#10 – Wear it on Your Heart

You’ve written my name on the palm of Your hand, but until You revealed it to me, I had no idea it so closely resembled a nail-shaped scar.

I have a slight obsession with names. Seriously. While I love the names Silas and Gideon, I refuse to use both of them because the first means “forest dweller” and the second, “tree cutter.” That’s just asking for World War III to break out in your home.

Names are important. Your name is what defines you. That’s why I’m glad my mom was kind enough to name me “devoted and cherished.” And maybe that’s also why I was so touched when I read this article about Indian girls changing their names.

Here are a group of young women who have known from birth that they were “unwanted.” But on this one glorious day, they decided to make that change. They decided to transform the way they saw themselves and force others to see them in this new light. I wish I could have been there to watch these 285 girls receive the certificates that would restore them with a sense of worth. I wish I could have been there to see their smiles, to cry their happy tears.

But here I am, half a world away, talking to you. And I’m sure you have labels – names – that define you. And I’m sure there are words bouncing around in your mind. Words like: worthless, stupid, failure, unlovable… and God only knows what else. But you know what? You don’t have to go by those names anymore. You don’t have to see yourself as alone and unwanted. You don’t have to believe that your life has no value.

You are:

a child of God. (John 1:12)

chosen by God. (Ephesians 1:4)

valuable. (Matthew 10:31)

beautiful. (Psalm 45:11)

delivered. (Psalm 34:4)

endlessly loved. (Isaiah 54:10)

God knows your name, and He loved it enough to inscribe it on the palm of His hand. (Isaiah 49:16) He wears your name like a tattoo. I’m not really into tattoos, but I love the thought that I’m a permanent part of the Almighty God.

When the world screams that you’re unloved, unwanted, and undesired, God throws a renaming party and totally redefines you. Wear your new name on your heart as God wears it on His hand, and know that you are so much more than the words that define you.

The Blinds Around My Heart

I remember when I first moved to Virginia and said to myself, “I will never tire of seeing these mountains.” Well, it hasn’t even been two  years and the view from my bedroom window is something I scarcely notice anymore. The Blue Ridge Mountains have become so familiar that I’ve simply stopped seeing them. Most days, I don’t even open the blinds.

Sadly, they’re not the only thing I take for granted.

I find it interesting that the God who created something as vital as the air I breathe is so easy to overlook. Sometimes I get so caught up in other things that I cease to notice God’s presence. But just like those mountains looming in the distance, God is never far away. All I have to do is open the blinds that darken my heart.

In the midst of the mundane, God is offering us glimpses of the divine. He’s always there, and because of this, we often fail to truly see Him. And then there are days where we cannot help but marvel at the greatness of our God. Today was one of those days for me.

As I’m preparing to leave for India in six short days, I was talking to a coworker about how my brother who lives over there is going to come meet me in Mumbai. Somehow, in the course of our conversation, I mentioned his missionary friend whom my mom has “adopted” as another son. It’s been a of couple years since I’ve started calling Raju my brother, and I remarked how badly I’d like to meet him. Later in the day, Mom called… And as it turns out, both of my brothers will be making the trip down to meet me next week.

Some people would call that coincidence, but me… I looked up and saw the Mountain. This was a God-ordained blessing meant solely to bless my socks off. It was a touch from God that I couldn’t deny. Though some days I leave the blinds shut, today they were thrown wide open. And I basked in the wonder of the sheer awesomeness of my God.

Casually Breaking Your Heart

Casual dating. I think that’s the biggest oxymoron I’ve ever heard. How can something as serious as a romantic relationship ever be considered “casual?” And yet I hear the phrase tossed around all the time. “Well, yeah we’re dating, but it’s pretty casual. I dunno. We’ll see what happens.” Or, “Yeah, I don’t really like him, but he asked me out so, here we are.”

Don’t be deceived into thinking this is just a “Hollywood culture” mentality, either. It has infiltrated our churches. When I confided in a Christian friend that a guy friend of mine was trying to get me to go out with him, this is the opinion she shared with me: “Well, he sounds like a pretty sweet guy, and you seem to get along well with him. I don’t see any harm in two friends casually hanging out and maybe grabbing a cup of coffee.” Really? Well, then I think I’ll just wear a flashing, neon sign that reads: “Hey, I like you back, so keep pursuing me!” That might be a little more subtle.

For me to have gone on a “casual” date with this guy would have been wrong because he would have read much more into the situation than just “grabbing a cup of coffee” with a friend. The truth is, although I could have easily gone out with this guy and remained completely unaffected, I’m pretty certain that the mixed signals I would be sending him could be hazardous to his heart. What would my actions be insinuating to him about our relationship? Saying that you are “casually dating” someone is like saying you’re “just friends.” But friends don’t ask friends out unless they are hoping to be more than friends. Are you getting the picture? There is no such thing as casual dating because “casual” only exists on one side of the relationship.

When my friend’s girlfriend broke up with him, she confessed that she hadn’t known if she really liked him or not, so she figured dating him was the only way to find out. Then she got upset with him when he accused her of playing with his heart.

Personally, I think he had a right to be upset. You know, when a guy asks you out, it is okay to tell him, “I’ll think about it,” or better yet, “I’ll pray about it.” (After all, it’s always a good idea to invite God into the scenario right up front.) I can’t help but wonder how much heartache my friend could have been spared had this girl taken a moment to pray about their relationship and seek God’s will instead of just saying “yes” when he asked her out.

But oftentimes, we don’t pray about it. We simply do what our feelings are leading us to do and “follow our hearts.” Now, that’s probably some of the worst advice you ever received from Disney. Did you know that the Bible tells us that our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked? Let’s face it, ladies – we’re selfish, and our hearts are only catering to our own needs.

So, as a girl who’s a friend of many a guy, I’m begging you, please be careful with the hearts of the men around you. Relationships are not a game. And there is nothing “casual” about breaking a man’s heart. Next time a guy asks you out, take a moment to pray and truly seek God’s will in the situation. If you’re not interested in pursuing the possibility of a permanent relationship with this man, say no. I’m sure the guy will agree with me when I say that temporarily hurting his feelings up front is preferable to crushing his heart a couple months down the road.

The Breaking

The day I received my brand new Bible, I flipped the pages open to Genesis 6 so I could underline a passage that I remembered as the first passage I had ever read from the NLT translation: “The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.” (Genesis 6:5-6)

Now that may sound like a strange verse to want to underline, but I guess I’m just fascinated by the idea that we are capable of breaking God’s heart. I hadn’t really thought about it until I read this interesting fantasy series about a world that had been created alongside earth, but didn’t fall in Adam and Eve’s rebellion. One conversation between two characters  really resonated in my heart. This wise dwarf is explaining the fall of man to the newly crowned king. The young king wants to know if Adam and Eve’s sin is what broke the Most High’s heart. “Nay,” the wizened, old dwarf replies, “this is what started the breaking.”

This is what started the breaking – meaning God’s tender, fragile heart has suffered more than once. Meaning His heart has been broken repeatedly since that moment. Meaning I’m guilty for some of the pain experienced by the Most High.

I think that if we are going to experience a loving, intimate relationship with God, we have to realize that we are capable of breaking His heart – just as we are capable of breaking the heart of a human being. No, God is not human, but since we were made in His image, we humans possess many of His qualities – such as a heart that feels both joy and pain.

Think about this: your heart can only be broken by someone you’ve entrusted with it. God has entrusted you with His heart. He has given you the ability to hurt Him because He thinks you are worth the risk. If that doesn’t move you, I don’t know what will. The thing that breaks my heart is that I know I am the person described in Genesis 6:5. I know I’ve thought and done some things that are consistently and totally evil. In reflection of all this, I wrote this poem:

One single tree, one simple command;

they acted like they didn’t hear it.

One bite of the fruit was a knife in your soul

and already, they knew they were drifting.

So this is what broke the Most High’s heart?

Nay, only what started the breaking.

Every day it is broken again

as Your Word remains ignored.

To say that I’m sorry seems insufficient

when I know that I’ll fail You again.

I’m tired of hurting You, of hurting myself.

When will there be an end to

The Breaking?


From the Breaking of Your heart to the Breaking of my chains.

Set me free from this trap I’ve fallen into.

Someone You Can’t Live Without

Perhaps DragonHeart isn’t what you think of when someone says the word “fairytale,” but when you grow up with three brothers, you are just as familiar with it as you are with Cinderella. And since it has all the fantastical qualities of a fairytale (an evil king, a dragon that sounds like Sean Connery, and a knight in shining armor who beats Prince Charming any day), we’re going to learn a few things from this masculine fairytale.

The story begins with a battle in which the young prince Einon is critically injured. The queen’s longstanding family history of peace and friendship with the dragon race is the only thing that can save her son.  She swears that her son will not follow in the footsteps of his wicked father, but be trained in justice. Because of her promise, the dragon agrees to give half of his heart to the dying prince. His heart keeps Einon alive. The prince’s life depends on that dragon, not only in the moment when he receives the heart, but throughout the rest of his life. When Einon hurts, the dragon hurts. Einon cannot live without the dragon, nor can he die until the dragon is destroyed. Their lives are intertwined, and their deaths are likewise.

The one quote that has struck me most strongly regarding singleness/dating is the statement made by Shannon Kubiak Primicerio in her book The Divine Dance. “Don’t look for someone you can live with; look for someone you cannot live without.” The thing I find most fascinating about the idea of marriage is the mystery of two people becoming one. They are still two separate people with two different personalities, yet somehow they are as one. When he hurts, she hurts; when’s he’s happy, she’s happy. Their lives are intricately connected in a way that I suppose I will never understand until I’m married.

I’m one of those people who believe that God created me with a certain man in mind. And while He gave me my own heart and own passions, one day, my heart is going to mold perfectly into the heart of another. I’m holding out for that one somebody whose heartbeat matches mine, who hurts when I hurt, and sings when I sing. I’m holding out for the man whose passions compliment mine, who values the things I value, and whose vision comes into alignment with my own. And while I’ve met many guys who I’ve figured I could live with, I’m not settling for something as simple as that. I’m holding out for the man I was created to become one with – the man I cannot live without.

A God Who Loves

Christianity is the only religion that is centered around a God who loves. Maybe the thought that a God who created the heavens and the earth and everything in it is too much for people to handle. I’ll admit that it can be pretty mind-boggling at times, but I’ve learned to accept it. I figure that if God loves me as much as the Bible says He does,  He probably wants me to accept His love. How would you feel if someone never accepted the love you extended to them?

Before I ever learned to dance with Jesus, I witnessed another person’s dance with Him. Some friends of my family (a married couple portraying Jesus and His bride) were going to dance for their church, and I was able to watch them practice. I guess my heart has always secretly longed for this dancing relationship with God because I was enraptured by the beauty and romance of this dance. In the end, they were asked to re-choreograph their dance because it was “too intimate” to be performed in church. Too intimate? Jesus is very intimate. Ephesians 5 talks about how marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. Could God explain Himself as being any more intimate? Traces of His romantic love are scattered throughout the Scripture. It could take me all day to pull out every reference regarding God’s immensely intimate love for us, but I’ll leave you with this one thought from Hosea 2:19-20:

I will betroth you to Me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.

Those are God’s words – His promise to us. Maybe that promise doesn’t capture your heart like it does mine.  Maybe you aren’t moved by verse 15 where God says we will call Him “my husband.” And maybe your heart won’t leap when you browse down to verse 23 where God says He will show love to the one He called “Not my loved one.” Maybe your heart isn’t stirred by the fact that God has called you “His people,” but I know that mine sure is. And sometimes it makes me feel like dancing.

You’re My Home

Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairytales. I always loved the Disney cartoon, then I watched a local high school perform the Broadway version. Why couldn’t all the songs from Broadway have been incorporated into the cartoon? For nearly eighteen years of my life, I didn’t know what I was missing. Me!, No Matter What, Maison des Lunes… and I found myself particularly drawn to the song Home. (Maybe that stems from the fact that I’m a notorious homebody who doesn’t know why her dreams had to carry her 450 miles away from the place where she grew up.)

Here’s a story that takes a horrible situation and gives it a happy ending. This is a girl’s nightmare turned fairytale. It’s a twist in Belle’s perspective that makes this story spectacular. It’s her willingness to change her views that brings the happy ending. She could have spent the rest of her life “shut away from the world until who knows when,” but instead she chose to open herself up to this monster who held her captive. And in the end she discovered he wasn’t truly a monster at all. As the story reaches the climax and the Beast lies dying, Belle confesses the thing she has learned throughout her time of captivity with these words: “Don’t you know how you’ve changed me? Strange how I finally see… I’ve found home – you’re my home. Stay with me.”

I guess the Beast ended up being what Belle sang about in her first rendition of Home – where the heart is. I’ve found that to be the only way of coping with being so far away from my biological home. I simply focus my heart on where I am and who I’m with. Better yet, I’ve invited Jesus to be my Home. That way I never have to leave it.  Now if I stumble upon an enchanted castle in a deep woods, I won’t have to sing a song of mourning. My song will always be one of joy because I’ve been changed, and I’ve found home. God is my home, and He will forever stay with me.