Discernment, The Inner Landscape

Heart of Stone

"I would rather my heart be pliable and open to all…not hard and
incapable of receiving God’s messengers when they arrive."  Tripp
Hudgins, on his blog.

"A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within
you; and I will remove from your body the heart of
stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26

Let’s just say there have been some disappointments on the vocational front in terms of what the future may hold, and I am wondering what God is up to at the moment. Each time I have gotten a bit excited about seeing, perhaps, the way ahead of me, something has happened to shut me down. And when I begin to brace myself for disappointment, and brace myself I do, the only way I know how to do it is to close down.

I know very well that closing down is not the way to facilitate the arrival of God’s messengers, or more importantly the recognition of their arrival.

I guess I’m comparing this period of discernment to the time I decided to go back to seminary, and finding it wanting. Then I kept seeing doors closing, and I finally got the message that I ought to be finishing seminary, not trying something else altogether, and once I made the decision, all the other things that seemed so impossible or unlikely fell into place. I want that to happen now, too! But the human element is not so cooperative, or perhaps I’m simply impatient.

What I do know is that I am wound tight and that doesn’t help in figuring out what is next or what is right. My soul posture is entirely closed. Being open feels too scary, too vulnerable.

I feel a bit like the witches in Stardust, reading the entrails of a rejection e-mail received tonight, trying to see the signs and portents that will guide me to the heart of the star, to the source of renewal. The settled job it represented would have been just the opposite of what I really hope to be doing, but because of my geographic ties, it seemed important to put my name in for everything possible. I knew all along it was an unlikely match (though there were those who encouraged me to apply), but even when we know that, there is a sense of "Huh, what’s so wrong with me?" that comes with such correspondence.

For now, I remain on the risky path of potential unemployment when this interim ends, and I find that discomfiting, to put it mildly. Any work on a new church start, other than distant planning, would not happen until next year, so I have to hope there will be another interim to serve. It all feels very uncertain.

Which brings me back to the heart of stone. Which I realize will get in the way of receiving the messengers. But for the moment, it’s what I have.

22 thoughts on “Heart of Stone”

  1. (o)
    I hope you find a way to see hope: it’s hard, in the wake of a rejection (and what is up with not wanting you!?!?). But hope, it is there for you, hard as it may be to see it tonight.

  2. Oh, it will soon all seem so clear. Just remember the old joke, “Know how to make God laugh?…. Tell him your plans.” ;c)

  3. ((Songbird))
    It’s such a horrible feeling, uncertainty…
    There’s a lovely thing from the Northumbrian Community, part of a longer creed, that says
    “Lord, you have always spoken when time was right
    And though you may be silent now,
    Today I believe”
    Let us do the believing for you,my dear friend – there IS something exciting waiting for you I’m certain, but I know my own insecurities and anxieties would be closing me down too right now.
    Lots of love and prayers xxx

  4. I SO understand how you must feel right now, but we can talk about that later. Right now, the best thing I know to say is this: ((Songbird)). Prayers being lifted on your behalf.

  5. Oh, Songbird, I feel with you, having some of my own doors closing these days, and I’m sorry.
    It seems to me that the promise in the Ezekiel passage is that YOU don’t have to transform your heart; you only have to take care of it as best you can, whether stone or flesh or paper. If your life history leads you to try to make it invulnerable, observe that, sure, but embrace that piece of granite tenderly and with compassion, and know that it’s up to God gently to tease the stone back into lifeblood-pumping wonder.
    My prayer is with you and Ezekiel.

  6. (((songbird))) (((songbird’s heart)))
    In my experience, there are many loveable and important stones.
    There are also some that hold surprises inside!

  7. Thank you, friends. After I wrote this, I had a bit of a boohoo, which was no doubt what I needed in the first place. Not that it solves anything.

  8. It is so hard to remember when rejection comes that THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU. (sorry, raised my voice)
    You, my friend, are a deep blessing to God’s church. You will be nudged toward the place where that blessing is most needed. I am utterly confident of this.

  9. my soul posture was way closed in, for self preservation, from too many “almosts”…
    and then suddenly everything is different. I never would have guessed that this one was coming…
    sigh. Prayers…
    may the same be for you.

  10. well songbird… every song has rests within it, where no note is heard. no sound is forthcoming. no instruments are played. no voices are humming, or tuning, or harmonizing. granted the rests feel like nothing’s going on…nothing, nothing, nothing…but God works in those and is there… we just have to wait and listen for the rest of the song…

  11. (((songbird)))
    Waiting for my current call, I applied for a job as a public radio announcer, applied to be a substitute teacher, and contemplated using my savings to open a wine shop (hey, it seemed sort of related…). You have such a beautiful, open heart in this blog… I understand, I think, the impulse to protect it.
    You are surrounded by love and prayers.

  12. It is hard not to take rejection personally. But don’t anyway.
    I know what I selfishly wish would be your next interim — but I don’t think it’s very likely to happen (sigh).

  13. (((((((Songbird))))))))))
    Yeah, rejection hurts even when you expect it. And uncertainty isn’t any better.
    I hope things become clearer for you soon.

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