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My birthday speech

Hello Village community,

I recently had a birthday party, where I gave a speech proclaiming what my last year has been, and my own blessing on my next year to come. I wanted to share it with all of you, as a way for you to know me deeper, and as a way for you to know how to pray for me. Love you all.

“I long for my speech to be my way of declaring praises to Him who has called me out of darkness into his wonderful life (1 Peter 2:8). Especially as this is the 10-year anniversary of me being a woman of the Light.

Last year I celebrated a year of God blessing me as a Father who gives good gifts to me his treasured daughter. And I made the theme of my party around giving and receiving good gifts. But to acknowledge that celebration I had to acknowledge that I struggled as my own earthly father I felt gave me a stone when I asked for bread. But with prayer, repeated experiences, and remembering I saw and received that God is a Father who gives good gifts. I have learned celebration often comes hand in hand with facing our disappointments and sorrows.

As I reflect on last year, my 27th year, I see it was marked by God being a God who is committed to making me alive. This meant repenting from the ways I choose darkness and death, and choosing physical life and spiritual life. God gave me physical life as last February I was inspired by the dedication and training of the Winter Olympians that I started running and training for a half marathon. During the Olympics, I screamed at all the Olympians who did not win gold and shamed themselves, “But you did it. You committed your heart, mind, and body to something, and you are a success.” Running and training changed my own relationship with success and my own body. I heard the darkness inside of me screaming, “You are fat, you are slow, you are simply bad at this. You’ll never make it!” And I fought them, “No! I am lovely, I am fast, and I am good at this as my God takes delight in me and I am still trying.”

It was synonymous with my spiritual life. I started risking believing that God still loves me, chooses me, and receives me even when I do not “win” or meet my own standards perfectly. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace I have been saved (Ephesians 2:5). This softened me to risk more, and be more genuine, connected to my own longings, and also my disappointments. As many of you know, I intensely love children, and I long to have a family. Corey and I knew by going to graduate school, we would need to be willing to wait to have children. And both of us felt called to our professions and called to this path. But there are many ways I do not want to trust Corey and God to continue to take care of me. I have ached in this last year, feeling it was up to me to sustain our family so I could get what I want, to reach “stability” (whatever that is) to start having a family. When with the love of great community here in Tucson, and Seattle I was called out on my fears, and the ways I was choosing death instead of life, I repented and told God I would stop. I would slow down. I would loosen my grip of what I thought sustained me.

And because God is so good, Corey instantly got a job. I trusted a little more, chose life, and then God gave us everything we needed every step of the way for us to move to Tucson. And we both have jobs, and I am working less, and I have more time for God to meet me in his Word and in running. God is a God who longs for his people to live alive and in intimacy with him. That is what I have learned.

And this next year. This 28th year, I feel God inviting me to enter into my own loneliness. I have been told and I believe it, that it takes at least a year to adjust to moving to a new place. And in the last few months I have been face to face with my longings, and loneliness. Because I was very alone as a child, I have always been extremely extraverted to find the love I felt my heart needed. And I think in this season, there will be times that he gives me people to enter into my loneliness and also that he will let me be left alone. That he himself can enter into my wounded broken places, to help me continue being alive and at home with him within myself.

With this I end with and reading from Mary Oliver and my prayer for the year, which is a reflection on Psalm 77 by Nan C Merrill.

Wild Geese Mary Oliver:

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

 

Psalm 77 Psalms for Praying Nan C Merrill

“Will you abandon me forever, and leave me comfortless in my distress?

Where is your steadfast Love that made my soul to sing?

Are your promises empty, that I feel so alone?”

“Where is the Comforter to ease this emptiness?

How have I offended You, O Friend, that I am so alone?”

And I wonder, “Is it those walls of fear and guilt,

that separate me from the very Heart of my heart?”

 

I call to mind the closeness of my Friend;

Yes, I remember the joy of the Beloved’s presence.

I contemplate in the Silence, recalling how You led me along the Way;

For the Way, O Beloved, is holy.

There is no other like You!

You are the One who will bring us to wholeness,

 

You manifest your Love to all who call upon You;

with You the people are redeemed,

the nations brought to peace.

 

When our fears sense You, O Beloved,

when our doubts encounter your Love,

they are afraid and attack.

Our eyes pour forth oceans of tears;

Our countenance grows cloudy;

we hide behind walls of resistance.

 

The Power of your Love seems too much for us;

Your Light unveils the secrets hidden in our heart;

Can You wonder that we tremble?

Yet, You stand beside us as we walk

through our fears to the path of wholeness and love,

though our footsteps are unsure.

You send the Counselor as a guide

to lead us on the road to peace, truth, and love.

 

2 Comments

  1. Thank you, Coleen, for choosing life over death. I have noticed you constantly making this choice, despite the huge changes that we have been going through. I admire your strength, and I love how you attribute this to God, the provider of your life and alive-ness. You are, indeed, on the road to peace, truth, and love, however curvy it may seem at times.

  2. Beautiful! I see similarities in our struggles and in God’s strength in us and through our journeys. Thanks for sharing this and I look forward to getting to know you more!

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