Hey hey hey.
Hey hey hey.
*Stephanie is a contributing writer and primarily writes for The Little Way
When I stumbled into Holy Yoga, I was a wanderer. I had been wandering my entire life. I like to think that J.R.R Tolkein had it right when he said that “not all who wander are lost”, or something to that effect. Because, it’s not that I was lost. I wasn’t searching even. I was just wandering. My feet had found many paths, all labeled “Jesus” and all pointing to the same destination, but all taking different highways to get there. I’d been trying them out. I hadn’t necessarily been loving them.
Most paths made me feel shamed, different, misunderstood, mislabeled. Most paths felt like mountains I wasn’t meant to climb.
So, when I stumbled into Holy Yoga, I was already weary. I had already spent most of my life trying to do the right thing, and failing. I didn’t find a new religion in Holy Yoga. I didn’t find a new church or a new theology. I found something better – gloriously flawed people who were completely capable of loving me in the midst of my own flaws. I found accountability that didn’t strip my humanity. I found mercy and the kind of friendship that will enter into deep heaving moments of crying out. I found women who would let their true, often messy, hearts show. I found a deep hunger for the Word of God embedded in an hour and fifteen minutes together. I found peace on my yoga mat, because I wasn’t questioning the motive or intent of my instructor. I found community. And that’s where I’ve learned community. I found family.
Brooke was a woman who had been broken and knit back together. She was just a human being who was willing to let God lead her. That’s it. She was the first woman I sat and learned from. She was my teacher, and she is my friend.
If you are ever called to the Holy Yoga Instructor Training you will know just what I’m talking about. You will hear her teach you Jesus and you will remember this post. Your heart will take you back to this moment because there is something vivid and earth shattering about a woman who has been bought for a price; a woman who has been redeemed and who has wholeheartedly committed herself to teaching the love and mercy of Jesus. We need more of that. We need women, and men, who aren’t turned back by the fear of others. We need people who will stand in the light because they have spent time kneeling in the dark night. We need people who don’t live for fame or acclamation. We need these warriors of hope, these creators of community. We need truth bearers and mercy seekers. We need them because we need Jesus.
If you’ve been a wanderer like me, you know that Jesus isn’t just in buildings or gatherings with clever names. Jesus can be there – he’s big enough. But Jesus is unashamedly in these little communities. He is in unexpected and healing spaces, giving us the freedom to join him, or keep on wandering. He’ll find us, or we’ll find him. He’s not afraid of our twisty paths. He’s not concerned about how long it takes our tired feet to reach him.
I say this because I want you to know that, if Holy Yoga isn’t your path, that’s okay. It will always be for some, but not for all. I wandered through communities that weren’t my path either. I hope you know that that doesn’t mean it isn’t Jesus’ path. I hope you, as a fellow wanderer, know that God is big enough to fill our spaces, no matter how vast and different they are. I hope you know that community grows where there is fruit, people are healed and reconciled – even when it doesn’t make sense to us.
Where have you wandered, friend? Where have you found community and healing? Share with us.
Your story is important.
I decided I would do something weekly…for fun and to remind myself of all the reasons I have to be grateful. Every Tuesday I will re-cap the week. When I evolve enough on the blogging game I will even add some pictures!
Here they are for the week of March 4th.
10. Handstands in vinyasa. A drop back into warrior has been calling me for years. This week I answered.
9. Long Saturday hikes with a South African pastor on podcast. Leadership looks different on this side of the mountain.
8. An impromptu yoga date and red teeth. Yes, in that order. No, there was no violence.
7. Cast removals. Not just removals, but dare I say banishment?
6. New braces that didn’t hurt a bit…and that make my boy look like a man.
5. Driving my sister home after a successful stint in the hospital. I’m confident she would have walked home if they let her. Thank God I was there.
4. Home sales and visas. That’s it. Home sales and visas.
3. Teaching Session 1 of Holy Yoga Instructor training. Always a highlight. Holy.
2. Covenant. Hardest and most worth it endeavor of my life.
1. Galatians 5:7-10. – You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the LORD that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.
Reflecting on your last week, what are some of the things you are most grateful for? An attitude of gratitude propels you forward. Carry on.
“Young women will dance and be happy…I’ll convert their weeping into laughter, lavishing comfort, invading their grief with joy.” Jeremiah 31:4 Msg
I was witness to something beautiful The kind of beautiful that literally stops you dead in your tracks. The kind of beautiful that draws you towards it, as though it were meant just for you.
I wasn’t looking for it. In fact, I really had no time for it. I was very busy playing host to 200 people in the room right next door (ugh, self importance is a bit nauseating). But beauty pauses for none as it beckons for all.
At first sight I knew the two lovely girls walking in to the lobby were in need of a very special earthly angel for their care. Clearly twins, they donned matching leotards with pink ballet tights under a set of wispy wrap skirts. They each carried with them a pair of seemingly new ballet shoes. Behind them was their mother, a woman who’s name I do not know, but whom I have given the title Saint. Draped in her arms she carried an armful of multi-colored tulle covered in a white plastic trash bag. The attention she gave to oodles of tulle made it known that what she carried was worth the struggle.
A number of others trickled in. Some with walkers, some in wheelchairs, most with leg braces. All with young bodies, big smiles, and a Saint of their very own in tow. It wasn’t until i heard the music that I actually understood. They were there for a weekly ballet class.
A ballet class.
When I saw these angels move, with the help of their Saints, to the sound of all kinds of instruments, I knew I was bearing witness to one of the most profound things I had ever seen. A glimpse from heaven. This must be what God sees when He looks at us. This is worship.
Children of the King, completely dependent, yet joyful. In need of care for everything, yet sustained. Broken in body, but not in spirit. All dressed up, ready to play before their King in order to bring Him glory. Not perfectly or independently, but desperately. JOYFULLY.
I began to cry. At first I thought it was because I felt sorry for their seemingly limited experience of life. Thats just honest. Sorry if I offended anyone with that, but it’s true, and I am human. Flawed and learning. But then I realized I was crying because I saw myself in those children. I realized how hard I make joy. How complicated I make need. How resistant I am to help and just how much I was really missing out by not embracing my deficiencies. I realized in that moment that I am that child with the leotard and wispy skirt, often unable to keep upright without the help of the Saints around me.
What I saw next took my breath away and gave me perspective I’ve been missing. The Saint with the armful of tulle had turned into a ballerina of the finest degree. The white plastic bag had disappeared, and so had the hurried mom of two. The rainbow tulle covered her from waist to heels as she glided across the wooden floor, leading her daughters with a smile than spanned her entire face.
This ballet class was for her. As much as it was for her daughters, the Lord had given it to her. She was whimsical and free. Her burden had been lifted, even if for a moment. In joy, she laughed. In joy, she sang. A glimpse of heaven.
The whole scene is sealed into my heart by the words I heard in those few witnessing moments. He said to my heart “Your need is someone else’s joy. Your deficiencies allow for others to dance. I will teach you to lead only after I teach you to follow. Trust me, in joy.”
If you are leading or following today, do it in joy.
Brennan Manning says this:
“In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”
In other words – in community, hiding out is not an option. Real community is not a place where we conceal who we are and who we have been. Real community offers no invitation to be perfect or burden free. Real community is a place where we get down to the nitty-gritty. This is where we sink into each others lives; where we hear each others stories without rising up in judgement. Community is a culture built on compassion.
The thing about compassion is that you will never really understand it until you are known and you know. Until you let other people into your darkest corners, your rocky past and your right-now battles, no one can have compassion for you. Until you enter in to someone else’s grief, trauma and fear, you can’t have compassion. Compassion comes from a deep place of intimacy. Compassion is drawn, etched and fleshed out in the shared lives of transparent people.
Here’s one thing compassion is NOT: compassion is not co-dependency. I know this because I’ve lived in the throes of both. Co-dependency looks like an invitation to sit weak and broken in a dark, isolated pit forever. Co-dependency enters in, sets up camp, and laments in unison with broken people. No one ever tastes light again.
Compassion looks like an open door. Compassion is an entering in through the door, holding the weak, dirty hand of a captive beloved and helping them crawl to freedom. Compassion is the crack in the wall that lets in enough light to inspire a life altering choice. Compassion leads to freedom.
If we want to experience compassion we’re going to have to first experience community. We’re going to have to get vulnerable with safe people and let our hearts be stirred. We’re going to have to experience conflict and misunderstandings. We’re going to have to learn to rejoice with each other when mountains are crossed and when small steps bring us great distances. We’re also going to have to learn how to use boundaries. We’re going to have to build sturdy fences with well oiled gates. We’re going to have to know where certain people fit in our hearts. We’re going to have to exercise strength as we love unlovable people from this side of our own healing. We’re going to have to be wise, and meek, and humble, and soft, and strong, and authentic, and human. We’re just going to have to live our lives in the presence of other people walking the same road we are.
This is the kind of authenticity that will illuminate the darkness. This is the kind of love that will spark the quiet. This is the kind of radical, gentle beauty that spilled out of every single one of Jesus of Nazareth’s pores. This is the kind of family he came to create. This is for you, friends. This kind of community is a calling.
I know you might be dusty from sitting too long in the dirt. I know you’ve been rejected, betrayed, abused, neglected or wounded at some point in your life. I get it. But know this – isolation will never allow you to experience compassion. Co-dependency will never allow you to be known, or even to know. Freedom is written on the walls of your heart. Light is spilling through the cracks under the door and through the breaks in the walls.
Brennan Manning is right. Letting people in on our darkness, lets them in on our healing. This is how we illuminate the darkness.
*Stephanie is a contributing writer and primarily writes at The Little Way
I want to share some images of Brooke speaking at Jesus At The Core last weekend in Phoenix. It was a powerful event, overflowing with beautiful worship. Brooke’s message of “Charge The Darkness” will be coming up in a blog post. You definitely want to catch it! For now, enjoy the photos – and if you can make it to a Jesus At The Core event – do!
There is only one you and your Maker has His eye on you.
You are seen. Heard. Loved.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. He created you in His image, for His glory. He has made you with a heart that can recognize, respond and repent at the simple casting of His eye your way.
If you have ever thought, even for a moment, that you do not matter, you do. He knows your ending, your beginning and everything in between. You are not a mistake. He is in love with you.
He is in a good mood and thinks you are a really great idea. He only made one of you. In Him you find out who you are and what you are living for.
Seek. Knock. Ask.
When He answers and tells you who you are, go.
Go do you. Only you.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good
news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the
captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who
grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of
mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the
ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the LORD; you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.
Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice
in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will
be yours. Isaiah 61:1-7 NIV
I am standing, and staring, at a threshold. A threshold by definition is a sill or doorway. It’s an entrance
point to a house. In this case, it’s my house. Even these first few typed words are giving way to what I
know God is calling me to do. He wants me to open the door to my house. To the place behind the veil,
where Jesus has done, and is doing, some of His best work.
This is a place of obedience. I have to write. I cant not. Although I am not sure where to start or where
it will end, I am sure I need to write. I suppose this will be a testimony of sorts to the power of God. To
the working of His Holy Spirit in me, a sinner. But maybe more than that it will be a testimony to the
authority of God who enables and requires us to do the things we most resist.
This is a story of a little girl lost, then found. One whose heart has been bound up and set free. One who
has been released from darkness in order to proclaim the goodness of her God. This is a story of the
recovery of sight, the rebuilding of ancient ruins, and the joy of an unknown inheritance.
This has been a long time coming and I am afraid. I am afraid of starting. I am afraid of stopping. And I
am afraid of everything in between. Here’s the thing the Lord has taught me about fear…its OK to have
it. Its just not ok for it to have you. It seems to me a marker for what I must do in order that God has
more of me than my enemy does.
I’m reminded. Be strong and very courageous, and obey. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. If I am for
you, who can come against you?
I will do this afraid.