The morning sun begins to warm the spot where I sit on The Front Porch. As the heat envelopes me I feel known and loved. It is from my perch that I am learning what it means to be held.
That word – HELD – has been here with me a lot lately.
What it means to be held?
I think of a hug.
When my heart grows weary, or my body hurts, or when I am simply happy and content – to reach my arms around my husband or my children and to have them reach their arms around me.
I love that feeling of warmth and relief.
For me, hugging my hubby is often beyond words.
This only works, of course, with people you love and who you know love you in return.
There is no room for falsehood in being held.
Do you know what it feels like to be held?
To me being held:
- It is that deep relief your spirit sighs as you are known and loved and kept by someone who “heart & soul” cares for you.
- It is someone who you in return want to know and love and keep.
- It is a safe place for your soul.
This is why I am protective of my hugs.
This body is mine. This is my sacred space. And if someone is unsafe I am reluctant to be held by them.
Let’s be honest if someone is unsafe or untrustworthy, abusive or unkind, proven manipulative in their actions towards me (meaning that this hug is just me trying to get you to cooperate)- I don’t even want them touching me let alone hugging me.
If someone is unsafe – I have no desire to hug them.
If someone has harmed me – or someone I love… I have a difficult time going there.
I refuse to fake it.
I won’t even fake it to help them feel better about themselves or for the benefit of anyone who might be watching us.
I have found hugging out of obligation OR maintaining appearances to be a soul-stripping exercise.
You can only fake things for so long before pieces of your authentic self start to slosh off.
I have dwelt too long in the life-sucking places to allow any more soul sloshing in my life.
Where I Have NOT Been Held
The Front Porch is about homeless Sundays. It is about finding God and yourself and your family and the power that has been lost or stolen from your life.
Unfortunately/Fortunately there are a whole bunch of us that choose the front porches of our homes over the gathering in sanctuaries on a Sunday morning.
I have lived in the world of homeless Sundays for more than six years.
Once upon a time when I used to be very active in church, when Sundays were exhausting, when I had the opportunity to lead worship every now and then, or participate in the worship team, when I was leading the outreach ministry to the local family homeless shelter and actively participating in everything I could do (as a mother of three).
The slogan of our church’s women’s ministry was: Bring your heart.
And so I did. I prayed to be held and I brought my heart to a group of women I trusted.
I tried to be trustworthy – I think in the end we all failed at it miserably.
I brought my heart and they squashed it.
And as most stories involving church tend to go…
When the small circles of churched women got together, spun their tales, and “whispered their prayers” over coffee & gossip – the women I knew and the woman I was becoming – were pushed out.
Meetings were held and business was declared and I quietly backed out the door.
That is old wine and old skins. Wine poured out, skins run dry. Wine I don’t want to dwell on here.
But it is a part of my story. A part of where I have NOT been HELD.
This is a piece of the puzzle of me – small circles of churched women taking my blood for sport.
I also have pieces of me that have been deeply held and loved by churched folk.
- Godly men
- who have prayed over me in the middle of a busy room while the business of work went on around them.
- and they did not hesitate to pray over me.
- Godly women
- who have sat in hospital waiting rooms while they biopsied my unknown lumps
- hugged me in gas station parking lots following a miscarriage
- answered the phone when the world swirled ugly and broken.
- And they did not hesitate to pray over me.
I have been held by people who claim Christ… One-on-One, but rarely have I been held by churched people when we’ve been gathered in a group.
The groups have swirled ugly and mad and mean.
I avoid the group. I can’t be held by her the way she thinks I need to be held.
I can’t be held by her the way she holds people.
Being Held by God
Many people have no clue what that means: to be held by God.
I don’t want to super-spiritualize or trivialize it but for me being held by God feels like:
- coming home
- being heard
- being understood
- being held by my “husband” in a warm embrace
This embrace is NOT forced.
If I kick and scream and want Him to let go – he let’s me go… in a manner of speaking.
He is NOT intimidated by the distance between us.
He knows that I need Him and HE allows me to figure that out.
He does not force his arms around me…
He does not become angry or dejected when I do not reciprocate appropriately or in a timely matter.
God is not worried about how I make Him look.
He does not appear to get too worked up if I need space.
And in our relationship together – I know I am always safe and always loved and always held.
I have not known that in the church.
And I have rarely known that around God’s people
So I go looking for it on the front porch (just as I did on the path).
I am met here. Found here. Whispered to here.
And I am held.
Maybe you are not willing to be held by God because of churched people, or family that held you with conditions, or people that pierced your heart deep?
- Can we sit here together and be silent?
- Can we weep over the spilled wine that lies in the dirt?
- Can we rejoice over old cracked containers that can no longer hold our new wine! (Mark 2:22)
“For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)
Exercises in being held this week?
- Hug someone you love – don’t let go. Count to 30. If you don’t like to be touched, or have no one to hug freely, hug yourself.
- You’ll need a journal or paper, a pen, a timer, and 5 minutes of quiet. Write for 5 minutes on the idea of “Being Held.” What images does it bring up? Good? Bad? What feelings and words can you give to it?
- If you do not write, but love to draw – draw, create something beautiful or messy. Give yourself quiet time on the porch to let what is inside flow beyond you.
- Sit in the quiet meditating on this verse: “Don’t Panic. I am with you. There is no need to fear. I will give you strength. I will help you. I, your God have a firm grip on you and I am not letting go.” (Isaiah 41:10,13 MSG)
- Have you found the above verse to be true of God’s presence in your life? Why? Why Not?
- Sit in all your answers this week:
- Go for a walk.
- Take your camera and capture something beautiful in your yard or neighborhood.
- Pray to have eyes that see and a heart that feels held.