• Dana L. Butler

What I’ve Learned in December

My friends,

It’s the end of December and I’ve been trying to figure out how to give you a glimpse into everything that’s happened in my heart over the last month.  I took December off from blogging because I had a sense that the Lord wanted to do some deep things in my heart, and I wanted to be fully present to Him without feeling the need to quickly share the things He was doing.

But y’all, I had no clue – NO clue – just how deep He wanted to go.  This month has been nothing short of heart surgery for me, and I’m still reeling a little bit from the depth and intensity of what the Lord’s brought to the surface of my heart.  I wish I could share more details with you here.  Suffice it to say Jesus has unearthed struggles in my heart that I only had tiny glimpses into before.

That said, I’ve been wrestling over the last several days, as my month “off” has come to a close, to decide what to share with y’all out of my last month.  So the other day when Emily Freeman reminded us on her Facebook page about her upcoming “What I’ve Learned in December” linkup, it hit me — writing this post would be a smooth re-entry into blogging.

So.  Without further ado, I bring you–

What I Learned In December

1. I learned that death deeply affects me.  Two of Stan’s and my dearest friends in Colorado lost loved ones in December — a cherished mom and a much-loved dad-in-law.  Stan and I were on the phone praying with one of those friends in the moments immediately prior to his mom’s entrance into the presence of Jesus.  We prayed He’d take her home quickly, and just like that, He answered.  I contemplated how I’ve hated death, how I’ve feared it hitting closer to my own home and heart, how witnessing death several times throughout my adult life has marked my heart.  Left scars even.  But how those scars become channels in my heart to hold more of Him if I lean into the realness and rawness of the pain, if I choose to press into His heart in the midst of it.

2. I learned that I really really need to write in a journal, pen and paper, at least 10 minutes every day.  Natalie Goldberg style — not letting my hand stop moving, diving into scary things that may come up in my heart.  Letting the Lord take me to the roots.  What started out feeling like a chore has become life to my heart, because it draws out and uncovers my deep places.  And in encountering myself more deeply, I encounter Him in me.

3. I’ve learned about brokenness.  And how I tend to think I have “it” pretty much together, mostly.  How I’ve tended to ignore my broken places, to shove them, because to let them come to the surface means I’m weak and maybe I don’t have it together, and crap — maybe even with all my knowledge of the right answers, I am incapable of fixing myself.  Oh, y’all — talk about humbling.

4. I’ve learned how my heart begins to find new life when Stan steps into a new level of covering me, of fighting for my heart, of reminding me who I am.  It makes me start to have moments of feeling like maybe, just maybe, I can become who I really am, way down deep.  Like maybe I can step right over my fear (sometimes more like terror) of man and step out and unapologetically BE and share who I am.

5. I’ve learned at a deeper level the kind of friend I want to be.  The kind who creates space for people to lay bare the right now of their life and their process, who gives permission to be in process with Jesus, who allows people to explore with Him, to be ever transforming and becoming.  The kind of friend who taps the deep places of a heart and doesn’t recoil at what’s found there, but can take a hand and walk beside a person to the cross, into the presence of Jesus with it all.

6. I’m re-learning not to shy away from others’ pain.  My grandpa fell and broke his hip while we were in NC for Christmas, and visiting him at the hospital was a discipline of choosing not to turn away from his reality, though my comfort-loving flesh desperately wanted to shrink back and shirk love and stay away.  Instead, I faced head on the reality of aging and frailty, pain and the uncertainty of being unable to predict the day we’ll no longer have my sweet grandpa in our lives.  But knowing it’s impending.

And now I really want to share some lighthearted things with y’all, because I feel like this post is ultra-heavy on the deep, gut-wrenching stuff.  I want to share things about Carolina blue skies and Carolina barbecue and Isaac and Maia’s personalities emerging further and precious moments with family and long awaited real-life meetings with blogging friends and mentors who took time to lovingly probe my heart so I’d see myself more clearly in the month of December.

BUT–

This post is already over 800 words and y’all, these things are the reality of my December.  Heart surgery.  The gut-wrenching stuff.  It’s just the season I’ve been in.  It’s where I’ve encountered Jesus.  And in all of it He’s tender and fierce in His pursuit of my heart, so though there’s uncertainty and my heart is raw, I’m learning to rest in Him.  To find refuge in Him.  To wait on Him.  To press into Him and into my husband’s love and I’m learning that those things are so much more than enough for me.  So much more.

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