• Dana L. Butler

In which there’s this *thing* I can’t escape about the way I’m made

They never fail to surprise and amaze me — these tears that burn the backs of my eyes when I sit down to try and write.

In general, I’ve never been one who’s cried easily. But the older I get and the more I live day-in, day-out in this face-to-face place with all my gaping weakness and need, the more the tears come, particularly here in front of this fresh WordPress screen.

In his book, Untitled (yes, that’s the title), Blaine Hogan asks a number of questions to help one discern whether they’re making “good” art. Art that’s authentic; art that’s soulful (my words, not his).

My two favorite questions in his list are these: Did you acknowledge the lump in your throat? and Did you bring your insides out?

I am living in that place lately. The insides-on-the-outside place. The more-frequent-than-usual teary eyes– if not the lump-filled throat, though that happens too and it’s most likely to interrupt me in the middle of a worship song on a Sunday morning when I’m behind the mic. That’s always interesting.

It’s a strange feeling, walking around with your heart outside your body.

I can’t believe I just said that out loud here. Y’all are gonna think I’m nuts. But for real — I have some incredibly big, incredibly exposed feelings these days, you guys.

Between all the worship-leading and all the writing 4th Friday talks and then actually SAYING THE STUFF in my own voice, into a microphone, with people watching, and all the pouring my presence into the precious people before me whose hearts I profoundly value– I continually feel unzipped.

Then there are the few moments I find these days to spill words in this space. Again. Exposure.

But unzipping your soul before God and before your world is a conscious choice. I’m no victim. I could un-choose it in a blink.

It’s just that I would so much rather live bleeding and aching and exposed and wide open, than live shut down, closed off, and only half-alive.

This quote found its way into my Facebook feed a couple of days ago and I couldn’t escape its resonance in my gut:

“You can be comfortable or courageous, but you cannot be both.” (Mike Foster, Freeway)

Ugh. Wholehearted living can be so achingly uncomfortable.

There’s this thing about me that I keep running into these days, over and over. I’ve found it repeatedly in my life-on-life life with my littles and my Stan. And particularly, these days, I encounter it in the context of a conglomeration of miscellaneous friendships that Jesus keeps dropping like gifts into my lap, seemingly out of nowhere, with women who are so profoundly kindred-hearted, our kindredness alone is enough to reduce me to tears.

This facet of my soul that I can’t escape — it’s the way I’m hardwired for fierce, fiery love, and I cannot avoid facing it these days, owning it as both great treasure and as torture, too, at times.

There were a lot of years when my capacity to love big and deep within friendships was sliced and diced and shoved into various hidden corners of my depths, only to peek out once in a great while.

I feared it. I feared its strength, and I feared the way it was often misunderstood or completely unwanted. The way people didn’t have a grid for those pieces of me.

But there’s this thing (side note: sorry I keep saying thing – such a cardinal writing rule that I’m breaking but I’m feeling okay with my inarticulateness tonight)…

… anyway: this thing that’s happening these days in which all those sliced and diced fragments of love-ability are being gently drawn from their hidden corners, being unearthed, being pieced together again on my insides. It’s the hand of Jesus reaching in through a handful of the dearest sisters on the planet, and it is nothing short of utterly remaking my capacity to both give and receive startlingly wide and soul-shakingly deep sister-love.

And also it is nothing short of oh crap.

Living and loving this wholeheartedly scares the you know-what-out of me, y’all, for a thousand different reasons.

But the invitation over and over again is to lean, lean, lean. To simply adore Jesus with every ounce of my being, to be adored by Him, to receive His smile over these facets of my core that I’ve been afraid to fully live into, to grab on tighter to His hand, and just do it.

To live full steam ahead into the fullness of the God-designed shape of my soul.

Ugh. Deep breath, Dana.

He is trustworthy with my heart. He is trustworthy with my heart. He is trustworthy with my heart. (Repeat.)

And my time is running out tonight, so I have to stop here. I will say that I had no clue what I was gonna say when I sat down to write an hour ago. But apparently this stuff needed to find its way up and out, and the vulnerability factor of sharing these words right now is real enough that I’m currently fighting the impulse to dive into bed and cover my head with pillows. Ha.

But, my sweet friends, I pray, by God’s grace, some piece of what’s bubbled up here tonight whispers straight into your heart, nudges something inside you more fully and wildly to life. To trust.

Thank you, as always, for being such safe, kind recipients of my poured out heart. For loving our wholly trustworthy Jesus alongside me here.

You all are so dear, and so loved.

P.S. What facets of how God has fashioned you is He inviting you to grab His hand and more fully live into? I would absolutely love — LOVE — to hear. He’s trustworthy with your heart too, friend.

P.P.S. I realize I so rarely say this, but know that you are always welcome to share my posts here if they resonate with you. Much love to y’all, my friends.

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