The book pens a journey with Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a framework for pondering life lessons, or songs, of grace-filled "yes" to God.

This blog continues to explore the implications of these songs in daily life. Here you will find ten additional reflections on each of Mary's "songs." May they continue to encourage your heart. ~Carla

Friday, June 26, 2009

Deceitful Sharks

My new friend’s email soared across an ocean, “We were really hurt, and, years later, I’m still trying to find the way forward.” A former student sat across from me on my couch, “I’m getting married and I long for the ability to a create a loving space for others. I’ve been afraid that I will, instead, repeat the patterns of my childhood. An old friend rattled her iced tea glass and said, “I’m aware that this experience was devastating and could distort my soul.” And a beloved neighbor’s voice came across the other end of the phone, “I’m trying to work with integrity, but I’m swimming with sharks.”

All of these conversations occurred in the last day, and I find myself reflecting on the relationship of fear and deceit. "Blessed is the whose spirit is no deceit"(Psalm 32:2). I have generally thought of deceit as a deliberate hiding from God and others. But there is another kind: deceit that is generated by fear. We’re not naïve anymore—what “could” happen is no longer theoretical, and our strong temptation is to allow our fear of the past repeating itself to create deceitful lies about ourselves…and more importantly…about the healing, protective love of our God.

When the sharks are swimming, open-mouthed, around us, the instinct to survive is an exceedingly important one. But not all waters are infested with sharks, and the challenge is to face their shadows when they are no longer snapping. This is the hard soul work: to unfold our painful stories truthfully, including the naming of our very real fears. As long as they lay festering within, they have the power to deceive us with lies and distort our responses to God and others.

In calmer waters we can, like the invisible woman kneeling at Jesus’ feet, narrate our story to our Lord (most helpfully in the presence of others who now carry his life). As it was for the woman who was not hidden (Luke 8:47), the Lord's compassionate power both heals the places we know, and the places that lie hidden from us. For the saddest possibility in life is not that we will go through turbulent times, but that we would yield to them the deceitful power of shaping our responses to the future.

Yes, there are sharks. But there are also dolphins. I want to be free to know the difference when I get back in the water.

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