Begin Again, Believe Again: Embracing the Courage to Love with Abandon

I haven’t written a blog for a long time.  I have a lot of excuses.  It was a rough summer, and yet despite the vicissitudes of hope and despair of the past months this new book hits the bookstore shelves October 29, 2010.  I can’t think of a better theme for my own heart and life right now than Begin Again, Believe Again.  Perhaps the most important word in the title of this book is again.  Whatever season of life we are in, we inevitably face the opportunity to try again, risk again, hope again, forgive again, love again –to begin again and believe again.  I am coming to believe that the word again is probably one of the most important and difficult words to live out.  Whether it’s beginning a diet again, a relationship again, sobriety again, a letter to a long-lost friend again, an apology again, or time with Jesus again — living in “again” is humbling, challenging, and absolutely necessary if we are to become who we long to be and who God intended us to be.

One of my neighbors is crazy.  At least that’s what we’ve said — I hope with some compassion — during the fifteen years that I’ve lived here.  She only leaves her home at night, and then in a dark coat with a scarf wrapped around her head no matter the weather she walks quickly to the mailbox to get her mail.  I’ve often wondered if she’s waiting for a letter or a card from someone who could help her with her overgrown lawn, peeling paint, and lonely hours.  She has a basement full of cats that keep her company.  I learned from a neighbor who has lived in this neighborhood longer than I have that she went through a messy divorce about twenty years ago and has never been the same since.  She quit her job (she was a therapist!), pulled down her blinds, and has spent her days in the company of her cats.  My neighbor told me that on the day of her divorce from her husband of twenty-five years my “crazy”, cat-loving neighbor told a few women in the neighborhood, “I’m done.  My heart is broken, and I will never love again.”

Today when a box full of my new books arrived at my front door I pulled out a book and ran my finger over the raised letters of the title, Begin Again, Believe Again, and I thought about my neighbor.  Ten years ago my family broke into a million pieces that all of the counseling and wisdom of this world could not put back together again.  I think I’ve gone a little crazy along the way.  I’ve relapsed in addiction, and in the process, I’ve hurt and scared a lot of people, including me.  I’ve seriously thought about never leaving the house again.  I’ve thought about getting a fish, because I’m severely allergic to cats.

This new book tells my own story and the stories of other women with broken and battered hearts, and again I’m contemplating hiding out in the basement.  Making one’s failures public is a scary thing.  Yet I know that if you ask anyone over the age of thirty if their relational lives have turned out as they dreamed, you’re almost guaranteed to hear stories of hard relationships, broken relationships, and evn unbearable relationships that make people go a little crazy.

In his wonderful book, A Taste of Silence, Carl Arico writes, “Transformation is the process of God’s recreating our very selves . . . . All the phases of transformation are not done through our strategies.  They are done because we are open to remaining in the presence of God.”   As I consider the realities that have resulted in hopelessness, uselessness, despair, abandonment, rejection, lack of understanding, loneliness, and vulnerability — realities that assault my equilibrium, I am learning that when I am in the place where I must begin again and believe again, God is closer than I realize.

An intimate relationship with Jesus is for crazy people — not because it’s untrue but because this whole world is untrue, and nothing proves that more than our relationships.  Yet these very difficulties are what can compel us to want Jesus more than we want any human relationship.  When we ignore His knocking at our door in the midst of painful or difficult relationships, we build dungeons for our souls.  When we don’t realize that relational realities are intended to compel us to hear His knocking, we miss the Truth and we miss being discovered by the Truth.

In revealing his desire for a relationship with us, God chooses foolishness — broken, painful, confusing, heartbreaking, crazy, human relationships.  The New Testament expresses it this way, “God chose the fooish things of this world [risking in relationships again] to shame the wise [playing it safe]; God chose the weak things of the world [brokenness in relationships] to shame the strong [looking like we have it all together].  He chose the lowly things of this world [difficult relationships] and the despised things [failed relationships] — and the things that are not [loneliness] . . . so that no one may boast before Him.”

I do want to invite you to read my new book — knowing that the very ability to write and process my own life has kept me from hiding in the basement living with a room full of cats — hoping that in considering the ups and down of our relationships that Christ Jesus might “become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:37-30).

What keeps us from going stark-raving mad when we experience heartache again and again?  Knowing that we are loved.  Loving because we have been loved.  And in loving, knowing intimately the One who is the beginning, middle, and ending of all our stories.

“So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well . . . .” Philippians 1:9