• Dana L. Butler

The Best Way {for me} to Really Love

We talk of busyness, and how being surrounded by so much good often robs us of time for the best. How we long to live an intentional life and what are our personal values, really? And what could we be doing less of so we can do more of the stuff that’s deeply important to us? What are we doing out of obligation, and where do our hearts truly find life? Find Him?

Our friends sit silent, listening to our unchecked dumping of all the things we find draining in this season, our questions of why can everyone else pull all of this stuff off, and in this season, we. just. CAN’T?!

We feel weak, inadequate, even exhausted — more emotionally and spiritually than physically — and we’re frustrated by our limits.

They absorb our thoughts, ask insightful questions, look deep into our lives and consider who we are. And then she speaks, this woman who, in all her real *seeing* and drawing out of my heart, has become a haven in recent years: “You know how a caterpillar is busy, busy, busy — does all this work — and then disappears into a cocoon for a time before it emerges as a butterfly in its new season?”

I already know where she’s going with this and my head is nodding, nodding.

“I feel like the Lord is wanting you all to cocoon for this season, while you’re waiting to emerge into the next season in Colorado. He’s wanting you to pull back significantly, and you’re resisting the cocoon, which is why everything you’ve been able to do in the past feels so draining and difficult now.”

I tear up a little as she speaks, and all I can say is, “that’s the Lord. That’s the Lord.” I say it over and over, and the weight of God’s desire for us in this season sinks in deeper, deeper.

So yesterday after church, we pull aside with our friends who lead our house church, let them know we need to take a break, to pull back, to rest. They are gracious and understanding, and already it feels like a weight has lifted off our shoulders.

But while I had inklings, I don’t think I fully understood the depth of my heart’s need to hibernate until just today, when this blog post from Esther Emery hit my inbox.

Esther lives in a yurt in the Colorado mountains with her husband and young children, and today she writes about the differences between her family’s off-the-grid yurt life, and the temporary life they’ve recently lived in an apartment in the city.

She writes:

“I’m going home in a week or so. I’m going home to my healthy place, which is a yurt in the woods, with no electricity. I wish for you, with all my heart, that you would find your way home, too.

“My home is completely isolated, but for the hummingbirds. I know that this is not the way for everyone. Maybe it won’t always be the way for me. But as long as it is, I need to go.”

Tears burn the backs of my eyes yet again as I read Esther’s words today, because while her family’s outworking of their values is radically different than ours, we as a family are looking to find our “healthy place” in this season.

Don’t get me wrong – we fiercely love people and thrive on deeply connecting with those in our lives. But if we’re going to love well, we’re learning that we need that connection to flow *out of* our solitude with the Lord. If we’re scrambling to love and serve, but struggling to make enough space in our lives together for stillness and togetherness, art and heart, we’ve got it backwards and we will be exhausted. Drained dry.

[Also, just to be clear, while yurt living is incredible and fascinating, I’m pretty sure we like electricity too much to ever do more in the wilderness than tent-camp for a few days.]

We don’t know yet what else this season will hold for us. How much more we’ll need to withdraw from activities we believe in and people we dearly love in order to embrace the stillness and hiddenness God is drawing us into. I’ve struggled with fear and guilt over disappointing those who’re dear to us.  My people-pleasing and people-loving tendencies (both the unhealthy and the healthy ones) are kicking and screaming even while my deepest, truest heart is crying for rest and silence and space to breathe.

So for now, please pardon us if you don’t see our faces as much. Because we’re learning that the best way to love those around us is to be the most grounded, authentic, resourced-by-God version of ourselves. And while our “healthy place” might look different in another season, for now, being healthy and obedient and loving people well — require that we create time and space to press into one another, press into quiet, and press into His heart in the stillness.

So… we will be learning to do life slow, and letting all our loving and engaging of others come out of this new pace.

**What does your “healthy place” look like? What are the good things that tend to rob you of the space in your life to pursue what’s deeply important to you? The space to become the truest, most grounded version of yourself as you find rest in Him?**

PS. Sharing this post with Kelli’s community, Unforced Rhythms… and the coolness of the heart behind that name, and its correlation with this season of my life, is so not lost on me.

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