do it without Him.

Lord, 

I fell hard. My confidence is shot, and the thought of starting over seems so hard. So risky. So scary.

But I know I can’t hide out anymore. It’s time to start dancing.

King Solomon said there’s “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV).

I know my heart’s still healing, but less tears and more laughter sounds pretty good. 

But dancing? Thriving in this new life of mine? It feels unreachable to me right now. I need You to breathe new life into me. New hope. New confidence.

I need You, Lord. 

I hear You urging me, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV).

I hear You reminding me, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed” (Jeremiah 29:11-13 MSG).

I hear You assure me, [You] will be like a well-watered garden, and [you] will sorrow no more. [You] will dance and be glad. I will turn [your] mourning into gladness; I will give [you] comfort and joy instead of sorrow” (Jeremiah 31:12-13 NIV).

I hear my soul singing, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13 NIV).

Help me live, Lord.

Lead me to the dance floor. I will dance with You. I will dance for You. I will dance.

In the faithful name of Jesus I pray, AMEN

 

 

 

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No More Pinball Brain: A Prayer for Focus

One thing I’ve noticed about my brain these days…I can’t seem to focus on anything productive for any useful length of time. Thoughts ping and pong around my head like a silver pinball at the mercy of an arcade champ.

Here are just a few examples of my flighty thought patterns:

  • I think I’ll go cook something healthy for dinner. Oh, I wish I cooked dinner more often for my family. Maybe we’d still be together. Dang it, I never fixed Pastor Gary a banana pudding for Pastor Appreciation Month. I never follow through. What’s wrong with me? I think I’ll just eat chips.
  • Time to pay bills. Oh, I wish I handled money better back then. Maybe my marriage would still be in tact. Ugh, I shouldn’t have gone grocery shopping without a list. I spent too much as usual. What’s wrong with me? I’ll pay bills later. 
  • Need to get this blog post about focus done. I’ve been putting it off for a week. If I wasn’t such a slacker, my marriage would still be together. Oh, I got a text. Oh, what’s going on with my FB friends? Hmm, that photo got 78 likes, but so-and-so didn’t like it. Why do I care so much about what she thinks? I’m pathetic.  Ooh, it’s my turn on Words with Friends. What in the world? It’s 11:30 p.m., and I only wrote three sentences. What’s wrong with me? Do I need meds? 

Yeah, my brain has major pinball dents. As I battle for my mind this year, I need the steady hand of God to take hold of my face and help me see what’s right in front of me and Who’s right there to point me to truth.

In her book, FerventPriscilla Shirer says this about focus:

Focus clears away dead space and clutter. It’s what sharpens the images in your photographs, capturing the detail and highlights you want to remember, while pushing less important things to the background or cropping them out altogether. Focus minimizes distractions, lowering your risk of being blindsided. It keeps you from being preoccupied, from overlooking important facts that would’ve been readily obvious if you’d only been paying better attention. Focus protects your goals and dreams from being consumed in small bites, stolen right out from under your nose in twenty-minute segments of compromise.

And focus is the antenna that prayer helps to keep raised and alert, making you keenly aware if somebody’s trying to play you for a fool.

I think we all know who that “somebody” is.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5 8-9 NIV).

My enemy loves to see me distracted and flighty as a do-do bird. He knows when I’m all worked up over conflicts with people and conflicts within my own mind, I won’t be busy doing my Father’s business, and I won’t be living a victorious life.

I’m tired of being distracted by lesser things. I’m tired of listening to the enemy accuse me with my own voice. I’m tired of going to bed bone-weary with very little to show for the day.

I want to see…with laser-like focus…what God has for me today and how He’s fighting the joy stealer, tooth-and-nail, for me to have it. I want to see the deliberate steps He wants me to take that will inch me toward His best for me. And then I want to actually take those steps, one-by-one without doing the pinball cha cha.

It’s time to pray for focus.

Lord,

I can’t think straight these days. But You say in Your wisdom book that You will make my paths straight if will only trust and obey (Proverbs 3:5-6). Does that include thought pathways? Oh, Lord, please renew my mind, so I can focus on what matters most.

Focus on truth

My struggle is not against what I can see. It’s against an unseen enemy with stubborn resolve to bring me down (Ephesians 6:12).

He can poke and pick at me all he wants. I will never lose the only thing that really matters.

“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate [me] from [Your] love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither [my] fears for today nor [my] worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate [me] from [Your] love that is revealed in Christ Jesus [my] Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NLT).

You are “faithful, and [You] will strengthen and protect [me] from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3 NIV).

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me” (Psalm 138:7 NIV).

Focus on today

“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that [I] can, with reverence, serve you” (Psalm 130:3-4 NIV). Oh Lord, I know You must be hurt by all my “kick-me” thoughts as I dwell on my past mistakes. My sins are forgiven, yet I keep on rehashing. Help me fully embrace Your forgiveness and quit my unhealthy habit of looking back at an over-and-done-with past.

Forgive me, Lord, for letting the unknowns of my future distract me from what I know for sure. You are with me right now, and You go before me into a future You see in-full. I’m not a perfect woman, but I’m a God-seeking woman. I am “clothed with strength and dignity, and [I can laugh] without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25 NLT).

“By [Your] divine power, [You have] given [me] everything [I] need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3 NLT). All I have is this day, Lord. You don’t promise me another one. Turn Your power loose in me to make the most godly good out of this today.

Focus on the next step

Help me reject the thoughts my enemy constantly plants in my head to shove me off-course. I don’t have to put up with his schemes. “The weapons [I] fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. [I] demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and [I] take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NIV).

“May I wholeheartedly follow your decrees, that I may not be put to shame” (Psalm 119:80 NIV).

I hear You say, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways” (Proverbs 4:25-26 NIV). Help me do it, Lord!

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you” (Isaiah 26:3 NIV). Take my mind, Lord, and steady it. I need that perfect peace. Peace with my past. Peace about the future. Peace for today.

Focus me, Lord. 

In the name of Jesus, who never stops thinking of me, I pray, AMEN

Considering this post took me a week and a half to write, I think I need to pray this prayer ’til the truth sticks. Do you struggle with lack of focus? Leave a comment. I’d love to pray for you.

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