Writing a blog for Conversations Journal is intimidating. Though I know it is illusion, I have this image of a typical reader to be someone who lives in holy rhythms all day long, a communal lunch perfectly placed between lauds and vespers, silence and service. My rhythms look a bit more like ventricular fibrillation. I am also a reluctant blogger. So this should prove a good discipline for me, making a blog offering each month, as topics are assigned.
This month’s topic? Do a Lectio Divina of my life in this past year.
Wow. Starting easy, huh?
Well, if Lectio Divina is the divine reading of a holy text through the method of four movements with increasing awareness of the subtext, especially through the five senses (to paraphrase of my understanding and practice), then doing a reading of my life this past year will require… courage.
I’m not sure I want an awareness of the subtext.
As a counselor, I’m committed to the telling of stories. It is how we tell our story that is almost as, if not more, important than what we are telling. It is almost comical how any one of us can tell our story without telling our story at all. We give ‘headlines,’ but rarely do we enter the subtext. For example, a person can tell you, “I am a sexual abuse victim,” but this does not draw you into the fabric of their life and heart. It sounds rather like something that might be said to Alex Trebek in a pre-Jeopardy interview, before the audience gasps at the out-of-context audacity of it being said at all. The headline prompts curiosity, but not honorable curiosity.
Contrast this with someone who tells this story by introducing you to the context, the characters, the seasons, the lighting, the mood, the dialogue. Subtext both offers and requires honor. It should prompt follow-up curiosity in you, and if you are to pursue more of this story, you must do so honorably, with care.
So, here is my headline: It has been a challenging year.
I could leave it there, but that wouldn’t be a holy reading. It wouldn’t allow space for honor—of myself or of you, the reader.
Reading One (The subtext): This is the third year of my new marriage. The vision that my husband and I held of what our lives would look like has not materialized, and has been replaced with another, God-breathed vision: Originally we saw me at home, with creative space and margin for writing, and living into a much expressed desire for a child. Where we find ourselves is: my husband took a well-needed exit out of his soul-killing company to pursue a dream of authoring software, a means to and end of many Kingdom goals. I have joy in the decision; it was Spirit breathed and confirmed by many. But the decision meant that I needed to continue and even multiply my counseling practice. Rather than space and rest, I have had consistent processing, deep heart plowing and spiritual warfare.
Reading Two (reviewing the subtext, noticing what shimmers): The phrase that stands out to me: “has not materialized.”
Reading Three (the fine subtext, a reading through the senses): The original dream holds light, space, oxygen. It is saturated with the fertile hope. It has a breathtaking, “What will come?” quality to it. The current situation feels cumbersome, the description more labored, almost as if I’m trying to convince myself. I find myself weary, even upon reading it. The reality is, my dreams are on hold, and I’m sad.
Reading Four (allowing what is to truly be, accepting myself being held by God): As I honor my sadness and receive the Father’s kindness, I am able to exhale (fitfully) into the “Spirit-breathed” nature of where He has us, right now. Gratitude starts to rise, I’m glad for trekking through life with and for someone. I sense God as author; the plot does not make sense, but I feel like I’m reading a good novel.
How does Jan’s tender offering of the holy reading of the subtext of her own life invite you to do the same?
Have you, like Jan, felt yourself in a time when “the plot does not make sense, but I feel like I’m reading a good novel”? How does this help make sense of your own story right now?
Jan Meyers Proett is a wife, friend and gardener who is also a speaker, author and counselor. Jan is the author of The Allure of Hope (NavPress) and Listening to Love (WaterBrook). Her counseling practice focuses on women's issues, loss of heart, sexual abuse and marriage counseling. Jan's work has included Wounded Heart Recovery Weeks with Dr. Dan Allender, serving the Aftercare Advisory Committee of the International Justice Mission, training facilitator for the International Christian Alliance on Prostitution (a network for those working with women and children trapped in exploitation), and on the board of Ellilta, International (an organization committed to restoring women at risk). She and her husband Steve make their home in Golden, Colorado.