What Love Requires

May 6, 2015

This week marks the beginning of another SCORRE™ Conference.

After 9 years of being a part of this incredible team, of learning and growing and serving with people who are more family than friends, this week also marks the first time I missed it.

I just wasn’t well enough. My body wasn’t yet strong enough to travel so far from home and dive back into work. My heart and mind wanted to, more than anything. My body wouldn’t have any part of it.

Y’all know I try to keep it real, give you the honest truth. That said, brace yourself while I puke my guts up for just a minute.

It would be ridiculously easy for me to feel sorry for myself right about now (understatement of the year). For almost a decade, I’ve identified myself as a communicator. It’s what I DO. It’s what I LOVE to do. It’s a role that makes me feel ALIVE and SATISFIED, like I’m contributing something valuable to the world and am worthy of my skin.

Instead, I’m stuck on the family room couch. Picture day-old yoga pants, bed-head with only half a head of hair, and yesterday’s mascara smeared down to my chin. Yep, I’m a vision. After all this time, I’m still neck-deep in healing. Still working to relearn how to talk and eat and live a relatively normal life. Still searching for the “me” I used to be, afraid she might be lost forever.

It stinks like rotten cheese.

Some of you have hinted at jealousy over my position on the couch. As if you would give anything to have such “free time” at your disposal. Let me be clear: This is not free time. My time on the couch is some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. Even so, the couch does ZERO to make me feel worthy. Sleeping and resting and “healing” do nothing to make me feel significant. On the contrary—give me a second as I readjust my atrophied self on the worn cushions—I feel frustrated, lonely, tired and … small.

AND YET. Isn’t this, in and of itself, telling?

You and I both know it isn’t what we DO that gives us value or makes us worthy. It’s who we ARE. Created and known by the One who weaved together every single cell of our beautiful bodies.

Chosen.

Named.

Loved.

A baby newly born doesn’t lack value because she can’t contribute a worthy offering. In fact, entire families will stop what they’re doing to circle around this new life, completely caught up in adoring these 8 pounds of squawking, demanding flesh. Her entire purpose is to live. She gives nothing, expects everything. And yet, the fact that the child breathes is enough to make her mama cry. Love requires nothing more.

Huh. I’d forgotten.

How easily we ALL forget.

Yes, this week I’m once again camped out on the couch. It’s not what I hoped for, but it’s what is. Perhaps I’ll do a little writing, maybe draft a blog post or a chapter in the next book. Or maybe I’ll have no more strength than to sleep and pray for my friends at the SCORRE™ Conference from a distance. If that’s the sum total of my offering, then I will choose to savor the privilege of being alive enough to love and pray from my perch on the couch. And I will believe that life counts for what it is, not for what it does.

Now, how about you?

Are you stuck some place you don’t want to be?

Are you looking off in the distance, aching to be somewhere “better,” offer the world a more worthy contribution? Are you wrapped up in frustration over all the ways today is not what you hoped for?

If so, I get it. You can certainly spend the day feeling sorry for yourself. I’d understand.

Or you can join me in telling yourself the truth.

(1) There’s something sacred about where you currently sit. As random or wretched or “Plan B” as it may appear, you can find significance even here. You can choose to focus on all you’ve lost, OR choose to savor what you still have. Either way, don’t wish today away without taking a second look. If you need to feel sorry for yourself for a moment, go for it. But don’t forget there could be a gift hidden in the grief.

And (2) You’re valuable, exactly as you are. No effort or offering is required. Your worth is already established, at the moment of your first breath by the One who gave it to you. From the first day until this day, He circles up around you and sees evidence of the miracle of life. So take a nap, breathe deep, and rest.

Love requires nothing more.

“I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” —Jeremiah 29:11-13 (The Message)

What is the gift hidden in today for you? 

25 Comments

  1. Tracy L

    Beautiful Michele. May we all remember to focus on who we are (a child of God) and not what we do. This is hard to do, but so valuable to our growing relationship with God.

    Reply
  2. MariLee

    Love these words…love you!

    Reply
  3. Doreen

    All I can say is thank you for sharing your heart. I am healthy today but my heart is broken over family problems. Yet, I know His plans for me and I will rest and believe that I will see the goodness of God!!
    I am one of his chosen, named, and loved daughters!

    Reply
  4. Shelli

    I am definitely very far from where I want to be – I feel trapped in a life that is a mess of my own creation. I often think if only if I had been more wise with our finances, if only I was more organized, if only I was smarter or prettier, or…… Thanks for the encouragement to value who I am, where I am. 🙂 Prayers that you heal quickly!!

    Reply
  5. Wendy Trunz

    Oh my sweet friend, I continue to pray for you constantly. It astounds me how the Lord uses your words in such a mighty way at the perfect moment for all of us who hold onto them, take them in, and feel His Grace and mercy, and he uses your words to penetrate our hearts. When I see a new post from you, I literally take a deep breath and prepare to take it in before the first word is read, as I know I am about to about to receive such precious gifts of wisdom through your beautifully words that are wrapped and packaged in the most beautiful phrases and truths that I just love opening understanding, and sharing with others. When I explain to others what they will receive in reading your book or your blog posts…I tell them that it is as if literally…Michele, through her writing, takes your hands that are grasping and clutching her book…and places them into the hands of Jesus…and you are left holding onto the hands of the one who knows you, loves you, hears you, sees you, has counted every tear…and loves you with such a mighty, unconditional love….and promises to work all things together for your good…and He will never let you go. So thank you, once again, at this very moment, for placing my hands back into His….holding on and trusting once again, that He has it all. xoxo I love you, and will continue to intercede for you! xoxo

    Reply
  6. Renee Swope

    I’m so proud of you friend, for admitting how hard and stinking frustrating and disappointing this place is. It’s risky to be that real when you’re in ministry and people expect you to just be grateful to be alive. I know you are so so so so grateful. But I know you also wrote this for others who are stuck, and wonder if they will ever get their joy back. It takes a whole lot of courage for a woman who is so good at what you do, and so used to being able to go and give so much and be refueled by it.

    I wish I could come sit with you on that couch and just keep you company. I’d let you throw tomatoes and pitch a fit for a while, and then I’d get you to talking about all the crazy things that come up when we’re together.

    We’re not going anywhere without you girl. Praying and waiting for the fullness of your healing to come. I know it will!!

    Reply
  7. Donna

    I really needed this.
    (Are you stuck some place you don’t want to be?)
    Oh yes!
    (Are you looking off in the distance, aching to be somewhere “better,” … Are you wrapped up in frustration over all the ways today is not what you hoped for?)
    Oh yes !
    I’m hurting over a son lost in heroin addiction. Frustrated. Angry. Sad.

    (Something sacred about where you currently sit)
    Yes. I believe that God has a plan an purpose for everything. But sometimes I get stuck in how bad the situation just stinks. I have my pity party an try to move forward.
    I am thankful that you are still able to blog – because your words give me hope, comfort an encouragement. Your words prod me like a hot poker – ‘Don’t wallow too long, otherwise you will rot an smell. Take a step and another – till you are no longer marred up in this muck an mire’. That’s what I heard The Lord say to me.
    I’m so thankful I came across your book an your site. It has blessed me!
    Trying to find Gods leading in the book I’m working on regarding broken dreams, drug addiction an the prison of our lives.
    Praying for you an your healing an your strength. Praying God continues to bless you with His message to share.

    Reply
  8. Pat Layton

    Darling Michelle,
    It seems that most every time I read your words I cry.
    I cry because you write beautifully.
    I cry because you touch something in me that hurts but hopes along with you to find relief.
    I cry because you scratch a transparency itch in me that is very, very rare in the body of Christ especially amongst speakers and writers with as much talent and anointing as you have.
    I cry because I can tell you are in pain and feel lonely and lost and I don’t want you to.
    I love how you used the word STUCK 🙂 As you know my book is all about getting UNstuck but the truth is we ALL have those stuck places in us that connect with one another. You share them in such a way that gives me hope, reminds me to pray for you but also to CELEBRATE YOU!!
    My love and huge hugs!! I wish I lived close by!!
    xoxo
    pat

    Reply
  9. Marisa Shadrick

    There is strength in honesty, healing in community, and hope in faith. I’m praying for a complete recovery and a spiritual empowering that will supersede all former anointed ministries. Keep fighting for those who need to hear your message. Blessings!

    Reply
  10. Julie Sunne

    This is a good and worthy message, Michele. One that needs to be read and shared. You are making a difference, you are having an impact, right from your couch. God’s blessing on your continued healing.

    Reply
  11. Pratibha K Singh

    Darling Michelle,

    I have been reading your blog for a while and today I took courage to comment on your post beacuse is deeply connected me with you. I have seen my father suffering and recovering and I know what it means to be on the couch. I wish for your early recovery and I am sure you would be back with our mighty strength once again. Lots of blessings and best wishes!
    Love
    Pratibha

    Reply
  12. Meg Sharpe

    Dear dear sister, Michele,

    What timing our Lord has! I’m in the midst of preparing my home in France for sale. A friend who came with me to help has been immersed instead for over a week in a deep study of the glory of Christ. Wonderful. My friend is being deeply enriched in the soul. I am deeply immersed in scrubbing toilets and all the other pother that accompanies house moving. My websites/blogs are neglected to the point of being non-existent. My book project is on seemingly permanent hold. When people ask me where I’m moving to I can only say “I have no idea”…without home, without family, without even country at the moment. I feel frustrated, useless, worthless, hopeless.

    And then Michele writes of her struggles, and one wonders at the mysterious ways of our sovereign Lord. I am so deeply sorry for all you are going through, dear girl, and yet all you have written (I read Undone on the way to here—bravo and yes yes yes) has been such an encouragement in my tiny corner of the universe.

    Today I planted a bright orange flower in my courtyard, next to something blooming in lavender shades. Fiercely clashing colours that are somehow each made more vibrant by their juxtaposition. Because of you…a reminder that nothing actually clashes in the kingdom of God.

    May you find rich blessing, Michele, in the terrible tortuous work of having to lie still on a sofa. And mille mercis, as we say here in France. Je t’embrasse.

    Reply
  13. Wayne Stiles

    Reading about how others envy your couch time simply astounds me. It is amazing how we always want the grass on the other side of fence. Thank you for graciously responding when a rant would be completely understood. Thanks also for staying pliable to our Maker’s thumbs while you’re spinning on the Potter’s wheel, Michele. We admire you. We’re with you. We believe that God’s purposes with you have only begun.

    Reply
  14. MomtoJADE

    Michele,
    Thank you for being honest that this place we are called to sit in is nothing to desire, but sitting in the muck (or on the couch) we are not abandoned by our Father. He takes great delight in you (& us) and there are vast riches to be mined on that sofa. (Ha-maybe rip off the cushions and search for hidden coinage while you’re there!)

    Reply
  15. Shari Miller

    Hi Michele,
    I am over on the Western Slope of Colorado, and for some time now I have been praying for you.
    And… I’m praying for you today. I miss you over at your podcast with Michael Hyatt. I miss you today. Yep, I miss all of who you are, the beautiful and the messy parts.

    Thanks for this post, and lots love sent over the Rockies to you.

    Reply
  16. cassie

    Take notes! Take notes! Take notes! God’s Wisdom is all around you. That is the gift hidden in today as I read your post.

    My 20’s and the fist part of my 30’s were spent digging myself out of a hole I had opened the door to. My suffering came from a place of disobedience, yet my journey was so much like many others. Regardless of the why or how, we still must make every effort to overcome the pain, the hurt, the sorrow, the pity, the anger and the restentment. These emotions are so very real and in them is where the struggle lies.

    Thank you Michele for sharing in such a vulnerable state. May you be blessed with a hedge of protection that is embodied in His Glory and Mercy, that it may be wrapped around your mind and your heart today, tomorrow and the months to come.

    Reply
  17. brian

    “We always find that those who walked closest to Christ were those who had to bear the greatest trials.”
    -St. Teresa of Avila

    Reply
  18. Jana Botkin

    Thank you for not faking it. I missed your voice and laugh on Michael Hyatt’s podcast this week. I look forward to your post each week and am so impressed by your spirit of perseverance and acceptance. Must be weird to have so many strangers praying for you; I am in that group. (probably weird, too. . .)

    Reply
  19. Kia Stephens

    Michele,

    It is so difficult for me to write about what I am in the middle of going through. God has truly gifted you to articulate the totality of your experience in the midst of it. Amazing and beautiful – and I must say thank you for being so naked and unashamed about it. In a world where people put on false pretense with their outfits for the day, it is truly refreshing to come to your blog and read truth through the lens of reality. It is not always pretty, or perfect, or how we intended it to be, but you have so succinctly communicated that God is in that place too. Michele, I know you already know , but just in case you have a bad day, or discouragement should knock on your door again – please believe YOUR LIFE MATTERS TO GOD – and me too. I have been tremendously impacted by your words, walk with Christ, and willingness to take your readers along with you for the ride. May God heal you completely and fill you with an over abundance of joy, peace, faith, hope, love, wisdom, grace, patience, and a greater ability to communicate from the trenches of life. I believe you will be back at the SCORE conference again – but deepened by your circumstance and with so much more to give. One final thing (can you tell I’m long winded 🙂 to a woman who mothers with her words and her actions – Happy Mother’s Day Michele! P.S. I gifted “Undone” to my mom for mother’s day. I’m hoping it will be just as meaningful for her – as it was to me. Kia

    Reply
  20. Ginger

    These words came at the perfect time Michele. Thank you for being an answer to prayers! xo

    Reply
  21. JD Francis

    Wow. I really needed to read these words today. I’m going on 4 months of being unemployed and as you can imagine, I’ve been feeling pretty worthless. I need to embrace this time and make the best out of it. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    Reply
  22. Sheila Johnson

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I needed to read this today. I’ve been a rock for my famiky since I was a teenager thereby, putting on a hard core shell, but inside I have fears, doubts and insecurities. I’m so appreciative of God’s loving touch and the way He’s teaching me how to let things go and rest in Him!

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      There’s such freedom in REST, isn’t there? I’m learning some of the same things. Thanks, Sheila.

      Reply

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