Hello world, it’s me, Alison. Remember me? The one who used to blog a lot?
I figure it all evens out over time since I have been doing this for about 10 years, so even when I take a couple months off, if you look at the big picture, I am committed to writing! Not that I feel any pressure to regularly blog. I actually don’t. I write to express my heart and share it with you, my global family, and I am free to express and share what I want. And I’m free to put a curtain around the garden of my heart when I want to. Life is always being lived out on the inside of our hearts, whether we are telling the world about it or not. And so, my heart has been living over here in my little corner of the world.
Living and learning.
Learning and living.
I’ve come to the conclusion over the span of my life so far that being teachable and remaining soft and open to growth are some of the most important qualities that a human being must possess internally if they are going to come to the end of their life alive, and not arrive at death already dead.
Without a teachable heart, a soft and open heart and a growing heart, you cannot live this life. You’ll live dead. You’ll die hardened, stunted, bored and bitter. This is not the life we were meant to live. We were made to live life alive.
And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart
– Ezekiel 11:19 NLT
God has given us a new heart, a heart that is tender and responsive. This is God’s gift to all of us, if we’ll accept it, receive it and let it grow in us.
I do not want to be numb. I do not want to be hardened. I want to feel every ounce of life in my being. Even if it’s painful. Even if it almost kills me. Give me life, God! Do not let me die while I am alive!
This is such a battle!
Life will throw some crazy things at you. It’ll knock you off your feet and blind side you when your guard is down. There are so many little let downs and huge disappointments that build up over time. So many crushing blows. So many bruises along the way. Yet God seems content to allow these very things to be the ingredients we are given to create the soil for our hearts to grow in.
And it’s in the thick of the battle that we are challenged to remain open, to continue to learn and continue to let the good growth of the heart happen. The good, the bad and the ugly. It’s all meant to shape our hearts for the good, for the redemptive, for the greater Love. The bad and the ugly disguise themselves as curses, but if we accept them as good gifts, they could become the very doorway to a surprising blessing and the very fertilizer the garden of our heart so desperately needed to bloom in season.
I will return her vineyards to her
and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
She will give herself to me there,
as she did long ago when she was young,
when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
— Hosea 2:15 NLT
With tenacious determination (which I believe must be from God because in myself I am so weak), I have determined that the valleys of trouble I have walked through in this life will become doorways to new hope, new dreams, new life and new love. It may seem like there’s a lot of dirt being tossed round about me, but I am choosing to believe that it is the earthen bed for this garden, this vineyard. My heart, the garden. My heart, the vineyard. The ripened fruit that has patiently and painfully grown within my heart has found itself now being harvested, prepared specifically for the winepress, prepared specifically for the devastating crushing.
I must believe that in the crushing –ah, such intense grief and pain!– a new fragrance called ‘abundant life’ is being born in me. I must believe this. To not believe would be the death of me.
I will remain teachable.
I will remain open.
I will remain soft.
I will not turn my heart toward death.
I will face life head on, and say, ‘Bring it on! I want the fullness! Crush me until new life comes forth!
The reality is that each of us has a heart that is enlarging daily, from the day we are born until the day that we die. None of us can say that we are victims of life. None of us can look at our lot in life and say that we have not been given the ingredients for an abundant life and a thriving heart. With whatever we are given by the Creator, we have all the ingredients we need for a heart to come fully alive.
We have an active role to play in the development of our hearts. Will we let our hearts become an enormous well of love, compassion and generosity, or will we let our hearts become an enormous unbreakable rock or a stopped-up river, clogged with debris and junk, essentially becoming a swamp? Come to think of it, not even the junk makes you a victim. No, if you determine to learn and grow, the junk cannot stop the flow.
There is a river in your heart and it was made to flow. A river of living water. A wellspring of life. It’s all in you. In your heart. Not in another’s heart who “appears” to have been given a better lot in life. No, your heart is that river, that wellspring, that garden.
What a tragedy to see so many human hearts die before they die. So many human hearts dying under the crushing blows, the heart aches, the disappointments, the betrayals and the pain. Ah, if we could only see that these are doorways for the heart. Invitations from the Great Gardener to turn the pain into rich, fertile soil.
Oh Great Gardener, come and help me fulfill my vows to keep my heart soft and tender before you and before humanity!
I want to love without condition, love with radical abandon, love with hopeful anticipation, love with my whole heart, my whole being, my whole body. I want a heart alive in love!
So, I accept this path, this process, this journey.
I will learn and learn and learn. And boy will I grow. Will I ever!
I will take whatever gets thrown at me and make it a gift. A gift for my heart to come more alive than before.
I will receive my lot in life and become ever softer. Ever more tender. Ever more loving. Ever more radiant, passionate and alive.
I refuse to die before I die.